Washington, Dec 17 (ANI): It is important for the United States to keep making progress in eliminating sanctuaries for extremists in Pakistan, and Pakistanis "can and must do more" to shut down the flow of insurgents across the Afghanistan border, top US officials have said.
"In Pakistan, it will be important to keep making progress in eliminating sanctuaries for extremists, and we must continue to close the gap between Kabul and Islamabad." US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during a press briefing.
"Now, we know we won't accomplish the goals that the President (Barack Obama) has set forth today, tomorrow or next month, but we are committed and believe we are progressing in our core goal of disrupting, dismantling and defeating al Qaeda in the region, and becoming strong partners with both countries for the long term," she added.
Clinton also said that the US would "dare not" repeat history, and would "continue to support the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan as they work to build their future -- one that is secure, prosperous and free, and does not pose a threat to the people of the United States."
Defence Secretary Robert Gates said that Pakistan had committed over 140,000 troops to operations in extremist safe havens along the border in coordination with Afghan and coalition forces on the Afghan side, but noted that it "can and must do more" in this regard.
"Though we believe the Pakistanis can and must do more to shut down the flow of insurgents across the border, it is important to remember that these kinds of military operations in the tribal areas would have been considered unthinkable just two years ago," he said.
When asked if the US could win the war on terror in the wake of militants continuing to have free passage into Pakistan, and if it could "crack down in a stronger way with the Pakistani government to crack down on their safe havens," Gates replied:
"Well, first of all, they don't have a free pass at this point. There is -- there are a lot of, as we say in our building, kinetic actions taking place along that border."
"In terms of people coming across, one of the areas of progress has been not only the 140,000 Pakistani troops working some of these safe havens in Swat and South Waziristan and elsewhere, but it is the fact that there is increasing cooperation on both sides of the border in coordinating their military operations," he said.
"So the Pakistanis come in behind the insurgents from the Pakistani side and, coordinating with us and the Afghans, we're on the other side. And so they're the meat in the sandwich. And we expect to see more of that, and the cooperation is increasing between the Afghans and the Pakistanis," Gates added. (ANI)