US-Panetta-ap-670
Leon Panetta—AP Photo

NEW DELHI: Just two days after a drone strike killed al-Qaida's second-in-command, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta made it clear Wednesday that such attacks will continue as long as the US needs to defend itself against terrorists that threaten America.

Speaking in India, Panetta unapologetically dismissed suggestions that the strikes could violate Pakistan's sovereignty.

''This is about our sovereignty as well,'' he said when answering questions from the audience after a speech at an Indian think tank. And he was blunt about the difficulties in the US relationship with Pakistan, as insurgents continue to find safe haven there, despite repeated protests from American leaders.

''It's a complicated relationship, often times frustrating, often times difficult,'' Panetta said. ''They have provided some cooperation. There are other times when frankly that cooperation is not there. But the United States cannot just walk away from that relationship. We have to continue to do what we can to try to improve (the) areas where we can find some mutual cooperation.''

Panetta's message is likely to reverberate in Pakistan, particularly since it was delivered in India.

But he also publically urged India to work toward a better relationship with Pakistan, its fellow nuclear-armed neighbor.

Both the US and India must overcome deep differences with Pakistan to bolster peace and security in South Asia, he said in a speech to the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses here.

''Pakistan is a complicated relationship, complicated for both of our countries but it is one that we must continue to work to improve,'' Panetta said. ''India and the United States will need to continue to engage Pakistan, overcoming our respective — and often deep — differences with Pakistan to make all of South Asia peaceful and prosperous.''

He said he welcomed steps that India and Pakistan have taken to normalize trade relations as key to resolving their differences and a way to help Pakistan counter extremism within its borders.

But Panetta's speech comes as US tensions with Pakistan continue to fray, strained by the persistent CIA drone attacks that target insurgents inside Pakistan as well as a deadlock in negotiation over US shipments of supplies across the Afghanistan border.

Adding to that potential discord, Panetta also urged Indian leaders in meetings Tuesday and Wednesday to consider providing additional support to Afghanistan, including trade, reconstruction and assistance for the Afghan security forces.

 

Opinion

Editorial

Fleeting good news
Updated 03 Dec, 2022

Fleeting good news

Indeed, there is no other option to get out of the economic mess we have created in the last few years.
Battle for spoils
03 Dec, 2022

Battle for spoils

THE spectacle playing out inside a London courtroom shines a light on the struggle for control of the assets of the...
CM Bizenjo’s complaint
03 Dec, 2022

CM Bizenjo’s complaint

BALOCHISTAN Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo’s claim that his province is facing a financial crunch due to ...
Wayward ideology
02 Dec, 2022

Wayward ideology

Anyone who claims his legacy for themselves should not treat his words so whimsically.
Progressive stance
02 Dec, 2022

Progressive stance

THE timing of two encouraging developments in the fight against domestic violence in Pakistan could not have been...
China Covid protests
02 Dec, 2022

China Covid protests

PUBLIC protests are rare in China where the People’s Republic maintains order through a strict authoritarian code...