Mly mission unaffected by Pak route closure: Panetta
KABUL (PAN): The closure of a key International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) supply line by Pakistan is having no impact on NATO-led operations in Afghanistan, the US Defence Secretary, Leon Panetta, said on Wednesday.
Addressing a joint press conference with president Karzia at the presidential palace in Kabul, Panetta said they had alternative routes for supplies to coalition and ISAF troops based in Afghanistan.
He added currently military supplies are going through the substitute routes. However, he gave no details of the routes.
Islamabad closed a key supply route for NATO-led troops and ordered the United States to vacate the Shamsi airbase in Balochistan province in the wake of ISAF air raid that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in the Mohmand tribal region on November 26.
Commenting on the shooting down of an American drone by Iran earlier this month, defense secretary said the CIA-operated aircraft was on a surveillance mission in the border region near Iran.
Surveillance flights were aimed at protecting Afghan and American citizens, and the intelligence gathering missions would continue, he said.
Earlier in the day, visiting with forces in Paktika, Panetta asserted, “I really think that for all the sacrifices that you are doing, the reality is that it is paying off and that we’re moving in the right direction.
A day after his arrival in Kabul on an unannounced trip Panetta told troops, Pakistan should take more steps to secure its side of the border, the Paktika governor's spokesman, Mukhlis Afghan, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
Speaking at a forward operating base of coalition troops in Sharan, Panetta said the US was winning the war in Afghanistan. "We are winning this tough conflict."
Despite challenges and difficulties, the secretary hoped that they would ensure the Taliban sanctuaries were eradicated forever and Al Qaeda stopped from regrouping.