Washington: The Pakistan Army should accept the "reality" that terrorism is in its "backyard" post the killing of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, an eminent US expert on South Asian affairs has said.
"After years of denying bin Laden`s presence in Pakistan and complaining that it was unfairly labelled the `epicentre of terrorism`, Pakistani military officials must now accept the reality that the world`s most wanted terrorist was found in their backyard," Lisa Curtis on the Heritage Foundation said.
US Director of Central Intelligence Leon Panetta admitted that the US had conducted the operation unilaterally because Washington decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardise its success, she said.
"The onus is now on Pakistan to demonstrate that it is willing to work more closely with the US to target other terrorists sheltered within its borders and to cooperate more fully with the US goal of stabilising Afghanistan," Curtis said.
Without a change in perspective from Pakistan`s security establishment on these crucial issues, the relationship would seem to be poised for failure. Simply maintaining the status quo is no longer feasible, she said.
Curtis said the unilateral operation to track and kill Osama bin Laden deep inside Pakistan has raised several questions about the sustainability of the US-Pak partnership in the fight against global terrorism.
"Relations between Islamabad and Washington were already strained, and the bin Laden operation has deepened the rift. It laid bare the enduring mistrust between the two nations and demonstrated that each side is willing to edge closer to the other`s red lines in pursuit of its own goals.”
"The killing of bin Laden marks not only a watershed in the US global fight against terrorism, but also a turning point in US relations with Pakistan. Americans and Pakistanis alike are asking the crucial question of how bin Laden could have lived in a large, conspicuous compound in a military cantonment town - swarming with security officials undetected for nearly six years," she said.
Curtis said some US congressional officials have called for cutting civilian, but not military, aid to Pakistan.
"This makes little sense, however, since it is the military not the civilian leadership that controls Pakistan`s policies toward the Afghan Taliban, Haqqani network, and LeT terrorist organisation, all of which have links to al Qaeda."
The American expert said that US should suspend not cut off security aid to Pakistan until the administration develops more information on the support network that protected bin Laden and determines whether any Pakistani officials were complicit in harbouring the international terrorist.