U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates called Pakistan a strong ally in the war on terrorism. Gates made his comments in an interview with VOA Urdu TV's Muhammad Ali Thursday during a reception at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, D.C. Jim Bertel narrates.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who visited Pakistan earlier this year, acknowledged the contribution and sacrifice made by Pakistani army troops in the war on terror. In an interview with VOA, Gates said Pakistan's cooperation has been vital in battling terrorism. "Pakistan has been a steadfast ally in the war on terror and we deeply appreciate and express our sympathy to the families of the Pakistani soldiers who have died in this war on terror, and many hundreds have died," he said.
At a time when Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's grip on power is in jeopardy and elections loom in the coming months; Gates said the Pakistani president has been an important partner, especially in securing the Pakistan/Afghan border region. "We know that there are nearly 100,000 soldiers in the frontier area and we appreciate this co-operation and we deeply appreciate our partnership with President Musharraf and his contribution, working with us in this war on terror."
Gates stressed the significance of close ties between the U.S and Pakistan and said that, in his view, friendly relations with Islamabad are very important for the United States.