`Pak needs to take stronger action against terror safe havens`

Last Updated: Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 18:42

Washington: Pakistan needs to take stronger
action against the terrorist safe havens inside its territory,
President Barack Obama`s annual Af-Pak policy review said
today, while describing the progress in US relationship with
Islamabad as "substantial" but "uneven" in the past one year.

"Progress in our relationship with Pakistan over the
last year has been substantial, but also uneven," said an
overview of the Af-Pak annual review, which also highlights
particular areas in US strategy for Pakistan that require
adjustment.

"Specific components of the strategy, taken individually,
indicate we are headed in the right direction, both in terms
of US focus and Pakistani cooperation. However, better balance
and integration of the various components of our strategy will
be required to reach our objectives," it said.

For instance, the denial of extremist safe havens will
require "greater cooperation" with Pakistan along the border
with Afghanistan, the overview said. "Furthermore, the
denial of extremist safe havens cannot be achieved through
military means alone, but must continue to be advanced by
effective development strategies."

"In Pakistan, we are laying the foundation for a
strategic partnership based on mutual respect and trust,
through increased dialogue, improved cooperation and enhanced
exchange and assistance programmes," it said.

While the strategy is showing progress across all three
assessed areas of al Qaeda, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the
challenge remains to make these gains durable and sustainable,
it said.

"With regard to al Qaeda`s Pakistan-based leadership and
cadre, we must remain focused on making further progress
toward our ultimate end state, the eventual strategic defeat
of al Qaeda in the region, which will require the sustained
denial of the group`s safe haven in the tribal areas of
western Pakistan, among other factors," it said.

The review report also highlights the progress made
in the US-Pak relationship in the past year, including a
series of rounds of strategic dialogue between the two
countries.

The dialogue, it noted, improved mutual trust, prompted
attention to reforms critical to long-term stability and
addressed development objectives important to the people
of Pakistan.

"Civilian assistance increased with more aid flowing
through Pakistani institutions, improved civilian
stabilisation activities, the development of critical energy
and other infrastructure and a robust flood response and
recovery effort which NATO directly assisted," the report
said. "We believe our renewed bilateral partnership is helping
promote stability in Pakistan. It clearly communicates US
commitment to a long-term relationship that is supportive of
Pakistan`s interests and underscores that we will not
disengage from the region as we have in the past," the report
said.

As for the 2011, it said the US must strengthen its
dialogue with both Pakistan and Afghanistan on regional
stability.

Towards that end, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
plans to host Foreign Ministers from both countries in
Washington for another session of the US-Afghanistan-Pakistan
Trilateral dialogue in early 2011.

"On bilateral issues, we must support the Government
of Pakistan`s efforts to strengthen its economy, improve
governance and security and respond to the development needs
of the Pakistani people. We will continue the US-Pakistan
Strategic Dialogue and sustain senior level engagement
including an exchange of visits by Presidents (Barack) Obama
and (Asif Ali) Zardari," the report said.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 18:42

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