White House praises Pak govt's role in fighting terror
While conceding that there was "considerable activity" of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in the border areas of Pakistan, the Bush administration defended the Musharraf regime saying there was a "great deal of cooperation against some very serious and difficult targets."
Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Richard Boucher, appearing before a Congressional hearing, told lawmakers that they would have to take a look at the "whole" or the bigger picture in drawing conclusions about the role of Pakistan in the war on terror or the goings on along the country's border with Afghanistan.
"The Pakistani government has made very clear through its words and its actions that it, too, is opposed to extremism; it, too, is opposed to the presence of al Qaeda," Boucher said.
Intelligence reports have suggested that extremist groups were provided safe havens in the ungoverned tribal areas of Pakistan.
"Providing safe haven. Let's not draw improper implications from that. This is not done with the authorisation of the Pakistani government," Boucher told the Foreign Affairs Sub Committee of the House Oversight and Government Reforms Committee.
The senior State Department official commended the efforts of the Pakistani government in the face of constraints.
"We've seen a great deal of cooperation against some very serious and difficult targets. They've picked up really high-level people from the Taliban," Boucher said.