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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Gates pledges US long-term commitment to Pakistan
WASHINGTON, Sept 10 (APP): Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Wednesday said the United States’ relationship with Pakistan is not confined to anti-terrorism assistance alone but it is much broader in range and takes into account the interests of Pakistani people. He cited Washington’s plans for massive economic assistance for Pakistan and said it would bolster the confidence of the new government in the United States having a long-term commitment to the South Asian country.
“We are in this to help Pakistan over the long-term and it is not just a relationship based on military relationship that is focused on the border with Afghanistan but it is much broader and has the interests of Pakistani people in mind,” Gates told the House Armed Service Committee.
The top Pentagon leader said the United States has a multi-year package for economic development of Pakistan.
“A broader kind of assistance package that helps the Pakistani people, I think will not only give their new government the confidence that we have a long range plan in mind in terms of partnering with them but that it is multi-faceted and is not just focused on the military fight,” he stated.
Gates said that the Pakistan military and government were focused on the instability in the border region and it was critical to continue to work with the new Pakistan government.
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman Joints Chiefs of Staff, said the United States will sustain relations with Pakistan over the long haul.
On counterterrorism efforts along the Afghan border, Mullen said he was “looking at a new, more comprehensive strategy for the region.” He said the US was running out of time to get the war in Afghanistan right.
He underscored the importance of working closely with the Pakistani government in wiping out militant sanctuaries along the Afghan border.
“In my view, these two nations are inextricably linked in a common insurgency that crosses the border between them,” he said.
“We can hunt down and kill extremists as they cross over the border from Pakistan --- but until we work more closely with the Pakistani government to eliminate the safe havens from which they operate, the enemy will only keep coming.”
Mullen acknowledged that the United States-led coatlition was not winning the fight against insurgents in Afghanistan but stated victory was possible.
“I’m not convinced we are winning it in Afghanistan. I am convinced we can.”
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