Army Chief stresses need to address Pakistan’s long-term strategic concerns for stability in the region
February 8 2010
Returning from a NATO commanders’ conference in Brussels, the Chief of the Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has warned that it was essential to address Pakistan’s long-term strategic concerns for stability in the region. He said it would be a cause of worry for Pakistan if Afghanistan’s projected army developed the potential to take on Pakistan.
General Kayani said in a press briefing, “We want a strategic depth in Afghanistan but do not want to control it.” He asked the US and NATO to come out with a clear strategy on Afghanistan. He said Pakistan was prepared to train the Afghan National Army (ANA) which would help improve relations between the two nations. “If we get more involved with the ANA, there’s more interaction and better understanding…we have opened all doors… It’s a win-win for Afghanistan, the United States, ISAF and Pakistan,” the General said referring to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force. He said he believed it would take at least four years to achieve a target of a 140,000-strong Afghan force able to take over security responsibilities.
The army chief hoped the offer would get a positive response, warning that an environment hostile to Pakistan could strain its battle against militancy and extremism. He said there was a need for full realisation of Pakistan’s key regional position and its contribution in the war. He said more than 140,000 Pakistani troops were now involved in fighting militants in the northwest and deployment along the border. Over the last seven months, Pakistani military had launched 209 major and 510 minor operations in 10 regions, he informed. He also said 2,273 Pakistani army officers and soldiers had been killed in the fighting so far.