Top military officials predict Taliban-Pakistan relationship will become more complicated

Gen. Frank McKenzie, the leader of US Central Command, and Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said they predict the relationship between Pakistan and the Taliban will become more complicated now that the latter is in control of Afghanistan.

“I believe Pakistan’s relationship with the Taliban is going to become significantly more complicated as a result of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan,” McKenzie told lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday.

McKenzie said there are ongoing deliberations with Pakistan over the use of a vital air corridor to access Afghanistan.

“Over the last 20 years we’ve been able to use what we call the air boulevard to go in over western Pakistan and that’s become something that’s vital to us, as well as certain landlines of communication, and we’ll be working with the Pakistanis in the days and weeks ahead to look at what that relationship is going to look like in the future,” he said.

Both Milley and McKenzie declined to discuss whether they have concerns about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and the potential that they could fall into the hands of terrorists, noting there were a series of things they could talk about in Tuesday afternoon’s closed session. 

McKenzie said it was “yet to be seen” whether terrorist groups like al Qaeda and ISIS will use Afghanistan as a launchpad.

“We’re still seeing how al Qaeda and ISIS are configuring themselves against the Taliban, we’re still seeing what the Taliban is going to do, so I think it’s, I would not say I’m confident that that’s going to be on the ground yet, we could get to that point but I do not yet have that level of confidence,” he said.