Terrorists safe havens in Pakistan must be eliminated: Obama

By Arun Kumar, IANS
Thursday, December 16, 2010

WASHINGTON - Asserting that the terrorist safe havens in Pakistan must be eliminated, US President Barack Obama Thursday said he will travel to Islamabad next year to further US goals in the war torn region.

While Islamabad increasingly recognizes the danger of confronting militants along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, “progress has not come fast enough,” he said. “Terrorist safe havens within (Pakistan’s) borders must be dealt with.”

Obama asserted that the US is making significant progress in the nine-year war in Afghanistan, but warned that the conflict “continues to be a very difficult endeavour”.

We are “on track to achieve our goals” of disrupting, dismantling and defeating Al Qaeda and its Taliban allies, he said. The gains, however, are fragile.

Obama’s remarks came as the White House released a long-awaited report on the US strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Ground has been gained in halting the momentum of militants, thanks in large part to the administration’s acceleration of resources to the war effort, the report concluded.

The president noted, among other things, that there has been a “successful increase” in the recruitment and training of Afghan forces due partly to the July 2011 deadline set by the administration to start withdrawing the US military.

A “sense of urgency” is galvanizing other allies as well, he claimed.

“Specific components of our strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan are working well and there are notable operational gains,” according to the Overview of the Afghanistan and Pakistan Annual Review.

“Al Qaeda’s senior leadership in Pakistan is weaker and under more sustained pressure than at any other point since it fled Afghanistan in 2001.

“Although the global affiliates and allies of Al Qaeda also threaten the US homeland and interests, Pakistan and Afghanistan continue to be the operational base for the group that attacked us on 9/11,” the report said.

The report termed progress with Pakistan over the last year as “substantial, but also uneven” and said consolidating gains in Afghanistan “will require that we make more progress with Pakistan to eliminate sanctuaries for violent extremist networks,” the report said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

Filed under: Terrorism

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