KABUL, May 29: The head of Nato forces in Afghanistan, US General Dan McNeill, said on Thursday he was optimistic Pakistan would resume operations against militants along the Afghan border.
The new government in Islamabad has started peace talks with militants and Afghanistan fears this could fuel more attacks on its side of the border.
Gen McNeill, head of the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf), said a recent increase in attacks in eastern Afghanistan was because “there is no pressure on the terrorists and the extremists on the other side of the border”.
“Pakistan had a very difficult year, with a huge wave of suicide bombings, the Red Mosque events, 257 soldiers captured by 20 insurgents...,” he told reporters.
“They have also just gone through huge changes within their government, they’re still trying to find their way.
“I’m optimistic that all of this, at some point, will translate itself in military operations on the opposite side of the border,” he said.
Gen McNeill said the 40-nation Isaf was still under-resourced despite growing from 35,000 to 50,000 soldiers during his 15 months at the helm, due to end on Tuesday.
“It doesn’t mean we can’t get the job done, but it implies it will take longer,” he said.
Afghanistan is larger than Iraq and has a bigger population, but about half the international soldiers, he said. There are about 70,000 US and Nato soldiers in Afghanistan in comparison with 162,000 foreign troops in Iraq.
Isaf is helping Kabul face down a Taliban-led resistance until its own army and police forces are capable of taking responsibility of security for themselves.
The Isaf chief estimated the Afghan forces would be ready by 2011.
Gen McNeill is due to hand over to US General David McKiernan on Tuesday.—AFP