US can act unilaterally to strike at terrorists in Pak: Gates

December 13th, 2007 - 1:00 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Dec 13 (ANI): The US Secretary of Defence, Robert Gates, has said that the United States can act unilaterally to strike at terrorists hiding inside Pakistans tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, but has no plans to send troops inside the country.
“We would not be looking at adding significant numbers of US forces to do conventional military operations on the Pakistani side of the border,” said Gates while explaining the US strategy for dealing with the alleged Taliban and al Qaeda hideouts inside FATA.”
Although Gates conceded that the US needs to be concerned about al Qaeda training and reconstituting facilities in that area.
He said that the US would first like to see “if we can get the Pakistanis to take it on.”
The second stage, Gates said, would be to work with the Pakistanis to improve their capabilities or do things together.
“And then we need to be able to act unilaterally if we have to, to make sure they dont come back at us again,” he added.
Gates described the situation along the Afghan border as “one that complicates our effort fairly significantly.”
Testifying before the influential House Armed Services Committee on Stability and Security in Afghanistan, Gates and Chairman of Joint Chief of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen observed that the situation in Pakistan appears to have calmed, freeing troops to focus on fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists.
Commenting on relations between the US and Pakistani militaries, Admiral Mullen observed that the new Army Chief, General Kiyani, was held in “very high regard” by American military officials who have worked with him, the Dawn reported.
When Congressman Adam Smith asked how the US plans to catch al Qaeda leaders allegedly hiding in FATA, Gates said: “The issue is how do we work with the Pakistanis to make them more effective and what can we do together or perhaps independently, but thats clearly not going to be major force movements across the border.” (ANI)

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