Washington, Sept 11 : A top US defence official has reportedly said that besides gunning down the terrorists crossing into Afghanistan from Pakistan, the US should focus on eliminating the "safe havens" of these militants in Pakistan itself.
These two nations are inextricably linked in a common insurgency that crosses the border between them. We can hunt down and kill extremists as they cross over the border from Pakistan but until we work more closely with the Pakistani government to eliminate the safe havens from which they operate, the enemy will only keep coming," The News quoted Adm Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as saying.
Mullen said he was looking at a "new, more comprehensive strategy for the region" that would cover both sides of the border, including Pakistan's tribal areas, reported The News.
Testifying before the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, he said that success in Afghanistan would require more civilian effort beyond the military fight. "Frankly, we're running out of time. I'm not convinced we are winning it in Afghanistan. I am convinced we can," said Mullen.
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that American President George W Bush had been issuing orders to launch unilateral strikes on Pakistani soil since July this year. According to an article in the New York Times, Bush's "orders" signal a watershed for the US administration after nearly seven years of trying to work with Pakistan to combat the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and after months of high-level stalemate about how to challenge the militants' increasingly secure base in Pakistan's tribal areas, said an article in the New York Times.
The stepped-up US' campaign inside Pakistan comes at a time when American-Pakistani relations have been fraying, and when anger is increasing within American intelligence agencies about ties between Pakistan's ISI Directorate and militants in the tribal areas.
In the recent months, American officials have said that they will only "notify" Pakistan when they conduct attacks on Pakistani soil near the Afghanistan border, but that they will not ask for its permission. "The situation in the tribal areas is not tolerable. We have to be more assertive. Orders have been issued," said a senior American official on the condition of anonymity.