US President Barack Obama on Thursday received a comprehensive update on the situation in Pakistan at his “situation room” meeting with top intelligence, defence and security aides.
“The President received a comprehensive intelligence and counterterrorism assessment as well as an assessment of the political and diplomatic situation,” a White House official said after the meeting which lasted for more than three hours.
Mr. Obama continues to look for ways to improve cooperation, and to continue disrupting, dismantling and defeating al-Qaeda, the official told PTI.
The meeting was held amidst uproar inside Pakistan on the US aid through the Kerry-Lugar bill with the Pak Army and opposition parties expressing concerns over the conditions imposed on it in lieu of the military aid.
The meeting was attended by Vice-President Joe Biden; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; Defense Secretary Robert Gates; US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice; Special US Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen; and Central Command Commander General David Petraeus.
National Security Advisor General (retd) James Jones, his Deputy Tom Donilon; Director of National Intelligence Admiral (retd) Dennis Blair; CIA Director Leon Panetta and John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security, also participated in the deliberations.
General Stanley McChrystal, US Commander in Afghanistan; Karl Eikenberry, US Ambassador to Afghanistan and Anne Patterson, US Ambassador to Pakistan, attended the meeting through video conferencing.
Though there was no immediate official reaction after the meeting, the top leaders of the Obama administration is believed to have brain stormed all aspects of the US posture and policy towards Pakistan and its link to Afghanistan.
Earlier in the day, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the primary focus was on groups that can strike US and its allies, or groups who would provide safe haven for those that wish to do that.
“I think we’ll get into a firm analysis of where we are in Pakistan, the steps that have been taken by the Pakistani government through greater cooperation, but obviously progress that has to continue to happen in order to continue to confront extremists in their country,” Mr. Gibbs said before the start of the meeting.
Mr. Gibbs said it has not been determined yet how many such meetings would take place -- with the next one being scheduled for Friday -- to discuss the Af-Pak strategy. This might take several weeks.