NATO beefs up forces along Pakistan-Afghanistan border
* NATO commander rules out attacks inside Pakistan
* ISAF says insurgents hiding among families crossing border into Afghanistan
KABUL: NATO has reinforced troops along the Afghan border, anticipating that the peace deals between Pakistan and the Taliban will allow the insurgents to launch more attacks into Afghanistan, NATO’s commander in Afghanistan has said.
“Our analysis of the previous peace deals ... is that when that dialogue is ongoing or when talks have been consummated in peace deals, we see a spike in the untoward events that we experience on our side of the border,” General Dan McNeill, commander of NATO’s 47,000-strong International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, told Reuters.
The Taliban are made up of several loosely allied groups that make their own operational plans, but accept guidance from a shura, or council, led by the reclusive Mullah Muhammad Omar. “I don’t know that Mullah Omar is alive. I don’t know if he’s dead either,” said McNeill. “But I do believe there is a shura and I do believe it is located outside Afghanistan. It might possibly be in one of several Pakistani cities.”
No attacks: Asked whether his forces would carry out strikes against the Taliban inside Pakistan, McNeill said: “The NATO mandate goes only as far as the border, that’s as far as I’ll go.”
Intelligence reports suggested there were fewer foreign fighters this year, he said. However, he said there was evidence of better weaponry and training. He said that Afghan forces had also improved and “barring any cataclysmic occurrence”, could be ready to fully take over security in Afghanistan by 2011. McNeill also claimed that the biggest threats facing Afghanistan were poor governance and a thriving illegal narcotics trade.
Hidden insurgents: Meanwhile, an ISAF spokesman said on Monday that insurgents were crossing from Pakistan into Afghanistan, hidden among hundreds of families that make the trip daily. He said that the ISAF was using a range of intelligence and surveillance systems to detect the rebels to thwart attacks along the eastern frontier.
Authorities, meanwhile, said a Pakistani national planning a suicide bombing was captured in the eastern province of Khost on Monday. Two suicide vests the man was carrying were also seized, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. agencies