Washington: Two senior US military commanders on Tuesday told Congress that Pakistanis are aware of Mullah Omar’s whereabouts in Pakistan.
The duo added that Islamabad is paying no heed to the requests made by the United States to locate him.
Vice Admiral William McRaven and Lieutenant General John Allen are now given the responsibility of watching over all US military operations in the Pak-Afghan region.
“Do we believe Mullah Omar is there with the knowledge of the ISI and the upper echelons of the Army?” a leading Pakistani daily, the Dawn, quoted Senator Lindsey Graham as asking.
“Sir, I believe the Pakistanis know he is in Pakistan,” said Admiral McRaven.
“If they tried for about a week, do you think they could find him?” asked the senator. “I don't know whether they could or not, because I don't know exactly where Mullah Omar is,” Admiral McRaven replied.
“Have we asked them to find him?” Senator Graham asked. “I believe we have,” Admiral McRaven replied.
The US military officers further said Pakistani leaders show no sign of readiness to crack down on Haqqani militants operating from sanctuaries near the Afghan border, despite repeated US requests.
The United States has long demanded Pakistan go after the Haqqani network in North Waziristan that has staged attacks on NATO-led forces in Afghanistan.
But top officers indicated they did not expect any improvement in Islamabad's cooperation and that Pakistan lacked the will and the resources to move against Haqqani militants.
"Sir, I don't think it is likely to change," McRaven, who oversaw the raid by Navy SEALs that killed Osama bin Laden in his Pakistani hideout, told senators.
Referring to talks with Islamabad military leaders, McRaven said, "It is both a capacity issue for the Pakistanis and I think potentially a willingness issue."
McRaven, nominated by President Barack Obama to take over US special operations command, said the situation in northwest tribal areas "is difficult for them to deal with”.
Lieutenant General John Allen, named as the next commander in Afghanistan, suggested Pakistan was keeping its options open by allowing Haqqani fighters to operate within its borders.
(With Agency inputs)
First Published: Wednesday, June 29, 2011, 10:25