Dunford Calls For Keeping Pakistan Engaged
Gen Joseph Dunford, the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, has called for continued engagement with Pakistan as the only option to seek its help in resolving the Afghan crisis, even as he told American lawmakers after 2104 Washington could reframe its relationship with Islamabad.
“I don’t think any of us have an easy answer to Pakistan, other than continued engagement and engagement based on support that we provide with regard to specific conditions that have to be met,” Dunford told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing for the Commander of US Marine Corps.
Dunford believes that Pakistan recognised that extremism was an existential threat to it. “I think they lack the capacity to deal with that threat completely, and I don’t personally see any alternative, other than continued engagement with Pakistan to assist them in dealing with those problems inside of Pakistan, as well as to contribute to regional stability.”
The general told the Senators that as US’s dependence on the crucial line of communication passing through Pakistan decreases post 2014, this could give them an opportunity to reframes relationship with Islamabad.
“I think our footprint in Afghanistan has made us reliant on the ground lines of communication. And I think after 2014 we have an opportunity to reframe our relationship with Pakistan,” he said. Referring to the ongoing Pak military operation against terrorist in North Waziristan, Dunford said the US had wanted them to do this some years now.
Dunford agreed with Senator John McCain that as long as the Taliban have basically a sanctuary in Pakistan, situation will remain extremely complex and dangerous. “The resiliency of the Taliban movement is driven by their sanctuary in Pakistan,” he said.
Responding to questions, Dunford said the Taliban and other terrorist organizations are determined to carry out 9/11 type of attacks. “From what we see on a day-to-day-basis and from the intelligence, that there are individuals in both Afghanistan and Pakistan who are determined to attack the homeland. They’re determined to replicate acts like 9/11. And the pressure that we have placed on those networks over the past decade is the reason they haven’t been able to execute a 9/11,” he said.