Pak army has pledged assault on US target 'epicenter of terrorism' N.Waziristan: Mullen

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Washington, Oct 14 (ANI): As a result of the US push, Pakistan's army has pledged to go after militants in the region which harbours Al- Qaeda and has become "the epicenter of terrorism," US President Barack Obama's top military adviser has said.

Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, disclosed that his Pakistani counterpart, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, had given assurances that he would mount an offensive the US had long called for in the North Waziristan region along the Afghan border, The News reported.

He cited Pakistan's offensives against the Taliban and related groups elsewhere in the country during the past one and a half years, as evidence for his optimism.

"He's committed to me to go into North Waziristan and to root out these terrorists as well," 64-year-old Mullen said in an interview with the media.

He added that the goal was to not only to defeat Al-Qaeda, but also to ensure that Afghanistan would not again become a haven for the terrorist group as it had been before the US ousted the Taliban regime following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

North Waziristan "is the epicenter of terrorism," Mullen said, adding, "It's where al-Qaeda lives."

In addition to the military campaign in Afghanistan, Obama is relying on neighbouring Pakistan to help rout the Al-Qaeda and related groups that threaten troops across the border and may also be preparing for further attacks in Europe or the US, like the car-bomb attempt in New York's Times Square.

The US advisor pointed out that Kayani had shifted more than 70,000 troops from the country's border with India to the northwest, mobilizing a total of 140,000 forces.

"They've sacrificed, they've lost a lot of citizens and they are really concerned, urgently concerned, about the threat to their own country from terrorists," the Admiral said, adding, "Two years ago, that wasn't the case."

But he also noted that Kayani had primarily targeted groups that posed an internal threat, not those the US considered most dangerous.

Mullen, who took office in October 2007, said that he had probably been to Pakistan 20 times, seeking to rebuild ties that frayed in the 1990s.

The US relationship with Pakistan "comes from what I call a very dark hole where we left them," he said. "So to assert certainties right now I think is a real challenge."

However, Mullen did not give any time frame for the possible offensive in North Waziristan. (ANI)

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