By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service
May 6, 2010 - The Defense Department is encouraged by Pakistan's efforts to go after terrorists within their borders and abroad, such as the suspect currently under investigation for last weekend's failed terror attack in New York City's Times Square, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said today.
However, Morrell pointed to the attempted bombing as evidence of a need for "us all to continue our aggressive operations in going after terrorists wherever they reside."
"I think that incident, although unsuccessful, certainly reminds us of that, and hopefully, reinvigorates us to confront these terrorist threats wherever they are." he said.
Although the Pentagon is not directly involved in the investigation of Faisal Shahzad and his alleged ties to Taliban elements in Pakistan, department officials are pleased with Pakistan's response, Morrell told reporters at a Pentagon news conference.
"We've received a pledge of cooperation from the Pakistanis regarding this issue," Morrell said. "We're encouraged by this response."
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is content also with Pakistan's aggressive actions against terrorists operating within its borders during the past two years, , said Morrell, adding that Pakistan's government and military are calling the shots for combating terrorism in their country.
"The pace and the timing and the schedule to undertake those operations are of the Pakistanis' choosing," he explained.
Gates has said repeatedly that the United States is Pakistan's partner in the effort, Morrell said. "We are in the passenger seat," he explained. "[Pakistan] is behind the wheel, [and] they are the ones who are going to determine the direction, the pace, the speed of their operations."
Pentagon officials believe Pakistan will continue its counterterrorism operations to the satisfaction of its international partners, Morrell said, and Pakistan's government is motivated to confront the issue because of the immediate threat terrorism presents the country.
"Pakistan has faced a terrorist threat from within its border far more profound than those that we have faced here," Morrell said. "They are incentivized, themselves, to confront this problem, because it is a more immediate threat to them." He reiterated that Gates is comfortable with the degree of seriousness with which Pakistan is approaching the terrorism problem.
Rooting out terrorism must be a collaborative effort between the two nations, Morrell said, stressing that placing added pressure on Pakistan will not bring desired results.
"It has to be a cooperative effort," he said. "It cannot be one in which we are pushing them. They have to wish to do it themselves. They have to see the validity and the value in doing it themselves. And clearly, over the past year or two, it has become crystal- clear to the government of Pakistan that they have to, themselves, with our assistance, confront these threats within their midst."
Morrell noted that more than 2,000 Pakistani soldiers have died, along with countless civilians, due to terrorist attacks in Pakistan and the government's efforts to respond to the threat.
"[Pakistan] is clearly paying a dear price in blood and treasure," he said. "We respect that, and we will work with them at the pace and in the manner at which they are most comfortable."