Kabul, June 25 : Gen. David D. McKiernan, the new US military commander in Afghanistan who over the past three weeks has toured the war-torn nation's 34 provinces, has said that he was here to win areas under the Taliban, Al Qaeda and other militants' hold.
He said that part of the problem was posed by insurgents coming from across Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (NWFP).
"There is certainly a rise in violence in the south and eastern parts of Afghanistan. We've got to win those areas," he said.
He said: "As a NATO command, the mandate for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) does not extend across the border to Pakistan. So we do have a right to self-defense, but we do not have any ISAF military operations in the sovereign territory of Pakistan. But part of the security environment and challenge in Afghanistan are the materials, the insurgents, the leadership that comes across the border from [Pakistan's] North West Frontier Province."
Gen. McKiernan said he would also be visiting neighboring Pakistan sometime in the next few weeks to seek support from its Army. He added he was eager to establish a good relationship with Pakistani Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. "I want, as a new commander in this environment, to establish a relationship with him and the Afghan leadership, and to bring that process further along," the Washington Times quoted him as saying.
"A liaison between Pakistan's military and ISAF along the border already exists, but we need to build on that," he said and added that in a process all the three, including himself, Gen. Kayani and top Afghan military leaders, "will meet and discuss security issues that affect the border area".
The NATO-led ISAF has about 33,000 American troops as part of an international force of nearly 70,000.
Gen McKiernan also said that he would work towards ensuring peace between Pakistan and Afghanistan, especially in the wake of the recent war of words between the two sides following Afghan President Hamid Karzai's threat to launch attacks on Pakistan soil.
Gen. McKiernan said that winning in Afghanistan is essential to "global security" and that "winning is not about the NATO alliance, the future of NATO or any of that, but about the Afghan government, Afghanistan and the Afghan people".