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Karzai threatens to attack ‘terrorist nests’ in Pak

Kabul, June 15
In his toughest stance yet on crushing Pakistan-based insurgency, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said today that his country had the right to dismantle “terrorist nests” in the neighbouring country in “self-defence”.

“Afghanistan has the right to destroy terrorist nests on the other side of the border in self-defence,” Karzai told a news conference here.

Karzai’s warning is the first open threat to send troops inside Pakistan, though he has often confronted Islamabad on its failure to prevent Taliban from finding a safe haven in the tribal areas.

The statement came days after US-led forces carried out an air strike in Pakistan’s restive tribal belt, bordering Afghanistan, killing 11 Pakistani soldiers.

The Pentagon said it was targeting militants, but the attack angered Pakistan, which summoned the US envoy to lodge its protests.

“When they cross the border from Pakistan to come and kill Afghans and coalition troops, it gives us exactly the right to go back and do the same,” Karzai said, referring to the situation along the country’s border with Pakistan.

Karzai also warned the elusive Taliban leader Mullah Omar and Pakistani Taliban warlord Baitullah Mehsud, who Islamabad believes was responsible for the assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto.

“Baitullah Mehsud should know that we will go after him now and hit him in his house,” Karzai said.

“Fazlullah and Mehsud or any one behind them must know this, that today’s Afghanistan is not the voiceless Afghanistan of yesterday. Today, it has both the voice, the tools and courage for action,” he said.

“We’ll defeat them and we’ll avenge all that they’ve done in Afghanistan for the past so many years,” the Afghan President said.

Karzai’s tough words came two days after over 1,100 prisoners, including hundreds of militants escaped from a jail in southern Kandahar in an attack by the insurgents.

He has repeatedly blamed Pakistan of failing to prevent insurgents active in the tribal zone from slipping into Afghanistan.

This week, a study by Rand Corporation, a leading US think-tank, found that elements of Pakistan’s ISI and its paramilitaries were actively backing Taliban insurgents and if their sanctuaries in the country are not eliminated, the efforts of the US and its allies to stabilise and rebuild Afghanistan will be in jeopardy.

The study found that the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate and Frontier Corps have failed to root out Afghan insurgent groups based in Pakistan and, in some cases, individuals from these Pakistani organisations have provided direct assistance to such groups as the Taliban and Haqqani network.

“Every successful insurgency in Afghanistan since 1979 enjoyed safe haven in neighbouring countries, and the current insurgency is no different,” said report author Seth Jones, a senior political scientist at Rand.

“Right now, the Taliban and other groups are getting help from individuals within Pakistan’s government, and until that ends, the region’s long-term security is in jeopardy,” the study titled “Counter-insurgency in Afghanistan,” says.

It noted that insurgent groups have successfully established a sanctuary in Pakistan. The study found that the insurgent groups found refuge in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, North West Frontier Province and Baluchistan.

They regularly ship weapons, ammunition and supplies into Afghanistan from Pakistan, and a number of suicide bombers have come from Afghan refugee camps based in Pakistan.

The insurgent groups have acquired external support and assistance from the global ‘jihadist’ network, including groups with a strong foothold in Pakistan, such as al-Qaida.

This assistance enables Afghan insurgent groups to adapt their tactics, techniques, and procedures to become, in effect, learning organisations, the Rand study said.



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