US won’t allow terrorist safe havens in Pak: US

Panetta said it is important to limit insurgents` ability to create the perception that Afghan security is declining.

Updated: Sep 23, 2011, 00:03 AM IST

Washington: The US on Thursday made it clear that
it will not allow safe havens for terrorists in Pakistan which
are used to launch attacks on American forces, as Washington
mulled options to force Islamabad to confront the issue.

"We cannot allow terrorists to have safe havens from
which they launch attacks and kill our forces. We cannot allow
that to happen. And we have to bring pressure on the
Pakistanis to do their part to confront that issue," US
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told the powerful Senate Armed
Services Committee.

Without elaborating the options that the US has on its
table, Panetta told the lawmakers that America can`t allow
terrorist safe havens to operate in Pakistan from where carry
out strikes against its personnel.

Testifying before the powerful Senate panel, Panetta
identified it as one of the major challenge for the US in
Afghanistan.

"I`ve made clear that we are going to do everything we
have to do to defend our forces. I don`t think it would be
helpful to describe what those options would look like and
talk about what operational steps we may or may not take,"
Panetta said in response to a question from Senator Carl
Levin, Chairman of the Committee.

Panetta said the first order of business right now is to
"put as much pressure on Pakistan as we can to deal with this
issue from their side."

He said Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff, has met with the Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq
Parvez Kayani and CIA Director David Petraeus met with ISI
chief General Pasha over the issue.

"There`s been a very clear message to them and to others
that they must take steps to prevent the safe haven that the
Haqqanis (terror network) are using," Panetta said.

PTI