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Exposed: Pak army links with Taliban
Shyam Bhatia in London | November 24, 2003 11:20 IST
Pakistani army officers allegedly arrested for an attempted coup against President Pervez Musharraf were actually picked up in the Afghanistan city of Ghazni, Afghan diplomatic sources in Europe have claimed.
The sources say the officers -- ranging from majors to lieutenant colonels -- may have been on leave before joining Taliban units.
"This brings in an element of deniability for the Pakistani authorities," the sources add, explaining that some two dozen officers between the ranks of major and lieutenant colonel may have been involved.
They add that the continued Pakistani assistance to the Taliban -- whether covert or open -- is necessary because of Taliban limitations in operating communications technology and sophisticated weapons systems.
The arrest of the Pakistani officers earlier this year precedes international news and news agency reports this weekend that hundreds of young Pakistani students are leaving seminaries to join the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
UPI cited a report in the Pakistani magazine Newsline as saying, 'At least 5,000 youth including former Taliban soldiers and students from religious seminaries of Baluchistan, have joined their compatriots in Afghanistan.'
The Karachi-based monthly, according to UPI, also quoted prominent Taliban activist Habibullah as claiming 'we could probably even take Kabul, but we recognize our limitations and the fact that we probably wouldn't be able to hold it.'
It said fugitive Taliban chief Mullah Omar is directly involved in the reorganization process and had ordered top Taliban leaders to recruit volunteers from Baluchistan and other areas of Pakistan.
In London sources close to former King Zahir Shah's daughter Mariam said there was no reason to doubt the authenticity of the Newsline report.
"The situation is sometimes better, sometimes not," the source said. Mariam recently returned from Kabul to spend Ramadan in London.
Afghan exiles in London who support Zahir Shah say they are concerned that renewed unrest will make it difficult for the former monarch to convene a mini Loya Jirga, or consultative assembly, as planned next month in Kabul.
A much larger Loya Jirga is planned for later next year, but both Loya Jirgas are part of the ongoing political process that was agreed upon after President Hamid Karzai was sworn in last year with the former monarch's support.
More reports from Afghanistan
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