Pakistan needs time to tackle Afghan border situation: Gates

June 13th, 2008 - 11:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Brussels, June 13 (Xinhua) US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates Friday said more time should be given to Pakistan’s new government to deal with the situation along the Pakistani-Afghan border, where Taliban and Al Qaeda militants are active. “It’s important to give this new civilian government in Pakistan time to inform itself about the situation in the north-west,” Gates told reporters after a meeting of NATO defence ministers, here.

Speaking of Islamabad’s efforts to strike a peace deal with some tribal leaders Gates said: “We just have to give them space to be able to pursue this.”

“I think it’s fair to say that we have some scepticism, based on the past experience, whether some of these agreements would work, but it’s their country and we have to give them the chance to try and deal with it in the way they think is best,” he said.

He said Washington stands ready to render help to the Pakistani government if the latter asks for it.

Meanwhile, Gates stressed Pakistan’s status as an important partner for the US in the war on terror.

“I just can’t emphasise enough how important a partner Pakistan is in dealing with terrorists,” he said, adding that Pakistan could also be an important facilitator in terms of what they have accomplished in the conflict in Afghanistan.

Gates’ remarks came just two days after a US air strike killed 11 Pakistani paramilitary soldiers during a clash with insurgents on the Afghan border.

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