Calling for fostering a sustained relationship with Pakistan, Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the US, has observed that Islamabad was "very concerned about India. That’s not going to go away overnight."
Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington on Wednesday, he acknowledged the fact that Pakistan has deployed 30,000 troops to confront terrorists in their South Waziristan stronghold, Associated Press of Pakistan reported.
Mullen said: “It’s a very tough fight; they are going into the heart of enemy territory right now. And I think it’s going to continue to be a very tough fight, but he (Army Chief Gen. Kayani) clearly, and the leadership, recognises the seriousness of the situation."
“And if you just look at the bombings that have occurred in the last couple of weeks --and more and more Pakistani citizens who are getting killed -- I think they are responding in recognition of the seriousness of this extremist group.”
He said Pakistanis have concerns vis-a-vis India on the eastern border.
“They’re still very concerned about India. That’s not going to go away overnight and we’re not going to wish that away,” APP quoted him as saying.
The US official said Al Qaeda militant leaders hiding along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border pose a threat to the US and its allies.
“We’ve got to ensure that we don’t lose focus there and we are able to, in my view, sustain this relationship with Pakistan. And when I go to Pakistan and Afghanistan, one of the first questions either asked or the question that is always on their lips is, are you leaving this time, are you going to abandon us again? Which we’ve done, so we’ve got -- we’ve been there before and I think we’ve got obligations and responsibilities based on that before.
“And in all that, there is a very, very significant threat to us, to the United States of America, which is sustaining itself there -- albeit it’s a little bit off balance now. We’ve had some positive effects but I think we need to keep the pressure on.”