Pentagon says Taliban has regrouped with resilience

June 28th, 2008 - 12:17 pm ICT by IANS  


Washington, June 28 (DPA) A day after the nation’s top defence official expressed worry about a violent upsurge in Afghanistan, the Pentagon has released a pair of reports giving details of the Taliban resurgence. One report, which focusses on progress toward security and stability in Afghanistan, says the Taliban is a “resilient insurgency” and is expected to expand its challenges to the Afghan government.

The studies, the first instalment of a new series of semi-annual progress reports required by Congress, describe a “fragile” security environment in much of the country, according to a summary posted by the Pentagon.

The report projects that the Taliban is “likely to maintain or even increase the scope and pace of its terrorist attacks and bombings” this year, and move beyond the south and east, which have seen the most violent fighting since the fundamentalist Islamic Taliban was ousted from power in 2001.

The report describes an insurgency on two fronts, with Al Qaeda terrorist network and other insurgent groups joining the Taliban in the east, according to a CNN report.

The activity “will challenge the control of the Afghan government in rural areas” throughout the country, the Voice of America quoted the reports as saying.

The reports call the Taliban safe haven in Pakistan “the greatest challenge to long-term security in Afghanistan.”

The Pakistani government has been unable to control the northwest frontier tribal area used for refuge by the Taliban, frustrating US commanders in Afghanistan.

“It is a matter of concern, of real concern, and I think that one of the reasons that we’re seeing the increase … is more people coming across the border from the frontier area,” US defence secretary Robert Gates said.

The issue arose last week after the Taliban launched a massive assault in eastern Afghanistan that had to be fought off by US, NATO and Afghan forces.

The United States has been sceptical of plans by the Pakistani government to negotiate a ceasefire with the militants over concerns it will allow them to continue operating safely in Pakistan.

Gates, however, welcomed Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani’s decision Wednesday approving the use of force to clear the tribal area of militants to pressure them at the negotiating table.

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