Washington, May 3 : The militants hiding in the tribal areas (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border pose a "direct threat" to the US and other Western nations, and that Pakistan would need three-five years to root out insurgency from these areas, said Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen.
The head of the US armed forces also said that Al Qaeda and the Taliban were using the area to regroup and reorganize themselves in a bid to launch fresh attacks on the US and other nations in the West.
"I believe they are preparing to launch attacks against the US and Western interests," the Dawn quoted Mullen as saying.
Speaking at the 102nd annual meeting of the American Jewish Committee in Washington, he said: "All nations must work with Pakistan's new government to address the challenges in the tribal area."
He further said that the Taliban were on the offensive in Afghanistan, and a stiffening of resistance has taken place, especially in the southern part of the country. The April 27 assassination attempt on Afghan President Hamid Karzai is just the most recent example of the dangers in the country, he added.
Meanwhile, in a report to the US House of Representatives and the Senate, the Pentagon said that Al Qaeda and Taliban militants had built "safe havens" at several places in the tribal zone. "Deficiencies in the Pakistan army's ability to conduct counter-insurgency operations are being addressed; however, it will take three to five years before they are realised on the battlefield," the report added.
It further said that while the Pakistan Army had been trained and equipped to fight India, its Frontier Corps, responsible for the tribal areas, was under-trained, ill-equipped and "in many cases are outgunned by their militant opponents."