Gen David Petraeus, commander of US Central Command, has told US officials the next two weeks are critical to determining whether the Pakistani government will survive, FOX News has learnt.
The Pakistanis have run out of excuses and are finally getting serious about combating the threat from Taliban and Al-Qaeda extremists operating out of Northwest Pakistan, the general added.
But Petraeus also said wearily that weve heard it all before from the Pakistanis and he is looking to see concrete action by the government to destroy the Taliban in the next two weeks before determining the United States next course of action, which is presently set on propping up the Pakistani government and military with counterinsurgency training and foreign aid.
Petraeus made these assessment in talks with lawmakers and Obama administration officials this week, according to individuals familiar with the discussions.
They said Petraeus and senior administration officials believe the Pakistan army, led by Chief of Staff Gen Ashfaq Kayani, is superior to the civilian government, led by President Ali Zardari, and could conceivably survive even if Zardaris government falls to the Taliban.
American officials have watched with anxiety as Taliban fighters advanced earlier this month to within 70 miles of the capital city of Islamabad. In recent days, the Pakistan army has sought to reverse that tide, retaking control over strategic points in the district of Buner even as the Taliban struck back by kidnapping scores of police and paramilitary troops.
The see-saw nature of the battles Wednesday demonstrated to US officials that, as one put it to FOX News, even with intent and superior technology, the capability may not be there for the Pakistani army to defeat the extremists.