Pakistani Leaders Build Relationship
Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, left front, Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, and U.S. Army General David H.
Petraeus, Commander, Multinational Force Iraq, observe
operations from the flag bridge during a visit to USS Abraham
Lincoln, in the North Arabian Sea.
Navy Photo / Photo by James R. Evans
ABRAHAM LINCOLN – U.S.
and Pakistani military leaders continued their ongoing dialogue
about the war on terrorism during an August 26 meeting aboard
the USS Abraham Lincoln in the Indian Ocean.
Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Pentagon
reporters today his meeting with Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Pakistani
army’s chief of staff, was constructive and focused on the challenges
posed by extremists in the federally administered tribal area and the North
West Frontier in Pakistan. The Taliban and al-Qaida are using the areas
to plan and train for attacks in Afghanistan.
“There is … a growing complexity and coordination among extremist
groups there — an almost syndicate-like behavior — that has resulted in new
and ever more sophisticated attacks on coalition forces,” Mullen said.
He pointed to attacks against French forces near Kabul last week and against
U.S. forces in the Wanat Valley near Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan
“The safe havens in the border regions provide launching pads for these
sorts of attacks, and they need to be shut down,” the admiral said.
Mullen at the conference was Army Gen. David D. McKiernan,
commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan; Army Lt. Gen. Martin
E. Dempsey, acting
U.S. Central Command chief; Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the soon-to-be
commander of U.S. Central Command who now commands Multinational Force
Iraq; and Navy Adm. Eric T. Olson, commander of U.S. Special Operations
he came away from the long-planned meeting “very encouraged
that the focus is where it needs to be and that the … military-to-military
relationship we’re building with Pakistan is getting stronger every day.”
the fifth visit Mullen has made with Kayani since February,
and was a chance to keep the lines of communication open between
the two militaries.
“For me, more than anything, this was a chance to better understand a
very complex challenge in a critical part of the world and to try to do that
through the eyes of the leadership who live and work and fight there every single
day,” Mullen said.
the threat extremists pose to his country, Mullen said. The
U.S. and Pakistani leaders went over the specifics of the threat
Pakistan and Afghanistan and what can be done about it. The meeting was
important in “terms of learning as well as continuing to look at
where … we can support and how we can understand each other better,
with a … very clear need from the United States’ standpoint
and from the Pakistani standpoint, that we have got to figure out a way
to get at this problem,” the chairman said.
military faces a conventional military challenge from India
and the extremist challenge. Kayani understands the situation,
and is moving toward combating the extremist problem on the border with
“I’m pleased that he’s moving in that direction and that he is, actually,
operating,” Mullen said. “And again, we’re trying to figure out … how
that fits into bringing pressure onto that border to work to minimize the cross-border
operations from Pakistan into Afghanistan on the case of the insurgents. It’s
just going to take some time.
areas of Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan pose different
challenges, Mullen said, and long-term solutions must be in place to address
the root causes of extremism.
“It continues to be an extraordinarily complex problem [in Pakistan],” the
chairman said. “We need to continue to press on it. There are areas that
we can do better. There are areas that the Pakistan military can do better. We
understand that. It’s an area, I think, we can all improve on. But it is not
going to be something that gets solved overnight.”
States will continue to work with Kayani and will continue
to reach out to improve the military-to-military relationship.
“As I have come to know him … his goal … is to do the right
thing by Pakistan,” Mullen said. “He’s an extraordinary individual,
and his ultimate … principles and goals are to do what’s best for Pakistan.
And everything he’s done in our engagement indicates that’s absolutely the case.”