Army claims to have choked off Taliban
Commander of South Waziristan says no regular movement across boundary of insurgents is taking place
Pakistani forces have choked off the infiltration of Taliban insurgents into Afghanistan from a violence-plagued border region, a Pakistani army commander said yesterday.
US-led Nato forces in Afghanistan are bracing for a Taliban surge as the winter snows melt, and Pakistan has been facing a chorus of calls to stop the militants launching attacks from sanctuaries in tribal areas on its side of the border.
But the commander of Pakistani forces in the militant-infested South Waziristan region said his men had virtually sealed the frontier.
“No regular movement is taking place between South Waziristan and the Bermel area of Afghanistan,” Major-General Gul Muhammad told reporters on a military-or- ganised trip to the region.
“If someone proves it with any satellite imagery, I am responsible. We have choked all main routes,” he said. Muhammad also said Pakistani tribesmen had cleared foreign Al Qaidalinked militants from strongholds near South Waziristan’s main town after several weeks of bloody battles. Last year, the Taliban infiltrated large areas of eastern and southern Afghanistan and mounted their most sustained stand against Afghan govern- ment troops and their foreign allies since the hardline Islamists were ousted in 2001. Fighting traditionally tails off over the winter but the Taliban have been vowing a fresh surge in their campaign to oust the 45,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan when the weather warms up.
As security has deteriorated in Afghanistan, calls have mounted for Pakistan to do more to stop the Taliban using sanctuaries on the Pakistani side of the border, and to crack down on the Islamist networks supporting the rebels. But another Pakistani officer rejected suggestions the Taliban and Al Qaida were operating out of Waziristan, and said Afghanistan and its allies had to do more to improve security on their side of he border.