Lahore, Dec.5 (ANI): While Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has denied the presence of the Taliban leadership in the country, US Central Command Chief General David Petraeus has reiterated that top Taliban leaders have taken refuge in the country, and that Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Omar stays most, if not all, of the time in Pakistan.
In an interview to the National Public Radio (NPR), General Petraeus pointed out that various Taliban commanders were hiding across Pakistan, particularly in Balochsitan .
"The Afghan Taliban were located in various locations in Pakistan... typically in Balochistan. It's called the Quetta shura. I'm not sure that folks will say (the Taliban) right inside the city (Quetta) or precisely, it will move around and so forth. But... has historically been centred on that city," he said.
General Petraeus highlighted that that the Siraj Haqqani network, believed to be operating from North Waziristan, was a "big concern", and added that the Taliban pose an existential threat to that country.
"The TTP (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan) and the Afghan Taliban were a threat to our Pakistani partners or even a trans-national threat in terms of extremism," said the top US military official.
"The leader of the Haqqani network is a big concern because, although their leadership tends to be occupying an area on the Pakistani side of the border, the Haqqani network is one of the syndicate of extremist elements that operate in the eastern part of Afghanistan," he added.
General Petraeus also acknowledged that the US is also to blame for the creation of such extremist organisations, and admitted that Washington had funded the mujahideens to wage war against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan.
"The existence of these organisations, their initial development was actually a reaction to Soviet occupation (of Afghanistan) and funded by, among others, some of the US contribution to the anti-Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.We funded many of them when they were the mujahideen who were fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan," he said. (ANI)