Pakistanis impressed and grateful for US aid

Pentagon has deployed personnel in Pak to carry out flood relief operation.

Last Updated: Aug 26, 2010, 12:54 PM IST

Washington: The people of Pakistan are not only impressed but also grateful to the US for the massive humanitarian relief work being carried by it in the flood-ravaged parts of the country, a top US military official has said.

"I think they`re impressed. They`re grateful. I have seen many occasions when these civilians have approached both the Pakistani military service members as well as our own pilots, crew chiefs, cargo handlers, to express their gratitude, their thanks that someone has come to their assistance," Brigadier Gen Michael Nagata, the US Defence Representative in Pakistan, said.

"They are impressed when they see Pakistani military service members and US military service members working side by side often flying in the same helicopters, working together on these landing zones to haul the cargo out of those helicopters and to shepherd those civilians that need recovery back onto those helicopters, securing them, safeguarding them and taking them back, to return to their loved ones and to their homes or to be reunited with other members of their family," Nagata told Pentagon reporters over a teleconference from the Ghazi air base in Pakistan.

Nagata, who is operating from the Ghazi air force base overseeing the US relief operations, said he and his team has not experienced any security threat whatsoever in the three weeks that they have been operating there.

"The Pakistani military, specifically Army aviation, as well as some of their ground forces have done a commendable and a highly effective job in providing our force protection and security while we are here in Pakistan," he said.

Brig Gen Nagata exuded confidence that Pakistan will continue to wage a dedicated, committed struggle against violent extremism in Pakistan.

He believes that they will continue to aggressively pursue violent extremists in this country, he said.

Pentagon has deployed a considerable military assets and personnel in Pakistan to carry out the relief operation.

The US will remain in Pakistan as the government and military leadership of Pakistan ask us to be here, he said.

"We are only here for one purpose. And that is to help people in need. And once the government of Pakistan no longer needs our assistance with that, these assets will leave," he said.

There are currently 15 US Navy and Marine Corps helicopters and their crews conducting relief operations from Ghazi Air Base.

They have about 230 US sailors, marines, soldiers and airmen providing both the operational capability into the affected areas as well as necessary maintenance and support.

"Our principal focus has been in an area known as the Swat valley in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but most recently we`ve also begun relief operations in an adjacent province known as Kohistan," he said.

PTI