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WASHINGTON — Even as it faces an enduring terrorist threat and rising violence in Afghanistan, the Bush administration has failed to develop a comprehensive plan to eliminate al Qaida and its sanctuary in Pakistan's remote tribal region, the investigative arm of Congress said Thursday.
The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office's scathing report says that the administration has relied too heavily on Pakistani security forces to deal with a major U.S. national-security problem.
Bin Laden, his core followers and other foreign extremists, as well as the Afghan Taliban, established training camps and bases in the region after fleeing the 2001 U.S.-led intervention in Afghanistan. Pakistani militant groups also have gained sanctuaries from which they have launched dozens of suicide bombings.
Al Qaida has used its haven to support the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan against U.S.-led NATO forces and President Hamid Karzai's government. Recent studies say the level of violence for the first quarter of this year is as high or higher than it was during the same period in 2007.
Pakistan has refused to allow large-scale U.S. military operations in the tribal areas, an impoverished Massachusetts-size region of mountains and valleys inhabited by deeply conservative Pashtun tribes.