In Pakistan's The News, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates reflects on the long-standing friendship between Pakistan and the U.S. and stresses the need for a broader strategic dialogue on security issues.
Nearly 25 years ago, in 1986, I arrived in Islamabad for my first visit to Pakistan to meet with this country's military leaders and see firsthand the training of the Afghan resistance along the border. At the time, our two countries were working together in unprecedented ways to combat a common foe. As part of this effort, our militaries went to school together; our intelligence services shared insights; and our leaders consulted each other on strategic issues. The long-standing friendship was based on a great sense of mutual commitment, purpose, and benefit.
I was still in government in the early 1990s, when the Soviet Union left the region and the US largely abandoned Afghanistan and cut off defense ties with Pakistan - a grave mistake driven by some well-intentioned but short-sighted US legislative and policy decisions.