WASHINGTON: From mid-August to late September, the Pakistani military, the US-led International Security Assistance Force and the Afghan military have conducted a number of complementary operations in the border areas, says a Pentagon report.
The report, which is sent to the US Congress under the National Defence Authorisation Act, states that “complementary operations” were conducted in the border areas of Nuristan, Kunar, Nangarhar, Paktiya, Khost, and Paktika in Afghanistan.
In Pakistan, similar trilateral operations were conducted in Chitral, Bajaur Agency, Mohmand, Khyber, Kurrum, North Waziristan and South Waziristan.
The report assesses US efforts for stabilising Afghanistan and also defines the role Kabul’s neighbours, particularly Pakistan and India, can play in achieving this target.
But the US Department of Defence makes it clear that Pakistan remains a key strategic state in its own right and not just in reference to Afghanistan.
“Pakistan’s centrality to US interests is evidenced by its status as a nuclear power, its shared border with Afghanistan and India, its integral role in the fight against Al Qaeda, and its potential role in promoting stability in Afghanistan,” the Pentagon tells Congress.
While reviewing US-Pakistan ties, the report notes that the United States “continues to seek a relationship with Pakistan that is constructive and that advances both US and Pakistani interests”.
Pakistan has contributed to US interests while simultaneously falling short in other areas, says the report while noting that Pakistan has publicly declared its support for an Afghan-led reconciliation process and continues to cooperate on some counter-terrorism activities.
This support has bolstered US efforts to disrupt and defeat Al Qaeda, the report adds.
The Pentagon acknowledges that the Pakistani military’s operations against Tehrik-i-Taliban and other militant groups in Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa since 2009 have significantly disrupted insurgent groups in Pakistan – while also resulting in significant military casualties.
Sanctions: “However, Pakistan’s continued acceptance of sanctuaries for Afghan-focused insurgents and failure to interdict IED materials and components continue to undermine the security of Afghanistan and pose an enduring threat to US, Coalition, and Afghan forces,” says the report.
The Pentagon tells lawmakers that while still strained, US relations with Pakistan are improving following the reopening of Nato supply routes to Afghanistan on July 4 this year.
After the Nov 26, 2011, US air raid that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, the Pakistani parliament demanded written agreements with the United States to define bilateral cooperation in key areas and making national sovereignty a key redline.
And that’s why while reopening the supply routes, Pakistan signed a memorandum of understanding with the United States establishing principles and procedures for governing the transit of US cargo through Afghanistan later in the month, says the report.
Rejecting US media claims that Pakistan has increased transit charges manifold, the Pentagon informs Congress that “no new fees were applied to coalition cargo.”
The report also deals with relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan, noting that they remain strained but have improved in some areas.
Recent meetings between senior Pakistani and Afghan officials have increased bilateral cooperation, particularly on efforts to achieve a political settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan.
The Pentagon notes that trilateral military cooperation, involving Isaf, Afghanistan and Pakistan, has steadily increased and improved in 2012 and several military border working groups have been established to increase cross-border cooperation.