Back from Pakistan, Kerry asks Congress to view ties in holisitic perspective

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