Pakistan said that it will use all its resources to eradicate “terrorist hideouts” as the government and army face criticism over security failures following this week’s militant attack on a naval base.
“Security, defense and law enforcement agencies will be authorized to use all means necessary to eliminate terrorists and militants,” the government said in a statement late yesterday after a meeting of the defense committee that is headed by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and includes army and intelligence chiefs.
The U.S. military says its war against the Taliban in Afghanistan is hindered by Pakistan’s failure to shut down militant havens in the mountainous border district of North Waziristan. The statement didn’t mention the areas where Pakistan will be more aggressively confronting guerrillas.
American officials say Pakistan’s intelligence agency maintains ties to guerrillas based in North Waziristan.
A raid by members of Pakistan’s Taliban movement May 23 on an airbase in Karachi, the country’s biggest city, destroyed some of the country’s newest surveillance planes and heightened concern that the military is unable to guard its own assets, including nuclear weapons.
“We have an effective command and control system for ensuring the safety and security of our nuclear weapons and related systems,” Gilani said in remarks before the meeting, according to a separate statement issued by his office. “These arrangements conform with the highest international standards and practices followed by other nuclear-weapon states.”
The Pentagon today said it remained confident that Pakistan’s military and its government can maintain the security of their nuclear arsenal.
“I’d say, without getting into specifics, with all the information available to us, we have confidence that the Pakistani nuclear enterprise is secure,” Marine Corps Colonel David Lapan told reporters at the Pentagon today.
The Pakistan military’s failure on May 2 to detect the entry of U.S. helicopter-borne commandos as they flew 150 kilometers (90 miles) into the country to kill al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the town of Abbottabad, 50 kilometers north of Islamabad, drew criticism from opposition leaders.
General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani made only the second appearance by a Pakistani army chief before a civilian government’s Parliament to explain the military’s inability to expose bin Laden’s hideout or track the American force that killed him in a town close to the capital.
Army offensives against the local Taliban movement and allied guerrillas in other tribal districts, including South Waziristan and the Swat Valley, have triggered retaliatory attacks that the government says have killed thousands of Pakistani citizens and security personnel.