Osama-bin-Laden in FATA, may strike US from there: Mullen

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Islamabad, July 24 (ANI): US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen has said Al-Qaida chief Osama-bin-Laden is hiding in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and can strike the United States from there.

Admiral Mullen said it was due to this fear, crushing Al-Qaeda was on top of Obama Administration's agenda.

"Al-Qaeda could certainly strike the US from Fata, that's why the top objective of the current US strategy is to defeat al-Qaeda," said Admiral Mullen.

When enquired as to why the US is not taking on Al-Qaeda directly in FATA when it has credible information that bin-Laden is there, Mullen said: "FATA is in Pakistan and Pakistan is a sovereign country and we don't go into sovereign countries."

In an interview with Qatar based Al-Jazeera television network , Mullen said the Pakistan Army, it appears, is serious about the impending terror threat and is countering militancy effectively.

Mullen stressed that Islamabad must stop supporting militant organizations working in Kashmir and start focusing on the real internal threat.

"What I mean is that they have clearly focused on support of ... historically of militant organisations both east and west. I mean that's been a focus of theirs in Kashmir historically as well as in Fata. And I think ... that fundamentally has to change," The Nation quoted Mullen, as saying.

When asked about the dangers of just pushing back the Taliban in Afghanistan which may see the insurgents slipping into Pakistan, he said the tactical move will have long term effect in curbing extremism in the region provided that the Pakistan Army also pressurize the Taliban.

"The pressure that will be brought on the Taliban specifically by the Pakistani military is important and that movement from both the east and the west in the long run will have an effect," Mullen said.

Mullen refused to comment on whether he has more faith in the present government of President Asif Ali Zardari than in the previous military regime of General Pervez Musharraf.

He reiterated that there were no US combat troops present inside Pakistan's geographical region.

"I've said that we don't have any US troops.We have no US combat troops in Pakistan. We have had trainers there for a significant period of time to train their trainers which is an ongoing support function," Mullen added. (ANI)

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