Pakistan's Tehreek-e-Taliban is not only trying to overthrow the government in Islamabad, but is also launching attack against other countries, including the US, Defence Secretary Robert Gates said Friday.
"What we have seen here is yet another new phenomenon, and that is the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan not only trying to overthrow the government of Islamabad, in Islamabad, but also launch attacks outside Pakistan and, in this case, against us," Gates said at a Pentagon news briefing.
"I think that when the Pakistani Taliban approached Islamabad a year and a half ago, or whenever it was, was a wake-up call for the Pakistanis that this group was an existential danger for the government of Pakistan itself," he noted.
"We now have a mutual interest in trying to stop this group, stop it from carrying out attacks inside Pakistan, stop it from carrying out attacks outside of Pakistan, and especially in the United States," he said.
Referring to the recent visit of National Security Advisor General (rtd) James Jones and CIA Director Leon Panetta to Islamabad early this week, Gates said: "I suspect that the main theme of these talks that were held was, how we can intensify our cooperation in dealing with this mutual threat that we face?"
Gates said: "My impression has been that there has been close cooperation since the bomber was arrested. So I think it's more about that than any qualitative change."
Appearing at the same news conference, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, praised the counter-terrorism measures being taken by the Pakistani Army.
"With respect to North Waziristan and my engagement with General (Asfaq Parvez) Kayani: Well over a year ago, he'd indicated that, as has been reported, that there are plans to execute that mission. But very specifically, the timeline's really up to him, and it goes back to what I understand and believe, that he's stretched," Mullen said.
"He's got two fronts. He's got a military that's lost a lot of soldiers, sacrificed a great deal. And it makes a lot of sense to me that he does get to pick this timeline. They're struggling in the build phase in Swat, behind the security that he's established there. So this is not a one-of kind of thing. It's really part of an overall campaign plan," Mullen observed.
Showing full faith in Kayani, Mullen said: "The other thing I'd say is, what he's told me he would do; when I have dealt with him in the past, what he has said he would do in the future he's always done."
Gates said: "I would just add to that he has, I think, seven divisions and 140,000 troops in that area. So it is a huge effort that Pakistan is making."