(KABUL, Afghanistan) — Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta made a surprise visit to Afghanistan Thursday but his mind was clearly on neighboring Pakistan.
Tensions between Washington and Islamabad have risen dramatically since the assassination of Osama bin Laden 13 months ago, with Pakistan remaining a hotbed for terrorist activity.
Panetta didn’t hold back his frustration, saying that the administration has reached “the limits of our patience” with Pakistan for failing to reign in the outlaw Haqqani terrorist network that has links to al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Washington considers the Haqqani group the biggest deterrent to stability in Afghanistan as its fighters have launched deadly attacks on both American and Afghan soldiers and civilians.
Meeting with his Afghan counterpart, Abdul Rahim Wardak, Panetta told reporters, “It is extremely important that Pakistan take action to prevent this kind of safe haven from taking place and allowing terrorists to use their country as a safety net in order to conduct their attacks on our forces.”
Ironically, the U.S. provides billions to Pakistan each year to go out and destroy these safe havens for militants — a mission which the country appears to be failing.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Alanna Petroff, CNN
Sugam Pokharel and AJ Willingham, CNN