Missile strikes against al Qaeda militants in Pak to continue: US

January 28th, 2009 - 12:12 pm ICT by ANI  

Barack Obama

Washington, Jan 28 (ANI): Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said the United States will continue to carry out missile strikes against al Qaeda militants hiding in Pakistan.

Pakistani officials have complained publicly about the attacks from unmanned US aircraft in the Tribal Areas bordering Afghanistan, saying that these strikes are a violation of its sovereignty and will increase public resentment towards both Pakistan Government and the United States.

US officials normally decline to comment publicly on reports of the missile strikes, but Gates made an exception when asked about Pakistans complaints at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

It was the first time that Gates has testified before Congress as Obamas Pentagon chief, The Daily Times reported.

Both President Bush and President Obama have made clear that we will go after al Qaeda wherever it is and we will continue to pursue that, Gates said.

Asked by committee chairman Senator Carl Levin, if that decision had been conveyed to the Pakistani Government, Gates replied: Yes, sir.

He described the war in Afghanistan as the US militarys greatest challenge and top priority under President Barack Obama.

There is little doubt that our greatest military challenge right now is Afghanistan, he said. President Obama has made it clear that the Afghanistan theatre should be our top overseas military priority.

Gates said US and NATO military operations that killed civilians caused enormous harm to American interests in Afghanistan, and added a shortage of ground forces led to over-reliance on airstrikes.

My worry is that the Afghans come to see us as part of the problem rather than part of the solution, and then we are lost, he warned. We have got to figure out a better way to do these things. (ANI)

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