Defeat of militancy in Pakistan still years away, says Pentagon

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Washington, May 25 : The Pentagon has warned Pakistan that it could take years before Al Qaeda-linked terrorists operating in its tribal region along the Afghan border are defeated.

General Dan McNeill, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan has said that peace talks between militants and Islamabad will make it easier for the militants to cross the border, and therefore such a step should be discouraged.

The US Department of Defence in a report sent to Congress on May 23, acknowledged that Pakistan last year deployed 30,000 additional troops to the FATA and made efforts to eliminate the suspected Al Qaeda safe havens in the region.

The Pentagon report, however, made no reference to Pakistan's negotiations with militants, but noted that Al Qaeda and other extremists continued to hide in the FATA, where they recruit, train, and target US and other western interests.

It said that seminaries in Pakistan continue to promote jihad and martyrdom and to deploy potential operatives for acts of violence in Afghanistan.

The report noted that 700 Pakistanis had been killed in suicide attacks since July 2007.

In fact, it warned that it might take several years before Pakistan succeeds in implementing a comprehensive strategy to make tribal areas permanently inhospitable to terrorists.

The US has been working with Pakistan on a six-year programme to help strengthen the Pakistani military and security forces to deal with terrorism.

Besides building new training facilities for the Frontier Corps, the United States is also providing anti-insurgency training to Pakistani commandos, the report said.

The US is also funding the creation of a 700-member special force of Pashtun tribesmen which would act as a rapid response force in times of emergency. The Pentagon had provided 150 million dollars this year for these programmes and was seeking another 200 million dollars for next year, said the report.

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