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The government of Pakistan continues its military offensive against extremists operating within its soil, taking the fight to the north-western border area where the extremists make their headquarters.
The fighting is concentrated in the South Waziristan Agency, a sparsely populated region of arid mountains and rocky plains that is widely considered to be a hub for Islamist militants.
In recent months, Taliban insurgents in the north western border areas, militants in the densely populated province of Punjab and foreign al-Qaida fighters have joined forces and have increasingly conducted a wave of attacks that began in early October and left dozens of people dead.
The Pakistani government clearly needs to quell the activity of the Taliban militants, said U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates:
"I think that the terrorist attacks that have been launched inside Pakistan in recent days made clear the need to begin [to] deal with this problem. And so we obviously are very supporting of what the Pakistanis are doing."
The United States regards the developments in this part of Pakistan as very much a part of what’s happening in Afghanistan. One of the major reasons that we are supporting these efforts is to help us reach success in Afghanistan as well, said U.S. Department of State Spokesman Ian Kelly:
"We have a shared goal here, and the shared goal is fighting violent extremism. We’ve been quite clear that we see a continuum between Pakistan and Afghanistan. And one of the reasons that we’re supporting the Government of Pakistan in their fight against these violent extremists and terrorist organizations within their border is because, of course, there is this continuum -- between the border areas, a continuum between Pakistan and Afghanistan. And we support their efforts to try and fight these elements."
We’re not asking them to fight side-by-side with us. We are offering to partner with the Pakistanis as they deal with these extremist elements within their borders, said Spokesman Kelly. We have full faith in the Government of Pakistan and we support its efforts.