`Pak considers India as threat but US differs`

Pakistan considers India as a "threat", US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said.

Last Updated: Apr 02, 2012, 23:15 PM IST

Washington: Pakistan considers India as a
"threat", US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said,
underlining Washington`s differences with Islamabad on the
common threats facing them.

"It is a complex relationship. It always has been and I
suspect it always will be," Panetta told CBC TV in an
interview.

"In some ways we share a common concern and a common
threat. Terrorism is as much a threat to Pakistan and the
people of Pakistan as it is to us and to the people of
Afghanistan," he said.

At the same time, Panetta noted that the two countries
differ on the threat perception.

He said while they "have common cause" "the problem" is
that Pakistan view their position as "threatened by India".

"As a result of that, sometimes we get very mixed
messages from Pakistan as to just exactly where they`re going
to be," he said.

On the issue of keeping the raid on Osama bin Laden`s
safehouse in Abbottabad a secret, the Pentagon chief said he
did not provide information to Pakistan because he feared this
could be leaked by them and would not be able to accomplish
their mission.

"The concern we had is that...we had provided
intelligence to them with regards to other areas and
unfortunately, for one way or another, it got leaked to the
individuals we were trying to go after," Panetta said.

"So as a result of that we were concerned that if we
were going to perform a sensitive mission like this, we had to
do it on our own," he underlined.

Reiterating that he has not come across anything so far
which reflects a direct link between the top Pakistani
leadership and the safe hideout of bin Laden, Panetta
expressed concern how a compound like this would not be known
to them (Pakistani establishment).

He said though he had not found direct link or "evidence
that involved a direct connection to the Pakistanis", it was a
matter of "concern" how bin Laden`s compound could come up in
an area "where there were military establishments", and
military operating and not have them know.

"These situations sometimes, you know, the leadership
within Pakistan (sic) is obviously not aware of certain things
and yet people lower down in the military establishment find
it very well, they`ve been aware of it. But bottom line is
that we have not had evidence that provides that direct link,
he noted.

Pakistan is in the final stages of reviewing its ties
with the US after the low following a NATO air strike that
killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November.

Responding to questions, Panetta said the world is much
safer now than it was a year ago.

The Defense Secretary said Bin Laden was was committed to
"attacking the US, committed to attacking other countries.

Panetta said the al Qaeda chief continued to assert
"almost spiritual leadership". The Pentagon chief said Bin
Laden was making efforts, and working "with his leadership to
be able to conduct further attacks".

"So he was clearly committed to that goal, and the very
fact that he was the individual that put together the 9/11
attack I think made very clear that he was someone we
absolutely had to go after, we had to get, and that the key to
undermining al-Qaida and to undermining their effort to
continue that effort was in large measure going to be getting
rid of bin Laden," he underlined.

At the same time, Panetta said bin Laden`s leadership was
beyond spiritual.

"He was still working through couriers to get his
message across," he said, adding it was the couriers that
ultimately led the US to his compound from where he was
seeking to get his message out and communicate with leaders
within the al-Qaeda," the Defense Secretary said.

However, he made it clear that while the US has been
successful in going after the al Qaeda leadership, the terror
outfit continues to be a threat.

They continue to be a threat not just in the FATA, in
Pakistan but in Yemen, Somalia and in North Africa.

"...for that reason we just can`t stop continuing to put
pressure on them to make sure that they never again have the
opportunity to attack our country," Panetta underlined.

PTI