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November 1, 2001
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'Disgruntled Pakistanis may be helping Taleban secure military equipment'

Top officials of the Bush administration on Thursday came out in defence of its frontline ally Pakistan when reports accusing it of supplying Afghanistan's ruling Taleban militia with military equipment surfaced in Washington.

Both Secretary of Defence Colin Powell and Secretary of Defence gave the Musharraf regime a clean chit though the latter did suggest that renegade elements within Pakistan may be in cahoot with the Taleban.

Rumsfeld will be in India on November five, as part of his tour of Asia, to discuss the current situation in the region in the light of continuing US strikes in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the Taleban claimed to have brought down an US aircraft in Char Bolak district of Balkh province near the city of Mazar-e-Sharif with anti-aircraft fire. The US, however, denied the Taleban claim.

In another development, the United Nations's special representative for Afghanistan Lakhdar Brahimi ruled out any talks with the Taleban regime saying there 'wasn't much interest or benefit for anybody'.

With the US-led attacks entering the 26th day, Washington warned the Taleban regime to brace for a fresh round of carpet bombings even as the opposition Northern Alliance.

In the early hours of Thursday, US jets struck at Afghanistan's biggest dam affecting power supply in parts of the country and raising the prospect of floods in case the dam gave away.

Meanwhile, acting on a British request the European Union on Wednesday evening agreed to permit the shipment of weapons to anti-Taleban forces in Afghanistan.

In Islamabad, Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar claimed that the US had not done enough for his country, whose economic strength is weakening by the day owing to the US-led attacks in Afghanistan and the subsequent influx of refugees.

In Pakistan, a paramilitary troops camp in the sensitive southwestern Baluchistan province was attacked by unidentified men with rockets and assault rifles on Wednesday night, prompting speculation that disgruntled Pushtun tribesmen irked over Pakistan's support to Afghanistan have taken up arms.

Unfazed by the arrests of a number of right-wing leaders protesting against Pakistan's support to the US-led strikes in Afghanistan, religious parties on Thursday vowed to defy the government ban on rallies.

Amidst growing international concern that its nuclear weapons might fall into the hands of Islamic extremists, Pakistan said that the arsenals are fully secured and dismissed fears in this regard as 'entirely imaginary'.

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