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Pakistan’s Insurgent Havens Strain Ties With U.S.

December 17, 2010 at 5:46 PM EDT

JEFFREY BROWN: And we turn to Pakistan, the U.S. ally in the fight against terror accused of harboring terrorists.

Margaret Warner has the story.

MARGARET WARNER: U.S. drone aircraft struck again today in a stepped- up campaign to secure Pakistan’s restive borderlands. Pakistani officials said the missiles killed 54 suspected militants in the Khyber district, near the Afghan border. It’s an area seldom hit before now.

The attacks along the frontier came as the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs was in the Afghan capital, Kabul. Admiral Mike Mullen said he believes Pakistan is capable of clearing out the Pakistani safe havens from which insurgents flow in and out of Afghanistan to attack U.S. and Afghan forces.

ADMIRAL MICHAEL MULLEN, chairman, Joints Chiefs: If I were to use a measure of what’s changed over the course of the last two years in Pakistan with respect to its military operations, its focus, I would say that I certainly think it is very possible that the Pakistan military can achieve that — achieve the goal, as well, which shuts down those safe havens.

MARGARET WARNER: The administration’s Afghan war review, released Thursday, said a major challenge to the success of the U.S. war in Afghanistan is Pakistan’s failure to fully shut down those havens within its borders.

The U.S. has tried to win Pakistan’s cooperation with a massive influx of military and civilian assistance: $9.5 billion over five years. The Pakistani military did wage campaigns against Pakistani Taliban last year in the Swat Valley and the South Waziristan tribal region. But, so far, Pakistan has resisted going into North Waziristan and militant-ridden areas of the expansive southern province of Balochistan.

Even so, Defense Secretary Gates said yesterday there is enhanced military-to-military cooperation, and it is getting results.

U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ROBERT GATES: Everybody knows that failure to deal with the safe havens does present a real challenge, but I would argue that we are in the process of dealing with those safe havens, the Pakistanis on their side of the border, and Afghanistan, Pakistan and us working together.

MARGARET WARNER: There’s a decidedly different view from retired General Jack Keane, adviser to the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus.

On the NewsHour last night, Keane said Pakistan is double-dealing.

GEN. JACK KEANE (RET.), U.S. Army: And let me tell you this. Make no mistake about it. The evidence is unequivocal that the government of Pakistan and the military leadership of Pakistan aids and abets those sanctuaries. We have clear evidence to that — that fact. That’s the reality. It’s not a question of unable or unwilling.

MARGARET WARNER: Tension in the U.S.-Pakistani relationship was reflected today in news that the CIA station chief in Islamabad has left the country. His cover had been blown when he was named in a lawsuit over the drone attacks.

The Associated Press quoted a Pakistani officer who said the country’s intelligence service knew the man’s identity, but had no clue how it was leaked.