CentCom official: Pakistan is Pentagon's biggest concern

05/04/09 Mitch E. Perry
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This week the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan will be coming to the White House to discuss the increasingly tenuous security situation in their countries.

According to one U.S. Central Command leader who spoke in Tampa on Saturday, the Taliban’s gains in Pakistan are now the number one concern of the Pentagon.

Rear Admiral Mike Franken, U.S. Navy Deputy Director of Strategy Plans & Policy for Central Command, spoke over the weekend at the Westshore Marriott Hotel, at a Toastsmasters International Event. Franken was filling in for CentCom leader Gen. David Petraeus, who was being honored by the group but had to fly to Washington to meet with Obama administration officials about the problems in AfPak, as the region is now referred to.

Franken began his presentation by featuring a slide show. He told the audience of more than 100 people what U.S. Central Command is all about. But Franken said there was an enemy in the Middle East – Al Queda.

Franken had said he hoped to take questions from the audience, but Toastmaster officials quickly cut of the session after just one question. It came from a woman who asked about Pakistan recently approving of Sharia Law in the Swat Valley, which allows the Taliban to frame its own laws and run government in the area. It’s been depicted as negative development, but Franken’s response did not seem that critical. Franken said the problem wwith full Sharia law is that everything is predicated on the Koran.

Afterward, WMNF asked Franken about the escalation of U.S. forces in the Afghan/Pakistan area.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zandari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai are both scheduled to come to the White House this Wednesday.

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