NEW YORK - The top commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan has said he believes the Pakistani leadership understands that resurgence of Taliban and overthrow of the Afghan government by the militant group is not in Pakistan’s interest,
“My guess is that their (Pakistan’s) interests aren’t served by a Taliban government ultimately reasserting itself in Kabul,” General John Allen said in an interview on PBS news network Friday night, noting that the Pakistani military is fighting the militants in the tribal areas.
“The Taliban have not made any visible effort or public effort to separate themselves from Qaeda. And if that is in fact the case, then they remain a menace and they remain a menace to the region, not just a menace to the Afghan people and to the Afghan government,” he told anchorman Charlie Rose.
“My guess is that the Pakistani government and the Pak Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani probably very much understand that a Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan and ultimately the overthrow of the Afghan government is not in their interests either,” General Allen added.
At the same time, the top American commander told the viewers of Pakistani military’s role and the sacrifices made by their soldiers. “I think it’s important to understand that in the last two years, they’ve suffered over 3,000 dead. That’s not an inconsequential number of casualties, and a couple of tens of thousands wounded. They have an IED (improvised explosive device) problem similar to the ones that we have. Pakistanis are making an investment in this as well.”
The general said the so-called safe havens in the federally administered tribal areas were going to be a difficulty for some time to come.
“We would ask them to do more, that’s ultimately a decision that’s going to have to come from continued discussion between our government and theirs, but I believe that I have had good conversations with General Kayani about cross-border coordination, and the potential, even, to have complementary operations on each side of the border where we can leverage each other’s military capabilities,” he said.
Allen expressed hope that Kayani understands the urgency to do something about it. “I hope so and we have had conversations and I think we have worked hard to depict that on December 31, 2014 it isn’t the end of the US relationship with Afghanistan or the international relationship with Afghanistan,” he said.
“Part of I believe his comfort with the role of Pakistan in the region is the home, the desire that Afghanistan will remain a stable state, a stable state with constructive relations with Islamabad, and it’s important then that we have a conversation between Pakistan and the US.
“And that Afghanistan has a conversation with Pakistan that leads us all to the common belief and the common conviction that a stable Afghanistan that is aligned with the US with good constructive relationship with Pakistan is in everyone’s interests, not just the US interest, not just the Afghan interest but with Pakistan and in their interest as well,” Allen said.