United States Defence Secretary Robert Gates has rubbished Pakistan's long-standing stance that unresolved issues like the Kashmir dispute were breeding terrorism and providing food for thought for banned extremist organisations like the Al Qaeda.
While interacting with reporters at the residence of US Ambassador Anne Patterson in Islamabad, Gates said groups like the Al Qaeda are hardly concerned over the Kashmir issue.
"Al Qaeda doesn't care about Kashmir, what it cares about is creating problems and provoking conflicts," Gates said.
Gates's latest remarks are in addition to his statements, which he gave in New Delhi earlier this week, that Al Qaeda through its off-shoots such as the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and other similar organisations, was trying to destabilise the region by igniting a war between India and Pakistan.
He warned that 'bifurcating' these banned extremist organisations into 'good and 'bad' was a 'mistaken approach'.
Responding to queries over the Pakistan army's decision against launching any new offensive against extremists in the next six to twelve months, Gates said, "Pakistan is a sovereign country and it would make its own decisions about what is the best timing for their military operation, when they are going to do it, or whether they are going to do it at all."
He also clarified that the US defence deparment had nothing to do with the controversial private security firm Blackwater's presence in Pakistan.
"We have no connection with Blackwater in Pakistan. The department of defence does not use Blackwater in Pakistan. Well, they're (Blackwater) operating as individual companies here in Pakistan, in Afghanistan and in Iraq," Gates said.
It is pertinent to mention here that a couple of days ago, Gates had admitted the presence of Blackwater and DynCorp in Pakistan.