Progress in campaign against terror in Pak critical: Mullen

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Lalit K Jha

Washington, Jan 13 (PTI) A progress in campaignagainst terror in Pakistan was critical for stability in theregion, a top US military commander has said, emphasising thatterror havens in the country had to be wiped out.

Terming Pakistan as the "epicentre" for globalterrorism, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US JointChiefs of Staff said that global focus had to be on means andways to eliminate terror camps in that country.

Foreseeing a spurt in bloodshed in Afghanistan in2011, Mullen, who recently returned from a tour of Pakistan,said that the terror threat cannot be defeated without wipingout militant camps in the country''s tribal belt.

"I''ve said it before and I''ll say it again: It isthe epicentre of terrorism in the world right now, and itdeserves the attention of everybody to do as much as we can toeliminate that threat," Mullen said at a new briefing forforeign journalists.

Echoing his thrust, a top White House official MikeHammer said US saw Pakistan as part of the "eventual solution"to global terrorism.

Both the American officials said progress in Pakistanwas critical in terms of the region and pointed out thatWashington was engaged with Islamabad to work out means andefforts needed to eliminate terrorists and extremists threatthat originates from that area of the world.

On Afghanistan, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffsaid, "As difficult as it may be to accept, we must prepareourselves for more violence and more casualties in comingmonths."

"The violence will be worse in 2011 than it was in2010 in many parts of Afghanistan," Mullen said as US and NATOforces step up their offensive against Taliban.

While acknowledging that NATO forces had madeimpressive gains against Taliban in Afghanistan, the top UScommander said these gains were still "tenuous and fragile".

Mullen emphasised it was important for Pakistanto shut down all those safe heavens in its boundary.

"It is absolutely critical that the safe havens inPakistan get shut down. We cannot succeed in Afghanistanwithout that," he said.

"I''ve had many meetings with (Pak Army) General(Ashfaq Parvez) Kayani on this subject, and he has evolved hismilitary against this threat, and this threat is evolving aswell, because it''s not just Haqqani anymore, al-Qaeda or TTP,the Afghan Taliban or LeT."

It was all of them working together in ways that twoyears ago they absolutely did not, Mullen said in response toa question.

".....And when I talk about the region, it isn''t justAfghanistan and Pakistan. We had a question earlier aboutIran. I will talk about this with my Russian counterpart --you know, the neighbours in the area, to include India.

"I think we all have responsibility and we all want tosee this resolved as rapidly as possible," the official added.

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