Kabul, Afghanistan, Oct 4(ANI): General John Allen, the eighth US commander in charge of the war in Afghanistan, has said that the biggest challenge is the attacks on his troops by fighters coming from ‘safe havens’ in Pakistan.
“It makes me mad every day but, look, I got to deal with what I can deal with, and I deal with it as it comes to the border,” ABC News quoted Allen, as saying.
According to the military, cross-border attacks increased 500 percent in the past year, from about 60 to over 300.
Allen, who is charged not only with fighting the unpopular war in Afghanistan, but also bringing it to an end, said that the problem with safe havens has gotten worse in the past ten years.
“That’s a question we have to ask the Pakistanis, in the end,” he said. “My mandate ends at the border and I’ll deal with the Taliban and the Haqqanis as they come across.”
According to the US Treasury Department, the Haqqani Network is a Taliban-affiliated group of militants that operates from North Waziristan Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan.
“Those are the ones we are going to try to prevent from coming across over the border from the safe havens and when they do, we’ll seek to deal with them,” Allen said.
Allen said that the majority of explosives were “probably” coming from Pakistan. The US general also acknowledged that it is hard to tell how many Taliban there are today.
“The problem is, of course, the Taliban are a very large organization. It’s a syndicate, almost a criminal syndicate in so many ways. Nobody really knows how many there are. Our [intelligence] estimates would put them between 25 and maybe 30,000, max. But they are distributed all over,” he said.
“Some of them are in the safe havens where they have an opportunity to rest and refit. Some of them are in transit and many are only in support roles and then some are gun toting, infantry, they are measured in the thousands on any given day,” he added.
Allen also said that the United States was seeking a “constructive relationship” with Pakistan.
“There’s much worse than a bad relationship with Pakistan, which is no relationship with Pakistan,” he said.
“There are complicated dimensions to the relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Pakistan and the United States, and Pakistan and the international community. It’s a complicated and multilayered development,” he maintained. (ANI)