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Obama won`t back Mullen`s claim on Pakistan

President Barack Obama is declining to endorse strong criticism of Pakistan levelled by the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.



Washington: President Barack Obama is
declining to endorse strong criticism of Pakistan levelled by
the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, while
saying Pakistan must do more to deal with insurgents.

Obama was asked on a radio show today about Adm Mike
Mullen`s claim that the Haqqani network "acts as a veritable
arm" of Pakistan`s intelligence agency.

The president said Mullen`s statement "expressed
frustration" over the insurgent havens in Pakistan. But Obama
said "the intelligence is not as clear as we might like in
terms of what exactly that relationship is."

Obama added that whether Pakistan`s ties with the Haqqani
network are active or passive, Pakistan has to deal with it.
The administration already had sought to tone down
Mullen`s claim. Obama spoke on "The Michael Smerconish
Program."

"The continuation of the Pakistan-directed drawdown of
the US military assistance effort dramatically reduced the
US ability to support Pakistan`s COIN and CT fight," Obama
said referring to the decision of Pakistan to reduce the
number of American troops and trainers inside the country
after the Abbottabad raid in May.

"The security situation in the FATA (Federally
Administered Tribal Areas) and KPk (Khaibar Pakhtoonwah)
continued to deteriorate slowly during this reporting period
(April 1 to June 30), while the returned focus of militant
violence against government infrastructure targets
demonstrated the resiliency of the insurgency and the
non-permanent effects of Pakistani operations in key insurgent
areas," Obama said.

The negative reaction to the bin Laden raid within
Pakistan included unprecedented public and internal military
criticism of the leadership of the Pakistani military.

As a result, the leadership of Pakistan`s military and
intelligence establishments focused a significant amount of
time and effort on managing internal opinion during this
reporting period, said the report.

The security situation in the FATA and KPk continued
to slowly deteriorate as in the previous reporting period.

Operations in Mohmand settled into a largely static and
defensive posture, but unlike previous reporting periods, as
Pakistan`s ground operations in Mohmand stalled, so too did
opportunities for ISAF and ANSF cooperation and collaboration
with the Pakistani military on future plans and troop
movements, necessary for effective combined planning along the
border.

According to the report reductions of the US military
presence that began at Pakistan`s direction at the end of the
last reporting (January to March 2011) period continued during
this reporting period (April to June).

This reduced US support to Pakistan`s COIN and CT fight,
in part by hindering the ability to maintain relationships and
understand the operating realities of key counterparts
conducting COIN operations in the FATA and KPk.

"This significantly degraded the US ability to support
the Pakistani military in its fight against militancy through
the provision of training and equipment," the report said.

Years of progress in cross-border coordination and
collaboration faced increased challenges, while the drawdown
of US military elements in Pakistan continued the trend of a
decreased US ability to contribute to Pakistan`s COIN and CT
efforts, it said.

"Pakistan military operations continued in the FATA, but
insurgent activity and high-profile strikes against security
and government forces contributed to a decline in the
security situation," the report said.

According to the report, despite efforts to develop more
robust communication and coordination mechanisms to
de-conflict cross-border incidents, the period between July 1
to August 31 saw an increase in incidents along the
Afghanistan-Pakistan border as well as an overall decrease in
coordination and collaboration.

"Insurgent activity along the Afghanistan-Pakistan
border continues to pose a challenge to stabilisation efforts
in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Attacks occurred along the
border of both the northern and southern FATA agencies, with a
number of large-scale attacks resulting in high casualty rates
for Pakistan`s security forces in the north," it said.

Referring to the Raymond Davis case early this year, the
report said his seven-week detention by Pakistani authorities
undermined the US-Pakistan relationship, slowing ongoing
efforts to strengthen the civilian government.

"The detention created division amongst the civilian
leadership in Pakistan as well as between Pakistan civilian
and military leaders. Civilian authorities were unwilling and
unable to recognize the official`s diplomatic immunity and
deferred the issue to Pakistani courts for resolution," he
said.

PTI

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