According to The Washington Post, US military and intelligence officials said Mullah Fazlullah, the mastermind of the attack on child activist Malala Yousafzai, was operating out of a region adjoining Pakistan, where several hundred US troops are stationed. But they said finding Fazlullah was not a priority, because he is not affiliated with al Qaeda or with insurgents targeting US and Afghan interests. “Our guys just aren’t tracking him,” a senior Special Operations official said, requesting anonymity. “He is viewed as an “other-side-of-the-border’ problem”. Asked if Fazlullah was a priority, a senior intelligence official, also speaking on condition of anonymity responded, “Not with so many other potential targets” in Afghanistan. Officials said extremists from Pakistan also have managed to evade the Pakistani army and CIA drones by finding sanctuary in remote parts of Afghanistan. “The Fata [Federally Administered Tribal Areas] is difficult [for insurgents] because there are drone strikes,” said a congressional staffer, requesting anonymity. “It’s easier to be in eastern Afghanistan where there’s no real presence” of US troops. Tom Collins, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) in Kabul, said: “Isaf is maintaining steady pressure on insurgents throughout Afghanistan. Mullah Fazlullah, like many insurgents who are transitory, remains a person of interest. If we receive actionable intelligence that he is in Afghanistan, we will attempt to take him off the battlefield.” Collecting accurate intelligence is the most difficult step in locating and attacking enemy forces. In Kunar and Nuristan, the two Afghan provinces where Fazlullah is believed to be hiding, the problem is tougher because Isaf advisers believe the Afghan Army is allowing the Pakistani Taliban to operate in retribution for Pakistan not doing enough to stop cross-border rocket attacks and armed infiltrators using Pakistan as a haven. The Pakistan government has criticised both the US and Afghanistan for not trying harder to capture or kill Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan. Washington, for its part, has long accused Pakistan of refusing to take on the Haqqani network, which uses northwestern Pakistan as its base for attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan. Published in The Express Tribune, November 8th, 2012.