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'Pak still considers India as greatest threat'

world Updated: Oct 07, 2009 19:27 IST
IANS
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The Pakistani leadership and its spy agency ISI still consider India as its greatest threat, even greater than the Taliban and Al Qaida terrorists, a stance that affects US strategy in the region, says a top US military commander.

"It is important to note that India is still seen as the greatest threat, greater than the Taliban, greater than even Al Qaida," Gen David Petraeus, commander of the US Central Command said at the Association of the US Army annual meeting in Washington on Tuesday.

"So there are still some dynamics there that are challenging," he said.

However, he commended the Pakistani military for successfully clearing the vast majority of the Swat Valley of terrorists with operations there resulting in the death and capture of significant number of senior Taliban leaders.

The Pakistanis had carried out a number of operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Area along Baijur, Momah and Khyber, the US general said, adding that they have largely encircled a key area of South Waziristan, a stronghold of Taliban.

Also active in this area, he said are a number of other extremist groups, many of which are of significant concern in eastern Afghanistan like the Haqqani Network, Commander Nasir, Hekmatyar's Hizbe-Islami and a couple of others that compromise what can be described as syndicate of extremists.

Petraeus said it is now increasingly becoming clear that Al Qaida is now a diminished organisation.

"It's become fairly commonplace, in recent weeks in particular, to hear that Al Qaida overall-certainly in the region, and arguably globally; despite picking up various individuals, including some in the United States-is a considerably diminished organisation," he said.

Noting that it is a fact that the Taliban were the host to Al Qaida in Afghanistan, he said: "That is a key reason, a key objective is to ensure that they are not able to return to sanctuaries in Afghanistan of the type in which, they did the original planning for the attacks of 9/11.

"Certainly, then that was furthered in Hamburg and US flight schools, but the 9/11 Commission very clearly shows the very strong linkages to Kandahar and several other areas and some training camps in Afghanistan before that was all launched."