Gen Joseph Dunford, the nominee for the next Isaf commander in Afghanistan, says he believes the issue of safe havens in Pakistan needs to be addressed.
In his testimony at the Senate Armed Services Committee, which held a session on his nomination, Gen Dunford said that Pakistan has its bets placed on what the long-term commitment of the US to Afghanistan will be, adding that Pakistan’s calculus will change if the US is there beyond 2014.
Gen Dunford was nominated by US President Barack Obama as the next Isaf commander to take over from Gen John Allen.
Gen Allen is currently facing a Department of Defence investigation on emails sent to Jill Kelley, who was allegedly harassed by Paula Broadwell, who had an affair with the now former CIA director David Petraeus.
In response to a question, Gen Dunford said that he would make his assessment on the current US drawdown plans in Afghanistan if confirmed as the ISAF commander. Gen Dunford also said that an unstable Afghanistan would be of significant risk to Pakistan.
On the subject of reconciliation, Gen Dunford said that he would support US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Marc Grossman’s efforts in this regard. “We support any initiative that will bring resolution to conflict in Afghanistan,” he said.
He said that the relationship between India and Pakistan is critical for stability in the region. Gen Dunford said that the ground lines of communication through Pakistan are the most efficient and inexpensive way to get the US’ equipment out of Afghanistan. He said that he was encouraged by the terms of reference signed with Pakistan on November 2.
Dunford said that the issue of IEDs is one that he would need to be decisively engaged in. “Pakistan is the number one area where we need to make progress on IEDs,” he said.
Sen Carl Levin, chairman of the committee, said he was confident that Gen Dunford would be confirmed as the next Isaf commander in Afghanistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 16th, 2012.