'This Week' Transcript: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

PANETTA: Well, Okay. You know, I think without getting into the campaign rhetoric of what he's asserting, I think you've got 50 nations in NATO that agree to a plan in Afghanistan. It's the Lisbon agreement, an agreement that, you know, others, President Bush, President Obama, everyone has agreed is the direction that we go in in Afghanistan.

What is that direction? It's to take us to a point where we draw down by the end of 2014. That is the plan that has been agreed to. And it's a plan that is working.

And very frankly, the only way to get this accomplished in terms of the transition that we have to go through is to be able to set the kind of timelines that have been set here in order to ensure that we fulfill the mission of an Afghanistan that governs and secures itself. That's what this is about.

TAPPER: You mentioned Pakistan just a minute ago. This week, the Pakistani doctor who helped the U.S. find bin Laden was sentenced to 33 years in prison by the Pakistan government.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the arrest was unwarranted. Congress has proposed cutting aid to Pakistan by $33 million, $1 million for each year of his sentence. Realistically, is there anything that the U.S. can do to help this doctor?

It certainly seems like this is a shot across the bow, saying anyone who ever helps the United States, you know, the U.S. is not going to be there, and you're going to be held accountable by your own government.

PANETTA: It's - it is so difficult to understand and it's so disturbing that they would sentence this doctor to 33 years for helping in the search for the most notorious terrorist in our times. This doctor was not working against Pakistan.

He was working against Al Qaeda. And I hope that ultimately Pakistan understands that, because what they have done here, I think, you know, does not help in the effort to try to reestablish a relationship between the United States and Pakistan.

TAPPER: Secretary Panetta, can we call Pakistan an ally when they do something like this, when they sentence a doctor who helps the United States find bin Laden, who has killed more Muslims than I can count? How can we call them an ally when they sentence this guy to prison?

PANETTA: Well, Jake, this has been one of the most complicated relationships that we've had, working with Pakistan. You know, we have to continue to work at it. It is important. This is a country that has - that has nuclear weapons.

This is a country that still is critical in that region of the world. It's an up-and-down relationship. There have been periods where we've had good cooperation and they have worked with us.

And there have been periods where we've had conflict. But they're dealing with the terrorist threat just like we are.

So our responsibility here is to keep pushing them to understand how important it is for them to work with us to try to deal with the common threats we both face. And what they did with this doctor doesn't help in the effort to try to do that.

TAPPER: And you've been in the middle of a very difficult negotiation with the Pakistanis about the lines of transit through which we supply U.S. troops in Afghanistan by using Pakistan and they shut them down after that incident at the border in November. They initially charged about $250 per truck.

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