ONE of the first steps taken by the Obama Administration when it took office last year was to insist that the problem of Afghanistan should not be looked at in isolation but be linked to the role of its neighbour Pakistan -- the term “AfPak” was coined to make the point. Since then the United States, with huge aid money, and Britain, with diplomatic pressure, have worked hard to make sure that Pakistan is fully committed to the stabilisation of Afghanistan.

But yesterday, following the publication of the leaked US military documents on the Afghan war, President Karsai's spokesman, Waheed Omar, spoke quite bluntly about “The war's root causes...the role forces behind the borders of Afghanistan play in destabilising activity here in Afghanistan.” Frequent references of this kind by Afghans to the role played by Pakistan's powerful ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) in giving shelter and assistance to Taliban militias are now to be found also in the leaked war logs of the US military. Whether justified or not, there is a strong undercurrent of feeling in US forces that significant sectors of Pakistan's military and intelligence services are sympathetic to the Taliban and ready to give them moral and material help. along the 1'600 mile border the two countries share, especially the sectors adjoining the Helmand and Kandahar provinces where British troops have had such a torrid time. It is a major problem.


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