Pakistan's army chief makes Afghan peace 'top priority'

December 23, 2012 07:23

WANA, Pakistan/ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's powerful army chief has made reconciling warring factions in Afghanistan a top priority, military officials and Western diplomats say, the newest and clearest sign yet that Islamabad means business in promoting peace with the Taliban.

General Ashfaq Kayani is backing dialogue partly due to fears that the end of the US combat mission in Afghanistan in 2014 could energize a resilient insurgency straddling the shared frontier, according to commanders deployed in the region.

"There was a time when we used to think we were the masters of Afghanistan. Now we just want them to be masters of themselves so we can concentrate on our own problems," said a senior Pakistani military officer stationed in South Waziristan, part of the tribal belt that hugs the Afghan border.

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