Washington, Oct 5 (ANI): The United States has slammed Pakistan over its campaign against terrorists, stating bluntly that its government and military have been unwilling to take action against Al Qaeda and like-minded terrorists as per their 'political choice', and in view of the "under-resourced military prioritising its targets".
The latest White House assessment, which also criticizes the leadership of President Asif Ali Zardari, could further strain difficult relations with a key ally and undercut support in Congress for providing billions of dollars in aid to Islamabad, the Wall Street Journal reported.
"The Pakistan military continued to avoid military engagements that would put it in direct conflict with Afghan Taliban or Al Qaeda forces in North Waziristan," the White House report stated, referring to the Pakistani tribal region that US officials say is being used as a staging ground for attacks on troops in Afghanistan, as well as to plot attacks on targets in Europe.
Commenting on Pakistan's decision not to send large numbers of ground forces into North Waziristan, the unclassified, 27-page report said, "This is as much a political choice as it is a reflection of an under-resourced military prioritizing its targets."
In the neighbouring tribal region of South Waziristan, "Pakistani military operations advanced slowly" because they haven't been able to stabilize areas after they clear them of militants, the report found.
There, "the military largely stayed close to the roads and did not engage against those (Pakistani Taliban) militants who returned after fleeing into North Waziristan," it further noted, adding that while the Pakistani military had dedicated 140,000 forces to the tribal areas, "the Pakistan military was nonetheless constrained to disrupting and displacing extremists groups without making lasting gains against the insurgency."
Although the administration and the Pentagon had until now tried to keep their harshest criticisms of Pakistan private to avoid a public rift, but the report shows growing US frustration, officials said.
"The report reflects that there are real challenges we have with Pakistan," said an Obama administration official, adding that officials at all levels were in talks with the Asian nation to address these issues.
Not limiting its criticism to the military efforts, the report went on to declare that Pakistan's civilian leadership faces "broad-based" challenges that "have the potential to impact the stability of the government."
It pointed out that Pakistan President Asaf Ali Zardari faced "broad lack of political support" even before the flood disaster, and "President Zardari's decision to travel to Europe despite the floods exacerbated inter-party tensions, civil-military relations, and damaged his image in the domestic and international media."
Issued by the National Security Council in response to a congressional requirement for regular progress updates, the report reflects the input of numerous agencies, including the State Department, the Pentagon and intelligence agencies. (ANI)