WASHINGTON: Pakistani safe havens and corruption are two factors retarding the progress of NATO forces in Afghanistan, according to a senior US military commander.
Pakistan represents a safe haven for terror groups working inside Afghanistan, Maj. Gen. John A. Toolan, commander of the 2nd marine division and the former commander of regional command-South West, told reporters Tuesday.
The problem of Pakistan frustrated him during his year-long tour in command of the region, he said noting that two places inside Pakistan that were particularly problematic are Chaman -- a Pakistani city near Spin Bolduk -- and Bahram Chah.
Chaman is a major port of entry on the road to Kandahar. It is free-flowing trade hub where the Taliban has built up huge caches of bomb-making material and supplies.
Bahram Chah is a hub where drugs go out of the country and lethal aid is coming in, Toonan said. "We saw it. We interdicted a lot," he said.
The problem is, he said, Pakistan has worries of its own and Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan's Helmand and Nimruz provinces, has its own separatist movement underway.
"The Pakistani military knows, "if they start doing things, they could stir up the Balochistan beehive, so they just sit there. And it's frustrating.
Diplomatic pressure on Pakistan is important, "but we don't want to break the Pakistani government," Toolan said.
"From my perspective as a military commander having to deal with the problem, it's like I can't shut the water off, I just keep mopping up the floor," Toolan said. "If I could turn the water off in Pakistan it would be a lot better."