U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is the "epicenter of extremist jihadism."
Testifying to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee Wednesday about
the new Afghan war strategy, Gates underscored the importance of
stabilizing the region. He also acknowledged past U.S. mistakes.
Gates said nuclear-armed Pakistan is skeptical about whether Washington
is a reliable strategic partner, because of its withdrawal from the
region in the 1990s, and its subsequent break in military relations
He said the U.S. must change that perception.
Gates called the region the "historic place" where native and foreign
Muslims defeated one superpower, the Soviet Union. He said if the
United States appears to suffer a similar defeat, it would have severe
consequences for America and the world.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also testified about the
importance of Pakistan before the Senate Armed Services Committee
Wednesday. She said that "unlike in the past," the United States and
its allies will have an enduring commitment to the region.
Clinton said the international community is expanding its support to
Pakistan, and that the U.S. will increase its civilian presence there.
The United States has been conducting covert air strikes on insurgent
targets in tribal areas in Pakistan. U.S. forces also are training
Pakistani troops in counter-insurgency techniques.
In the Pakistani capital Wednesday, a suicide bomber blew himself up
outside the navy headquarters. Two navy personnel died, and at least 11
other people were wounded.