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Terrorist safe havens in Pakistan an issue of concern: Carter

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US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Tuesday expressed concern over terrorist safe havens in Pakistan, while a top Pentagon general told lawmakers the level of counter-terrorism co-operation from Islamabad has been unsatisfactory.

“We are concerned about it,” Carter told members of the House Armed Services Committee when Congresswoman Susan Davis asked what his apprehensions about Pakistan’s commitment to eliminating terrorist outfits were.

The US had been pressing Pakistan on the issue of insurgent sanctuaries, a principal threat to the Pakistani state today, said the secretary, who recently met Gen. Raheel Sharif at the Pentagon.

“We do press them on the need to fight terrorists and to recognise that terrorism is a threat to Pakistan as well as to its neighbours and to US forces in the region,” Carter remarked.

Meanwhile, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford said:  “We are never satisfied with the level of cooperation and support that we have from Pakistan. But we do have open lines of communication.”

However, he believed over the past 18 to 24 months, the Pakistanis realised that violent extremism presented an existential threat to their state. As a result, the level of cooperation has improved over the past year and a half.

Dunford, who has been commander of US forces in Afghanistan, called the landlocked country a declared area of hostilities. “Certainly as the commander there, I didn’t have any restrictions on my ability to act when there was a threat to US forces or to the mission,” he said in response to a question. (PAN)