Biden sought to clear misconceptions during Pak visit: Official

US Vice President Joe Biden raised with the Pak leadership the issue of militants` sanctuaries inside the country and sought to undo the misconception that US was violating its sovereignty during his recent visit to Pak.

Updated: Jan 14, 2011, 22:23 PM IST

Washington: US Vice President Joseph
Biden raised with the Pakistani leadership the issue of
militants` sanctuaries inside the country and sought to undo
the misconception that America was violating its sovereignty
during his recent visit to Islamabad.

A senior official accompanying Biden on his way back
from his visit to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq told
reporters that the Vice President concluded that there is a
growing awareness in Pakistan that extremism is a serious
challenge.

"It is the extremists in Pakistan who are violating
Pakistan`s sovereignty and sullying its good name. And what
we`re trying to do is to help Pakistan restore full
sovereignty," the Administration official said.

He said Biden during his visit to Islamabad talked
about a number of misconceptions about US policy and
intentions.

"And one of them is this notion that we are somehow
violating Pakistan`s sovereignty by helping its military deal
with extremism," he said.

"The Vice President has concluded from his discussions
that increasingly there`s an understanding and an awareness in
Pakistan that at the end of the day, extremism is a problem
that we both confront," he said.

He said there are different groups with different
agendas, but they sometimes make common cause, and Pakistanis
are increasingly coming to the conclusion that extremism writ
large is a problem for them.

The official said the assassination of the governor of
Punjab was an example of the threat posed by extremists to
Pakistan.

Biden also raised the issue of sanctuaries inside
Pakistan during his meetings with the leadership, he said.

"The issue of sanctuaries did come up, as we`ve said,
also consistently. In terms of the effort in Afghanistan,
dealing with sanctuaries is an important piece. I don`t want
to characterise the Pakistani response," he said.

Observing that Biden`s meeting with top Pakistan`s
leadership, including the President, the Prime Minister and
the Army Chief were very good, the official conceded that
Pakistanis have resource constraints and there is still work
to do.

"They have challenges that they have to face. And we
have to work on it together," he said.

The official said US` relationship with Pakistan has
been based on trends and policies built up over decades, and
turning around problematic aspects of the relationship takes
time, and it requires sustained dialogue and conversation.

"What we`ve seen over the past year is a significant
effort by Pakistan against a number of extremist groups. The
Pakistanis have moved a significant number of forces from the
Indian border," he said. "They`ve taken significant losses in fighting
extremists. They`ve had to deal with Swat. They`ve had to deal
with some of the northern parts of the FATA.

"They`ve had to deal with the flood, which took troops
away from the effort. And so I think it`s fair to say we have
seen a real effort," the official said.

He said the President has mainatined that dealing with
the sanctuaries that are affecting Afghanistan, more action is
needed.

"It`s still not enough, and we hope to see more," he
said.

"I think the cooperation that we have with the
military in Pakistan is as good as it`s been in getting
stronger," the official said.

PTI

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