WASHINGTON: In a veiled warning to Pakistan, the US has said the country may have to face consequences if it fails to take firm action to stem terrorism.
"I am going to take the optimistic view that rational people do rational things and that — with the help of friends and allies and common goals — Pakistan will avoid, or hopefully avoid, that unfortunate eventuality," outgoing National Security Adviser Mr James Jones told the German magazine 'De Spiegel' Friday.
He made the remarks shortly before his resignation when asked – should cooperation with the Pakistani army fail, is there a possibility that Pakistan would become the next military target of the US?
"But hope is not a strategy, so we have to be cognisant of the fact that there are things which could happen that could alter the relationship if we are not careful," Mr Jones said in his last interview as the National Security Adviser. One of the toughest messages to Pakistan from the top US official comes after revelation made by investigative journalist Mr Bob Woodward in his latest book that the Obama Administration has a 'retribution' plan, one of the most sensitive and secretive of all military contingencies.
The plan calls for bombing of about 150 identified terrorist camps in a brutal, punishing attack inside Pakistan, according to Woodward's book "Obama's War."
Mr Jones Friday night announced his resignation as the National Security Adviser. He is being replaced by his deputy, Mr Tom Donilon.
Mr Jones said the US has been working very closely with the Pakistani government for a long time now. In some cases, the Pakistanis have responded quite well.
Their operations against militants in the Swat Valley and South Waziristan, for example, were timely and very effective, he observed.
At the same time, there has been a very steady message that Pakistan needs to do more to stem terrorism, especially when they know where it is and when officials have information about what the terrorists are doing, Jones said.
"If the Pakistanis are going to be a partner in the long term, they have to make a commitment that shows the watching world that they are serious about forms of terrorism," Mr Jones said.
"Our enemies are the radicals who are targeting not only the US but also Europe, who advocate violence and who want to bring harm to our way of life and the world as we know it today. This is not a threat which is going to go away in the near future. This is a 21st-century-reality, a struggle at least for the first half of the century," he said in the interview.
'The Washington Post', meanwhile, reported that during the Af-Pak policy review last year, Mr Jones was opposed to increase in US troops in Afghanistan, unless the safe havens in Pakistan were destroyed.
"During the Afghanistan strategy review last fall, Mr Jones challenged military leaders to justify their troop requests, drawing on his experience as the former supreme allied commander in Europe to do so.
"Jones often expressed the position that additional troops would not make much difference in Afghanistan until neighbouring Pakistan closed down the sanctuaries used by al-Qaeda operatives and Taliban fighters," the Post said.
According to Woodward's book, Mr Jones, during one of his meetings with Pakistan President Mr Asif Ali Zardari, told him that Mr Obama's only choice in the case of a terrorist attack having roots in Pakistan would be to respond. "There would be no alternative. The US can no longer tolerate Pakistan's a la carte approach to going after some terrorist groups and supporting, if not owning, others," the book said, adding that Mr Jones did not reveal that an American response could entail a retribution campaign of bombing up to 150 known terrorist safe havens inside Pakistan.
"You can do something that costs you no money," Mr Jones told Mr Zardari, according to the book.
"It may be politically difficult, but it's the right thing to do if you really have the future of your country in mind. And that is to reject all forms of terrorism as a viable instrument of nation’s national policy inside your borders," Mr Jones
told Mr Zardari.