US again terms Pakistan as al Qaeda safe haven

November 14th, 2007 - 1:56 am ICT by admin  
Pakistan has been named as an al Qaeda ’safe haven’ in a White House policy document for the first time.

“Al Qaeda has “protected its top leadership, replenished operational lieutenants, and regenerated a safe haven in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas - core capabilities that would help facilitate another attack on the Homeland,” the document said.

“We do not deny that there are people in the tribal areas, but we deny that there are safe havens,” said Ambassador Mahmud Ali Durrani while commenting on the White House paper.

“Most of these people are on the run, they are hiding. Our commitment to defeat this threat is total. Even today, there is fighting going on in the tribal area,” the Dawn quoted Durrani, as saying.

Frances Townsend, President George W. Bush’s homeland security adviser, however, tried to downplay Pakistan’s inclusion in the White House policy document.

She said that it’s not a new statement and the Bush Administration “relied on the intelligence community’s assessment in framing the threat for this strategy.”

“We have enjoyed some of our biggest successes with our allies in Pakistan,” she said, pointing that from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to Ramzi Binalshibh to Abu Zubaydah, all senior Al Qaeda leaders now in US custody were arrested in Pakistan.

Townsend also said that Pakistan extended its cooperation to Britain to foil al-Qaeda terrorist designs.

Asked how the new report differs from an earlier National Intelligence Estimate, released in July, in which the White House identified al-Qaeda as a continuing threat to homeland security, Townsend replied: “What we were very much struck by was the evolving nature of the threat.”

She noted that the new report involves a “tactical” response to the continuing threats.

The new report also builds upon the original 2002 report in which the government spelled out what new capabilities it needed to build in the face of new terrorist threats.

Townsend said that this report assesses what has been done since then and what still needs to be accomplished. (ANI)

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