US will retaliate if Pak based militants attack its citizens: Mullen

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Washington, Sep.10 (ANI): The United States has made it clear that it would not hesitate to retaliate if its citizens are targeted by militants based in Pakistan.

In an interview with the PBS, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Admiral Mike Mullen said Islamabad is also aware that if US citizens are targeted by Pakistani militants then Washington would certainly respond.

"The Pakistani government also understands that if US citizens are attacked, and there's reliable information it originated in Pakistan, the United States will respond," Admiral Mullen said.

"It's a conversation I've had many times - not just with military leadership, but also with political leadership - that any president of the United States would respond to an attack on US citizens. They understand that very clearly, and they don't disagree with that," Mullen added.

He said extremists are using Pakistan as a safe haven to plot attacks against the US and other western countries, and highlighted that these terror sanctuaries operating inside Pakistan's territory must be destroyed.

"I think you're at the heart of dealing with the most difficult part of the problems we have there, where we have this safe haven in a sovereign country that is threatening and plotting against Americans and other Western countries, and it must be eliminated," The Nation quoted Mullen, as saying.

Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, who was also present in the programme, said Islamabad has realized that the Taliban and other extremists based in the western tribal area of the country pose the real existential threat to it rather than India.

Gates said Pakistan has acknowledged that the real threat to its existence come from the extremists based in the lawless tribal areas along the Afghan border and not from India.

"Pakistan faces a lot of problems right now. I think they have always thought of India as the existential threat to Pakistan, but I think they are beginning to understand that the extremists in the ungoverned spaces in their west have become an existential threat," he said.

Gates said Washington wants Islamabad to take hard action against the Taliban and other extremist outfits having their base inside its territory. (ANI)

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