Panetta: Drone Attacks Will Continue in Pakistan
Just two days after a drone strike killed al-Qaida’s second-in-command, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta made it clear Wednesday that such attacks will continue as long as the U.S. needs to defend itself against terrorists that threaten America.
Speaking in India — on Pakistan’s doorstep — Panetta unapologetically dismissed suggestions that the strikes could violate Pakistan’s sovereignty.
“This is about our sovereignty as well,” he said when answering questions from the audience after a speech at an Indian think tank.
[Photo Gallery: The Expansion of the Drone.]
And he was blunt about the difficulties in the U.S. relationship with Pakistan, as insurgents continue to find safe haven there, despite repeated protests from American leaders.
“It’s a complicated relationship, often times frustrating, often times difficult,” Panetta said. “They have provided some cooperation. There are other times when frankly that cooperation is not there. But the United States cannot just walk away from that relationship. We have to continue to do what we can to try to improve (the) areas where we can find some mutual cooperation.”
Panetta’s message is likely to reverberate in Pakistan, particularly since it was delivered in India — Pakistan’s long-standing archrival.