Washington: Distancing himself from former US
Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Mike Mullen`s remark about the ISI-Haqqani network links, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said Pakistan has been asked to take action against the
"I don`t really -- I don`t know that for a fact," Panetta
told in an interview to CNN when asked about the links between
the ISI and the Haqqani network as was alleged by Mullen in
his testimony before a Congressional Committee last month.
Pakistan had denied such a link.
"What I do know is that, as we have made clear, the
Haqqanis have a safe haven in Pakistan, and you can`t have a
safe haven. These are individuals who cross over into
Afghanistan and kill Americans. These are terrorists. And then
they return back to Pakistan to that safe haven," he said.
"We have urged the Pakistanis to take action to make sure
that that safe haven does not exist. That`s the message we
have given to them," the Defense Secretary said.
"Now, the Pakistanis, I realise, they have tried to
maintain some relationships with some of these individuals. I
realise that they are concerned about how they protect their
own country," he said.
"But we have got to build the cooperative relationship
with them. What we have got to do is build a trusting
relationship where we both understand that our major effort
has to be to end terrorism, period," Panetta said.
The Defense Secretary argued that the US can`t afford to cut off its relationship with Pakistan.
"We can`t afford to do that. It`s been a complicated
relationship with Pakistan. The reality is that terrorism is a
much a threat to Pakistan as it is to the US," he said.
"As a matter of fact, they have lost thousands of people
because of terror attacks in places like Karachi and
elsewhere. And they understand the threat of terrorism, but
they also can`t pick and choose among terrorists. If you`re
against terrorism, you got to be against all terrorism. And
that`s where we have some differences," Panetta said.