U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker told NewsHour correspondent Jeffrey Brown Friday that while safe havens for Taliban extremists in Pakistan continue to pose a “real threat,” steps the United States and Afghan President Hamid Karzai are taking to improve relations with Pakistan’s leadership will “reduce those safe havens.”
Brown asked Crocker about a leaked cable in which he reportedly said the Taliban safe havens in Pakistan were hindering U.S. success in Afghanistan.
Crocker, while declining to comment on the classified document, said with respect to safe havens, “We have been clear in this government from the president on down that those safe havens in Pakistan present a real threat to Afghanistan and Afghan civilians, Afghan security forces, our security forces and to Pakistan itself.
“So I would very much hope that as we work our way back to a more normal relationship with Pakistan, and as Afghanistan is taking steps, including President Karzai’s visit last month to engage the Pakistani leadership, we will be able to come to some understandings that are going to reduce those safe havens and their potential to do damage to all three countries.”
As for whether the United States could succeed without the safe havens being shut down, Crocker said in Iraq — even when anti-government militias were receiving outside help — the Iraqis still “basically prevailed.”
“So while safe havens are certainly a problem, and have cost a lot of lives — American, international and Afghan — you know, we’re a pretty formidable force. The Afghan national security forces are proving to be darn tough in the field. And no one wants to see the Taliban come back.”