American forces working in relief operations in the earthquake-hit areas of northern Pakistan will stay as long as it takes to complete rehabilitation work, said United States Ambassador to Pakistan Ryan C Crocker. He said more military relief flights to the region were on their way.
The ambassador was speaking to reporters after a certificate distribution ceremony organised by the New Light AIDS Control Awareness Society. He dismissed suggestions that US aid could have been more swift and substantial. “We had eight military helicopters with supplies operating on ground within two days of the earthquake. We have over 20 helicopters working here now, with more coming in,” said he, adding that the US was setting up field hospitals and bringing engineers and other relief personnel.
Asked if the US government had set a timeframe for the return of its forces, he said forces would leave when they were no longer needed, “and not a day before”. He said the US had set no timeframe because reconstruction would take months, not days.