July 24, 2009
US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen on Thursday said he believed the top leadership of Al Qaeda, including Osama Bin Laden, was in Pakistan.
Talking to Al Jazeera TV, Mullen said Al Qaeda was on top of the US list of priorities and threats around the world. When asked why the United States was not in FATA despite having the knowledge that Al Qaeda was present there, he said, “Because FATA is in Pakistan and Pakistan is a sovereign country and we don’t go into sovereign countries.”
[efoods]He said Al Qaeda could strike the US from FATA therefore the top objective of the current US strategy was to defeat it, adding that Washington did not have any troops on ground in Pakistan chasing the Taliban.
“We have had trainers there for a significant period of time to train their trainers, which is [an] ongoing support function that is actually moving in the right direction,” he said, adding that some of the US troops were special forces and some were general purpose troops.
Threats: Mullen said there had been a positive shift across Pakistan, especially its military, in recent months against the Taliban.
“One of the things that has happened in Pakistan in recent months and weeks is the Pakistani military – really in response to the people of Pakistan – [and] the government of Pakistan [have] taken the threat against them very, very seriously,” the US joint chief of staff said.
However, Mullen said the Taliban could be politically engaged in the long run. “I think at some point [in the] long-term, they [Taliban] become part of the political process”.
Mullen said Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had to change its strategic thrust in the long run, which, he said, had been to “foment chaotic activity you know in its border countries”.
He said Islamabad’s that “view to its own survival and its own security” had to change at some point in the future.