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US Commander Impatient With Pak

PTI 15 Dec 2010, 16:29:52 IST
PTI
Washington, Dec 15 :  Hours before Washington is set to release an assessment of war in Afghanistan, topmost US military commander has expressed "impatience" with Islamabad over its failure to clear militants from havens on the borderwith Afghanistan.

Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs made an unannounced visit to Pakistan from Iraq to meet Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani to press Islamabad to undertake a military operation to flush out Taliban and al Qaeda camps, located close to Afghan border, 'New York Times' reported.

Mullen's meeting with powerful Kayani comes hours before US is set to release a review of the war in Afghanistan, that is expected to say that Pakistan is turning a blind eye to militants sanctuaries.

"These sanctuaries are a priority in military-to-military relationship between US and Pakistan and our discussions",

Mullen told reporters on board his special plane which flew out of Baghdad for an unannounced visit to Islamabad.

The US President's AfPak war strategy relies heavily on squeezing out Taliban insurgency from both sides of the border and the new White House assessment will point to safe havens in Pakistan as a weak link.

"We have a sense of urgency about this operation as our forces are losing people on the other side", he said.

The top American commander said a Pakistani operation in North Waziristan is a must. "That's where the al Qaida leadership resides, that's where the Haqqani network is headquartered", Mullen said.

Asserting that Haqqani's were on the US hitlist, the US military chief said, "The Haqqanis are leading the way in coming across the border and killing American and allied forces. That has got to cease".

He said, Pakistan would have to launch an operation against terrorists in North Waziristan, but the timing would be decided by the Pakistan Government.

The US military chief said North Waziristan was also the centre for other terror groups working against Pakistan and killing Pakistani citizens.

Pakistan's Army Chief of Staff has weighed in on an operation in Waziristan, "saying not if, but when", Mullen said.

Talking to reporters in Pakistan, US Joint Chiefs of Staff denied that US troops were involved in combat operations with the Pakistani military.

Mullen said no joint operation was being conducted in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and reiterated US respected Pakistan's sovereignty.