The US would keep on pressing Pakistan to act decisively against all terror groups within its territory as “just knocking down Taliban somewhere” does not affect the militants’ widespread syndicate, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said.
“We are going to keep pressing (Pakistan). This is the highest priority to us,” she told the popular Charlie Rose show.
The US is encouraged and supportive of what Pakistan is doing and wants “more help against our common enemy,” Ms. Clinton said.
Asked if she is convinced that Pakistan now understands that the Taliban is their enemy, she said Islamabad is now “evidencing that.”
Ms. Clinton, who was recently in Pakistan, said Pakistanis understand too “that you can’t just play Whack-A-Mole” -- a machine game where moles begin to pop up from holes at random and the aim is to force the individual moles back into their holes by hitting them directly on the head with the mallet.
“You can’t just knock down the Taliban somewhere and expect you’re done, because they have unfortunately created this syndicate, this network of interconnected terrorist groups,” she said. “So the Pakistanis have to be vigilant.”
The top US diplomat said that in her conversations with both civilian government leaders and military intelligence, she found awareness that the Taliban is not just about somebody else’s fight, “it is a direct attack on the authority of the Pakistani Government”.
“When you have extremists attacking your General army headquarters, your intelligence offices, who go right at the Islamic University in Islamabad, this is not some foreign plot,” Ms. Clinton said.
“These are people, home-grown, who want to overthrow various aspects of the Pakistani government and control territory within the boundaries of Pakistan. So there’s no doubt in my mind that they see this as a direct threat,” the Secretary of State said.
Ms. Clinton said she did raise the issue of the Pakistani establishment not knowing the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, after listening to the Pakistani concerns about the US.
“We find it hard to believe that nobody knows where the al-Qaeda leadership is. And I think that there is no evidence that anybody in the government at the top levels knows,” she said.
Ms. Clinton said the US was trying to make Pakistani accept “the fact that the al-Qaeda leadership is arrayed against them as well and still poses a direct threat to us“.
In a separate interview, Ms. Clinton said she believed Pakistan’s nuclear weapons were secure and protected, but maintained that the safe havens for al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorists in the country were “very troubling“.
Ms. Clinton said capturing and killing al-Qaeda leadership was “a very high priority” for the Obama administration and Pakistan’s help was needed in order to achieve that.
Asked if she still feared that intelligence services in Pakistan were not reliable, Ms. Clinton said: “Not at the highest level”.