General David Petraeus: we have two weeks to save Pakistan from Taliban - TriWooOx - 05-01-2009 02:58 PM
Quote:Gen Petraeus reportedly said that "we've heard it all before" from the Pakistanis and he is looking to see concrete action by the government to destroy the Taliban in the next two weeks before determining the next course of action for the US.
"The Pakistanis have run out of excuses" and are "finally getting serious" about combating the threat from Taliban and al-Qaeda extremists operating out of north-west Pakistan, the general added.
He made these assessments in talks with US congressmen and members of the Senate, according to the Fox News channel.
Officials said that Gen Petraeus and senior officials in the Obama administration believe that the Pakistani army, led by Gen Ashfaq Kayani, is "superior" to the civilian government.
American officials have watched with anxiety as Taliban fighters advanced earlier this month to within 60 miles of the capital city, Islamabad. In recent days, the Pakistani army has sought to reverse that tide, retaking control of strategic points in the district of Buner even as the Taliban struck back by kidnapping scores of police and paramilitary troops.
However, the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said last Saturday that It would be "unthinkable" that the Pakistani government of President Asif Ali Zardari would be toppled by the Taliban, adding: "Then they would have the keys to the nuclear arsenal of Pakistan, and we can't even contemplate that. We cannot let this go on any further."
The anxiety with which US officials are monitoring events in Pakistan is compounded by a battle in Washington over how best to help the Pakistanis. Some members of Congress want to attach strict conditions to any aid provided to Islamabad - a move opposed by the Obama administration - while still others wish to transfer authority over key funding streams from the defence department to the state department, which is also opposed by the administration.
Officials told Fox News that no one in the US possesses "an understanding of the Taliban's true objective".
It remains unclear to policymakers whether the group truly seeks to overthrow Mr Zardari's government or merely to carve out a territory within Pakistan in which it can establish safe haven, impose Islamic law and plot attacks on external targets.