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New Af-Pak intel report point to persistent problem: Pakistan

By Pam Benson, CNN National Security Producer
  • Pakistan is not doing enough to combat extremists, U.S. intelligence report says
  • Security in Afghanistan depends on Pakistani action, it says, according to a source
  • An Obama administration review of its Afghan policy is to be released Thursday

Washington (CNN) -- Despite aid and assistance from the United States, terrorist safe havens in Pakistan continue to be a major threat to security in Afghanistan, the latest intelligence community assessment concludes, according to a U.S. official.

The intelligence community recently completed two assessments, one on Afghanistan and the other on Pakistan.

Although the official would not discuss the particulars of the reports, known as National Intelligence Estimates, the source said the intelligence community agreed that security in Afghanistan depends on Pakistan eliminating the terrorist safe havens in its tribal areas along the Afghanistan border.

The official said Pakistan is not doing enough to combat extremists who are launching cross-border attacks.

A year ago, when President Barack Obama announced his new strategy in Afghanistan, he hammered home a key foreign policy principle: that success in Afghanistan is "inextricably linked to our partnership with Pakistan."

Early in his administration, the president had outlined an extensive plan for Pakistan that included bolstering Afghan-Pakistani cooperation, helping the security forces fight militants, increasing economic assistance, and improving Pakistan's governmental capacity and performance.

The United States has tried to prod the Pakistani military into taking more aggressive steps in the save havens, but the army has been reluctant to pursue al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban who fled to Pakistan after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

While there's no agreement between the United States and Pakistan to deploy U.S. troops into that country, the Obama administration has dramatically increased CIA drone missile strikes against militant targets in Pakistan's northwestern tribal areas near the Afghan border. CIA Director Leon Panetta has called those airstrikes "very effective."

The completion of the new intelligence estimates comes ahead of Thursday's release of the Obama administration's review of its Afghanistan policy.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Monday the interagency study by the Defense Department, the State Department and the National Security Council is essentially diagnostic in nature.

"We're trying to determine how we're doing on our core objective, which is essentially to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda, as well as build a viable and prosperous Afghan government," he said.

Although Toner described the challenges in Afghanistan as "considerable," and emphasized the conflict can't be won through military means alone, he said "great strides" have been made, including "success in extending (the) civilian reach to more areas of the country."

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs also said the United States is seeing some progress, but many challenges remain in both security and governance.

Gibbs indicated Obama will make a statement about the review on Thursday and, if schedules permit, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will answer questions about the report.