'Bringing peace in Afghanistan depends upon sorting out Pakistan'

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London, Feb 1 (ANI): The head of the British armed forces has said that any chance of restoring peace in Afghanistan depends on sorting out Pakistan first, as US drone attacks are not helping.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, the Chief of the Defence Staff and a former head of the RAF, told The Times: "Only if Pakistan is sorted out will there be any chance of sorting out Afghanistan, although exactly what success will look like is less than clear."

He said that weaknesses in President Hamid Karzai's Government were causing difficulties for the British troops fighting the Taliban in south Afghanistan.

"The weakness of governance in Afghanistan worries me considerably. But governance is not just about what goes on in Kabul. We have to look at the wider picture," Stirrup said.

"The Taliban movement -- and Taliban is now a catch-all phrase for ideologues, criminals, people with tribal grudges, people who are quite simply guns for hire to keep bread on the table -- is on both sides of the border.

"It makes no distinction between one side or the other. Some people move across. Some are based almost exclusively in Pakistan. Some are based exclusively in Afghanistan. It's impossible to distinguish between those two and actually, in my view, not necessary. The border is not relevant," The Times quoted Stirrup, as saying.

Sympathizing with the difficulties faced by the Pakistan Army, he admitted that its success so far had been limited.

He said it was "very important" for the Pakistan Government to start changing public sentiment that all would be well if NATO troops were not in Afghanistan.

"While they shouldn't be driven by public opinion, they can't operate in the face of it. The Predator strikes don't help in that regard," Stirrup said, referring to US drone strikes inside Tribal Areas of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan. (ANI)

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