ISLAMABAD: Taliban and Al Qaeda militants are hiding not only in tribal areas but also in Pakistani cities, said former CIA director Michael Hayden.
Former US Senator Richard Lugar, who co-authored the $7.5bn Kerry-Lugar assistance package for Pakistan, wants the United States to offer another similar package after the present arrangement expires later this year.
Jalil Abbas Jilani, Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington, believes that Pak-US relations are again on an upward trajectory and will continue to improve.
The three speakers made these observations at the annual convention of Pakistani physicians in North America and at a dinner arranged by the alumni of the Allama Iqbal Medical College in Washington recently.
Gen Hayden welcomed the military operation in North Waziristan as a step in the right direction but warned that it was not enough. Pakistan will have to deal with the militants hiding in the cities as well if it wants to defeat terrorism, he said.
He said the US should help Pakistan in bringing development to terrorism-afflicted areas. “We need our two friends - Afghanistan and Pakistan — to work hard to eliminate those safe havens and to cooperate with one another,” he said. “I strongly believe that a residual American force is good for America, good for Afghanistan and good for Pakistan,” said Gen Hayden while stressing the need for continued US presence in the region.
Senator Lugar opposed the notion of US disengagement with Pakistan, noting that it was a nuclear-armed nation in a strategically important region of the world.