No blank cheque for Pakistan:US

While talking in tough language, the US Tuesday said it would not give a “blank cheque” to Pakistan until it goes full throttle against the terrorist targets, a day after announcing suspension of USD 800-million military aid to Islamabad.

“We have to show that this is a two-way street, not just a one-way street. They have some obligations,” Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said. “They’ve got to help us be able to go after some of the targets we’ve assigned them; they’ve got to be able to give us their cooperation,” he said.

“And they’ve got to know that we’re not going to give out a blank cheque until they show that this is a two-way relationship,” Panetta told NBC News in reply to a question about suspension of the $800 million of military aid to Pakistan.

He revealed that Pakistan is a country where al-Qaeda has found safe haven. And claimed, “We’re fighting al-Qaeda in their country. Strategically, they’re an important country, particularly because they have nuclear arms. So for all those reasons, we’ve got to maintain the relationship.”

While Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that Islamabad “must take certain steps which the US has often outlined to ensure the delivery of American military assistance to Islamabad.” “The government of Pakistan must take certain steps, and we have outlined those steps on more than one occasion, to ensure that we can deliver all the military assistance that the United States has discussed with Pakistan,” she further explained.

Besides, State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that the US supports a decision by Afghanistan and Pakistan to form a joint military group that will address recent incidents across their shared border. She pointed out, “We call on both sides to continue to engage cooperatively to lower tensions on the border and to ensure the protection of the local population in the border regions.”

The spokeswoman indicated that “real progress” has been made in the relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan in the last year, and cited the signing and implementing of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement and the formation of the Joint High Peace Commission.

Meanwhile, outgoing Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen is traveling to Pakistan this week for what is certain to be a chilly meeting with Pakistani Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, reported Foreign Policy on Tuesday.

More than two months after the raid by US Navy SEALS on the Abbottabad compound of Osama bin Laden, the relationship between the United States and Pakistan is at its lowest point in the almost six decades of a rocky, on-again-off-again alliance.

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