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Pak army reluctant to act on Afghan Taliban: Petraeus

December 10, 2009 01:31 IST

The Pakistani military has "significantly degraded" the Pakistani Taliban, but is still reluctant to take action against the elements of Afghan Taliban operating from inside its territory, a top US General said on Wednesday.

"One of the most important developments over the past year has been the impressive determination of Pakistan's efforts against extremists that threatened the stability of the Pakistani state," David Petraeus, commander of US Central Command, told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

He said the operations by the Pakistan army in Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Swat, Buner, Lower Dir and South Waziristan have significantly degraded Pakistani Taliban groups during a hearing on Afghanistan.

"These are the largest and most successful operations Pakistan has conducted against internal extremists, and we should acknowledge the losses the Pakistani military frontier corps and police have sustained in the course of these operations," Petraeus noted.

"To be sure, these operations have not directly engaged the sanctuaries of the Afghan Taliban groups in Pakistan, nor those of some of the extremist syndicate I described earlier," he added.

The top general also appreciated the efforts made by Pakistan's civilian and military leaders.

"However, the determination of Pakistan civilian and military leaders to fight elements of the extremist nexus is an important step forward and does facilitate our efforts to degrade the extremist groups in the border region and to defeat the Al Qaeda," Petraeus said.

Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee also supported views of Petraeus.

"The recent Pakistani military offensives have gone after the Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan and we have yet to see their operations directed at the Afghan Taliban, Haqqani network or some of the Al Qaeda strongholds," Kerry noted.

However, US Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry said the efforts of the United States in Afghanistan is likely to fall short of strategic goals unless there is more progress in eliminating sanctuaries used by the Afghan Taliban and their associates inside of Pakistan.

"If the main elements of the president's plan are executed and if our Afghan partners and our allies do their part, I'm confident we can achieve our strategic objectives. I say this with conviction because for the first time in my three tours of duty in Afghanistan, all elements of our national power are employed with the full support of the president and increasingly of our allies," Eikenberry told the senators.

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