The U.S.-Pakistani partnership is vital to U.S. strategic interests, senior Defense Department officials told Congress members yesterday. Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy, and Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John M. Paxton Jr., director of operations for the Joint Staff, each said that continued funding of Pakistan’s civilian and military efforts to combat the insurgency is crucial to supporting efforts in Afghanistan.
âThis is a partnership that is absolutely vital to U.S. interests, but itâs also complex,â Flournoy told members of the House Armed Services Committee. She also said that Pakistan is a vital ally in the region and not just for it’s support for counter terror efforts.
Pakistan is increasingly helpful in dismantling the insurgency taking place in the Af-Pak region, Flournoy said. Also, a string of terrorist attacks on Pakistani cities has helped to swing support of the Pakistani people behind the counterinsurgency efforts.
âIt galvanized the population to see this as more than just a U.S. fight,â she said, âbut one in which they have a vital interest.â
Not only is the U.S. providing support in the realm of counter terror but also in providing critical needs like potable water and energy.
âTheir assessment of our staying power is changing,â Flournoy told the committee. âWeâve been extremely responsive to their needs in funding and other support. I think they are starting to believe that we are committed to the greater security of the region and that extends their willingness to work with us.â
While the Pakistani government has made considerable gains since the offensives into Swat and Southern Waziristan, intelligence and military officials have noticed a “trickling in” of Taliban fighters into previously secured regions, according to Paxton. The U.S. must continue to support Pakistan’s military and civilian efforts to keep the Taliban from regaining a foothold in cleared areas.
âIt is imperative that we support Pakistan,â Paxton said. âTheir fight is directly aligned with our goals in the region. We must remain steadfast in developing their abilities.â