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‘Af-Pak border still a major safe haven for terrorists’

Last Updated: Sunday, September 13, 2009 - 21:51

Washington: The Pakistan, Afghanistan
border is still a "major safe haven" for terrorists and
clearing out al Qaeda and Taliban remains America`s "bona
fide" mission in the region, a powerful US Senator said on Sunday.

"I can say and I think you would agree that Afghanistan
and the Pakistani border are still the major safe haven, the
major safe haven for terrorists in the world," Senator Dianne
Feinstein, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on
Intelligence, told CNN in an interview.
She said the region remains crucial despite many of the
Taliban commanders being eliminated recently, she said.

"These are people who will, if they can, come after us,
not necessarily the Taliban, but certainly al Qaeda and other
affiliated groups," she said on the current situation in the

As of now there are about 60,000 US troops in
Afghanistan and 8,000 are moving in. With its allies, this
equals the force that is in Iraq.

"I do believe that clearing out al Qaeda, clearing out
the Taliban is a bona fide part one of the mission. I do agree
that training Afghan troops, Afghan police is an important
piece of the mission," Feinstein said, even as she indicated
that the US has to reduce its goal with regard to Afghanistan.

"I do not believe we can build a democratic state in
Afghanistan. I believe it will remain a tribal entity," she
Feinstein, the Senator from California, argued that the
mission should be time limited. "I think the Congress is
entitled to know, after Iraq, exactly how long are we going to
be in Afghanistan," Feinstein said.

"So there`s the mission and the time. And from an
intelligence point of view, I think gains have been made. I
think the use of drones have been effective, in terms of
targeting leadership with careful intelligence. I think that`s
been one of the unsung successes," she said.

Appearing on the same Sunday talk show, Senator Susan
Collins favoured the need to increase the size of the Afghan
Army and police.

"Having spent two days there just last month, that I
just don`t know that more troops is the answer," Collins said.

"We clearly need more American civilians to help build
up institutions. We need to grow the size of the Afghan Army,
but we`re dealing with widespread corruption, a very difficult
terrain, and I`m just wondering where this ends and how we`ll
know when we`ve succeeded," Collins said.

Bureau Report

First Published: Sunday, September 13, 2009 - 21:51
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