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WASHINGTON, June 13: The issue of June 10 air strike on a checkpost in Pakistans Mohmand tribal agency came up for discussion at a Senate hearing where a State Department official, Donald Camp, said that “Pakistan’s government must bring the frontier area under its control”.

He told a Senate Homeland Security subcommittee that the United States understood the new Islamabad government wanted to use talks with tribal leaders to secure peace.

“However, outcomes are what matter,” Mr Camp said. “An agreement that allows extremists to regroup and rearm is not acceptable.”

Carl Levin, who heads the Senate Committee on Armed Services and is expected to have a key role in a Democratic administration, demanded the right of retaliation for Nato forces deployed along the Afghan border.

He said the US forces in Afghanistan had the right to retaliate if they were attacked by militants from the Pakistani side of the border but Nato forces did not.

“It is absurd. They too should have this right,” he added.

Senator Levin, who recently returned from a trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan, said he believed Pakistan “lacks both in capability and intention” to fight the Taliban and Al Qaeda militants.

He claimed that there were individuals in the Pakistani government institutions, particularly the Frontier Corps, who helped the Taliban and Al Qaeda.Stephen Cohen, a renowned US scholar on South Asian affairs, told the committee he believed that Pakistan had tolerated US incursions into the tribal territories as part of a larger deal.

Mr Cohen said that so far nobody had linked the US air strikes to the $1 billion annual assistance Pakistan received from the United States “but obviously there is a link”.

Two other witnesses, Lisa Curtis of the Heritage Foundation and Michael Krepon of the Stimson Centre, reminded the committee that Pakistan remains a key ally in the war against terror and the US should not take measures that affected this relationship.

They said that Pakistan might lack in capability to fight terrorists and there might be individuals in Pakistani institutions that supported them but there’s no reason to doubt its commitment.

The subcommittee chairman, Senator Tom Carper, however, noted that “most national security experts agreed that Pakistan was the most dangerous country in the world today”.