Relationship with Pak on improving trajectory: US

America`s military relationship with Pakistan in the last eight months have been on an "improving trajectory", a top US general has said.

Updated: Mar 06, 2013, 10:39 AM IST

Washington: America`s military relationship with Pakistan in the last eight months have been on an "improving trajectory", a top US general has said.

"We`re on an improving trajectory. It`s been improving for probably the last year, maybe eight months. We have some valid reasons to see it continue to improve into the near future as we try to get our two countries to find common ground wherever possible," General James Mattis, Commander, Central Command, said yesterday.

He was speaking at the members of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee during a Congressional hearing.

Responding to questions on the Pakistan`s action against terrorists in the tribal areas, Mattis said the Pak Army has gradually started taking control of the area.

"As they go through this fight in an area of their country where they have never had a lot of control, they`re going to have to exercise a degree of control they have not exercised, been able to exercise, always in the past," he said.

He said, "it is the most difficult terrain I`ve ever operated in along that border region. So this is not easy. The enemy is well-dug in. They`re hard to get at. Pakistan military is moving against them.

And we`ll just have to try and keep the collaboration along the border continuing on the trajectory it`s on now if we`re going to have success".

Mattis acknowledged that "trust deficit" continues to exit between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"There`s dissatisfaction that has been articulated by the Afghans about the terrorist havens on the Pakistan side of the border. There are concerns that I don`t want to wish away or dismiss. NATO is a big facilitator in getting the Pakistani and Afghan officers to talk together, to work together," he said.

He added that political and security environment in Pakistan is impacted by terrorist attacks, ethno-sectarianism, a civilian government with tenuous control in parts of the country, radicalisation of segments of the population, overstretched military, strained relationships with neighbours,
and dealing with frequent natural disasters.

"United States has a vested interest in Pakistan`s sustainability as a nation and despite challenges in US-Pakistan relationship, they are an important regional partner that has sacrificed greatly in the war on terror. They must play a constructive role if Afghanistan is to achieve long-term stability," he added.

"Continued support for Foreign Military Financing, International Military Education and Training and Coalition Support Fund will provide the necessary tools to keep our military-to-military relationship on a solid footing," he said.