US general discusses Pakistan, Afghanistan in letter to Senate
WASHINGTON, DC -- Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr., the US government's nominee to lead US Central Command (CENTCOM), discussed Pakistan's role in the Afghan peace process in a written response to questions from the US Senate Armed Services Committee.
McKenzie, who had a confirmation hearing this week, highlighted two key elements of an Afghan peace deal: Pakistan's concerns over India's growing influence in Afghanistan and what the US could do to allay those concerns.
He vowed to "make Pakistan a priority engagement".
"At this time, Pakistan does not appear to be using the full extent of its influence to encourage the the Taliban to come to the table," he wrote in a response dated Tuesday (December 4).
"We continue to see the Taliban being utilised as a hedge against India rather than as part of a stable, reconciled Afghanistan," he added.
He acknowledged that Pakistan "has national interests it wants addressed in any future political settlement in the region, including a politically stable Afghanistan".
Under his command, McKenzie said, CENTCOM would continue to support efforts "towards a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Afghanistan which includes ensuring that Islamabad’s equities are acknowledged in any future agreement".
McKenzie's nomination requires confirmation by the Senate.