WASHINGTON: Al Qaeda is trying to “bring down” Pakistan, US Vice President Joe Biden warned on Sunday, days after a war review tip-toed around Islamabad’s role in fighting extremists.
“Our overarching goal and our rationale for being there is to dismantle, ultimately defeat al Qaeda … to make sure that terrorists do not, in fact, bring down the Pakistani government, which is a nuclear power,” Biden said.
The vice-president, in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” programme, repeated threads of a one-year report on the US military surge in Afghanistan that pointed to progress but warned that more time was needed.
The report trod carefully on the uneasy US anti-terror ally following pointed criticisms of Islamabad’s nuclear safety and other areas of policy revealed in the US cables published by WikiLeaks and other reports.
Many experts say Pakistan is far less willing to take action against militants seen as useful in fighting rival India or in preserving Islamabad’s influence in Afghanistan.
While the war review called relations with Pakistan “substantial” – a departure from private US assessments that question Islamabad’s commitment to fighting extremists – it did urge some readjustment.
“For instance, the denial of extremist safe havens will require greater cooperation with Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan,” it said.
Biden measured success against al Qaeda by noting it had been restricted to efforts like the botched underwear attack on a US-bound jetliner last Christmas and a failed amateurish bombing in New York’s Times Square in May. “We have significantly degraded a lot of the main planners and trainers. That means we’re in much better shape than we were a year ago and two and three.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 20th, 2010.