Sr. US Official: Threat to US comes from Pakistan, not Afghanistan
WASHINGTON (PAN): Endorsing the repeated remarks of Afghan President Hamid Karzai on terrorism in the region, a senior US administration official said Wednesday that Afghanistan no longer poses a threat to the United States.
Rather, the biggest threat to US security comes from terrorist safe havens inside Pakistan.
As such, it is incumbent upon Pakistan to show its commitment to the war against terrorism and take concrete steps to eliminate the cancer of terrorism from its soil. Otherwise, the US would continue to take unilateral actions to destroy those safe havens and terrorists, the official said.
“We haven't seen a terrorist threat emanating from Afghanistan for the past seven or eight years,” a senior Administration official said on condition of anonymity, explaining the rationale of the troop drawdown from Afghanistan.
As of now, it is estimated that there are 50-75 Al Qaeda personnel embedded in the Haqqani network, essentially doing tactical fighting inside of Afghanistan. “There is no indication at all that there is any effort within Afghanistan to use Afghanistan as a launching pad to carry out attacks outside of Afghan borders,” the official said.
On the other hand, the official said the main threat has come from Pakistan over the past half-dozen years or so, and longer. “What we've been able to do, particularly over the last year, but through the course of the last two-and-a-half years of this administration, is to degrade Al Qaeda’s core capabilities significantly. We have taken a significant number of key senior leaders off of the battlefield,” he said.
Waziristan has become an unsafe environment for terrorists, he said, and that has significantly slowed the flow of recruits into Afghanistan. A number of Al Qaeda affiliates have been looking elsewhere because they have not been able to carry out their activities in the area any longer.
“Working with the Pakistanis whenever we can, but also working on our own, we have been able to … take off of the battlefield significant numbers of al-Qaida and associated militant types,” the administration officials said.
He said the campaign against terrorist in Pakistan has been successful because of the “surgical” precision with which Al Qaeda and its affiliates are being pursued.
“Although there's been a lot of media attention put to the Pakistani push-back on certain programs, the truth is that a number of individuals within the Pakistani counterterrorism environment see that our capabilities are not just impressive, but also needed as a way to degrade the capabilities there of Al Qaeda,” he said.
The official says the administration is confident that the drawdown of troops will not increase the terrorism threat to the US.
“Again, we don't see a transnational threat coming out of Afghanistan, in terms of the terrorist threat. [The drawdown is] not going to affect at all the threat in Pakistan, either,” he said.
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