Pakistan has shifted forces from Indian border: US general

June 13th, 2009 - 9:47 am ICT by IANS  

Taliban By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 13 (IANS) Pakistan has shifted forces from the Indian border to the west as it now sees very clearly the existential threat posed to their country by the extremists, said a top US general.

“In Pakistan, there is no question I think at this point that the Pakistanis see very clearly the existential threat that is posed to their country by the extremists,” General David Petraeus, Commander of the United States Central Command, said Friday.

Taking note of the problems caused in particular by the Pakistani Taliban in the northwest frontier province, the Pakistani military has responded very strongly in Swat, Lower Dir, Buner and some other districts of the northwest frontier province, he said.

There have also been operations in the federally administered tribal areas, in Bajaur and Mohmand, Petraeus said in a speech to the Centre of a New American Security.

“There have been shifts, as they have announced, of forces from India to the west and in some cases, those are very important shifts that have taken place.”

“And the reason I mention this is because it reflects their assessment of this threat and everyone has always said, gosh, don’t they see that this is a threat to their very existence?” the general said.

“The answer is ‘yes.’ And they are showing that by the deployments and employment of their forces, the actions they’re taking.”

Petraeus, however, warned that military missions against terrorist groups are comprehensive and require more than force, saying “Countering terrorism requires more than counter-terrorist operations.”

The General went on to discuss the implications of shifting military attention from Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan and how the US’ experience in Iraq should optimise the efficiency of military operations in other countries.

“As we turn and shift our focus to Afghanistan and Pakistan it is very important to reflect on what we learned from Iraq and to remember that you have to apply what was learned there with a very nuanced understanding…of local circumstances,” said Petraeus.

“The overriding mission of a military force in counterinsurgency has to be to secure the people and…be seen as securing and serving them. This is hugely important,” he said.

Petraeus explained that once security has been established throughout the country, the US would not be able to leave Afghanistan until they have assured that the established government follows a peace-ensuring criteria.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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