Elements in Pak helping al-Qaeda: White House

Last Updated 27 July 2010, 03:34 IST

Responding to a volley of questions from reporters at his daily news briefing, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that these American concerns remains.

"The direction of our relationship with Pakistan, based on steps that we've asked them to take, has improved that relationship," Gibbs said.

But more needs to be done by Pakistan, as the White House do not want status quo to be maintained, he asserted.

"We have certainly known about safe havens in Pakistan. We have been concerned about civilian casualties for quite some time. On both of those aspects, we've taken steps to make improvements," he said.

Gibbs was quick to refer to the recent Congressional testimony of General David Petraeus, commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, about historical relationship between the Taliban and the Pakistani intelligence services.

"I think the President was clear back in March of 2009 that there was no blank check for Pakistan; that Pakistan had to change the way it dealt with us; it had to make progress on safe havens," Gibbs said.

"It is in the interest of the Pakistanis, because we certainly saw last year those extremists that enjoyed a safe haven there turning their eye on innocent Pakistanis. That's why you've seen Pakistan make progress in moving against extremists in Swat and in South Waziristan," he said.

"But at the same time, even as they make progress, we understand that the status quo is not acceptable and that we have to continue moving this relationship in the right direction," Gibbs said.

Reiterating that Pakistan should not expect a blank check from the US, Gibbs said the US has made progress in moving this relationship forward, in having the Pakistanis address the issue of safe havens, the issue of extremists operating in that country, by undertaking operations, again, in Swat and in South Waziristan.

"Over the course of the past more than year and a half, what the Pakistanis have found is that the extremists that once enjoyed complete safe haven in parts of their country now threaten their country. So they've taken steps. We want to continue to work with them to take more steps," Gibbs said.

The White House spokesman said America's criticism to Pakistan has been relayed both publicly and privately.

"We will continue to do so in order to move this relationship forward," he said.

"We came in talking about Afghanistan and Pakistan as a region, not as simply two separate and distinct countries, which put emphasis on our relationship and the actions of Pakistan," he said.

(Published 27 July 2010, 03:34 IST)

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