US Defends Ties with Pakistan to Outraged Lawmakers

By Arun Kumar

Washington, June 16 (IANS) Even as US lawmakers expressed outrage over the arrest of five Pakistan CIA informers by Pakistan's spy agency, the top US military official defended ties with a key ally as "complicated" but vital.

"Some of the criticism is more than warranted" when it comes to the relationship with Pakistan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen said Wednesday at a US Senate hearing.

Although the relationship with Pakistan is complicated, not dealing with the Pakistanis would likely mean the US would be out of the picture in Pakistan -- where the Afghan Taliban is believed to have regrouped -- for another five to 10 years, he said.

The US is in the midst of building a relationship with Pakistan, which was "badly broken" in the '80s and '90s.And we are back," Mullen said.

"Nobody's worked that harder than me, very frankly, with the leadership -- and it's a conscious decision, I think, that we have to make," he said. "If we walk away from it, it's my view it'll be a much more dangerous place a decade from now, and we'll be back."

"I think, a goal that we must continue to pursue -- or the danger associated with a country that's got a nuclear arsenal, that lives next to a country that they view as an existential threat, it's just a matter of time before we're back," Mullen said.


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