When jihadists have gone over the border from Pakistan and attacked inside Afghanistan, it has never been that big a deal for Pakistan. When even Pakistan-based jihadists go back over the border from Afghanistan and attack Pakistan, it is an affront and a crisis.
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Pakistan on Wednesday the United States would “do everything we can” to defend U.S. forces from Pakistan-based militants staging attacks in Afghanistan.
U.S. officials, including Panetta, suspect militants from the Haqqani network were behind Tuesday’s rocket attack on the U.S. Embassy compound in Kabul, as well as a truck bomb last Saturday that wounded 77 American forces.
“Time and again we’ve urged the Pakistanis to exercise their influence over these kinds of attacks from the Haqqanis. And we have made very little progress in that area,” Panetta told reporters flying with him to San Francisco.
He added, “I think the message they (the Pakistanis) need to know is: we’re going to do everything we can to defend our forces.”
Panetta, who was CIA director until July, has long pressed Islamabad to go after the Haqqanis, perhaps the most feared of the Taliban-allied insurgent factions fighting U.S.-led NATO and Afghan troops in Afghanistan.
He declined to answer questions about what steps the United States might take to defend U.S. forces. But Panetta said he was concerned about the Haqqanis’ ability to attack American troops and then “escape back into what is a safe haven in Pakistan.”
“And that’s unacceptable,” Panetta said.
The CIA has had success targeting militants in Pakistan using pilotless drones, and Navy SEALs killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May during a covert raid in Pakistan.
Last month, Admiral Mike Mullen, the top U.S. military officer, cited progress curtailing Haqqani movements within Afghanistan.
“I’m not going to talk about how we’re going to respond. I’ll just let you know that we are not going to allow these kinds of attacks to go on,” Panetta said….