Need to fully target terror safe havens in Pakistan: Pentagon

There is recognition on everybody`s part that all terrorist safe havens in Pak must be dealt with, said Pentagon.

Last Updated: May 07, 2010, 12:12 PM IST

Washington: The Pentagon on Thursday said there was need to "fully target" terrorist safe havens in Pakistan, but the timing and pace of such effort has to be decided by Islamabad.

"Clearly, there are safe havens that have yet to be fully targeted -- as aggressively targeted as can be – as need to be. But the pace and timing and schedule to undertake those operations is of the Pakistanis` choosing," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said at a news conference here.

He said the US and Pakistan are exchanging information and there has been a pledge of cooperation from the Pakistani side regarding the investigation into the Times Square bombing plot.

"We`re encouraged by this response," Morrell said when asked about Pakistan`s cooperation with regard to the Times Square bomb case, in which Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad has been arrested.

He said the US and Pakistan were partners in the war against terror and there is recognition on everybody`s part that all terrorist safe havens in Pakistan must be dealt with.

"We are in the passenger seat; they are behind the wheel, they are the ones who are going to determine the direction, the pace, the speed of their operations," he said.

He said while there was agreement on the need to go after terrorists, "but we also have to deal with the reality of capacity and the need to go through all the phases of clear, hold, build and transfer".

"And they have been, as you know from our travels there, reluctant to shortchange any of those steps, to overstretch their forces, to go places that they haven`t been, necessarily, and in the process sacrifice gains that they`ve hard won elsewhere," he said.

He said the Pakistan Army was following a strategy that is evolving "on their terms".

Responding to a question, Morrell said the US cannot be seen pushing Pakistan, and the action has to be in partnership.

"It has to be a cooperative effort. It cannot be one in which we are pushing them. They have to wish to do it themselves. They have to see the validity and the value in doing it themselves," he said.

"Clearly, over the past year or two, it has become crystal clear to the government of Pakistan that they have to, themselves, with our assistance, confront these threats within their midst," Morrell said.