Mark C. Toner
Daily Press Briefing
April 17, 2012
QUESTION: Yesterday, Secretary Panetta and Chairman Dempsey blamed Pakistan-based Haqqani Network for the attacks in Kabul, and Secretary Clinton also talked to Foreign Minister Khar. So what – does the initial evidence lead to Pakistan at the moment? Was this coordinated by the Haqqani Network elements in Pakistan or in Afghanistan? What is your initial information?
MR. TONER: Right. I mean, the quick answer is we don’t know yet. It appeared to bear the hallmarks of the – an Haqqani Network-style attack. We’ve seen them obviously carry out one last fall that was coordinated in this kind of fashion, but beyond that, we’re still in the information-gathering stage. It’s still an investigation carried out by Afghan authorities. So we should know more.
QUESTION: And last year, we heard a lot about Haqqani Network that was – all sorts of – that went from communication with Pakistan. But that seemed to go in the background during the last few months when everything between Pakistan and U.S. seemed to be at a standstill. So was there any kind of communication on Haqqani Network, or are your concerns about the same? You thought Pakistan actually did take some action or they did nothing? What is your impression?
MR. TONER: Well, I think the Secretary spoke to this in her press availability yesterday in Brasilia, and she simply said that when she was in Pakistan in the fall, that she raised our concerns about the Haqqani Network, and frankly, our concerns that this is a shared threat. We all need to take action against this network. It’s a threat to Pakistanis, it’s a threat to Afghans, and it’s a threat to, obviously, Americans living in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
QUESTION: No, my question is that –
MR. TONER: Sorry.
QUESTION: – you have been raising this concern with Pakistan over the last year or so. You have done that a number of times.
MR. TONER: Right.
QUESTION: Have you seen any improvement or you think the situation is actually deteriorating?
MR. TONER: Well, again, it’s – we’ve been going through a fairly difficult period with Pakistan that we’re now hopefully emerging from. And throughout that, our counterterrorism cooperation has continued, but we want to try to strengthen it. We recognize that we do face these shared threats, and we need to keep up the fight. We continue to make that case to the Pakistani Government, that this is a group that is killing Pakistanis as well as Americans as well as Afghans, so we need to put the pressure on them. I think I’ll just leave it there.
QUESTION: (Off mike.)
MR. TONER: Yeah. Sure, go ahead.
QUESTION: Do you think that this attack, and if Pakistan doesn’t take any action against Haqqani Network, as U.S. has been demanding, it could sabotage whatever efforts there are at the moment to bring this relationship back on track?
MR. TONER: We’re going forward. We have the parliamentary review process complete, but going forward, we’re going to have a strong and serious discussion on all the issues, including counterterrorism, including the Haqqani Network. The Secretary stated that yesterday. We take it very seriously.