Washington: US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has said the US will continue to launch drone strikes against militant sanctuaries in Pakistan even if the country’s government keeps opposing them.
‘‘The United States was attacked on 9/11, and we know who attacked us,```` Panetta said in a television interview. ‘‘We know that al Qaeda was behind it and we are going to do everything we can, use whatever operations we have to, in order to make sure that we protect this country and make sure that that kind of attack never happens again,```` he said.
“The United States is going to defend itself under any circumstances,`` Panetta added.
Drone attacks against sanctuaries of the Taliban and other militant groups in Pakistan are carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency, which Panetta previously headed.
Pakistani officials have opposed the strikes, saying they violate their nation`s sovereignty.
The attacks are part of the Obama administration`s effort to stabilise neighbouring Afghanistan, which Panetta said is on the path toward stability, reports Gulf News.
The country`s military and police forces last year ‘‘were operational, they were involved in the battle and they`ve continued to do a great job in providing security,`` Panetta said in the interview.
Progress in Afghanistan comes against the backdrop of corruption in the country`s government and the persistent challenge of the militant sanctuaries in Pakistan, as cited in an April 30 report from Panetta`s own department.
‘‘The Taliban is resilient," Panetta said. ‘‘They`re going to be there. They`re going to continue to attack. We do have problems obviously with Afghanistan corruption. So I don`t think we ought to take anything for granted.”