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US admits it is hunting Al Qaeda on Pakistan soil

April 18, 2013 10:48 IST

The United States is dealing with the Al Qaeda element on the Pakistan side of the border, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel conceded and acknowledged that its drone programme has been pretty successful.

"Yes," Hagel told lawmakers when Senator Lindsay Graham, asked on Wednesday, "There is an Al Qaeda element on the Pakistan side of the border that we've been dealing with. Is that correct?"

"It has been, yes," Hagel responded during a Congressional hearing when Graham said, "The drone programme has been pretty successful".

Graham hoped the infrastructure put in place in Afghanistan by the US would not be dismantled post 2014.

"The infrastructure that we have in place to identify Al Qaeda movements in Pakistan and Afghanistan and to neutralize their ability to hit us, I hope we don't dismantle that. As we wind down the war in Afghanistan, I hope we realise that this is the place we're attacked from, that Al Qaeda still exists in that region and that a stable, secure Afghanistan would be a tremendous win for us and over the war on terror," he said.

In his remarks, Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said that the campaign in Afghanistan is now on track to reach a major milestone later this spring when the lead for security throughout Afghanistan will transition fully to Afghan security forces.

"There are clear signs that the Afghan security forces are capable of taking the fight to the Taliban and are doing so effectively. Operations by Afghan security forces are increasingly conducted by Afghan units on their own, that is, without international forces present. There are fewer Afghan civilian casualties in recent months and fewer US and coalition casualties, including a four-week stretch earlier this year with no US or coalition fatalities," he said.

General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in Afghanistan, US forces are simultaneously fighting, transitioning and redeploying.

"The Afghan military will soon take operational lead for security across the country. As they gain confidence, so too do the Afghan people," he said.

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