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Pak role needed in Afghan reconciliation process: Petraeus

world Updated: Jun 29, 2010 22:06 IST
Gen David Petraeus

US President Barack Obama's new war commander in Afghanistan, Gen David Petraeus, told lawmakers on Tuesday that Pakistan's involvement would be "essential" if any reconciliation pact was agreed upon in the war-torn country.

Petraeus, who spoke at his nomination hearing, spoke to Afghan President Hamid Karzai before coming to the Capitol Hill.

"With respect to Pakistani involvement in some form of the reconciliation agreement, I think that is essential," Petraeus said in his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Currently the Commander of the US Central Command, Petraeus has been nominated by the US President as the new Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, after the resignation of General Stanley McChrystal last week.

McChrystal had to resign after the appearance of an interview in which he was very critical of top officials of the Obama Administration.

Petraeus noted that the rule of Pakistan in the reconciliation process is "essential" but depends on a number of factors.

"Now whether that is possible, such an agreement, I think is going to depend on a number of factors that would play out over the course of the summer, including a sense among the Taliban that they are going to be hammered in the field and perhaps they should look at some options," he said.

He said there had been instances of some lower and mid-level Taliban leaders seeking to reintegrate.

"The reintegration decree that was approved by President Karzai on Tuesday would help qualify the process for this and that should help," Petraeus said.

Early in his opening remarks, Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the Karzai government has yet to deliver services to win allegiances locally.

"Recent reports suggest that Afghanistan's Tajik and Uzbek minorities are concerned about President Karzai's overtures to Taliban leaders through Pakistani intermediaries," he said.

"I have long believed that the number one mission in Afghanistan is building the capacity of the Afghan security forces to be able to take increasing responsibility for their country's security," Levin said.

US and ISAF forces need to focus their resources and energy on this effort.

"There is a significant shortfall still of trainers to provide basic instruction to Afghan recruits and of mentors to embed with Afghan units in the field," he said.