US Secretary for State Hillary Clinton has described the “safe haven” that al-Qaida has found in Pakistan as “very troubling” and said that the terror group is engaged with the Pakistani Taliban in threatening the state of Pakistan.
According to a transcript of Clinton’s interview by German Der Spiegel newspaper released by the state department, she said that the US was in Afghanistan “because we believe that we cannot permit the return of a safe haven or a staging platform for terrorists”.
“We think that al-Qaeda and the other extremists are part of a syndicate of terror, with Al Qaida still being an inspiration, a funder, a trainer, an equipper, director of a lot of what goes on.
“In the last two months, we have arrested a gentleman who was plotting, it’s alleged, against the subway system in New York who went to an Al Qaida training camp in Pakistan,” she said.
“The porous nature of that border is one that we consider to be very dangerous,” Clinton said, noting that the government and military of Pakistan are now moving against some of these extremists.
In response to a query regarding safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, Clinton said: “The nuclear arsenal that Pakistan has, I believe is secure. I think that the government and the military have taken adequate steps to protect that.”
But “the safe haven that al-Qaeda has found in Pakistan is very troubling”, Clinton said, noting “they are still actively engaged with the elements of the Pakistani Taliban that are threatening the state of Pakistan”.
Responding to another question if she still feared that intelligence services in Pakistan are not trustworthy, she said: “Not at the highest levels”. But “I would like to see a real effort made on the part of the top leadership to make sure that no one down the ranks is doing anything to give any kind of support or cover-up to the al-Qaida leadership”.
In another interview on the Charlie Rose Show, Clinton said Pakistan was now “evidencing” that the Taliban is their enemy as much as their long-held opposition to India.
“Well, they’re certainly evidencing that. This very forceful response, first in Swat, now in South Waziristan, illustrates a commitment to take on the Pakistani Taliban.
“I think in my conversations with both the civilian government leaders as well as the military intelligence leaders, there is awareness that the Taliban is not just about somebody else’s fight, it is a direct attack on the authority of the Pakistani government,” she said.