Pentagon Welcomes Pakistani Raids, Calls for Sustained Effort Against Terror Networks

The Pentagon has welcomed Pakistan's raid on alleged terrorist bases in its northwestern region, but says counter-terrorism efforts need to be made on a sustained basis. 

Press Secretary Geoff Morrell says neither Pakistan nor India has asked the U.S. military for help in responding to the Mumbai attacks.  But at a news conference Tuesday he welcomed Pakistan's raids in its tribal areas, which are reported to have netted the alleged mastermind of the attacks.

"We see it as a positive step," he said.  "I think what all the problems we have emanating from Pakistan, terror-wise, is that this is a problem that needs to be dealt with on a sustained basis, that it can't be done in fits and starts, that there needs to be a constant and vigilant effort to go after the terrorist networks that exist there and throughout the region."

Morrell said the United States is prepared to help both Pakistan and India deal with their terrorism problems, but he would not comment on whether the United States has asked for any specific action, such as access for its experts to the captured terror suspects. 

President-elect Barack Obama has called the terrorist safe havens in northwestern Pakistan the biggest threat to the security of Americans.  

During a speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, President Bush said Pakistan has some of the most dangerous "ungoverned spaces" in the world.  He said the United States wants to help Pakistan and other countries get control of such areas.

"The Pakistani people and government understand the threat because they have been victims of terror themselves," said Mr. Bush. "They are working to enforce the law and fight terror in the border areas, and our government is providing strong support for these efforts."

U.S. air strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas, which have resulted in a number of civilian casualties,  have been sharply criticized by officials and the Pakistani public.  But President Bush repeated that while the United States wants to help partner nations deal with their own terrorism problems, it will do whatever it must to protect its troops just across the border in Afghanistan.

In a column in Tuesday's New York Times newspaper, Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari said Pakistanis understand the threat of terrorism because they have repeatedly been the victims of it.  He says terrorists have killed nearly 2,000 Pakistanis so far this year alone.  He said he is determined to fight terrorist groups in his country, but he also warned Indian officials and ordinary citizens not to use the Mumbai attacks to stir up anti-Pakistan feeling and to push for military action.  He said if that happens, the Mumbai terrorists will have accomplished their mission.

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