Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, today said that there can be no solution to the conflict in Afghanistan without Pakistan.
"I continue to believe that there is no solution in the region without Pakistan, and no stable future in the region without a partnership," Mullen told his successor General Martin Dempsey as he stepped down from his post.
"I urged Marty to remember the importance of Pakistan to all of this; to try and do a better job than I did with that vexing, and yet vital, relationship," he said in his farewell address at an impressive ceremony here attended by President Barack Obama and the top American military leadership.
"Our strategy is the right one. We must keep executing it."
At a Congressional hearing last week, Mullen said that the Haqqani network is a veritable arm of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan.
In days following his remarks, other wings of the Obama Administration tried to distance itself from his remarks that created further strain in US-Pak relationship.
Mullen, however, said he stands by his remarks and would change not even a word from his Congressional testimony.
Praising Mullen's leadership during the period of two wars, Obama said the US military is stronger and America is more secure because of the service that you have rendered.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Mullen will always stand apart in a special place.
"His leadership, his influence, his honest candor, his straight talk, his compassion and his outspoken concern for our troops and for their families have set him apart."
No Afghanistan Solution Without Pakistan: Mullen
Lalit K Jha/Washington
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