Pakistan, US clash at UN over Afghanistan

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States urged Pakistan on Friday not to give sanctuary to “terrorist organizations” — and Pakistan demanded that the Trump administration address safe havens inside Afghanistan and its income from the narcotics trade.

The exchange took place Friday at a Security Council meeting on the issue of Afghanistan’s relations with its Central Asia neighbors and the link between peace and security.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said the United States can’t work with Pakistan if it continues to give sanctuary to terrorist organizations and need to stop this and join efforts to resolve the Afghan conflict.

Pakistan’s U.N. Ambassador Maleeha Lodi countered that Afghanistan and its partners, especially the U.S., need to address “challenges inside Afghanistan rather than shift the onus for ending the conflict onto others.”

“Those who imagine sanctuaries outside need a reality check,” she stressed.

The exchange followed the Trump administration’s announcement this month that it was suspending military aid to Pakistan until it takes decisive action against militants.

In August, the U.S. infuriated Pakistan by accusing it of providing a haven for extremist groups that carry out attacks in neighboring Afghanistan. Pakistan repeatedly has said it is acting against Taliban insurgents and members of the Haqqani militant group.

Armed clashes in Afghanistan in the past year were the highest in a decade and civilian casualties remained at near-record levels. More than 2 million people were directly affected by the conflict in 2017, with some 448,000 having to abandon their homes to save their lives.

Sullivan told the council that an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned approach to peace, with firm international support for Afghan security forces, “will make clear to the Taliban that victory cannot be won on the battlefield — a solution is and must be political.”

But he said: “We must recognize the reality that while the Afghan government has been adamant about its interests in initiating peace talks with the Taliban, there has been no reciprocal interest on the part of the Taliban.”