Mullen, Gates push for joint US-Pak operation against Taliban

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Washington, Sep.6 (ANI): Stressing on the need for destroying militant safe havens in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen has said Islamabad is a key ally in the new American strategy to defeat the Taliban.

Terming the joint US-Pak policy against extremism as a 'pincer approach', Admiral Mullen said Pakistan's efforts against the militants in FATA should be backed by applying pressure from the Afghan side.

"And that kind of continuing pressure that eventually will provide security for their own people so that, in fact, their own people, who now protect Al Qaeda, turn them out. This 'pincer approach' would squeeze the militants from both sides, although it's going to take some time to create that pressure," Admiral Mullen said in a policy briefing at the Pentagon.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said despite FATA being outside the jurisdiction of America's Afghan command, the overall strategy for the region did address this issue.

"This strategy treats the issue of militancy as a regional problem, and therefore, it covers both Afghanistan and Pakistan," The Dawn quoted Gates, as saying.

Both Gates and Admiral Mullen rejected the notion that it is time for the US to leave Afghanistan and focus on anti-terrorist operations from a distance.

"I absolutely do not think it is time to get out of Afghanistan. And, I think that the notion that you can conduct a purely counter-terrorist kind of campaign and do it from a distance simply does not accord with reality," he stressed.

"The reality is that even if you want to focus on counter-terrorism, you cannot do that successfully without local law-enforcement, without internal security, without intelligence," Gates added.

"You can't do it remotely, and you can't do it from offshore," Admiral Mullen said.(ANI)

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