NEW YORK - Pakistan will chase militants who have crossed the Durand Line or taken refuge in other parts of Pakistan following the June 15 military action in North Waziristan, Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif has said.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, he said that Pakistan had intelligence on the whereabouts of the escaped militants and added: "We have to chase them."

Asif also said that Pakistan has changed its policy and would target all the militants, including the Haqqani network,stating they are all bad Taliban. "There are no more good Taliban," he said.

"We will eliminate all sorts of terrorists from our area without any exceptions," he said. "If there are exceptions made, then the purpose of this operation will be defeated. It has to be without making any differentiation between our Taliban and their Taliban, or good Taliban and bad Taliban."

Pakistan launched its offensive in North Waziristan with airstrikes three weeks ago,moving on to ground operations on June 30 against sanctuaries of Pakistani Taliban, Afghan insurgents and al Qaeda.

"If we have to get rid of these people, we have to get rid of them in totality,

because this is something plaguing this area for three decades. Both sides of the Durand line, Pakistan and Afghanistan, we are in dire trouble," Asif said.

The Journal quoted Saifullah Mahsud, Director of the FATA Research Center, an independent think tank in Islamabad, was quoted as stating that according to his information, the Haqqani group had left North Waziristan before the operation.

"Pakistan has the opportunity of establishing its writ in North Waziristan now and stopping militants returning there," Mahsud said.

Pakistan had appeared to be on the brink of launching the North Waziristan operation in January, it was pointed out. It was put on hold as Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif unveiled a last-ditch bid to hold peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban. That effort stalled weeks before the operation was finally announced. Many militants used that time to escape from North Waziristan,  Asif said.

"From February until June, these people had ample time to disperse, and go to safer areas," he said.

"They must have gone across border and to other parts of Pakistan also. They already had sanctuaries in Afghanistan."

He said that the problem of militancy in Pakistan stemmed from the country's"mistake" of allowing itself to be used by the US to fight the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s by supporting the Islamist resistance there.

"We radicalised because they [the US] wanted jehad, a made-in-America jehad," he Asif.

"These groups were useful to them in the '80s. The groups were useful to us also, at some stage. So they have flourished. They have multiplied. We are paying a very heavy price for the radicalisation of our religion in Pakistan." 

In the interview, Asif accused the US of duplicity, stating it supported jehadist groups in Syria while fighting them in Afghanistan.

He said that while Pakistan is criticised for using proxies, the US and the Western world have done the same in Syria—where the armed Opposition supported by Washington and others has come to be dominated by radical Islamist groups, a movement that is now also rampaging across Iraq.

"They are fighting the same people in Afghanistan and supporting them in Syria. I think this is shameful," Asif said.

US officials say they have sought to back moderate elements of the Syrian rebellion and have urged those elements to fight the more radical, jehadist groups within the anti-government camp.