Pakistan staging ground for Afghan insurgency

What a strange twist of fate. It seems the Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan are apparently using Pakistan, key regional US ally, as a staging ground. This from Pakistan’s Daily Times, July 12:

Six more Pakistani fighters arrested in Afghanistan

* Missing US commando found dead in Kunar province
* Four Arab militants escape US detention centre at Bagram

KABUL: Afghanistan’s Defence Ministry on Monday [July 11] said that local forces had arrested six Pakistani fighters and eight Afghan Taliban insurgents with weapons and explosives.

Three of the six Pakistanis were arrested on Thursday while planting a landmine in the Kunar province while the other three were arrested on Saturday in Khost province, said a Defence Ministry official who did not want to be named.

Five suspected Taliban, including two provincial level commanders, were detained in the central province of Uruzgan on Saturday, and three others others were held in Kandahar on the same day.

Afghan Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak said Saturday that a resurgent Al Qaeda network had teamed up with Taliban militants to carry out attacks using unspecified “new tactics”.

The Afghan police also killed four Taliban fighters and arrested one in a clash in the country’s south that also left one officer wounded. The gun battle broke out on Sunday when police, acting on a tip-off from villagers, raided a militant stronghold in the Chanaran valley of Deh Chopan district, Zabul province.


Meanwhile, the US military said that the body of a US Navy SEAL commando who was the last of a group of four that went missing last month had been found from the Kunar province.

“The body of the missing commando was found in Kunar province on Sunday,” US military spokesman Colonel Jim Yonts told reporters. “Our forces on the ground that located this body are very confident that this individual was never in custody and he was never defamed or disgraced by enemy forces,” he added.

The discovery of the commando’s body brought to an end a bloody two-week search operation that cost the lives of 16 other US troops. The 16 were aboard a helicopter that crashed while on a mission to find the four-man team.

Yonts said that US-led forces were continuing an air and ground campaign to rid Kunar province of militants. He said there was evidence militants were receiving support, including money and equipment, from outside Afghanistan, but he avoided criticism of Pakistan, saying the military was confident it was doing all it could to support the US-led war on terror.

The US military also said that four dangerous militants escaped from the main American military base in Afghanistan on Monday.

An extensive search, involving ground forces backed by helicopters, was under way for the men reported missing at about 5am (0030 GMT) from the detention centre at Bagram Air Base to the north of Kabul, the US military said in a statement.

Arabic television channel al Jazeera quoted unidentified sources as saying the four men were Arabs, but US military spokesman Lt Colonel Jerry O’Hara declined to confirm this, describing them only as “dangerous enemy combatants”.

The escape is the first known from the heavily guarded detention centre, which is within the sprawling Bagram base, and as such a major embarrassment for the US military. O’Hara said there had been no US casualties in the escape and he had no reports of violence or any US personnel missing. “I can’t give specifics on how they escaped, he said. “The circumstances surrounding the escape are under investigation as we speak”.

See our last post on Afghanistan. See also our last posts on Pakistan’s Tribal Areas, and the general Islamist backlash in Pakistan.

  1. Some analysis…
    from Eurasianet July 11 on the politics of the seeming incongruity of anti-US Afghan insurgents operating from US ally Pakistan:

    In the domestic political arena, the Pakistani military works with Islamic parties that are part of the MMA alliance, which governs the two provinces that border Afghanistan, North-West Frontier and Baluchistan. The MMA, in particular the Jamaat-e-Ullema Islam (JUI), has been an avid supporter of the Taliban since the 1990s. By interfering as little as possible with JUI support to the Taliban, Musharraf’s administration may be trying to ensure its political survival by keeping Islamic radicals on his side. The military’s alliance with conservative Islamic parities also helps assuage Islamist army officers and militant groups fighting in Kashmir.

    See our last post on the situation in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas.