By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 8 (IANS) Pakistan still sees India as its major thereat even as it has stepped up action against militants realising the "very existential threat" posed by the Pakistani Taliban and some of its allies, according to a top US general.
"India is still seen as the major state-based threat," General David H. Petraeus, the head of US Central Command who has just returned from a visit to Pakistan said in an interview to Council on Foreign Relations, a Washington think tank.
"In fact they've just completed an exercise, some 50,000 Pakistani military forces, similar to the old NATO exercises that we used to run in the days of the Cold War," he noted when asked if he had seen a shift in the Pakistani army's thinking about its enemies.
"So there's no question about the image still in their mind of the threat that is posed by India to their security."
"Having said that, the most pressing threat that emerged to their very 'writ of governance,' as they term it, came to be seen as that posed by the Pakistani Taliban-again, in particular over the course of the last year or eighteen months," Petraeus said.
"The developments of the last year in Pakistan are significant in that you saw the people, the leaders, and the bulk of the clerics all recognize the very existential threat that was posed by the Pakistani Taliban, the Tehrik-i-Taliban, and some of its allies," he said.
The Pakistani Taliban's claim of responsibility for the failed Times Square bombing also highlights the potential threat "between some of these organizations and transnational extremism at large," the general said.
Formed in 2007, the Pakistani Taliban has almost exclusively targeted elements of the Pakistani state. But the attack on New York City suggests its ambitions are expanding.
"There is clearly a symbiotic relationship between all of these different organizations; Al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, the Afghan Taliban, TNSM [Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi],"said Petraeus.
He added that it's not surprising that militants would look to wage attacks on American soil. "There are a lot of organizations out there that are wannabe international terrorist organizations," he said, "because that's how you garner resources."