US Gen. Joseph L Votel, commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM), testified before the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday night on terrorism and said maintaining a block on US military and foreign aid to Pakistan was Washington’s “current posture”.
He said any success in Afghanistan will require a strong relationship with Pakistan.
"My view is that success in Afghanistan and South Asia will require a strong relationship and the cooperation of Pakistan," Votel said adding he speaks almost weekly with his Pakistani counterpart the two often meet face to face.
Votel said "our (CENTCOM) relationship with Pakistan is and must be a two-way street. We must rebuild trust." He said he could not characterize the relationship as trustworthy at the moment.
He said the United States has tried to be very clear in terms of what Pakistan needs to do for Washington and that it must be “a two-way street here”.
Votel says the "pressure put on Pakistan" has brought better cooperation, but that there is still work that needs to be done.
He said the US military is seeing some "positive indicators" from Pakistan showing it is becoming more responsive to US concerns about militant safehavens in the country but Islamabad has yet to make a strategic shift.
Votel told the committee that the Afghan government controls 64 percent of territory, the Taliban 12 percent and the remaining 24 percent is contested.
He said the US’s strategy in Afghanistan is for military force and social pressure to "break the stalemate," and to drive the Taliban to the peace talks table and lay the foundation for "credible elections."
Votel told the House Armed Services Committee the big idea in Afghanistan is a "drive toward reconciliation" to get the Taliban "to the (talks) table".
Votel’s testimony came just hours before the second Kabul Process meeting opened in the Afghan capital which saw representatives from 25 nations and organizations including the UN and NATO taking part.
In his opening remarks, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani laid down a list of suggestions government was prepared to consider if the Taliban laid down their weapons and joined the peace process.
Among the suggestions was the offer of an office in Kabul for the Taliban and to recognize them as a political group.