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NATO losing to Taliban: Pak

November 29, 2006 13:33 IST
Senior Pakistani officials are urging NATO members to accept the Taliban and forge a new coalition government in Kabul that might exclude Afghan president Hamid Karzai, reports the Telegraph, London.

Pakistan's foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri told foreign ministers of some NATO member states recently that the Taliban are winning the war in Afghanistan and advised them against sending more troops, says the report by Pakistani author and journalist Ahmed Rashid.

"Kasuri is basically asking NATO to surrender and to negotiate with the Taliban," the report quoted a stunned Western official who met the minister recently as saying.

At least 32,000 troops have been assigned to NATO's International Security Assistance Force based in Afghanistan, which oversees the entire country's security.

Kasuri's remarks came soon after Lt Gen David Richards, the British general and NATO's force commander in Afghanistan, and the Dutch ambassador Daan Everts, its chief diplomat there, spent five days in Islamabad 'urging the Pakistani military to do more to reign in the Taliban,' said the Telegraph. 

On Tuesday, four NATO members --France, Germany, Italy and Spain--agreed to commit troops for combat in southern and eastern Afghanistan on a case by case basis. All four countries have troops in Afghanistan but have not deployed them in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar, where the Taliban have stepped up their attacks.

Addressing journalists before the start of the NATO summit in Riga, Latvia, yesterday, NATO secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer also predicted that "effective Afghan security forces would be gradually taking control" before the next summit in 2008.

However, he foresaw no reduction in the number of troops in Afghanistan over the next two years. At least 32000 troops have been assigned to NATO's International Security Assistance Force based in Afghanistan, which oversees the country's security.

The Telegraph report notes that Afghan President Karzai has repeatedly claimed that the Taliban was operating out of sanctuaries in Pakistan, and that NATO's supreme commander Gen James Jones told the US Congress in September that the Taliban leadership is headquartered in the Pakistani city of Quetta.

The governor of Pakistan's troubled North West Frontier Province Lt Gen Ali Mohammed Jan Orakzai has publicly announced that the West and NATO 'have already failed in Afghanistan,' the report said. "Either it is a lack of understanding or it is a lack of courage to admit their failures," he was quoted as saying recently.

Orakzai --the mastermind of "peace deals" between the army and the Pashtun tribes on the Pakistani side of the border -- asserts that the Taliban represent the Pashtuns, who are Afghanistan's largest and Pakistan's second largest ethnic group the Telegraph report said.  

But his claim that they now lead a "national resistance" movement to throw out Western occupation forces, similar to the one in Iraq, has enraged many Pakistani and Afghan Pashtuns, 'who consider the Taliban as pariahs and a negation of Pashtun values,' the report says.

The 'peace agreements' with the Pakistani government led by General Pervez Musharraf continue to allow the Taliban to attack NATO forces inside Afghanistan and leave the Taliban 'free to run a mini-Islamic state,' it says. According to the report, 'Orakzai is expected to urge the British Army to strike similar deals in Afghanistan's Helmand province.'

The report also cites Musharraf's aides as saying he has virtually "given up" on Karzai and is 'awaiting a change of face in Kabul before he offers more help.'

'Many Afghans fear that Pakistan is deliberately trying to undermine Mr Karzai and NATO's commitment to his government in an attempt to reinstall its Taliban proxies in Kabul -- almost certainly leading to all-out civil war and possible partition of the country,' it concludes.

More reports from Pakistan | Afghanistan