By Army Staff Sgt. Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service
Oct. 22, 2008 - U.S. defense leaders have noted Pakistan's improved efforts to crack down on al-Qaida and other terrorists operating there, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said at a news conference today. "It is clearly dangerous to be an al-Qaida leader, even in the so-called safe havens they enjoy in the tribal areas of Pakistan," Morrell said, noting that a number of al-Qaida leaders have been "taken out" recently. "It appears that not even that area is completely safe for them," he said.
Pentagon officials have noticed "stepped-up operations" and a great deal of progress by the Pakistani military since August, particularly in the Peshawar and Swat areas, he said.
"These are military assessments that are made by [U.S. officials]," Morrell said. "And it does look as though the operations that are being conducted by the Pakistani military are not just more and more often, but more effective as well, dedicating more forces, more resources, [and] perhaps better strategy."
Officials here attribute Pakistan's renewed efforts and success to the will of the new government. Pakistan's government recognizes that terrorist threats exist, not only against the United States and in Afghanistan, but in Pakistan as well, Morrell said. This is evident in recent suicide bombing attacks, including the Marriott Hotel bombing last month in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad that allegedly targeted the prime minister and president, he noted.
"I think there's a recognition on the part of the Pakistani government that [terrorism] is a threat that they have to deal with directly for their own good, not just for ours," he said.