US says Swat deal failure a "real wake-up call" for Pakistan

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Washington, May 4 (ANI): US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said the failure of the Swat deal is a "real wake-up call" for Pakistan, adding that the Pakistani military has started to regain the initiative in its northwestern areas that recently fell under the Taliban control.

"It is my impression from the great distance that they have begun to regain the initiative," he said when asked about Pakistan army's operations against the Taliban militants in Buner and other areas around the Swat valley.

Gates told CNN that the militants posed an existential threat to Pakistan, noting that the country's leadership is determined to confront the menace.

"I think the leaders of Pakistan do understand this. President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the others. But I think there is a need for them to help the rest of Pakistan understand why it is an existential threat."

Asked to comments on Pakistan's criticism that the US was reluctant to provide it with the necessary counterinsurgency equipment, including helicopters and night vision goggles, Gates said that was not the case.

In fact, he said, there was hesitation on Pakistan's part to have a too much American involvement on its soil. The United States is prepared to help Pakistan with training and counterinsurgency equipment, Gates said.

"We have been willing to provide that kind of training and that kind of equipment, as much as we can provide as much as they can take."

Pakistan, he said, does not want a significant American footprint on its soil. "I understand that. But we are willing to do pretty much whatever we can to help the Pakistanis in this situation."

Asked if America will send more counterinsurgency trainers beyond a small number, Gates replied: "I think that remains to be seen. I think it will depend on how the situation develops and the views of the Pakistani government."

Similarly, Gates said on the news programme that Pakistan is beginning to develop the counterinsurgency capability, citing America's own experience of several years in changing its tactics after the Iraq war. (ANI)

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