By NBF News

US says Pakistan is avoiding direct conflict with the militants in the tribal areas

The US can win the Afghan war even if Pakistan does not shut down militant safe havens on its side of the border, a top US commander has said.

Deputy commander of US forces in Afghanistan Lt Gen David Rodriguez said Pakistan had launched effective operations along the north-west border.

But Islamabad needed to do more in North Waziristan, he said.

Pakistan has come under increasing criticism from the West for its support of al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.

Last month, a US strategic review of the war said Pakistan must do more to defeat the militants.

“That's not a mission-stopper in my mind,” Lt Gen Rodriguez said, referring to the continuing presence of militant sanctuaries in North Waziristan.

“We need them [Pakistan] to do more. We're going to encourage them to do more because that makes it easier on what we're doing,” he told a press conference in Pentagon on Tuesday.

“But I think it's still doable, without them decreasing what they've been doing, which is significant,” he added.

The US has long expressed frustration about Pakistan's reluctance to take on militants in the tribal areas.

In a report in October, the White House accused the Pakistani military of continuing to avoid military engagements that would put it in direct conflict with Afghan Taliban or al-Qaeda forces in North Waziristan.

Pakistan denies the charge and says it works together with the US in the “war against terror”.