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Pak 'epicenter' of terrorism, says Mullen

Terming Pakistan as the "epicenter" for global terrorism, the US military's topmost official has said extremism cannot be defeated without eliminating the safe havens in the country.

world Updated: Jan 13, 2011 08:38 IST

Terming Pakistan as the "epicenter" for global terrorism, the US military's topmost official has said extremism cannot be defeated without eliminating the safe havens in the country.

"I've said it before and I'll say it again: It is the epicenter of terrorism in the world right now, and it deserves the attention of everybody to do as much as we can to eliminate that threat," Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff told Washington-based foreign journalists at a news briefing.

Mullen said progress in Pakistan was critical in terms of the region.

"Since I've had this job, I have never talked or wanted to leave the impression that it was about one country or another, because it's about the region. And I think progress there is critical as well.

"Obviously the recent assassination, the political challenges that we've seen with MQM leaving and returning to the coalition -- to ensure that that government doesn't fall, I think that political aspect there is something that I keep an eye on all the time," he said.

Mullen emphasised it was important for Pakistan to shut down all those safe heavens in its boundary.

"It is absolutely critical that the safe havens in Pakistan get shut down. We cannot succeed in Afghanistan without that," he said.

"I've had many meetings with (Pak Army) General (Ashfaq Parvez) Kayani on this subject, and he has evolved his military against this threat, and this threat is evolving as well, because it's not just Haqqani anymore, al-Qaeda or TTP, the Afghan Taliban or LeT."

It was all of them working together in ways that two years ago they absolutely did not, Mullen said in response to a question.

"....And when I talk about the region, it isn't just Afghanistan and Pakistan. We had a question earlier about Iran. I will talk about this with my Russian counterpart --you know, the neighbours in the area, to include India.

"I think we all have responsibility and we all want to see this resolved as rapidly as possible," the official added.