Pakistan `epicentre` of terror threat: US

Pak`s role in reconciliation in Afghanistan is ambiguous, says Holbrooke.

Washington: Faced with five major insurgencies, including the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) responsible for the Mumbai terror attack, Pakistan is the "epicentre" of terrorist threat to the US, according to a senior US official.

"The western part of Pakistan, the lawless areas, is the epicentre of the issues that threaten our country," US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday.

"They directly link to the Taliban but they`re in Pakistan. We have made real progress in Pakistan in the last year and a half," he said in response to a question about Pakistan’s role in the situation in Afghanistan.

"But the focus is so overwhelmingly on Afghanistan … that we have lost - we haven`t even recognised the movement in Pakistan across the board: economically, politically, strategically."

Pakistan`s role in reconciliation in Afghanistan "is ambiguous and opaque at this point", Holbrooke said. "It is something that we want to learn more about..."

"But they have five major insurgencies going on in their country: The Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban, who are the trainers of the Times Square bomber, LeT, which was responsible for the Mumbai bombing, the odious Haqqani network, al Qaeda itself, and several other groups."

"So their situation is enormously complicated and unique to Pakistan," he said.

The Senate panel`s Democratic chairman John Kerry and top Republican Richard Lugar expressed doubts about the course of the war in Afghanistan.

While Kerry said it`s not clear that the administration has a solid strategy for prevailing, Lugar decried "a lack of clarity" about US war goals.

Holbrooke, acknowledged that the way ahead remains in doubt, saying, "There are significant elements of movement forward in many areas, but I do not yet see a definitive turning point in either direction," Holbrooke said.

Holbrooke said he and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will visit Afghanistan next week for an international conference at which President Hamid Karzai is expected to make commitments on strengthening the rule of law, combating corruption and building an economy.

Meanwhile, at the State Department, spokesman Phillip Crowley said the US was evaluating a number of entities in Pakistan, including the Haqqani network for declaring them as Foreign Terrorist Organisation, but was yet to arrive at a decision.