US-Pak ties down, but should not be out: Donilon
Washington: America's relationship with Pakistan has deteriorated in the aftermath of the Abbottabad operation that killed Osama bin Laden, a top aide of President Barack Obama has conceded, while acknowledging that it was in nobody's interest to cut off the ties with Islamabad.
US National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said the US had a complex but important relationship with Pakistan that has witnessed its own set of frustrations but it was in American interest to continue cooperation with Islamabad.
"Would it be in our national interests to have a continued work with the Pakistanis on their economic stabilisation? Yes. A failed state in Pakistan would not be in the United States interest," Donilon told the popular Charlie Rose Show in an interview.
"Now that's a complicated piece of business on that border up there, absolutely, so those are the things we do. We undertake understanding with our eyes wide open some of the complexities. We understand some of the frustrations and disappointments we're going to have, but our job is to pursue the national interest," Donilon said.
Donilon defended Obama's decision to keep the Abbottabad raid a secret from the Pakistani leadership, saying this was a mission that the US couldn't afford to have lost to a leak and Pakistan's reaction was not entirely unexpected.
"This was about operational security. We operated in our own government in the tightest possible circle over this. We had 24 interagency meetings from August of 2010 through the operation the beginning of May," he said. "We didn't tell anybody outside our government. Why? If it leaked, it was our judgement, he would have been gone. If it leaked, we would have increased the danger to the forces that went in and did the raid, and that wasn't something we were going to risk," Donilon said, while acknowledging that
Pakistan sees it as an infringement of its sovereignty and an embarrassment to it.
But, he said, at the end of the day bin Laden was an enemy of the Pakistani people as well as the American people and his downfall was a plus for both.
"Now, the relationship, and again, we understood by the way when we made the decision -- when the President made the decision -- knowing all the aspects of it including... the impact on the Pakistani relationship, and we certainly took that into account and knew it had to be managed so it's not unexpected to us that there would be some fallout from this," Donilon said.
"Now where is the relationship was your question, it's a complicated complex and important relationship. There are frustrations but there are also important work that we do together and again our job and the National Security Team at
the direction of the President is to address our national interests.”
"So here's go through it, walking away from this relationship is not an option, do we need to have continued -- would it be in our national interests to have continued counterterrorism cooperation from the Pakistanis," he said, adding that the Obama administration will work on that.