Analysis: Resurgent Taliban in twin threat to Afghanistan and Pakistan
Friday, June 28, the Pentagon in Washington warned that “Islamist guerrillas” had “coalesced into a resilient insurgency” in Afghanistan and are likely to “maintain or even increase the scope and pace of their terrorist attacks.”
debkafile‘s military sources note that this assessment flies in the face of the CIA director’s optimistic remarks a month ago.
In its first comprehensive report on Afghan security, the Pentagon said insurgent violence had continued to climb despite efforts to capture and kill Taleban leaders. The Afghan army and police were nowhere near able to shoulder the brunt of the war on terror. As of March, only one battalion and one command center were capable of operating independently without US-led NATO support.
Defense secretary Robert Gates again blamed the Pakistan government for fueling the violence by holding talks with Taliban chiefs and their Pashtun tribal sympathizers in the border districts. “Taliban and al Qaeda are freer now to cross the border,” he said. They can build new terrorist units and arm and train them undisturbed in their tribal sanctuaries.
Also Friday, Democratic Senator Joseph Biden announced a $15 billion aid bill for Pakistan over 10 years to promote further steps on the road to democracy.
Simmering Afghan-Pakistan animosity took a turn for the worse this week when Afghan intelligence officials accused the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) of planning and funding the Taliban assassination attempt against Hamid Karzai at a military parade in Kabul on April 27.
Islamabad denied the charge, but the facts drawn by debkafile‘s counter-terror sources from this and other allegations, which prompted Karzai’s threat to send troops across the border to kill terrorists, point to a new development: The ISI’s support for the Taliban – with or without sanction from the powers-that-be in Islamabad – has returned to its old level. Seven years ago, before the US-led invasion of Afghan deposed the Taliban rulers, Pakistan intelligence backed the Islamist extremist rulers and their allies, al Qaeda.
At the same time, a Pakistan army spokesman announced Saturday, June 28, that a military operation by the paramilitary Frontier Corps is “imminent” against Taliban extremists threatening their main northwestern city Peshawar in the Khyber tribal region.
Khyber is also the main route for US military supplies to neighboring Afghanistan.
Pakistan therefore faces an acute Taliban peril of its own.