WASHINGTON: Senator John Kerry, who chaired a hearing on Pakistan a few hours after his return from the South Asian country on Tuesday, advocated that Congress take a holistic view of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship.“It is not simple. Fifty percent of our supplies that go to our effort in Afghanistan go through Pakistan. That route belongs to them,” he stated, winding up proceedings of a hearing on “Strategic Implications of Pakistan and the Region” at the Captiol Hill.James Jones, who was until recently President Barack Obama’s national security advisor, agreed with Kerry when the senator said that the “most significant debilitation” of al-Qaeda in the region occutred in the last few years with the help of Pakistan.
He also referred to the “political cost” and massive human losses that Pakistan has had to contend with in the fight against terror as a thousand al-Qaeda-linked militants were taken out.“We do have to remember in this country Pakistan has sacrificed enormously in the fight against violent extremism. Over 35000 of its citizens have died as a result of extemist vioeltnce and they are suffering form inusrgency. Oer 5000 of their soldiers have died.”The Democratic lawmaker sought understanding of the situation and observed Pakistan also faced issues of capacity and air mobility in fighting terrorists hiding on its western border.The Pakistani cooperation happened even as Islamabad has been grappling with its economic woes and focused on economic improvement under tough IMF conditionalities, he noted.“So we have to look at this thing in totality. Should we expect more?
He urged patience in setting the policy right. Kerry informed lawmakers that he raised issues that they have with Pakistan during meetings with Pakistani leadership in Islamabad and urged the need for actions, beginning with return of the tail of the damaged U.S. stealth helicopter used in May 2 raid on Osama bin Laden compound in Abbottabad.“The important thing here is to get deeply engaged in this current moment of dialogue with great percision, great intensity and see where we can come out and then we have to make judgements.”He hinted at steps both in Islamabad and Washington and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Pakistan as the two countries work to salvage ties and bolster cooperation for success in Afghanistan in the coming days.“We agreed it was imperative to move forward in the relationship and take specific steps. – APP