American ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter Friday appreciating Pakistan’s military contribution in war against terror in Swat and other areas, assured US would continue its long term cooperation with Pakistan to eradicate the menace of terrorism. He said U.S. is steadfast in its long-term commitment to an enduring partnership with Pakistan that is supportive of its interests as the Obama Administration noted “significant progress” in dismantling al-Qaeda along Pakistan’s Afghan border.
Talking to reporters to highlight the salient features of the review of President Obama’s one year policy towards Pakistan and Afghanistan, Munter said,”America is fully satisfied that Pakistan Army has not the capacity presently to launch operation in North Waziristan.”
“Yes, we believe that.I believe that efforts made by Pakistani military are very significant and there are lot of troops fighting terrorism,” he responded to the question whether Pakistani forces have the capacity to launch operation in South Waziristan.
He said, “We believe our renewed bilateral partnership is helping promote stability in Pakistan and it clearly communicates U.S. commitment to a long-term relationship that is supportive of Pakistan’s interests, and underscores that we will not disengage from the region as we have in the past.”
Comparing the success of military in Pakistan and Afghanistan to fight terrorism, he said, there has been lot of progress made by NATO forces in different areas of Afghanistan and moving towards eastern side.
Replying to a question, the ambassador said on both sides of the border, efforts are being made to kill or capture terrorists but still there is more to be done.
He said there are still terrorists, who are a danger to Pakistan, Afghanistan, US and the world, and there is commitment to fight till the end of these terrorists. He refused to answer the question on drone attacks.
Munter said America will seek to secure the interests of two countries through continued, robust counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency cooperation and a long-term partnership anchored by improved understanding of Pakistan’s strategic priorities, increased civilian and military assistance, and expanded public diplomacy.”
He said both US and Pakistan along with its allies worked jointly in the last year to disrupt the threat posed by al-Qaeda.He said Pakistan had made progress against extremists’ safe havens by taking action in six of seven Agencies of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
Replying to question to compare the success of Pakistani and NATO forces, in their respective areas, the ambassador said,”Pakistan has deployed 140,000 troops, more than America has in Afghanistan, and Pakistani troops have taken thousands causalities.”
He said Pakistani civilians have also paid the price for this war against terror.
“We are very appreciative for this effort of Pakistan Military, Pakistan’s partnership for global fight what we have seen in South Waziristan, Swat and other areas.”
He said it was a determned efforts by Pakistani military to root out terrorism which has not finished yet.
Munter said the stability of the government is a question to be dealt by Pakistan itself. He said all elements in Pakistan are committed to strengthen the democratic institutions and were convinced that difference of opinion in the coalition partners must be worked out in a democratic and constitutional way adding “we are confident that it will happen”.
He said both the countries are cooperating in different fields including education and added that US is the biggest ever contributor in education sector in Pakistan.
Regarding more border cooperation and coordination, the Ambassador said it is related to military and civil cooperation.Both Pakistani and NATO forces are coordinating their efforts across Afghan border and there has been improved in intelligence sharing improved contacts between forces, he said.
Commenting on trade agreement Pakistan and Afghanistan,he said, there is need to have more border coordination for better transit trade with better customs cooperation, movement of trucks and more coordination between the two embassies.
The ambassador hoped that by 2014 Afghan forces and police would be able to take the responsibility of security in their country. He said role of NATO and American forces would change in Afghanistan and it would be more related to economic and development oriented.
He said, “Our commitment is on going and by 2014 we will judge about the responsibility of Afghan forces.”
The envoy said Pakistan has legitimate security interest and it should be recognized in the reconciliation process led by Afghan leadership.
Referring to trust deficit between the Pakistan and United State,the ambassador said efforts are being made to reduce this deficit. With long term relationship between the two countries and five year Kerry Lugar Bill, are part of this efforts and US is also improving infrastructure in South Waziristan adding “we are committed to democratic Pakistan”. He said Pakistan has realized that Americans are committed to a long term relationship.
The ambassador said, “The gains in the war against terror came at great cost, as Pakistan has endured thousands of casualties in their military ranks and among their civilian population from terrorist attacks. There was also improvement in our security assistance, with increased training cooperation, more support for Pakistan’s military operations, and greater border coordination.”
He said in 2010, the Obama Administration also improved the United States-Pakistan relationship through the Strategic Dialogue and the overview notes.
“The Dialogue improved mutual trust, prompted attention to reforms critical to long-term stability, and addressed development objectives important to the people of Pakistan. Civilian assistance increased, improved civilian stabilization activities, the development of critical energy and other infrastructure, and a robust flood response and recovery effort which NATO directly assisted,” he said.
He said there has been significant progress in disrupting and dismantling the leadership and cadre of al-Qaeda over the past year.”
The ambassador said, “We must remain focused on making further progress toward our ultimate goal, the eventual strategic defeat of al-Qaeda in the region, which will require the sustained denial of the group’s safe haven.”
He said, “We remain committed to deepening and broadening our partnerships with Pakistan and Afghanistan in a way that brings us closer to the defeat of al-Qaeda and prevents terrorist groups that pose a strategic threat to our homeland, our allies, and our interests from re-establishing safe havens in the region.” – App