Pakistan army chief discusses Afghanistan

Feb. 1, 2010 at 11:02 PM
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RAWALPINDI, Pakistan, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Pakistan does not want to control Afghanistan but wants "a strategic depth" through peaceful and friendly relations, the Pakistani Army Chief said.

Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, speaking to journalists Monday at the Army General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, urged the United States and the Western alliance to develop a clear strategy on Afghanistan, while offering his country's help to train the Afghan National Army, Dawn reported.

"We want a strategic depth in Afghanistan but do not want to control it," he said. "A peaceful and friendly Afghanistan can provide Pakistan a strategic depth."

"We have opened all doors ... It's a win-win for Afghanistan, the United States, (NATO's International Security Assistance Force) and Pakistan," Kayani, who attended the NATO commanders' conference in Brussels last week, said.

Delegates at the London international conference on Afghanistan last week approved Afghan President Hamid Karzai's plan to reintegrate lower level Taliban fighters through various incentives such as jobs if they give up their insurgency and cut ties with al-Qaida. The conference also endorsed requiring the Afghan government to increase substantially the strength of its army and police force by next year.

Kayani estimated it will take at least four years to achieve a target of a 140,000-strong Afghan force able to take over security responsibilities.

The Dawn report said Kayani's offer reflected Pakistan's concerns about its archrival India, which it said has made a similar offer to train the Afghan army.

Kayani said he had passed on Pakistan's concerns about any hostile environment in the region to NATO allies.

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