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Pak Army continues to be "India-centric": Admiral Mullen

By Nairita Das

Washington, Nov 21 (ANI): While Pakistan's border areas alongside neighbouring Afghanistan are the "epicentre of terrorism" in the world, the Pakistan Amy continues to be "India-centric," US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen has said.

"Resident in that border area, mostly in Pakistan, although not entirely, I call it the epicentre of terrorism in the world," The News quoted Mullen, as saying, in response to a question addressed to him at the John F Kennedy Jr. Forum at Harvard University in Boston.

"It isn't just al-Qaeda or the Pakistan Taliban, it's the Afghan Taliban, it's LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba), which has migrated from an India-focused organisation in the east to the West, and in fact has broader aspirations than that right now. So it has become very synergistic in that part of the world, and that's why we're so focused on it," he added.

Noting that Pakistan had taken some strong steps in combating terrorism in the region in recent years, Mullen however said the Pakistan Army continues to be "India-centric".

"You've had a military that has had to convert from a conventional force to a counterinsurgency force. Yet there's also the focus on your eastern border, certainly on India. That hasn't gone away," Admiral Mullen said.

"Certainly one of the things I've learned, that's not going away in the near future. I think that's also something, from a policy standpoint, that has to be addressed as a part of all of this," he noted, adding that Pakistan needed to take more practical steps.

Admiral Mullen said there were a number of factors that made the Afghan-Pakistan border region especially dangerous to the source of terrorism and instability, and that explained why US President Barack Obama had made such a steadfast commitment to "disrupting, dismantling and defeating al-Qaeda" and its related networks, and to denying them sanctuary in these countries.

"While we've made genuine progress against these networks, disrupting their operations and eliminating key leaders, they continue to actively plot new attacks against us and our allies, and they remain capable of striking the American homeland," he warned.

The presence of nuclear weapons in Pakistan only heightens the importance of denying al-Qaeda and related networks any lasting foothold in the region, Admiral Mullen said, adding, "We know that these networks actively seek nuclear weapons, and we have every reason to believe that they would actually use them if they obtained them." (ANI)

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