Pakistan's tribal areas bordering Afghanistan have become a "safe haven" for Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants and Washington should prod Islamabad to be more aggressive and vigorous in dealing with the lawless areas, a top US security official has said.
Lt.Gen. Douglas Lute, who has been nominated as the Assistant to the President for Iraq and Afghanistan said, "Pakistan is going through a turbulent time here. And the tribal area along their western border has become, unfortunately, a safe haven for Al-Qaeda." "You said they're searching for one in Iraq. Well, they've got one now in western Pakistan... (President Pervez) Musharraf's got an election coming up. So he's got to deal with that. But, look, we've got a right to expect them to be more aggressive and vigorous in dealing with those lawless tribal areas," the Deputy National Security Advisor told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
He noted that Pakistan has more or less pulled back from those areas and that has led to an upsurge in Taliban activity. "If confirmed, this is a -- it would be very high on my priority list to deal with the unhelpful influences, both by way of the Al- Qaeda safe haven but also I'd mention the Taliban safe haven that exists in these border regions of Pakistan," he said.