“Defeating a growing witches’ brew of Al Qaeda, Taliban, local extremists and criminals will be a long 10-15 year fight,” wrote Anne Patterson. – Photo by Reuters (File)

WASHINGTON: The US Embassy in Islamabad warned Washington last year that it would take 10 to 15 years to defeat extremists operating in Pakistan.

“As we work to prevent Pakistan-based attacks on the US and its forces, we should be clear that Al Qaeda now wants more than just a safe haven in Pakistan,” US envoy to Pakistan Anne Patterson said in a cable she sent to Washington in February last year.

“Defeating a growing witches’ brew of Al Qaeda, Taliban, local extremists and criminals will be a long 10-15 year fight,” she wrote.

The cable — leaked to WikiLeaks — quoted Ambassador Patterson as telling Washington of the mutual mistrust that has bedeviled US-Pakistan relations.

Dispatched ahead of Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s visit to Washington last year with a high-level team to focus on US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, Ambassador Patterson quoted Vice-President Joe Biden as saying the relationship for too long has been transactional in nature.

“It also has been based on mutual mistrust,” the envoy wrote, adding, “Pakistan hedges its bets on cooperation because it fears the US will again desert Islamabad after we get Osama bin Laden; Washington sees this hesitancy as duplicity that requires we take unilateral action to protect US interests.”

She noted that although former president Pervez Musharraf made, after 9/11, a strategic shift to abandon the Taliban and support the US in the war on terror, neither side believed the other had lived up to expectations flowing from that decision.

“The relationship is one of co-dependency we grudgingly admit — Pakistan knows the US cannot afford to walk away,” Ambassador Patterson wrote, stressing, “The US knows Pakistan cannot survive without our support.”

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