The United States will press ahead with its war effort in Afghanistan despite Pakistan's decision to cut off supplies to NATO-led forces after lethal air strikes, the Pentagon said on Monday.
WASHINGTON – The United States will press ahead with its war effort in Afghanistan despite Pakistan's decision to cut off supplies to NATO-led forces after lethal air strikes, the Pentagon said on Monday.
Pakistan promptly sealed its border with Afghanistan to NATO supply convoys after allied strikes on Saturday killed 24 Pakistani soldiers near the border, triggering outrage in Islamabad.
But a Pentagon spokesman said the US military would not scale back its operations against Taliban-linked insurgents and expressed hope that the latest tensions with Islamabad would be resolved.
"The war effort continues," press secretary George Little told reporters.
Asked how long US and coalition forces could operate without supplies from routes running through Pakistan, he said: "I don't have a time line to share.
"But the important point to focus on is the war effort will continue. Everyone realizes we have an enemy to engage in Afghanistan and the US military is prepared to carry on."
Nearly half of all cargo bound for NATO-led troops runs through Pakistan. Roughly 140,000 foreign troops, including about 97,000 American forces, rely on supplies from the outside for the ten-year-old war in Afghanistan.
The US also depends on Islamabad's tacit cooperation to wage war against al-Qaeda and Taliban militants inside Pakistan, with the CIA carrying out an intense campaign of air strikes using unmanned drone aircraft.
After the air strikes, Pakistan's cabinet ministers and military chiefs ordered the United States to leave within 15 days an air base used for drone strikes against militants inside Pakistan.
The remote Shamsi air field in southwest Pakistan is reportedly used as a hub for covert CIA drone strikes, which Islamabad previously told the US to leave in June.
The role of the air base remains unclear as the CIA also uses air fields in neighboring Afghanistan to stage missile attacks with unmanned robotic planes against suspected Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.
US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said President Barack Obama's administration was working on a response to a number of demands from Pakistan but gave no indication the drone operations would be dramatically cut back.
"Pakistan remains a critical counter terrorism partner, and we do not anticipate significant changes in that relationship," a US official told AFP.