Washington: America's assistance to Pakistan should not be unconditional, US Defence Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel has told lawmakers ahead of his confirmation hearing.
US-Pak military relationship should be underlined by a realistic, pragmatic approach to enhancing those areas of cooperation that are dictated by their common interests and to ensuring accountability for actions that detract from these interest, Hagel stressed.
"US assistance to Pakistan should not be unconditional. At the same time, any conditions should be carefully examined to ensure they advance US strategic interests," Chuck Hagel, the two–time former Senator from Nebraska said yesterday in answers to a 112-page questionnaire for the Senate Armed Services Committee.
"If confirmed, I will work to ensure that our security assistance and other support to Pakistan both serves US interests and is cost effective," Hagel added.
Hagel has been nominated by the US President Barack Obama as his next Defence Secretary.
If confirmed by the Senate, he would replace Leon Panetta as the Defence Secretary.
India does not find any mention in his answers.
"I believe the US and Pakistan share common interests in disrupting, dismantling, and defeating al Qaeda, and in long-term regional stability, including a durable political settlement in Afghanistan and the safety and security of the Indian Ocean," Hagel said when asked what would he consider to be areas of shared strategic interest between the US and Pakistan.
Hagel said the US and Pakistan often diverge over Pakistan's approach to the militant and terrorist networks that operate in Pakistan's territory and do not overtly threaten the Pakistani state.
"However, in my view, these networks threaten Pakistani stability, endanger the prospects for a settlement in Afghanistan, and undermine regional stability — so that in fact, while the relationship is challenging, I believe our long-term strategic interests are in alignment," he said.
Noting that US-Pakistan military-to-military ties have been marked by periodic ups and downs, Hagel said in his view, the military-military relationship should be underlined by a realistic, pragmatic approach to enhancing those areas of cooperation that are dictated by their common interests and to ensuring accountability for actions that detract from these interests.
"If confirmed, I will make accomplishing that goal a priority," he asserted.
Responding to a question on effectiveness of US aid to Pakistan, Hagel said as the President has said, more terrorists have been killed in Pakistan than anywhere else since 9/11—and that would not be possible without Pakistani cooperation.
"Security assistance for Pakistan has helped Pakistan press this campaign against the militant and terrorist networks that threaten us all," he said.