WASHINGTON: The United States on Monday vowed to work with Pakistan in combating terrorists along the country’s border with Afghanistan as it acknowledged the need for all anti-terrorism allies to redouble their efforts. Robert Wood, Deputy State Department Spokesman stressed terrorism is a threat to stability and democracy in the region. He also underscored Washington’s long-term commitment to the region and said there is no plan to reduce military assistance for Pakistan.
“It’s a threat to stability. It’s a threat to democracy in the region. And we have to redouble our efforts. And we’ll continue to work with the Pakistanis on trying to deal with the Taliban and al Qaeda threat, not only in the Tribal Areas but in Afghanistan. And so we’ll continue to do that,” he said at the daily briefing.
The spokesman, however, declined to comment specifically on recent reports of unilateral actions into Pakistani territory when asked about repercussion of such actions for the situation inside Pakistan.
“I’m not going to comment on some of these reports that we’ve seen, in the press over the last week, but just to say that if you look at what happened on Saturday, this is an example of why we, the Pakistanis, the Afghans need to work and redouble our efforts to counter extremism in this region,” he stated in the context of weekend’s horrible bombing on Islamabad’s Marriott Hotel that killed several innocent people including foreigners.
“This was a very, this was a heinous act that was committed by terrorists, who have no interest in anything other than maiming and killing innocent civilians. And we’re going to step up our efforts and work with the Pakistanis to do what we can.” Asked if the episode makes the US rethink its relationship in terms of aid to the Pakistani government, on the military side, especially, and their commitment to fighting terrorism, he responded Washington has a long-term commitment to the region. Wood added he is not aware any thought being given to reducing military assistance for the country.
“No. The Pakistanis have told us that they are committed to this fight. And it’s clearly in our national interests to help the Pakistanis pursue Taliban and al Qaeda extremists. And I’m not aware of any plans or any thought being given to the idea of, you know, reducing military assistance.
“This is a long-term process or project, however you want to call it, to root out extremism in this part of the world. It’s going to take time. But we’re going to be persistent in our efforts. We’ve pledged our cooperation to Pakistan and to the government of Afghanistan to do what we can to help. And so I can assure you, as I said earlier, we are going to redouble our efforts to try to counter this extremism that threatens stability in the region.”
He confirmed that two Department of Defense employees died of injuries sustained in the bombing on Saturday in the Pakistani capital. He added one State Department contractor is currently unaccounted for, and the US officials are looking to try to update the status of this individual. He believed there were three U.S. Embassy employees who were injured, and one contractor injured, in the blast.
“As far as I know, there aren’t any private American citizens who have been hurt. But again, there’s still more work to be done in terms of identifying remains in the hotel. And we’ll update you, should there need to be an update on that.” -SANA