A U.S. Department of Defense spokesman says U.S. and NATO efforts in Afghanistan, and Pakistani efforts on its side of the border, could be putting more pressure on the Taliban than it has experienced for several years.
Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell says as coalition and Afghan forces battle the Taliban inside Afghanistan, Pakistani forces have rounded up Taliban leaders on their soil. The U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, has said his troops have stopped the deterioration of the security situation by confronting Taliban forces in the southern part of the country. Morrell says he sees a similar trend in Pakistan.
"I think people with regards to Pakistan are hopeful that the same trend is taking place there, that their efforts are paying dividends, and that the Taliban feels as though they are under more pressure than they have been under certainly within the last few years," said Geoff Morrell.
Morrell says the key is to change the dynamic on the ground so that enemy fighters feel pressured to become part of society.
"We are hopeful that our combined efforts on both sides of the border will undermine the confidence and the capability of the Afghan Taliban and of the Pakistan Taliban and that more of their members, low-level fighters, will look to, turn to us, lay down weapons, respect the democratically elected governments in both countries and want to reintegrate into society," he said.
The Pentagon spokesman says the ultimate goal is for senior-level Taliban members to embrace the Afghan government's reconciliation efforts.
Morrell also says the change in Pakistani policy that led to military operations against the Taliban in the Swat Valley and the western tribal areas, and cooperation in arresting Taliban leaders such as Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, would not have been possible without the help of Pakistan's intelligence service. But some analysts still accuse the service of working on both sides of the conflict, helping the Taliban in Afghanistan while agreeing to the crackdown on the group inside Pakistan.