Washington: The United States believes that the al Qaeda leadership is based in Pakistan’s volatile tribal region along the Afghanistan border, and is working with both Islamabad and Kabul to rein in the terror network flourishing in that safe haven, a top American military official has said.
During a Fox News programme, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen said Washington is aware that top al Qaeda commanders were operating from Pakistan.
“Clearly, I mean, we’re very concerned about that part of the world. We’re very concerned about — that’s where al Qaeda leadership lives. We know that. And we’re working with Pakistan and, quite frankly, with Afghanistan to continue to put pressure on that leadership. And I wouldn’t speak to any kind of details in terms of either plans or operations,” Admiral Mullen said.
While media reports earlier this week said that the US military is reviewing plans to launch a ‘unilateral’ attack on Pakistan in case any terror attack on America is traced back to that country, Mullen said he is more focused on helping Islamabad to dismantle the terror network flourishing on its soil.
“My focus more than anything else is in support of them,” he said.
Mullen praised the Pakistan Army for flushing out militants from the country’s north-western regions, but pointed that the military is struggling to hold onto the areas taken back from militants.
“I am impressed how much Pakistan has evolved over the last couple of years. They have lost a significant number of troops. They’ve regained a significant amount of their territory. They are very focused on that. They are struggling in building behind the security that they created, particularly in the western areas,” he said.
First Published: Monday, May 31, 2010, 15:05