Washington: America`s top military leadership has acknowledged India`s steadying contributions to stability in its region, as also the holding of ministerial level talks between India and Pakistan.
The acknowledgment came from Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in his annual guidance for 2011 in which he reaffirmed that America`s strategic objective in the Af-Pak region is to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda and to prevent its return to either
Afghanistan or Pakistan.
Mullen also reiterated Pentagon`s commitment to develop a strong and enduring relationship with Pakistan.
"To this end, we also recognise India`s important role in South Central Asia, welcome its steadying contributions to regional stability, and applaud the ministerial talks between India and Pakistan.
"The next year will be critical, but our commitment to all our regional partners is enduring," Mullen said in his seven page signed guidance.
Mullen insisted that the troop surge had helped in the war against Taliban though a fundamental shift is yet to be achieved.
"The surge in US forces has helped arrest Taliban momentum in some places, though we have not yet seen a fundamental shift in momentum necessary to deny al Qaeda safe haven and prevent them from threatening US or ally interests," he said.
He noted that the Afghan security forces are now growing in size and capability and the Pakistan government has also taken "significant steps" in combating extremist groups, and that senior al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan is weaker than at any other point since it fled Afghanistan in 2011.
"Going forward, we will continue to erode Taliban influence, work with the Afghan government to facilitate reintegration and reconciliation of former insurgents, continue to strengthen the capacity of Afghan security forces, work with inter-agency partners to build and sustain effective
governance, and work with Pakistan to ultimately defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies," he said.
"While the Afghan National Army is growing in size and capability, the development of police forces must improve. Defeating al Qaeda requires denying them safe haven, to which Pakistan plays a critical role," Mullen said.
The top Pentagon official said the US will lay a foundation for a strategic partnership with Pakistan, which is undertaking a strategic shift to combat domestic extremism and has improved its military operations.
Mullen said the United States must continue to push its best talent forward and provide continuity through programmes like AfPak hands. Services and Combatant Commands outside of CENTCOM must prioritise resources to fully support the fight, he argued.