Unholy syndicate of terror groups in Pak tribal areas: Gates

Defence secretary fears losing the `war` if Afghans see the US as occupier.

Washington: US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said that there is an unholy alliance of terrorist groups including al Qaeda, Taliban and Lashkar-e-Toiba operating from the tribal areas of Pakistan.

"What we see in the tribal areas and in the eastern part of Afghanistan is increasingly an unholy syndicate of terrorist groups working together: al Qaeda, the Haqqani Network, the Pakistani Taliban, the Afghan Taliban, and groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba," Gates said while responding to a question at the Duke University in North Carolina.

"A success for one is a success for all. And until we and our 47 allies and the Afghans and the Pakistanis can bring these groups under control and end their ability to wage terror on both Pakistanis and Afghans and, more distantly, Europe and us, development will not be able to take place. So we have to establish security first," Gates said.

Referring to the new broad development strategy rolled out by Obama Administration on Tuesday, Gates said the reality is one can`t have development without security, or security without development.

"What I have argued for a long time is that our own civilian resources need to be increased in this area, because the military ends up doing things that are really the province of better-trained and more professional experts in this area in the civilian world," he said.

Gates said one of the key aspects of Obama`s strategy is to narrow the US` focus, to not pretend to that it is going to bring Afghanistan in the next five or 10 years into the 21st century in a significant way, but focus on those things that are necessary to accomplish the security mission.

"Because then we will be committed to help Afghanistan and Pakistan for a much longer period of time, when the civilians are in charge and doing development," Gates said.

Responding to another question on Afghanistan, Gates said the US would lose the war against terror in the country if Afghans start seeing them as occupiers.

"As long as the Afghan people see us as their partners and as those who are trying to help keep them free and to preserve the gains that they have made in terms of women`s rights and health and education, then we will be successful," he said.

"If, on the other hand, the Afghan people come to see us as occupiers, then we are lost. I believe that the gains we have made in underscoring our role as partners and as friends of Afghanistan is why we are beginning to make some real inroads," Gates said.