Allies

Gates Wants Pakistan Crackdown

Defense Secretary Robert Gates will attempt to calm the uneasy alliance between Pakistan and the U.S. during Thursday's unannounced visit to Pakistan. Gates stressed to reporters that the two countries have "common enemies on both sides of the [Pakistan/Afghanistan] border. We are interested in an even closer working relationship with the Pakistanis to go after these common enemies." For years, militants in border regions of Pakistan have spilled into India and Afghanistan, while Pakistan has looked the other way. But that trend has reversed, as Pakistani forces began an offensive against the tribal region of South Waziristan this fall, an operation Gates praised. The defense secretary has his diplomatic work cut out for him, though: U.S. officials have been pressuring Pakistan to launch an offensive into North Waziristan, a move the Pakistani military has resisted for fear that a second offensive would jeopardize gains in the South. Pakistani officials are also wary of Obama's plan to withdraw forces from Afghanistan in July 2011, worried that the U.S. will abandon the region as it did in the early 1990s, back when Gates helped shape Cold War policy toward Afghanistan as head of the CIA.