Washington: The US on Thursday asked Pakistan to do more in the war against terrorism and take tough actions to ensure that the terrorist safe havens inside its territory are destroyed.
Things are moving in the right direction in Pakistan, Defence Secretary Robert Gates said, adding that it will take longer than the US would like.
The US praised the steps taken by the Pakistani Army in this regard.
The views were echoed by the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who addressed a joint press conference with Gates at the White House, soon after the US President Barack Obama announced the results of the annual Af-Pak review.
"Everybody knows that failure to deal with the safe havens does present a real challenge. But I would argue that we are in the process of dealing with those safe havens, the Pakistanis on their side of the border, and Afghanistan, Pakistan and us working together," Gates said in response to a question, adding that Pakistani safe havens are one of the major challenges in the war against terrorism.
"Pakistan has committed over 140,000 troops to operations in extremist safe havens along the border, in coordination with Afghan and coalition forces on the Afghan side. But we believe the Pakistanis can and must do more to shut down the flow of insurgents across the border," Gates said.
It is important to remember that these kinds of military operations in the tribal areas would have been considered unthinkable just two years ago.
And the Pakistani military has simultaneously been contending with the historic flooding that has devastated much of the country, he said.
In Pakistan, it will be important to keep making progress and eliminating sanctuaries for extremists, and the US must continue to close the gap between Kabul and Islamabad, Hillary added.
Hillary said in Pakistan, the US has moved beyond a purely transactional relationship dominated by military cooperation.
"We now have broad engagement on both the civilian and military side. Through the Strategic Dialogue that we established last year, Pakistan and the United States have begun a long-term commitment to work together not just on security but on energy, agriculture, education, health and other areas that directly affects the daily lives of the Pakistani people," she said.
“There have been, there will continue to be obstacles and setbacks, but our conclusion is that our partnership is slowly but steadily improving.”
“We have greater cooperation and understanding, and that is yielding tangible results on the ground,” she said.
Hillary also praised Pakistan for moving some 14,000 troops from the Indian border.
"The Pakistanis took an entirely different approach. They moved what, 140,000 troops off the Indian border; they waged an ongoing conflict against their enemies, who happen also to be the allies of our enemies; they began to recognise what we see as a mortal threat to Pakistan`s long-term sovereignty and authority," she said.
“That was not something that was predicted two years ago that they would do. They`ve done it.”
“They`ve also maintained a civilian government against great odds, and something that has provided more legitimacy to our interactions with them, and we have started what has turned out to be a quite effective, robust strategic dialogue with them, engaging the whole of their government with ours," she said.
“We also have helped to broker better relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and played a major role in bringing about the signing of something called the Transit Trade Agreement, which they had been trying to agree to since 1963,” Hillary said.