WASHINGTON, Dec 23: US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has, for the first time, conceded that there has been a 40 per cent decrease in the number of Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters crossing into Afghanistan from Pakistan.
But this has led to an increase in Al Qaeda’s activities inside Pakistan, Mr Gates told a year-end news conference in Washington. “Al Qaeda right now seems to have turned its face toward Pakistan and attacks on the Pakistani government and Pakistani people,” he said.
Mr Gates said the United States is beginning a dialogue with the new army chief in Pakistan and has offered US assistance to help fight the terrorists inside his country. This assistance, he said, would involve both training and equipment.
Last month, the Pentagon asked Congress to provide $97 million in 2008 to build a training centre in the NWFP. This centre will provide counter-insurgency training to the Frontier Corps.
In 2007, the Pentagon received $52.6 million for this purpose.
Addressing the same news conference, Gen James Cartwright, vice-chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the US is ‘impressed’ with Gen Kayani.