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'Terrorists roam freely in Pak tribal belt'

world Updated: Apr 18, 2008 02:03 IST

PTI
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Terrorists are still freely operating in Pakistan's restive tribal area bordering Afghanistan despite the US pumping in over $10.5 billion in military and economic aid to Islamabad, according to a report by a government watchdog agency.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, which was requested by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the Bush administration does not have a coherent plan to destroy terrorist threats and safe havens in the border regions of Pakistan.

It stressed that since 2002, destroying the terrorist threat and closing the terrorist safe have been key national security goals.

"The United States has provided Pakistan, a key ally in the war on terror, more than $10.5 billion for military, economic, and development activities. Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), which border Afghanistan, are vast unpoliced regions attractive to extremists and terrorists seeking a safe haven," the report noted.

The US, it said, "has not met its national security goals to destroy terrorist threats and close the safe haven in Pakistan's FATA. Since 2002, the United States relied principally on the Pakistan military to address US national security goals.

"Of the approximately $5.8 billion the United States provided for efforts in the FATA and border region from 2002 through 2007, about 96 per cent reimbursed Pakistan for military operations there," the report said.

The findings were sharply criticised by the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Howard Berman, who said "it is appalling that there is still no comprehensive, interagency strategy concerning this critical region, and this lack of foresight is harming US national security."