Washington: US President Barack Obama has warned Pakistan that his administration would not allow "safe havens" for militants in its tribal region bordering Afghanistan or let Osama bin Laden operate with impunity.
"My bottom line is that we cannot allow Al Qaeda to operate," he said. "We cannot have those safe havens in that region," he said Wednesday at a joint White House news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
"I`m not going to allow Al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden to operate with impunity, planning attacks on the US homeland," he said, adding his envoy to the region, Richard Holbrooke, will convey his message to Islamabad.
"We`re going to have to work both smartly and effectively, but with consistency in order to make sure that those safe havens don`t exist."
Obama said he had appointed Holbrooke as a special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan to give a new focus to dealings with terrorism.
"I`ve sent over Richard Holbrooke - one of our top diplomats - to evaluate a regional approach," he said. "We are going to need more effective coordination of our military efforts with diplomatic efforts, with development efforts, with more effective coordination with our allies in order for us to be successful."
Warning that extremists pose a
serious threat to Pakistan`s sovereignty, Obama said Islamabad has realised that it is not India but
the "cancer" of terrorism emanating from its own territory
that is its primary concern.
"I think there has been in the past a view on the part of
Pakistan that their primary rival, India, was their only
concern," Obama said.
"I think what you`ve seen over the last several months is
a growing recognition that they have a cancer in their midst;
that the extremist organisations that have been allowed to
congregate and use as a base the frontier areas to then go
into Afghanistan -- that now threatens Pakistan`s
sovereignty," Obama said in response to a question.
Obama said he had no schedule for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
"I do not have yet a timetable for how long that`s going to take..."
Referring to situation in Afghanistan, Obama said,
"The war will get worse, before its gets better", adding that
the next few months would see more intensified fighting, in an
apparent reference to the upcoming major offensive in the
Kandahar province, the birth place of Taliban.
To complaints of Karzai that US and NATO forces air
strikes were killing innocents and making enemies of those who
might be friends, the US President said "Washington has taken
extraordinary measures to avoid civilian deaths in the war."
"I do not want civilians killed," Obama said.