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Pakistan committed in fight against Taliban: Gates

world Updated: Aug 01, 2010 20:50 IST

AFP
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US Defense Secretary Robert Gates defended Pakistan today, saying the country was actively targeting militants, after leaked documents alleged Islamabad's spy service is guiding Afghan insurgents.

"What I see is a change in the strategic calculus in Pakistan," he said on ABC News' "This Week with Christiane Amanpour."

"They are more and more partnering with us and working with us and fighting these insurgents and 140,000 soldiers (are) in northwestern Pakistan fighting some of the same insurgents we are."

His defense of Pakistan comes after new questions about links between the country's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency and Taliban leaders.

The New York Times said some 92,000 classified documents made public by the WikiLeaks website showed ISI agents and Taliban member met "in secret strategy sessions to organize networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders."

Gates acknowledged that the allegations were "a concern."

"There's no question about it," he said. "But I would say that, again, we walked out on Pakistan and Afghanistan in 1989 and left them basically holding the bag. And there is always the fear that we will do that again. And I believe that's the reason there's a certain hedge."

And he said Pakistan had shown it was now committed to tackling Taliban fighters by raiding militant safe havens in South Waziristan and Swat.

"And so the Pakistanis going after any of these groups, I believe, overall, helps us in what we're trying to accomplish, both with respect to Afghanistan and with respect to Al-Qaeda."

The documents released by WikiLeaks a week ago detail serious allegations against the ISI, that the organization was linked to an assassination plot on Afghan President Hamid Karzai, which never came off, attacks on NATO warplanes, a plot to poison the beer supply of Western troops and the 2008 Indian embassy bombing.

Pakistan has denied the allegations and criticized the leak of the documents as irresponsible and inflammatory.