Washington: The United States has given Pakistan time till July to capture Al Qaeda leader Ilyas Kashmiri and Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Omar. It has also warned of a military offensive in North Waziristan if they are not captured. The July deadline coincides with NATO and allied forces withdrawing from Afghanistan.
Last week, the US had handed over to Pakistan a list of five terrorists, seeking immediate intelligence information on them. It reportedly also wanted Pakistan to possibly target these terrorists in joint operations.
Besides Ilyas Kashmiri and Mullah Omar, the list included Al Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman al Zawahiri, the operating chief of Haqqani network Sirajuddin Haqqani and the Libyan operations chief of Al Qaeda Atiya Abdel Rahman. Abdel Rahman had emerged as a key intermediary between Osama bin Laden and Qaeda's affiliate networks across the world.
The list was discussed during two meetings between Pakistani and US officials in the past two weeks, and also during US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's talks with Pakistani leaders in Islamabad on Friday, ABC News quoted a US official as saying.
The US views the list as a test of whether Pakistan is "serious about fighting terrorists who have long enjoyed safe havens within its borders", the ABC report said.
An American source also confirmed the existence of the list to Dawn newspaper and said the US softening its position on unilateral action against terrorists found in Pakistan was conditional.
"The message given to Pakistani leaders was loud and clear: you either cooperate with us on these terrorists or we'll take care of them by ourselves," the source was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
Story first published:
June 02, 2011 08:44 IST