US asks Pak to take decisive steps

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — who arrived here on Friday morning on a surprise visit to address tensions generated by the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad on May 2 — lauded Pakistan’s contributions to the war on terror but made it clear that more needs to be done to counter Taliban and al-Qaeda elements. “We discussed in even greater detail cooperation to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaeda and to drive them from Pakistan and the region.

“We will do our part and we look to the government of Pakistan to take decisive steps in the days ahead,” Clinton told a news conference after talks with the top civil and military leadership.

Pakistan must also be a part of US plans for the reconciliation process in war-torn Afghanistan, she said.

“There is momentum toward political reconciliation in Afghanistan but the insurgency continues to operate from safe havens here in Pakistan,” Clinton said.

Shortly after flying into the Chaklala military airbase in Rawalpindi, Clinton held a one-to-one meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari that lasted 30 minutes.

The two sides then held delegation-level talks.Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) head Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha participated in these talks.
Clinton described the talks she and US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen held with the Pakistani leadership as “frank and constructive”.

“This was an especially important visit because we have reached a turning point. Osama bin Laden is dead but al-Qaeda and its syndicate of terror remain a serious threat to us both,” she said.

Referring to the US raid that killed the al-Qaeda chief and led to bilateral relations plunging to a new low, Clinton said “there is absolutely no evidence that anyone at the highest levels of the Pakistan government knew that bin Laden was living just miles from where we are today”. However, Clinton said her Pakistani interlocutors “were very forthcoming in saying that somebody, somewhere was providing some kind of support” to bin Laden and that an investigation was now underway.

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