Pakistan remains very important counter-terror partner: US National Security Advisor

WASHINGTON: Pakistan remains a “very important counterterrorism partner” for the United States and Washington is having conversations with Islamabad to work through issues stemming from May 2 Abbottabad operation, a top aide to President Obama said.U.S. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon would not comment on controversy surrounding American presence on Pakistani Shamsi Airbase but said the Obama administration would continue its intense and relentless campaign to debilitate and defeat al-Qaeda in South Asia and elsewhere. “The Pakistanis and the United States have a complicated realtionship.

And there are going to be frustrations and disagreements. We remain engaged with Pakistan for a number of very important reasons related to our national security, and I think, ultimately their security,” he told CNN’s GPS program aired Sunday. The May 2 American unilateral action on Abbottabad hideout of al-Qaeda chief eliminated Osama bin Laden but caused serious strains in the U.S.-Pakistan bilateral relationship, considered by experts as key to a successful outcome in neighboring Afghanistan.

“They (Pakistanis) are a very important counterterrorism partners for the United States. The Pakistanis have lost thousands of military and civilians to the extremists. More extremist groups and individuals have been attacked and taken down in Pakistan than any place outside in the world,” the national security advisor said in acknowledgement of the South Asian country’s sacrifices in the anti-terror struggle. The U.S., Donilon said,  has obviously had an important set of conversations with Pakistan, “difficult conversations”, since the raid on the Osama bin Laden compound in Abbottabad.

“We are committed to working through these issues as we believe it is in our national interest to do so.” In answer to a question, he reiterated that the Pakistani political, military and intelligence leadership had no foreknowledge that bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported Sunday that the Pentagon is working on expanding Central Asian supply routes for NATO and U.S. mission to landlocked Afghanistan but American officials say they want to retain both inexpensive Pakistani and and long Central Asian routes. The Pakistani route – used since 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11 terrorist attacks – transported as much as 90 per cent of Afghanistan bound NATO supplies until 2009. Around 60 per cent of NATO supplies still pass through Pakistani route that begins at Karachi port and traverses through plains and mountains to Afghanistan mainly via historic Khyber Pass. Besides providing a vital supply line for NATO, Pakistan has deployed well over 100,000 troops to guard the restive Afghan border against militant activity.The Post also reported that Beijing spurned Washington’s effort to develop another route for NATO supplies through Chinese land. – APP