Success in Afghanistan unattainable without Pak cooperation: US Gen Dunford

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WASHIGNTON, July 26 (APP): US General Joseph Dunford,
Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff has said that cooperation from
Pakistan was absolutely essential for the United States to be
successful in Afghanistan, but warned against putting a timeline
for any exit strategy that would undermine support from Islamabad.
Gen Dunford made the remarks at the eighth annual Aspen
Security Forum held in California from July 19-22. Text of his
talk was posted on the institute’s website. He was responding to
a question about the ongoing review of the Afghan policy.
He said that the policy review was not just about
Afghanistan but about South Asia – from New Delhi to Tehran –
and Pakistan had to be a critical element of the US strategy in
the region.
“And we cannot be successful in Afghanistan — we’ve seen
that over the last several years — unless we have a higher
degree of cooperation from Pakistan,” the General told the forum
on the concluding day. Pakistan was absolutely an integral part
of the strategic review that was ongoing, he added.
Asked about the future of Taliban in any future solution to
the Afghan problem, Gen Dunford stated that the political
solution in Afghanistan had to be an Afghan-led solution
for it to be successful, but how Taliban were to be accommodated politically had to be an Afghan decision to make.
About the increase in ground troops in Afghanistan, he said
the US should only provide more capability on the ground if it
was in the context of a broader strategy that had a chance
of being successful.
From 140,000 in 2013, the number of US troops in Afghanistan
currently stands at about 8,700 and President
Trump has authorized the Pentagon to decide on the need of
sending any additional forces as has been requested by US military
chief in that country.
Gen Dunford said over the last two years the
Afghan forces had suffered significant casualties and more work
needed to increase their ability to integrate, combine arms and in
terms of training.
However, he said, any decision on the troops surge in
Afghanistan would be made after President decides on the
strategic framework within which US support to the Afghan
security forces takes place.
Asked about a timeframe for an exit strategy, Gen Dunford
said putting any artificial timeline for it would be
counter-productive. The ongoing conversation was about what would
be the condition under which the US could transition its
mission in Afghanistan.
“Here’s what I would tell you. Any place that we have
national interests or vital national interests, we’re going to
have an enduring diplomatic and enduring economic and
enduring military presence,” the General said.
He said what was going to change over time was the
form of that diplomatic, economic and military presence;
again adding that putting artificial time for an exit was not good.
“If you talk in Afghanistan, it’s not good for the
confidence of the Afghan people. And it actually causes hedging
behavior in the region as well. It actually undermines our
cooperation with Pakistan,” he said.