Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said the United States major goal right now is to disrupt and defeat Al-Qaeda whose leadership, including Osama bin Laden resides in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas. Al-Qaeda could certainly strike the US from Fata, he said, adding thats why the top objective of the current US strategy is to defeat al-Qaeda. When asked he knows that Al-Qaeda is in Fata so why is the US not in there, he said, Because Fata is in Pakistan and Pakistan is a sovereign country and we dont go into sovereign countries. One of the things that has happened in Pakistan in recent months and weeks is the Pakistan military - really in response to the people of Pakistan - [and] the government of Pakistan [have] taken the threat against them very, very seriously, Mullen told Al-Jazeera TV network, when asked whether the US risked just pushing the Taliban back into Pakistan, which seems to be a worsening situation with the growing internally displaced person (IDP) camps, if they are not pushed somewhere else in Afghanistan. So the pressure that will be brought on the Taliban specifically by the Pakistani military is important and that ... movement from both the east and the west in the long run will have an effect. But again, thats going to be something that over time the pressures going to have to build and I think that it is a pressure from both sides that will eventually get at that threat. Asked whether he has more faith in the government of President Asif Ali Zardari than in the previous government of Gen Pervez Musharraf, the US Army Chief responded, Well I am not going to talk politics here. My engagement with Pakistan has principally been with military and specifically with Chief of (Army) Staff Gen (Ashfaq Parvez) Kayani. Ive worked on a very strong relationship with him. That continues, Im in frequent contact with him, he added. He further said he thinks that the Pakistan Arm - under the leadership of the civilian government - has taken some significant steps in addressing this growing threat that theyve got in their own country. Indeed, we sometimes forget that theres actually been well over a 1,000 Pakistani soldiers whove been lost in this fight. You know theyve sacrificed a lot as well. So thats really my principal contact, and how the politicians work on this, certainly is something that our political leaders are engaged with the political leadership of Pakistan, he added. To a question, he said he believes that the Al-Qaeda leadership, including Osama bin Laden, is in Pakistan. Mullen reiterated that the US does not have any combat troops in Pakistan. Ive said that we dont have any US troops ... we have no US combat troops in Pakistan. We have had trainers there for a significant period of time to train their trainers which is [an] ongoing support function that is actually moving in the right direction, he added. Some of our troops there are special forces and some of our troops there are general purpose troops .... When asked if the US can solve Afghanistan without solving Pakistan first, he replied, Im not sure I would sequence it but... it is one of the reasons that I think the strategy that President Obama has laid out is exactly right. That this is a regional strategy. Its not one country or another. These are two sovereign countries very much interlinked in many ways. And I think the border represents that and its a very, very complex ... environment and history, he added. Thats why I think the regional approach ... [and] special representative Holbrooks focus on the civilian side ... is so important. When asked as to what he thinks about the close - and some people say too close - relationship between the ISI (intelligence service of Pakistan) and the Taliban, Adm Michael Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, Well one of the things I have learned in my frequent visits to Pakistan over the last year is again that it is another extraordinarily complex relationship, and its one that Ive spoken very publicly about, adding that he believes that in the long run the ISI has to change its strategic thrust which has been to foment chaotic activity you know in its border countries. And I think in the long run ... and that has been a Pakistan view to its own survival and its own security. And I think in the long run thats got to change. Pakistan is the one who gets to vote on that not everybody else. And yet the ISI has also served ... some very positive intelligence needs both in the country and certainly between our two countries. So, I think its something we keep discussing, keep looking at. In the long run, its about the security for Pakistan and better security in the region for both those countries. What I mean is that they have clearly focused on support of ... historically of militant organisations both east and west. I mean thats been a focus of theirs in Kashmir historically as well as in Fata. And I think ... that fundamentally has to change. To another question as to where Al-Qaeda is on the US list of priorities and threats around the world, he said, As far as Im concerned, its at the top of the list.