Washington, Feb 29 : The chief US intelligence official has said that the safe haven in Pakistan's tribal areas bordering Afghanistan has enabled al Qaeda to regain strength and allowed the Taliban to "train, recruit, rest and recuperate and then come back into Afghanistan to engage the coalition forces."
More than six years after the US invaded Afghanistan, the Taliban has regained control of about 10 per cent of the country, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
McConnell said the Taliban has suffered "significant degradation" in its leadership and is unable to successfully face off against US and NATO forces.
He attributed the rise in violence to the Taliban resorting to the terrorist tactics used by al Qaeda in Iraq.
At the same time McConnell praised Pakistani authorities for helping the US "more than any other nation in counter terrorism operations."
Meanwhile, General Michael Maples, the Director of the Defence Intelligence Agency, told the senators that Pakistan's efforts to confront al Qaeda and the Taliban in the ungoverned regions of the country have had little impact.
"Pakistani military operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have had limited effect on al Qaeda," Maples added.
Both Maples and McConnell expressed concern about al Qaeda's continued effort to recruit and train operatives for terrorist operations against the US and its allies and its stated desire to obtain weapons of mass destruction.
McConnell and Maples spoke on the eve of a Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing to discuss Pakistan with Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte.