Pakistan denied its army was behind an explosion that killed six people at a militant's home. The incident took place on the third day of a fresh offensive to push back rebels trying to sabotage international forces near the Afghan border.
The US administration last year drew up a plan making it easier for US special forces to launch missions into Pakistani tribal areas, but internal disagreements have kept it from getting a green light, The New York Times reported Monday.
An unnamed senior defense official told the daily there was "mounting frustration" over the situation at the Pentagon, since US experts widely believe Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden is hiding in a mountainous region on the Afghan border.
Citing "more than four dozen interviews in Washington and Pakistan," the Times said that "American intelligence officials say that the Qaeda hunt in Pakistan, code-named Operation Cannonball by the CIA in 2006, was often undermined by bitter disagreements within the Bush administration and within the CIA, including about whether American commandos should launch ground raids inside the tribal areas" in an effort to capture or kill Al-Qaeda leaders.
Pakistan is a key US ally in its war on terror, but critics are concerned it has kept a hands-off attitude toward potential Al-Qaeda operations in the tribal areas.
"From my perspective I don't see anything really new in this story. This is a rehash of things that have been said in the past. Certainly there are going to be those who criticize the effort," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.
"What I can tell you is that the President has a strong, overarching commitment to make sure that we track down and bring to justice Osama bin Laden and other top members of Al-Qaeda," she stressed.
"I would say to you in the last seven years there has been a lot of success in terms of finding that second- and third-level Al-Qaeda guy. And we have been able to prevent attacks so far," Perino argued.
Asked about any possible disagreements within the US administration on handling such operations in Paskistan, Perino said: "not any that is impeding an effort.
"If there is any disagreement, it's not anything that is rising to the level to impeding our chances of getting Osama bin Laden. I can imagine if you have these very smart and intelligent people, all with the same goal of trying to find Osama bin Laden, there might be different ideas on how to do that."
"We work very closely with the government of Pakistan to combat a common terrorist threat that exists," added Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman.
Date created : 2008-06-30