Experts call for strengthening US-Pakistan strategic ties
Staff Report; Daily Times, February 8, 2008
WASHINGTON: Speakers at a discussion on Pakistan at a local think-tank were agreed that Pakistan was an invaluable ally of the United States, the strategic relationship between the two countries should be strengthened and Pakistan enabled to regain stability, which was crucial both for the US and the region.
The discussion was held at the Brookings Institution and the three who spoke at the well-attended event were former Pakistan army chief and ambassador to Washington, Jehangir Karamat, former CENTCOM commander Gen Anthony Zinni, and former deputy secretary of state under Bill Clinton, Richard Armitage. Karamat said that the spreading insurgency in Pakistan was a danger to the state, the region and the world. He explained why any direct intervention by the United States in the Tribal Areas, which was being advocated by some, would only complicate an already difficult situation.
Gen Zinni said he felt disappointed when he heard criticism of Pakistan and its role in the war against terror, considering the casualties Pakistan’s fighting forces had taken. He did not think the US had provided Pakistan with the equipment that it needed to fight this very difficult war against terrorism. He emphasised that instead of finding “fault lines”, the US should make an effort to “build relationships”. Armitage was critical of US “backing favourites” and cited the example of the open support lent to slain Pakistan People’s Party chairwoman Benazir Bhutto that led to her return to Pakistan. He said it is not necessary that one should agree with every action that President Pervez Musharraf had taken. Referring to the judicial crisis, he said Musharraf had not done well and he had suffered for it.