WASHINGTON: Outgoing US Defense Secretary Robert M Gates said on Thursday that it was critical for the United States to maintain ties with Pakistan despite growing anti-Americanism in the Pakistani military and the worst relationship between the two countries in years.
Gates was speaking during a news conference along with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of StafF Admiral Mike Mullen.
“The long history of the US-Pakistani relationship has had its ebbs and flows,” said Gates. “We need each other, and we need each other more than just in the context of Afghanistan.”
Gates declined to say that the was “winning” the war, despite US claims of recent military gains. “I have learned a few things in four and a half years, and one of them is to try to stay away from loaded words like ‘winning’ and ‘losing,’ ” he said. “Our military operations are being successful in denying the Taliban control of populated areas, degrading their capabilities and improving the capabilities of the Afghan national security forces.”
Both Gates and Mullen deflected a question on whether they were concerned that General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani might be in danger of losing his position.
Pakistan-US ties reached their lowest point in recent history after American Seals conducted a unilateral raid in Abbottabad to kill al Qaeda’s chief Osama Bin Laden.