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Friday, October 06, 2006

NATO commanders demand governments get tough with Pakistan: report

NATO commanders from five countries who have troops stationed in Afghanistan are demanding their governments get tough with Pakistan over its support for the Taliban militia, The Daily Telegraph has reported.

Commanders from the United States, Britain, Canada, Denmark and the Netherlands want their governments to tell Pakistan to stop supporting the Taliban, which has stepped up its attacks in Afghanistan.

"It is time for an 'either you are with us or against us' delivered bluntly to Musharraf at the highest political level," an unnamed NATO commander told the newspaper.

"Our boys in southern Afghanistan are hurting because of what is coming out of (the Pakistani city of) Quetta," the same commander added.

According to the newspaper, NATO's report on "Operation Medusa", the bloody campaign between September 4 and 17, clearly states that Pakistan's intelligence service ISI was involved in supplying the Taliban.

The report apparently estimates that the cost of Taliban ammunition stocks at around 2.6 million pounds (4.9 million dollars, 3.8 million euros).

"The Taliban could not have done this on their own without the ISI," an unnamed senior NATO officer was quoted as saying.

The report comes a day after NATO took over control of all foreign troops in Afghanistan, with British General David Richards taking charge.

The transfer saw 10,000 US troops who had been operating in the east under the US-led coalition fall under the 37-nation International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), boosting it to about 31,000 soldiers nationwide.

After the handover British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the NATO-led mission is "absolutely critical" for world security.

Blair told reporters in London that everybody was better off now in Afghanistan despite the renewed fighting.

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