Nomination hearing: ‘Terrorism Pakistan’s biggest challenge’

Published: June 10, 2011

Until safe havens exist in Pakistan, the US cannot win in Afghanistan, says CIA chief.


CIA chief Leon Panetta said on Thursday that terrorists posed the biggest threat to Pakistan’s sovereignty and it is in the country’s interest to fight them because a terrorist attack happens in Pakistan almost daily.

He was answering questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee in the open session of his nomination hearing as the new Secretary of Defence here on Thursday.

Panetta said the war in Afghanistan could not be won unless America is successful in resolving the problem of safe havens in Pakistan.

Despite questions from various senators, Panetta refused to commit on a specific or even average number of troops that will begin leaving Afghanistan in July this year as part of the withdrawal process. Panetta said while there had been military gains in Afghanistan, they were “fragile and reversible,” adding that Afghanistan needed better governance.

In his submitted responses to the committee prior to the hearing, Panetta said “our military to military relationship with Pakistan, like our overall relationship, has featured ups and downs and is challenged by a long-term lack of trust within Pakistan about our intentions.”  In the hearing, Panetta said that while there were fruitful discussions in some areas in Pakistan, there was a lack of trust and co-operation in others.

He added that while there was no intelligence about complicity of Pakistan in sheltering Osama bin Laden, they were awaiting the results of the investigations.

In response to a question, Panetta listed the Haqqani network, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hezbollah, Hamas, Alkwai and al Shabab as some of the major terrorist organisations linked to al Qaeda.While the first session was open to media, the post-lunch session of the hearing was classified and held behind closed doors.

If confirmed, Panetta will replace Robert Gates as Secretary of Defence.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 10th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • Al Bakr bin Khufr
    Jun 10, 2011 - 9:28AM

    Pakistan is Pakistan’s biggest problem!!Recommend

  • Cautious
    Jun 10, 2011 - 9:04PM

    Panetta said the war in Afghanistan could not be won unless America is successful in resolving the problem of safe havens in Pakistan.

    Perhaps it’s time for Pakistan to pay attention — this has been a consistent message for sometime now coming from their political, military and intelligence depts and their continued drone attacks in the face of vociferous Pakistani objections would argue that they are deadly serious.Recommend

  • Humayun Farhat
    Jun 10, 2011 - 9:10PM

    The civilian government is being blamed now for not taking interest in national security matters. The public memory may be short but we have not yet gone into collective amnesia to not remember the ruckus raised by the establishment and its media stooges to successfully block the placement of the ISI under civilian control in 2008. Similarly, the civilian government and Ambassador Hussain Haqqani were much maligned for ‘engineering’ the clauses in the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act, which called for civilian oversight of the US funding to the military. And lest we forget, the ambassador neither invited nor granted visas to OBL, Ayman al-Zawahri, Mullah Omar, Tahir Yuldeshev, the Haqqani network and thousands of jihadists roaming in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Mirza
    Jun 11, 2011 - 7:42AM

    The process of nominations in the USA is a shining example of democracy and transparency in action. Even though Leon P was a congressman and then CIA chief but for his new position, he again has to go before the senate and successfully be interrogated to get the job. In other words for every important position, only the US president can nominate anybody, as long as the senate confirms it.

    Even if a congressman or a senator is found to send their nude pictures, or involved in any other scandal, it is only the congress which can demand its removal. When Bill Clinton was involved in Monica scandal, nobody demanded his overthrow. The army generals were still obeying his orders and opening his limo door. The US army remains the servant of people and their elected representatives that is why they are what they are.Recommend

  • sam
    Jun 11, 2011 - 1:30PM

    “CIA chief Leon Panetta said on Thursday that terrorists posed the biggest threat to Pakistan’s sovereignty ” we lost our sovereignty the they the drone attacks beganRecommend

  • Jun 11, 2011 - 7:26PM

    @Humayun Farhat:
    Pl. keep up this real crusade as we all and the world knows what these terrorists with the help of our own people are doing to innocents people who are butchered everyday. Nobody in media questions the security people what your duty is and for what you are paid.Recommend

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