Contradicting President Asif Ali Zardari's assertion that coalition forces in Afghanistan were "losing the war against the Taliban", a senior American official has said the US-led troops were neither losing nor planning to pull out of the country.
Asked by journalists whether the US forces were losing the war in Afghanistan, US Under-Secretary of Defence Michele Flournoy said: "No sir, you are badly mistaken. Neither are we losing nor is July 2011 set for the forces to pack their bags. We are not going anywhere."
Flournoy, who is in Islamabad for a meeting of the US-Pakistan Defence Consultative Group, made the remarks during an interaction with a group of journalists at the US embassy.
She said the plans announced by the US were "just the beginning of a process to evaluate our strategy in Afghanistan".
"We remain committed to this region and will stick to Pakistan and Afghanistan," she said.
Days after British Prime Minister David Cameron accused Pakistan of promoting the export of terror to Afghanistan and India, Zardari claimed on Tuesday that coalition forces in Afghanistan were "losing the war against the Taliban".
He suggested the NATO-led mission had "underestimated" the power of the Taliban insurgency, which was "strengthening" its grip.
Flournoy said the action against militants by Pakistan's armed forces is putting pressure on them and assisting US operations inside Afghanistan.
"We see tremendous progress in action against the terrorists. We appreciate the operations of Pakistan armed forces against militants which aims at not only securing Pakistani people but also the rest of the world," she said.
The US is completing a surge and all additional troops and resources will be in place in Afghanistan by July 2011.
Taliban insurgents will be confronted in those areas where no operation had been conducted in the past, she said.
Asked whether Al Qaida still posed a threat and could launch a 9/11-like attack in the future, Flournoy said the terrorist network led by Osama bin Laden was a threat to world peace.
"Yes, Al Qaida continues to be a dangerous outfit and I think the threat still remains. However, by working with Pakistan, we have put tremendous pressure on (it)," she said.
The level of cooperation between the US and Pakistan in countering insurgency is touching the highest level and this partnership is going from strength to strength, Flournoy said.