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Slain Taliban commander was Pakistan Army officer: Report

October 13, 2008 16:47 IST

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A Taliban [Images] commander killed by British special forces in a raid in Helmand in Afghanistan in 2007 was in fact a Pakistani military officer, providing first hard evidence of covert Pakistani military presence in the war-torn country, a media report said.

The commander, targeted in the raid on a complex in the Sangrin valley, was one of the six killed in the past year by British Special Forces -- SAS and SBS. When the British soldiers entered the compound they discovered a Pakistani military ID on the body.

"It was the first physical evidence of covert Pakistani military operations in Afghanistan even though Islamabad [Images] insists it is a close ally in the 'war against terror'," The Sunday Times said.

The paper said British officials covered up the evidence and its refusal to share the information with Afghan President Hamid Karzai [Images] led to a row.

The British move to keep the information under wraps, irked Karzai who has long accused London [Images] of viewing Afghanistan through the eyes of the Pakistani military intelligence, which is widely believed to be helping Taliban.

According to the report, British officials in Kabul refused to comment on the allegation that they had covered up the discovery of a Pakistani soldier.

They insisted Karzai's government had been informed of the negotiations with the Taliban, adding, "The camp was just a place for  them to be reintegrated, learn about hygiene and things."

Afghan claims of Pakistani involvement in Helmand were backed by a senior United Nations official who said he had been told by his superiors to keep quiet after Pakistan's ambassador to the UN apparently threatened to stop contributing forces to peacekeeping missions.

Pakistan is the UN's biggest supplier of peacekeeping troops.

The coalition's refusal to confront Pakistan changed after the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul last July when 55 people were killed.

According to both British and US intelligence, phone intercepts led directly back to an Afghan cell of Pakistan's military intelligence.

Repeated accusations from Karzai about Pakistan's active support for the Taliban have been backed by a senior US marine officer.

Lieutenant Colonel Chris Nash, who commanded  an embedded training team in eastern Afghanistan from June 2007 to March this year, told the Army Times that Pakistani forces flew repeated helicopter missions into Afghanistan to resupply a Taliban base camp during a fierce battle in June last year.

"We were on the receiving end of Pakistani military D-30 (a howitzer). On numerous occasions Afghan border police checkpoints and observation posts were attacked by Pakistani military forces," Nash said.

© Copyright 2008 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.


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