US-Pak secret efforts on to weed out Al-Qaeda from FATA: Petraeus

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

WASHINGTON - The commander of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, has said that the United States and Pakistan were involved in secret efforts to put ‘considerable pressure’ on the Al-Qaeda and other extremists groups operating in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

Petraeus’ comments come after a classified US diplomatic cable released earlier last week by whistleblower website WikiLeaks suggested that the US had special operations forces in FATA, who, at least twice, had embedded with the Pakistan’s Frontier Corps in operations against Al-Qaeda militants.

“Certainly there are efforts ongoing that we don’t talk about that do, indeed, put pressure, considerable pressure, on Al-Qaeda and some of the other groups that are in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas,” the News quoted Petraeus, as saying in an interview to ABC News.

Petraeus also praised Pakistan for what he called “very impressive counter-insurgency operations”.

“It’s also important to recognise what Pakistan has done over the course of the last 20 months,” Petraeus said.

“They’ve carried out very impressive and very costly in terms of casualties - very - very impressive counter-insurgency operations against the Pakistani Taliban, against the Punjabi Taliban, groups that threaten the very existence of Pakistan,” he added.

However, he stressed that “more clearly needs to be done in the tribal areas of Pakistan to weed out Al-Qaeda”.

The ISAF chief also said that the US would continue to put ‘considerable pressure’ on these areas.

When asked if he had the full cooperation of the government, the military, and the intelligence services of Pakistan, Petraeus said that he continued to have a “very close relationship with Pakistani Army Chief General Kayani”. (ANI)

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