WASHINGTON: A senior U.S. military commander has said that terrorist group has stepped up its efforts to destabilize the nuclear-armed South Asian nation, according to. “Iraq is now a rear-guard action on the part of al Qaeda,” said Gen. James Conway, the head of the Marine Corps and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in an interview.
“They’ve changed their strategic focus not to Afghanistan but to Pakistan, because Pakistan was the closest place where you have the nexus of terrorism and nuclear weapons.” Gen. Conway also offered a stark assessment of the Afghan situation, saying the Taliban has built a rudimentary command-and-control network that enables the group’s leadership to direct attacks across the country.
Gen. Conway said Pakistan’s best troops were deployed along its border with India and weren’t being used in the fight against the country’s militants. Pakistan’s leadership doesn’t yet seem to accept that terrorism poses an existential risk to the country’s future, he added. “Pakistan has to understand there’s a dire threat there that they have to act against,” he said.
Gen. Conway said the attacks had killed al Qaeda figures involved in planning attacks on targets in Europe and the U.S. “It is important that we keep them on the run,” he said. Still, he described the strikes as a “high-wire act” that risked damaging relations.
Gen. Conway said the U.S. military needed to reorient itself in response to the changing conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraq’s security situation has improved so much that for the first time it “smells like victory” there, he said. The gains should clear the way for the withdrawal next year of many of the 20,000 Marines currently deployed to the country, he added.-SANA