Al Qaeda ‘on the run’ in Pakistan: Official


Geneva: The unmanned air strikes by US forces in Pakistan have Al Qaeda fighters “on the run” and are preventing them from gaining access to nuclear weapons, a former senior British commander said Friday, while calling for more troops in Afghanistan.

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In an interview with DPA, Colonel Richard Kemp, who led British troops in Afghanistan and served in Iraq, said coalition activity was both hampering efforts to launch attacks against the West while ensuring that Pakistan did not fall to Islamist fighters.

“Al Qaeda is today on the run in Pakistan. They are not able to operate as effectively as they would like to,” said Kemp, who retired from the armed forces in 2006 and now works in the private security sector.

The terrorist threat level reduction in Britain and elsewhere was “directly connected” to the drone strikes and other methods of counter-insurgency in Pakistan “which prevent any significant training activities from taking place”, he said.

Kemp, who commanded British soldiers in Afghanistan in 2003, said that if NATO troops pulled out, both Kabul and Islamabad could fall to “extremists”.

“If we left Afghanistan then we would see a vacuum which would be filled again by extremists, who would not only attack the West from Afghanistan but would also support and intensify the insurgency in Pakistan (by) giving a safe haven from which to strike at Pakistan across the border raising the real specter of a nuclear armed state falling into the hands of extremists,” said Kemp.

The former British commander supported increasing the troop numbers to Afghanistan, saying that the amount of soldiers being asked from senior officers in the field “are, for the time being, probably the right ones”.