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US official says coalition forces not losing war in Afghan

A senior American official today contradicted Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari`s assertion that coalition forces in Afghanistan were "losing the war against the Taliban".



Islamabad: A senior American official on Friday contradicted Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari`s
assertion that coalition forces in Afghanistan were "losing
the war against the Taliban", saying the US-led troops were
neither losing nor planning to pull out of the country.

Asked by journalists whether the US forces were losing
the war in Afghanistan, US Under-Secretary of Defence Michele
Flournoy said: "No sir, you are badly mistaken. Neither are we
losing nor is July 2011 set for the forces to pack their bags.
We are not going anywhere."

Flournoy, who is in Islamabad for a meeting of the
US-Pakistan Defence Consultative Group, made the remarks
during an interaction with a group of journalists at the US
embassy.

She said the plans announced by the US were "just the
beginning of a process to evaluate our strategy in
Afghanistan".

"We remain committed to this region and will stick to
Pakistan and Afghanistan," she said.

Shortly after British Prime Minister David Cameron
accused Pakistan of promoting the export of terror to
Afghanistan and India, Zardari claimed on Tuesday that
coalition forces in Afghanistan were "losing the war against
the Taliban".

He suggested the NATO-led mission had "underestimated"
the power of the Taliban insurgency, which was "strengthening"
its grip.

Flournoy said the action against militants by
Pakistan`s armed forces is putting pressure on them and
assisting US operations inside Afghanistan.

"We see tremendous progress in action against the
terrorists. We appreciate the operations of Pakistan armed
forces against militants which aims at not only securing
Pakistani people but also the rest of the world," she said.

The US is completing a surge and all additional troops
and resources will be in place in Afghanistan by July 2011.

Taliban insurgents will be confronted in those areas
where no operation had been conducted in the past, she said.

Asked whether al Qaeda still posed a threat and could
launch a 9/11-like attack in the future, Flournoy said the
terrorist network led by Osama bin Laden was a threat to world
peace.

"Yes, al Qaeda continues to be a dangerous outfit and
I think the threat still remains. However, by working with
Pakistan, we have put tremendous pressure on (it)," she said.

The level of cooperation between the US and Pakistan
in countering insurgency is touching the highest level and
this partnership is going from strength to strength, Flournoy
said.

The US will provide one billion dollars to Pakistan
from the Coalition Support Fund this year as part of its
commitment to help the country, Flournoy said.

More funding is in the pipeline and President Barack
Obama has said the US aid for Pakistan will be enduring, she
remarked.

"Over the next 12 months, we will be seeking
cooperation on security assistance, especially on provision of
security equipment to the armed forces of Pakistan worth one
billion dollars," she said.

Responding to a question about disclosures by
WikiLeaks on alleged links between Pakistani intelligence
operatives and the Afghan Taliban, Flournoy said these
revelations were based on raw inputs and old documents that
did not reflect the policy of the US government.

"The WikiLeaks report is being treated as a criminal
act in the US and it is being investigated. Moreover, the US
government also condemned this report. Let me assure you that
there is absolutely no involvement of the US government in
this matter," she said.

Flournoy sought to brush aside the impression that the
US had doubts about Pakistan`s commitment to the war against
terrorism, saying, "The US has no doubts about Pakistan`s
commitment to the war against terrorism. I don`t see any
strains in Pakistan-US ties. We have shared interests while
the Pakistani army and its people have rendered invaluable
sacrifices in the fight against militancy," she said.

PTI

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