'Pak needs to follow its words on terrorists with action'
Observing that the common threat of "violent extremism" may serve as a catalyst for improved security ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan, a top American general based in Kabul on Thursday told US lawmakers that Islamabad now needs to follow its words against terrorists with action.
Washington: Observing that the common threat of "violent extremism" may serve as a catalyst for improved security ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan, a top American general based in Kabul on Thursday told US lawmakers that Islamabad now needs to follow its words against terrorists with action.
"The common threat of violent extremism may serve as a catalyst for improved cooperation between the two countries, and we have already seen progress in the Afghanistan-Pakistan military-to-military relationship," said General John F Campbell, Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
"Senior Pakistani military officers have said that they can no longer discriminate between 'good and bad' terrorists. It is important that their words are followed by action," General Campbell said in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, wherein he conceded that the terrorist safe havens continue to exist in Pakistan.
"Recent consultations between Afghan and Pakistani corps commanders showed great promise. However, it will take considerable time and effort to convince the Afghan and Pakistani people to support this new spirit of accommodation," he said.
"Afghan-Pakistani political and military relations are likely to improve incrementally and on a transactional basis. Ultimately, we will still need to manage our expectations," he said.
Campbell said other regional actors such as Iran, India, China, Russia, and the Central Asian States have a shared interest in supporting the continued security and increased stability in Afghanistan.
The new Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, he said has shown true leadership and vision by engaging with regional leadership and on the wider global stage.
"While many of these countries will continue to compete both openly and covertly with one another for increased influence within Afghanistan, all will benefit from a more secure and stable country.
President Ghani appreciates that Afghanistan needs regional support in order to realise his vision of transforming Afghanistan into a vital transportation and commercial hub in Central Asia," Campbell said.
The Taliban, he said begin 2015 on a weak footing, but they are not yet defeated.
"Politically, they have become increasingly marginalised. However, the Taliban remain a resilient, lethal force in spite of the fact that they accomplished none of their major strategic or operational objectives in 2014 and suffered considerable casualties," he said.
"We see dissension within the movement. Senior Taliban leaders disagree on how to prioritise their political and military efforts. Many Taliban tactical units also continue to suffer from acute resource shortfalls," he added.
"Numerous junior Taliban fighters are becoming increasingly resentful towards their leadership as they continue to fight and die at high rates while their senior leaders remain in safe havens in Pakistan," Campbell said.