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    Pakistan holds key to success in Afghanistan: US

    KABUL (PAN): US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta has tied America’s success in Afghanistan to Islamabad’s willingness to combat terrorism and Kabul’s resolve to eliminate corruption.

    “Look, in many ways, the success in Afghanistan is dependent on having a Pakistan that is willing to confront terrorism on its side of the border and prevent (militant) safe havens,” the secretary said.

    According to the transcript of Panetta’s presentation at the Centre for a New American Security in Washington, the US is focusing on developing an Afghan defence force that can provide security and can deal with internal threats.

    He said two other factors would determine whether the United States success in achieving its objectives in Afghanistan. “Number one, we have to have an Afghanistan that can govern itself, that can move away from corruption...”

    The second factor concerned militant safe havens in Pakistan, Panetta added. The US forces could take on the terrorists as they crossed the border but the job could not be completed when the rebels moved back into their safe haven.

    “So in order to really have a secure Afghanistan, ultimately Pakistan is going to have to take responsibility for taking on these terrorists and eliminating the safe havens,” the secretary remarked.

    The US had made clear through a strategic partnership agreement that it would maintain an enduring presence, and a long-term commitment to Afghan security, Panetta concluded.

    PAN Monitor/mud