Pakistan doesn’t want a ‘Talibanised’ Afghanistan: Army Chief Kayani
* COAS says Pakistan does not want to control Afghanistan
* Peace in Afghanistan crucial to Pakistan’s long-term interests
* NATO told to fully realise Pakistan’s strategic paradigm
Staff Report, Daily Times, February 2, 2010
RAWALPINDI: Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Kayani has denied that Pakistan wants a “Talibanised” Afghanistan, and said his country has no interest in controlling Afghanistan.
“We can’t wish for anything for Afghanistan that we don’t wish for ourselves,” Kayani was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency on his return from Brussels in a rare address to foreign journalists – much of which was devoted to Afghanistan.
Kayani said peace and stability in Afghanistan were crucial to Islamabad’s long-term interests.
He said Pakistan’s military operations in 2009 had helped improve the situation in Afghanistan in terms of squeezing of spaces, better control of areas and a continuous flow of logistics.
The army chief said he had told NATO commanders that “our strategic paradigm needs to be fully realised”. He said Pakistan was the second largest Muslim nation in the world and located in a strategic region defined by competing interests with a prolonged history of conflict.
Kayani said Pakistan had contributed to peace and stability in Afghanistan. He said the country had the resolve to overcome the menace inside its own territory and had public support for it. He said human and economic losses in the war on terror had failed to deter Pakistan’s resolve.
“Pakistan has suffered the maximum in terms of human and economic losses because of terrorism and violent extremism, but it has not dented the resolve of the nation and armed forces to fight and eliminate the terrorism in accordance with our national interests.”
Kayani said Pakistan’s operations were currently in a transitory phase. “We must consolidate our gains and fully stabilise the areas secured, lest they fall back to terrorists. Constraints of capability to absorb and operate, limited cutting edge counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism capability and limited budgetary space should be factored in.”
The army chief said he had conveyed the concerns, challenges, contributions and constraints of Pakistan in the fight against the terrorists. He said he had highlighted key issues of the conflict that needed to be fully understood and addressed.
Interacting with military chiefs in Brussels, Kayani said he drew their attention to the sacrifices Pakistan had made. he said public opinion, media support, the army’s capability and resolve, a comprehensive strategy and the concept that it was “our war” had helped turn the tide against terrorism.
Kayani also offered to train the Afghan Army and police. “We have also offered to train Afghanistan’s army and police, as we have the capacity and the wherewithal to do so,” he said, adding that Pakistan should be trusted with it.
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