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'Al-Qaeda leaders are in Pak, why send troops to Afghan?'

Source: PTI
Last updated on: October 16, 2009 01:50 IST
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An influential US Senator has asked the Obama Administration to explain how sending more troops to Afghanistan would help in defeating al-Qaeda when its top leaders have moved to Pakistan's unruly tribal areas.

The Senator was reacting to the Obama Administration's recent statement that al-Qaeda has now moved to Pakistan and most of its top leaders are in its tribal areas.

"I am compelled to ask: Does it take 100,000 US troops to find Osama bin Laden? If al-Qaeda has moved to Pakistan, what will these troops in Afghanistan add to the effort to defeat al-Qaeda?" Senator Robert Byrd said on the floor of the US Senate.

In his speech, Byrd opposed the recommendation of Gen Steanley McChrystal, Commander of the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, to send 30,000 to 40,000 additional troops to Afghanistan to bolster the more than 65,000 American troops
already there.

"What is meant by the term 'defeat' in the parlance of conventional military aims when facing a shadowy, global terrorist network? And what of this number 100,000? Does the number 100,000 troops include support personnel? Does it include government civilians? Does it include defence and security contractors?" he asked.

Byrd said the US should refocus its efforts on al-Qaeda and reduce its participation in Afghanistan.

"Given the lack of popularity and integrity of the current Afghan Government, what guarantee is that additional Afghan troops and equipment will not produce an even larger and better armed hostile force?," the Senator said.

"There is no guarantee," he said. Meanwhile, Senator Kyl has supported the Gen McChrystal report, saying "I think we need to listen to the advice of the commander in the field, General McChrystal, who produced a very straightforward assessment of the situation in Afghanistan."

Referring to the series of situation room meetings by President Barack Obama, Kyl said: "Obviously, the President is the Commander in Chief, and the decisions are his to make. It is appropriate for him to rely upon others for advice as well as on the commander in the field. But there is a point at which the President's own strategy, which he announced in
March, needs to be adequately resourced and we need to move forward." 


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