U.S., Pakistani Militaries Work to Resolve Differences

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2011 — Despite dif­fi­cul­ties in the rela­tion­ship between the Unit­ed States and Pak­istan, the Defense Depart­ment will con­tin­ue to try to work through the dif­fer­ences, Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary George Lit­tle said today.

“We want to main­tain a rela­tion­ship with Pak­istan that’s ground­ed in com­mon inter­ests, to include going after ter­ror­ists that threat­en both coun­tries,” Lit­tle told Pen­ta­gon reporters in a brief­ing that includ­ed Joint Staff spokesman Navy Capt. John Kir­by.

“There are dif­fer­ences from time to time in the rela­tion­ship with Pak­istan, as there are in any part­ner­ship,” he added. “Those dif­fer­ences have been made pub­lic, and we con­tin­ue to dis­cuss [them] in pri­vate.”

Last week­end, accord­ing to a Sept. 26 state­ment from the U.S. Embassy in Islam­abad, Pak­istan, Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mat­tis, com­man­der of U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand, met there with Gen. Ash­faq Kayani, chief of the Pak­istani army, and Gen. Khalid Wynne, chief of staff of the Pak­istani armed forces.

“The gen­er­als had can­did dis­cus­sions about the cur­rent chal­lenges in the U.S.-Pakistan rela­tion­ship,” the embassy report­ed, and Mat­tis empha­sized the vital role of the Pak­istan mil­i­tary in inter­na­tion­al secu­ri­ty efforts to pro­tect the peo­ple of Pak­istan and Afghanistan.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, dis­cussed the chal­lenges Sept. 22 in tes­ti­mo­ny before the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, cit­ing as an exam­ple “the impuni­ty with which cer­tain extrem­ist groups are allowed to oper­ate from Pak­istani soil.”

The Haqqani net­work, he told the com­mit­tee, “acts as a ver­i­ta­ble arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Ser­vices Intel­li­gence agency.”

ISI-sup­port­ed Haqqani oper­a­tives planned and con­duct­ed the Sept. 10 truck bomb attack that killed five peo­ple and wound­ed 77 in Kab­ul, Afghanistan, and the assault there last week on the U.S. embassy, Mullen said, along with the June 28 attack on the Inter-Con­ti­nen­tal Hotel, also in the cap­i­tal city, and oth­er oper­a­tions.

“In choos­ing to use vio­lent extrem­ism as an instru­ment of pol­i­cy, the gov­ern­ment of Pak­istan, and most espe­cial­ly the Pak­istani army and ISI, jeop­ar­dizes not only the prospect of our strate­gic part­ner­ship, but Pakistan’s oppor­tu­ni­ty to be a respect­ed nation with legit­i­mate region­al influ­ence,” the chair­man said.

By export­ing vio­lence, Mullen said, the gov­ern­ment has erod­ed its inter­nal secu­ri­ty and posi­tion in the region, and under­mined its inter­na­tion­al cred­i­bil­i­ty and eco­nom­ic well-being.

“Only a deci­sion to break with this pol­i­cy can pave the road to a pos­i­tive future for Pak­istan,” he said.

“We’ve had dis­cus­sions with [the gov­ern­ment of Pak­istan] and expressed these con­cerns,” Kir­by told reporters, adding, “We’ve pro­vid­ed, in the past, exam­ples of how we know this com­plic­i­ty con­tin­ues to exist.”

Kir­by said the chairman’s tes­ti­mo­ny was “a reflec­tion of his grow­ing frus­tra­tion over the course of the sum­mer of the increased and increas­ing­ly brazen activ­i­ties of the Haqqani net­work.”

Nev­er­the­less, Mullen told the sen­a­tors, mil­i­tary coop­er­a­tion, again, is warm­ing and trans­paren­cy slow­ly is return­ing.

With­out Pakistan’s help, he said, “We would be in a far tougher sit­u­a­tion in the wake of the frosti­ness which fell over us after the bin Laden raid were it not for the ground­work Gen­er­al Kayani and I had laid, were it not for the fact that we could at least have a con­ver­sa­tion about the way ahead, how­ev­er dif­fi­cult that con­ver­sa­tion might be.”

What mat­ters most right now is mov­ing for­ward, Mullen added.

The Defense Depart­ment, Lit­tle said, looks for­ward to work­ing with the Pak­ista­nis to try to resolve such dif­fer­ences.

“It’s impor­tant that both sides con­tin­ue the dia­logue,” he added, “and that’s hap­pen­ing.”

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