The United States is losing its patience with Pakistan as it continues to serve as a safe haven for terrorists attacking US forces, said Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
Panetta, upon arriving in Afghanistan for a surprise visit, told the press in a news conference with Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak that the United States is “reaching the limits of our patience.”
Panetta cited recent increases in violence in the Federally Administered Trade area of Pakistan, where the Haqqani network continues to wage attacks on Americans. Most recently, the Haqqanis launched an attack in the area that killed an American contractor and wounded dozens of service members.
“We will take whatever steps necessary to protect our forces — that’s a principle that we always stand by. To make that happen we have to have the cooperation of Pakistan to take steps to control the Haqqani threat on their side of the border,” Panetta said.
Panetta said the situation in Pakistan does concern him, but noted that the United States will continue working with the nation to re-open supply lines. The secretary also urged Pakistani security forces to work toward stopping cross-border attacks by the Taliban.
While there has been an increase in violence in Afghanistan, the secretary said he believes the United States and Afghanistan are moving closer to their original objectives.
Panetta’s message to Pakistan comes more than a year after Osama bin Laden was killed in an Abottabad compound, and only a few short weeks after the Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi, who aided the U.S. in the killing of bin Laden, was sentenced to 33 years in prison.
After a drone attack killed al-Qaida’s second in command in Pakistan on Tuesday, Panetta warned that attacks of this nature would continue if the United States feels the need to defend itself against terrorists that threaten America, the Associated Press reported.
The U.S. continues to work with Afghan security forces to put pressure on the Taliban. There are now 352,000 trained Afghan fighters who provide security to 50 percent of the population, according to the U.S. Defense Department. Afghan leaders are hoping to increase their security share to 75 percent, with United States troops preparing for eventual withdrawal in 2014.