Pakistan’s real “existential threat” is not India but its “internal extremists” and the terror groups like the TTP, former CIA Director Gen David Petraeus has said as he hoped that Prime Minister Imran Khan will be able to deal with the challenges facing the country.
Petraeus, during an interactive session at the Indian Consulate here on Tuesday following his address on the topic of the Indo-Pacific, said Prime Minister Khan is facing a daunting challenge in his country where the economy is “very distorted” and the “realities of the situation are really quiet difficult.”
“The challenge for Pakistan, of course, is that the existential threat is not the country to its east, it is not India. It is the internal extremists. It is a very diabolically difficult problem to deal with,” he said.
Petraeus, a partner in the international investment firm KKR and Chairman of the KKR Global Institute, was the special guest for the ‘New India Lecture’ series organised by the Consulate General of India, New York in partnership with the US India Strategic Partnership Forum.
Responding to a question on US-Pakistan relationship, Petraeus said he has experienced the bilateral ties “on a very first hand basis” as the Commander of the US Central Command around the year 2009 and there have been some “positive” as well as “disappointing and frustrating periods” in ties between Washington and Islamabad.
He added that the US has always provided “enormous” support to Pakistan, recalling that he and former special adviser on Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke went to the US Congress and got USD 7.5 billion for economic assistance for Pakistan over a five-year period, which was in addition to the USD two billion already extended in various categories of defence assistance and counter-terrorism support.
“At the end of the day, of course there was a degree of disappointment,” he said. On Afghanistan, the veteran and decorated US military officer said while the Afghans are fighting and dying for their country, “sadly the momentum of recent years has been against Afghanistan rather than for it”.