With the rocky relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan in the forefront, Richard Olson, the Obama administration’s nominee to be the American ambassador to the nation, told lawmakers Tuesday that the U.S. needs to maintain engagement in the country in order to combat terrorism and provide regional security.
Appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations committee, Olson noted that although the relationship has been strained, the fruits of the partnership have been observed.
“We are virtually within grasp of defeating al Qaeda as an organization,” Olson said. “A lot of that, as President Obama has indicated, is due to support from the Pakistani government.”
The American relationship with Pakistan has gone through a number of trials, including the government’s decision in November to close U.S. supply routes following a cross border skirmish lead to a U.S. airstrike that left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead. After a months long freeze, the routes were just reopened earlier this month.
Scrutiny from some American lawmakers has also been growing amid concerns that Pakistan is either failing to do enough to combat terrorism or that some officials within the government are openly supporting it. This month conservative Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) attempted to hold up aid to the country.
Acknowledging the frustration expressed by some lawmakers, Olson noted that the U.S. is closely monitoring how the Pakistanis use American funds. In addition, Olson vowed that he will apply additional pressure to the Pakistani government to ensure that they focus on combating