Afghans reluctant to act against militant havens: report

Afghans reluctant to act against militant havens: report

Afghanistan's refusal to act against sanctuaries of Pakistani Taliban militants in its Kunar and Nuristan provinces has left the Pakistan government frustrated, according to a media report today.

When Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf visited Kabul last week, one of his main objectives was to get a firm commitment from President Hamid Karzai that he would act against the militant sanctuaries in the eastern Afghan provinces, the Dawn quoted its sources as saying.

A member of the Pakistani delegation said the issue was "strongly" raised by Ashraf. But the premier found Karzai "unwilling to act unconditionally against militants’ hideouts on his territory", the report said.

The Afghans, who have apparently stiffened their stance on militant havens, did not even allow the Pakistanis to mention the matter in the joint statement issued after the Ashraf–Karzai meeting.

Karzai only agreed on setting up a fact-finding body of senior officials from both sides.
Pakistani Taliban militants based in Afghanistan have launched 15 attacks against Pakistani border posts and villages over the past year, killing 105 soldiers and civilians.
The fighters from the Swat Valley escaped across the border after the Pakistan Army launched an operation against them in 2009.

The report said senior Afghan officials have, during conversations with Pakistani officials, admitted the presence of Pakistani Taliban commanders, including Mullah Fazlullah from the Swat Valley, in Kunar and Nuristan provinces.

The issue of sanctuaries in Afghanistan has been on Pakistan's priority list because of casualties suffered in militant attacks and the risk the Taliban pose to the progress achieved in counter-militancy efforts.

A Pakistani source said sanctuaries in Afghanistan were causing problems for Pakistanis and local Afghans too were against them.

Some of the Afghans had initially accommodated the Pakistani Taliban but have now turned against them.

The report said it was believed that some political considerations were stopping the Afghan government from evicting the Pakistani militants.

Before Ashraf's meeting with Karzai, the issue was raised with ISAF commander Gen John Allen at the diplomatic level and during meetings of the border coordination centre.

ISAF and Afghan officials have told Pakistani interlocutors that the coalition and Afghan forces were too preoccupied with operations in other areas to secure the eastern region.

The Pakistan Army has often responded to cross-border militant attacks by firing rockets at terrorists fleeing to their sanctuaries in Afghanistan.

The shelling has provoked a strong reaction from Kabul, which warned over the weekend that future incidents could seriously harm relations.

Senior Pakistani military officials believe the Afghans are not acting against the sanctuaries of Pakistani militants in response to Islamabad’s perceived inaction against havens of Afghan militants in the tribal areas.

The Pakistan Army is playing a "wait and see" game to fully comprehend the Afghan game plan.

It is now concentrating on reinforcing the borders and strengthening defences, the report said.

"It is a clear sign that the militants have so far failed to dent the security situation in the region despite the attacks," an official said.

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