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US would not hesitate to hit Al Qaeda targets inside Pakistan

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : US Vice President Joseph R. Biden has reiterated President Barack Obama’s campaign stand that he would not hesitate to attack actionable targets “of high-level Al Qaeda personnel” inside Pakistan.

Appearing on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ programme Sunday, he also declined to respond to a question whether the US would notify Pakistan before any cross-border movements for action in its territory.

“I can’t speak to any particular attack. I can’t speak to any particular action. It’s not appropriate for me to do that,” Biden said when asked whether last week’s reported attack by an American drone on an Al Qaeda force in Pakistan indicated a continuation of former President George Bush’s policy.

“But I can say that the president of the United States said during his campaign and in the debates that if there is an actionable target, of a high-level Al Qaeda personnel, that he would not hesitate to use action to deal with that.

When asked if the US would notify Islamabad before any such cross- border movements, he said: “I always try to be completely candid with you, but I can’t respond to that question. I’m not going to respond to that question.”

Biden, who recently visited Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq as a senator before being sworn in, said the good news from his last trip was that there is a great deal more cooperation going on now between the Pakistan military in its tribal area that has been ungovernable for the Pakistani government.

Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) — “Waziristan, North Waziristan — all that area we hear about, that is really sort of ungovernable. Not sort of, it’s been ungovernable for the Pakistani government,” Biden said.

“That’s where the bad guys are hiding. That’s where the Al Qaida folks are, and some other malcontents.”

“And so what we’re doing is we’re in the process of working with the Pakistanis to help train up their counterinsurgency capability of their military, and we’re getting new agreements with them about how to deal with cross-border movements of these folks, so we’re making progress.”

In Afghanistan too “things are going to get tougher before they get better,” Biden said.

What’s happened, he said, is that because of a “failure to provide sufficient resources, economic, political and military,” the situation has deteriorated a great deal and “Taliban is in effective control of significant parts of the country they were not before.”

“So the bottom line here is, we’ve inherited a real mess. We’re about to go in and try to essentially reclaim territory that’s been effectively lost,” he said. “And all of that means we’re going to be engaging the enemy more now.”

Asked if more American casualties should be expected, Biden said: “I hate so say it, but yes, I think there will be. There will be an uptick.”