Mullen: Pakistan Leaders Want to Cooperate With U.S.

WASHINGTON, May 30, 2011 — Navy Adm. Mike Mullen today said he came away from his recent meet­ing with Pak­istani lead­ers con­vinced of their com­mit­ment to work with the Unit­ed States on secu­ri­ty, intel­li­gence and devel­op­ment.
The chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff made the com­ments on the net­work morn­ing shows this Memo­r­i­al Day.

Mullen said the May 27 meet­ing with Pak­istani lead­ers went well and that the tense­ness of the meet­ing was over­stat­ed by the media. “It was a very frank meet­ing; it’s a very dif­fi­cult time and yet a very impor­tant rela­tion­ship,” he said.

Mullen and Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Rod­ham Clin­ton went to Pak­istan to reaf­firm the com­mit­ment on the part of the Unit­ed States to work with Pak­istan and to send a mes­sage about the impor­tance of the U.S.-Pakistan rela­tion­ship.

The chair­man said the two sides dis­cussed the full range of con­cerns includ­ing deal­ing with the Haqqani net­work that is oper­at­ing from Pak­istan to kill U.S. per­son­nel in Afghanistan. “We were frank with them, and they were frank with us,” he said. “The Pak­istani army is launch­ing an intro­spec­tive look and review, and I think we’re going to have to get through that.

“I did hear from the mil­i­tary lead­er­ship their con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to look ahead and work with us,” he con­tin­ued. “We think that’s impor­tant. We have shared inter­ests in terms of the ter­ror­ist threat that is there, in terms of deal­ing with a very dif­fi­cult bor­der and look­ing for a way ahead that will cre­ate a more peace­ful and sta­ble coun­try.”

The Amer­i­can peo­ple need to under­stand the tough fight Pak­istan has made, the chair­man said. The Pak­istani mil­i­tary has had thou­sands killed and rough­ly 10,000 wound­ed in the bat­tle against ter­ror­ists. In addi­tion, ter­ror­ists have killed thou­sands of Pak­istani civil­ians.

Mullen has made more than 25 trips to Pak­istan to meet with lead­ers includ­ing Pak­istan army Chief of Staff Gen. Ash­faq Kayani. He has been work­ing since he took office to over­come what he calls the “trust gap” between the Unit­ed States and Pak­istan. The U.S. mil­i­tary raid to Abbot­tabad, Pak­istan, that killed al-Qai­da leader Osama bin Laden dealt a blow to those efforts.

Still, both sides agree the death of bin Laden was a pos­i­tive step, Mullen said. Over­all, al-Qai­da is not the orga­ni­za­tion it was 10 years ago when it struck the Unit­ed States on 9/11, he said.

“They’ve been sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduced in terms of their over­all abil­i­ty, but they still plan and want to kill as many Amer­i­cans and West­ern­ers that they pos­si­bly can,” he said. “We need to make sure they can­not do that.”

Mullen was quick to point out that the Unit­ed States has seen no evi­dence that Pakistan’s senior gov­ern­ment lead­ers had any knowl­edge of bin Laden’s pres­ence there. Amer­i­can and Pak­istani lead­ers do, how­ev­er, believe the al-Qai­da ter­ror­ist had a sup­port net­work in the coun­try.

Pak­istan is impor­tant to U.S. and NATO efforts in Afghanistan, and the chair­man said there is rea­son for hope in that coun­try, despite a dif­fi­cult fight­ing sea­son ahead this sum­mer.

“We will con­tin­ue to sus­tain loss­es as we’ve done in the last few days,” he said. “Every one of those is a trag­ic, trag­ic loss. That said, I am con­fi­dent that by the end of the year we will be in a much bet­ter posi­tion and be able to see much more clear­ly the longer term poten­tial for a pos­i­tive out­come.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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