Over the July 4 weekend, I made my annual trip to Afghanistan to visit US troops and military commanders. I also travelled to Pakistan to meet civilian and military leaders and to discuss counterterrorism efforts in the region. Two things are clear from that visit.
First, the US mission in Afghanistan is the same today as it was in 2001: to disrupt and defeat terrorist networks that seek to attack its interests and homeland and to deny them safe haven. That mission remains urgent, and it is unfortunately not over yet.
Second, the US mission in Afghanistan is immeasurably more difficult without Pakistan’s co-operation in taking on terrorists that operate across the Afghan-Pakistani border at will. That is why enhanced co-operation between Afghanistan and Pakistan is essential. Likewise, the strategic imperative for improved relations between the US and Pakistan is clear — for the safety of American troops and the success of their mission in Afghanistan, for the stability of the region and for the national security of both Pakistan and the US.
But recently, the US-Pakistan relationship has been strained. Among other things, limitations on US assistance to Pakistan and congressional reluctance to approve subsidies for the sale of defence articles have added to tensions between the two governments.
Despite this and other recent difficulties, US and Pakistani leaders cannot allow ambivalence and suspicion to fester. Common interests in counterterrorism, nuclear security and regional stability