WASHINGTON – Chief of United States Central Command, General Joseph Votel has warned on Friday that Indo-Pak tensions could escalate into a ‘nuclear exchange’.
The CENTCOM chief said: “India’s public policy to diplomatically isolate Pakistan hinders any prospects for improved relations.” He was at a hearing on the United States Central Command before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“This is especially troubling as a significant conventional conflict between Pakistan and India could escalate into a nuclear exchange, given that both are nuclear powers,” he added.
He said that Pakistan’s increased focus on its border with India detracts from its efforts to secure the border with Afghanistan from incursions by Taliban and Al-Qaida terrorists.
The US commander further said that Pakistan military seeks to expand border control and improve paramilitary security.
He stated that the United States continues to maintain engagement with Pakistani military counterparts and the Army continues a robust joint exercise programme.
“Most recently, the Pakistani Air Force sent airmen and aircraft to participate in Exercise RED FLAG and GREEN FLAG at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada this past summer,” General Votel added.
He held Pakistan Navy as the most consistent and longstanding participant in Combined Task Force (CTF)-150 (counter-terrorism operations) and CTF-151 (counter-piracy operations) led by U.S. Naval Forces Central (USNAVCENT).
The US General said: “Our relationship with Pakistan remains a critical one.”
While talking about Afghanistan, he said: “Stability in Afghanistan is further challenged by the malign influence of external actors. The enablement of violent extremist groups operating inside of Afghanistan and along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, receiving sanctuary or support from outside government, is of particular concern.”
He said that the United States looks forward to continuing engagement with Chief of the Army Staff, Chief of the Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, in the days ahead as we work together in pursuit of shared interests. – AFP