Pak-US ties at turning point: Clinton
ISLAMABAD (PAN): With US-Pakistan relations having reached a turning point, the allies had to take more steps to deal with the shared threat posed by terrorism, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday.
"The United States and Pakistan have worked together to kill or capture many terrorists on Pakistani soil," Clinton told journalists after a flurry of meetings with military and civilian leaders in Islamabad.
On her first fence-mending visit to the Pakistan capital after the May 2 US forces' operation in Abbottabad, the secretary suggested someone in Pakistan helped Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to hide in the country.
However, she hastened to explain there was no evidence that anyone at the highest levels in the government knew that bin Laden lived in the northwestern garrison town, so close to Islamabad.
Speaking at the US embassy, she said Pakistan had to make "hard choices" for a better future. "We have to disrupt, dismantle, defeat and destroy Al Qaeda in Pakistan and the region. We will do our part and look to Pakistan for decisive steps in the days ahead."
Clinton went on to accuse Pakistan-based insurgents of attacking NATO-led soldiers in neighbouring Afghanistan. "It's up to the government of Pakistan to take steps against these militants," the visiting American official continued.
At a 30 minutes one-to-one meeting between Clinton and President Asif Ali Zardari, the two sides agreed that joint efforts were needed at regional and international levels to combat terrorism.
Issues related to Pak-US cooperation in the war against terrorism figured at the meeting, state-run reported. Extremism was impeding peace and development in the region, the two leaders agreed.
Pakistan had contributed a lot to the campaign against terrorism and extremism, acknowledged the visiting dignitary, who stressed the imperative of greater security cooperation between the allies.
Zardari said Pakistan, playing the role of a frontline state in the battle against the scourge, had paid a big price in terms of casualties and economic losses. He asked the world to help his country in overcoming the problem.
Zardari and Clinton led their respective sides at the delegation-level talks, also attended by Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, Inter-Services Intelligence chief Gen. Shuja Pasha and others.
Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen and US Ambassador Cameron Munter were also present on the occasion.
Political analyst Syed Nazir Momand believed Clinton had pressed Pakistan to play a more proactive role in the fight against insurgents. She would also try to convince the ally not to increase its tilt towards China, he said.
The counterterrorism war could not succeed without Islamabad's cooperation, said Rustam Shah Momand, the former Pakistani ambassador to Afghanistan. The US was following a carrot-and-stick policy towards Pakistan, he told Pajhwok Afghan News.
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