Pentagon expresses concern over Qaeda opn in Pak

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Washington, Jan 12: The US Defence Ministry is "extremely concerned" about al Qaeda operations in Pakistan's tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, military chief Admiral Michael Mullen has said.

"We know it is having a significant impact, not just in Afghanistan, but certainly there are concerns about how much they have turned inward inside Pakistan. I am extremely concerned about this," he told reporters. "But the US was mindful of Pakistan being a sovereign country and it is really up to President Pervez Musharraf and his advisers in the military to address that problem directly," Admiral Mullen said. "I'm unaware of any proposal from any US official arguing for unilateral military action in Pakistan," State Department official Tom Casey said.

Meanwhile, the Bush Administration has come out strongly in favour of Pakistan after Senate majority leader Harry Reid, in a letter to President George Bush, demanded that US military aid to Pakistan should be cut unless Musharraf does more to grapple with terrorism, restores basic freedoms and permits the UN to investigate Benazir Bhutto's killing.

Responding to Senator Reid, National Security Council spokeswoman Kate Starr said President Bush believes that Pakistan "continues to be an important ally in the war on terror".

Casey, who had not seen the Reid letter, also defended Pakistan. "We're going to continue to work with them," the Daily Times quoted Casey, as saying.


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