The United States will take things step by step if Pakistan cuts off Nato and Isaf supplies through its territory, US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman, said on Thursday.
In an interview with The Express Tribune, he said the US “respected and recognised the sacrifice Pakistan had made in the war against terrorism”, but he remained non-committal on the question of drone strikes, wishing not to comment on demands by Pakistan that they should end.
Elaborating on the agreement brokered by Senator John Kerry earlier this week for joint action and intelligence sharing, Grossman insisted “joint meant joint” with neither country in the driving seat.
Grossman said a step-by-step approach would be taken here as well “to see what we can do together. We need to work together and identify the threat jointly.”
Grossman said there was convergence between the US and Pakistan on many issues including the Haqqani network, which has been a major irritant between the two countries, adding Pakistan and the US “see more clearly now than they did a week ago.”
On the process of reconciliation in Afghanistan, Grossman said “not everyone will reconcile, be it the Taliban or the Haqqani network. And those people who will not reconcile will have to be defeated militarily.”
But the American envoy refused to be drawn on likely targets for the next military action, saying the war will be over “when al Qaeda can no longer target people in Pakistan, Europe, Malaysia and the United States.”
“Osama bin Laden’s death is an opportunity for the first time in ten years to complete the defeat of Al Qaeda,” Grossman said, making it clear that Washington would not be drawing down the war effort now that Bin Laden was dead.
Grossman also identified the narcotics trade in Afghanistan as a source of funding for terrorism and extremism in the region. He also said there remained many unanswered questions about Bin Laden’s presence in Abbotabad.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 20th, 2011.
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