Vice Chairman: Pakistan Strong, Dedicated Ally in War on Terror
By Tech. Sgt. Sean P. Houlihan, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2007 Pakistan has proven to be a dedicated ally of the United States since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in an interview.
“Pakistan was right there after United States and coalition forces began major combat operations in Afghanistan with substantial assistance to the United States,” Navy Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani said Feb. 5 aboard an Air Force C-17 traveling back to Washington after an eight-day overseas trip that included stops in Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan. “They have been a good and strong partner in the war on terrorism.”
Giambastiani said Pakistani army forces have demonstrated their intent in the war on terror by deploying soldiers to the federally administered tribal areas in the western part of the country for the first time in the nation’s 60-year history of independence to fight against al Qaeda and Taliban forces.
“Pakistan has been the single most successful ally in capturing or killing al Qaeda in the global war on terrorism,” he said. “As always, any relationship can get better, and our relationship with Pakistan improves on a day-to-day basis, … and everyone should remember that.”
Military-to-military talks between nations and coalition forces are essential to build relationships as allies, Giambastiani said.
During his visit to Islamabad on Feb. 3, he held talks with Lt. Gen. Syed Athar Ali, director general of the Pakistani joint staff; Gen. Ahsan Saleem Hyat, vice chief of the Pakistani army staff, and retired Lt. Gen. Tariq Ghazi, Pakistani defense secretary.
Discussion items included training for mid- and senior-level Pakistani military personnel and U.S. military equipment purchases, Giambastiani said. One example is the Pakistani air force’s purchase of 24 Cobra attack helicopters, eight of which were recently delivered, with the remainder scheduled for delivery within a few years.
On the training side, a Pakistani delegation is traveling to the National Defense University here this week to attend seminars and discuss personnel exchanges, Giambastiani said.
“Senior Pakistani officers reinforce that with us time and time again; they will continue to ask for assistance to help build a moderate and democratic society,” he concluded.
(Air Force Tech. Sgt. Sean P. Houlihan is assigned to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Public Affairs Office.)