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Press Trust Of India
Washington, April 18, 2013
Expressing concern over growing extremist elements in Pakistan, a top American general has said that the stability and security in Afghanistan is inextricably linked with its neighbouring country.

"Pakistan obviously a nuclear nation and in the nexus of extremism nuclear weapons in Pakistan would absolutely affect our vital national interest in the region.

So from my perspective, stability and security in Afghanistan and Pakistan is inextricably linked," general Joseph Dunford, commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan said.

Dunford said that over the last few months he has experienced that there's a growing recognition inside of Pakistan that the linkage between Pakistani, Taliban and Afghan Taliban has a destabilizing effect not only inside of Afghanistan but inside of Pakistan as well.

"We a few years ago took a look and realized that security in Afghanistan was inextricably linked to security in Pakistan".

"All I'm saying is as we make a transition, we need to think about the future of Afghanistan in the context of regional stability and specifically security and stability inside of Pakistan," Dunford said in response to a question at a Congressional hearing on Afghanistan convened by the House Armed Services Committee.

Responding to a question Dunford clarified that he is not suggesting that the US should stay in Afghanistan because of Pakistan.

"I believe it's reasonable to expect that based on what we see today that it'll be sanctuary for extremist elements inside Afghanistan that could adversely affect Pakistan," he said.

Dunford said having no US force in Afghanistan after 2014 would not be good for the US and in the war against terrorism.

"If we had no US forces post- 2014, both of those objectives would be at risk.

"I'm increasingly concerned and I think so is the leadership in Pakistan increasingly concerned with the extremist threat to Pakistan's stability and security," he said.

"In our vital national interest we do have vital interests in that part of the world," he added.

"We do have threats that could emanate from that part of the world that would affect our security back here at home."

"In fact, it's been described to me by the Pakistanis as their desire to break the nexus between Pakistan Taliban and Afghan Taliban to try to support the turning of the Afghan Taliban politically inwards towards Kabul so they can deal with the very real threat that they have inside of Pakistan," he said.

"Pakistan has lost over 15,000 killed or wounded since 9/11 dealing with the threat. Just in the past couple of weeks inside the Khyber agency being involved in a very difficult fight where hundreds have been killed and wounded as they deal with the TTP threat," Dunford said.

"So from my perspective the military-to-military relationship that Afghanistan and Pakistan has post-2014 will be helpful in dealing with what is now I think commonly understood to be a mutual threat to their security," Dunford said.