Safe militant havens in Pakistan slow Afghan war: US reportBy Arun Kumar, IANS
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
WASHINGTON - A new US Defence Department report says Pakistan’s failure to shut down safe havens for militants and the Taliban’s ability to adapt are slowing efforts to reverse the momentum in the Afghan war.
As insurgent groups continue to use Pakistan as a staging area for cross-border operations, it raises new questions about Pakistan’s willingness and ability to take on the insurgents in its territory, notes the required bi-annual update to Congress.
“Efforts to reduce insurgency capacity, such as safe havens and logistical support originating in Pakistan and Iran have not produced measurable results,” notes the 96-page “Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan.”
“Pakistan’s domestic extremist threat and the 2010 floods recue the potential for a more aggressive or effective Pakistani effort in the near term,” says the report covering the period from April to the end of September.
The US-led coalition has made more inroads in Afghanistan in the seven weeks since the end of the period covered by the report, State Department and Pentagon officials said Tuesday.
Troops have intensified operations in the Taliban’s heartland in and around the city of Kandahar and cleared key areas of militants, officials told reporters at the Pentagon.
Still, militant groups holing up in Pakistan’s ungoverned northwest use the mountainous terrain to cross over for attacks in Afghanistan, according to the report.
Pakistan’s militants also won converts on their own territory by providing relief in areas affected by floods earlier this year.
The report’s findings, along with conditions on the ground since then, will feed an administration assessment of the war effort due for completion in December.
The report also notes that dramatic increases in fighting against the Taliban have failed to convince the local population that the Afghan government and coalition forces will succeed.
“The Taliban’s strength lies in the Afghan population’s perception that Coalition forces will soon leave, giving credence to the belief that a Taliban victory is inevitable,” the report says.
The report says that Taliban is not popular but it exploits frustration with a weak Afghanistan government.
While the Pentagon report describes “uneven” progress with “modest gains” in security and creating stable local government, it suggests the current strategy is showing “some signs of progress.”
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)