Washington: US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen said Thursday that Pakistan needed space to sort out internal problems and that it would be dangerous for the US to abandon the troubled war partner.
Mullen said that Pakistan has been going through “a great deal of introspection” in the month since US forces killed the world’s most wanted man Osama bin Laden in a secret raid near the country’s top military academy.
“I think we need to give them a little time and space to do that. And that makes all the sense in the world to me,” Mullen told a breakfast with reporters.
“I think the worst thing we could do would be cut them off,” he said.
If the United States distanced itself from Pakistan, “10 years from now, 20 years from now, we go back and it’s much more intense and it’s much more dangerous,” he said.
“We’re just not living in a world where we can afford to be unengaged in a place like this,” he said.
A number of US lawmakers have called into question the billions of dollars in assistance to Pakistan, accusing the country of playing a double game of seeking foreign money while keeping ties to extremists.
But Mullen acknowledged that Pakistan has ordered “a very significant cutback” in the number of US forces who are training its military.
While some US forces were still on the ground, Mullen said that the Pakistani military needed first to complete its internal debate on the relationship with the United States.
“They’re going to have to finish that before we get back to a point where we’re doing any kind of significant training,” Mullen said.