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Pak maintaining ties with militants as a hedge: Gates

Last Updated: Thursday, December 3, 2009 - 10:10

Washington: Despite taking strong military
action against militants in recent months, the Pakistani
establishment has maintained relationship with those extremist
groups as a hedge, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said.

"The Pakistanis` relationship with these groups dates
back to when I was dealing with them more than 20 years ago
when we were taking on the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. These
relationships between the Pakistanis and these groups were
established then as the vehicle for taking on the Soviets,"
Gates said.

"They have maintained some of those contacts and those
relationships, frankly, as a hedge because of their
uncertainty whether the US would be a reliable partner and
ally for them going forward and whether we would remain in
Afghanistan until we were assured of success in taking care of
the extremists," he said at a hearing on Afghanistan convened
by the House Committee on International Affairs.

In response to a question from Congressman Howard
Berman, Chairman of the Committee, Gates said: "I think as we
make progress and as they make progress, their incentive to
change this approach, to opt strategically to partner with the
United States, becomes significantly more powerful."

Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chief of
Staff, said, "I just remain extremely concerned about the
collaborative aspect of what`s happened with all these
separate terrorist groups over the last couple of years who
have joined hands in ways that we just haven`t seen before."


First Published: Thursday, December 3, 2009 - 10:10
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