India still seen as a greatest threat by Pakistan: US general

David Petraeus

"It is important to note that India is still seen as the greatest threat, greater than the Taliban, greater than even al-Qaeda. So there are still some dynamics there that are challenging,"  Petraeus said at the Association of the US Army annual meeting.

Commending Pakistani military in taking successful action against the terrorists in the Swat Valley, Petraeus said they have cleared the vast majority of the Swat Valley. The US General said the operations have resulted in the death and capture of significant number of senior Taliban leaders.

"They have carried out a number of operations in some of the tribal areas here -- this is the Federally Administered Tribal Area all along right here -- Baijur, Momah (sic) and Khyber," he said, adding that they have largely encircled a key area of South Waziristan, a stronghold of Taliban.

Also in this area, he said a number of other extremist groups, many of which are of significant concern in eastern Afghanistan like the Haqqani Network, Commander Nasir, Hekmatyar's Hizbe-Islami and a couple of other acronym elements that compromise what can be described as syndicate of extremists.

Petraeus said it is now increasingly becoming clear that al-Qaeda is now a diminished organisation.

"It's become fairly commonplace, in recent weeks in particular, to hear that al-Qaeda overall -- certainly in the region, and arguably globally; despite picking up various individuals, including some in the United States -- is a considerably diminished organisation," he said.

Noting that it is a fact that the Taliban were the host to al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, he said: "That is a key reason, a key objective is to ensure that they are not able to return to sanctuaries in Afghanistan of the type in which, they did the original planning for the attacks of 9/11.

"Certainly, then that was furthered in Hamburg and US flight schools, but the 9/11 Commission very clearly shows the very strong linkages to Kandahar and several other areas and some training camps in Afghanistan before that was all launched."

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