Building trust with Pakistan, Afghanistan a long-term effort: US


WASHINGTON: The US has said that building a partnership of trust with Pakistan and Afghanistan required a long-term commitment, as top American officials acknowledged Pakistani efforts in the fight against terrorism operating in the region.
In a joint appearance on an American TV channel, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defence Secretary Robert Gates noted that Pakistan was working to root out the Taliban and Al Qaeda, as they pledged long-term US engagement with the region.
Gates told the ABC channel that Pakistan had now deployed 140,000 troops on its northwestern border with Afghanistan to fight the Taliban. “And they are attacking the Taliban. They’re attacking the Taliban – Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, and safe havens that are a problem for us,” the defence secretary said.
But, Gates reminded, the other piece of this was that “we face in both countries what they call a trust deficit, and it is because they believe we have walked away from them in the past at the toughest moments of their history.”
“You can’t recreate that in a heartbeat. You can’t recreate that in a year or two. They both worry that once we solve the problem in Afghanistan, or if we don’t solve it, that either way, we will leave and leave whatever remains in their hands to deal with,” he said, urging patience.
Also in the programme, Clinton said Islamabad used to support terror organisations as a hedge against India and an unfriendly Afghan regime, so that the two neighbours of Pakistan did not undermine it. “They (Pakistan) have in the past hedged against both India and an unfriendly regime in Afghanistan by supporting groups that will be their proxies in trying to prevent either India or an unfriendly Afghan government from undermining their position,” she said.
Clinton said now things were “changing”, but she could not confirm whether Pakistan had stopped the use of terror against India and Afghanistan. “That is changing… Now, I cannot sit here and tell you that it has changed, but that is changing,” she told ABC News in an interview, the transcripts of which was released by the State Department.
Clinton accepted that the US had created certain radical outfits and supported terrorists like Osama bin Laden to fight against the erstwhile Soviet Union, but that backing had boomeranged.