All of sudden the situation has changed as close partners in war on terror--Pakistan and United States--have locked in heated verbal brawl. US President George W. Bush has shown his intention that he wants to attack Pakistan in the near future. Generals of both countries have threatened each other. Pakistani media has created a war-like situation in the country. It is ironic that Pakistan has already been fighting a fierce battle against terrorists in tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border.
Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Adm Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, conceded before the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee on Wednesday that the US military was not winning the fight against an increasingly deadly insurgency in Afghanistan, saying it would revise its strategy to combat militant safe havens in Pakistan.
Mullen said he was "looking at a new, more comprehensive strategy for the region" that would cover both sides of the border, including Pakistan's tribal areas. "These two nations are inextricably linked in a common insurgency that crosses the border between them," Mullen 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."
Robert Gates 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.
Pakistani General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani issued a statement saying that US-led forces would not be allowed to hit targets in Pakistan.
Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Wednesdays said the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country will be defended at all costs and no external force is allowed to conduct operations inside Pakistan.
He was commenting on the recent incident where innocent civilians were killed in a cross-border raid by the coalition forces. He said the rules of engagement with the coalition forces are well defined and within that, the right to conduct operations against the militants inside own territory is solely the responsibility of the respective armed forces.
"There is no question of any agreement or understanding with the coalition forces whereby they are allowed to conduct operations on our side of the border," says an ISPR press release issued here.
Referring to his meeting with United States senior officers on USS Abraham Lincoln on Aug 27, he said they were informed about the complexity of the issue that requires understanding in depth and more patience for evolving comprehensive solution.
He said it was stressed that in such like situations, military action alone cannot solve the problem. Political reconciliatory effort was required to get along with the military prong to win hearts and minds of the people.
During the discussion, the imperative of public support at large for the military operations also came under focus.Later, United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, acknowledged the better understanding of ground realities by the COAS, and remarked, "he (the COAS) is committed to doing what is best for Pakistan and he is going to stay the same". He reiterated that ultimately it is our national interest which would always guide our policy.