Pak maintaining ties with militants as a hedge: Gates
Last Updated: Thursday, December 03, 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 03, 2009, 10:10

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