'Taliban, al Qaeda now focused on Pak'

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Washington, Jan 24: If a top US general who commands American forces in eastern Afghanistan is to be believed, the Taliban and al Qaeda have focus on their efforts to destabilise the Pakistani government by striking in areas along Pak-Afghan border.

He said that the two international terrorist organisations had "postponed" their spring offensive in Afghanistan to focus on Pakistan. Claiming that the US forces in Afghanistan 'communicated and shared information' with the Pakistanis, he said he wasn't aware of any plans to conduct unilateral operations inside Pakistan. "We have no plans that I'm involved in, or even heard of, to do anything like that. So I'm not going to comment on it," he said.

The militants' change of plan could already be seen in the areas bordering Pakistan where Taliban infiltrations have reduced significantly. "I don't think there'll be a big spring offensive this year (in Afghanistan)," the Dawn quoted Major-General David Rodriguez as saying

Earlier this month, the US officials had warned that the Taliban and Al Qaeda forces were planning a major offensive this spring and last week Defence Secretary Robert Gates approved the deployment of additional 3200 marines to Afghanistan.

But Gen. Rodriguez told a Pentagon news conference that Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters, who operate from bases in the tribal belt, have now shifted their focus toward targets inside Pakistan rather than across the border in Afghanistan. "The political turmoil in Pakistan is one reason fewer militants are crossing the border this year compared to last," he said.

He also warned that the militants saw new opportunities to accelerate instability inside Pakistan. "So I think that again they will move where the best opportunity is so as to get the highest pay-offs," said the general while explaining the new shift in the militants' strategy. Right now that probably seems to be in Pakistan based on what's happened over the last couple of months there," he said adding the Pakistani military was aware of this threat, and had begun to make preparations to meet the challenge.


ANI

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