Nuclear-weaponed Pakistan could be al-Qaeda's and the Taliban's next "tempting" target if Britain and Nato fail in war-torn Afghanistan, the head of the British Army has warned.
"If al-Qaeda and the Taliban believe they've defeated us -- what next? Would they stop at Afghanistan? Pakistan is clearly a tempting target not least because of the fact that it's a nuclear-weaponed state and is a terrifying prospect.
"Even if only a few of those (nuclear) weapons fell into their hands, believe me they would use them. The recent airlines plot has reminded us that there are people out there who would happily blow all of us up," General David Richards told 'The Sunday Telegraph'.
Claiming that failure by British and Nato troops would have an "intoxicating effect" on militant Islam, Gen Richards said the subsequent risks to the West would be "enormous" and "unimaginable".
"Failure would have a catalytic effect on militant Islam around the world and in the region because the message would be that al-Qaeda and the Taliban have defeated the US and British and Nato, the most powerful alliance in the world.
"So why wouldn't that have an intoxicating effect on militants everywhere? The geo-strategic implications would be immense," Gen Richards said.
The British Army chief's intervention comes at a crucial time with the US General in charge of operations in Afghanistan calling for more troops to be sent to the country to fight the Taliban.
Gen Richards said that sending extra troops would allow Nato to begin winning the psychological battle against the Taliban who were masters of propaganda and "outstanding at psychological warfare".
"If you put in more troops we can achieve the objectives laid upon us more quickly and with less casualties.
"We can start winning the psychological battle which is broadly wrapped around the Taliban saying "the west and the Afghan government is doing very little for you" -- we (the Taliban) will offer you an austere future but at least it will be secure.
"What we need to demonstrate is that we, Nato and the Afghan government, offer a much brighter future which is more secure, with jobs, and education and better health," General Richards said. PTI