Top Pentagon officer rules out military operation in Pakistan


Islamabad : Stating that the United States had no concerns about Islamabad’s nuclear arsenal falling into the hands of terrorists, America’s top military officer today ruled out operations by his troops in Pakistani territory.

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Admiral Michael Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he was “very comfortable that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are secure” and the US was “not concerned that they are going to fall into the hands of t errorists”.

Mullen, who arrived here Friday on an official visit to Pakistan, conceded that the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan had become “safe havens” for Taliban and Al-Qaeda elements but ruled out any independent operations by US troops against terrorists on Pakistani territory.

“Pakistan is a sovereign country and this a sacred trust that the people of the US understand.” The US forces would in “no way, shape or form invade or (carry out an) attack in Pakistan”, Mullen told a news conference here.

Mullen addressed the media after wide-ranging discussions on the security situation in Pakistan and the region with President Pervez Musharraf, Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Tariq Majeed and Lt Gen (retired) Khalid Kidwai, the head of the Strategic Plans Division that controls the country’s nuclear arsenal.

The Admiral, making his first visit to Pakistan after being appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff last year, said the Pakistani armed forces are making “very real sacrifices” in operations in the region bordering Afghanistan.

The tribal areas had become “safe havens” for the Taliban and Al-Qaeda who were “defeated and pushed out in large numbers” from Afghanistan, he said.