Eight years after the terror strike on the United States, which
prompted an invasion of Afghanistan to oust the Taliban, there are
indications that the insurgents are continuing to widen their reach
inside the country. Meanwhile, some high-ranking British and American
officials are expressing mounting concern about Afghanistan's
fraud-tainted election process.
A respected international
think tank has released a new map showing, for the first time, the
Taliban have a "permanent presence" in 80 percent of Afghanistan.
"Permanent presence" in a province is defined as one or more insurgent
attacks - lethal and non-lethal - per week.
Alexander Jackson is a policy analyst at the International Council on Security and Development in London.
now seeing Taliban control across the country. And one of the most
significant things that we're seeing in this latest map is the
increased level of Taliban presence in the north of the country.
Provinces such as Kunduz and Balkh, which previously were relatively
stable, are now seeing very high levels of Taliban activity," he said.
that has resulted in a drastic increase of insurgent attacks against
Afghan government, international and civilian targets in those areas.
The report's release comes at a sensitive time.
Obama administration is debating whether to deepen its commitment to
the war in Afghanistan, which is becoming increasingly unpopular in the
The current government in Kabul appears to be
facing a more immediate threat, however, not from the Taliban but due
to concerns about its own credibility.
Rising concerns are
being voiced by both Afghans and the international community about how
the August 20th presidential election was carried out. Partial - but
disputed - results show incumbent President Hamid Karzai with a
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has
told BBC Television that Afghanistan needs a credible government that
can actually lead that country in a serious way. Miliband is expressing
concerns about the serious fraud allegations stemming from last month's
election. He says "free and fair" would not be an accurate description
of the balloting.
But the top U.S. diplomat for Afghanistan has
told the British broadcaster a rerun of the tainted election is "out of
the question." Richard Holbrooke, in a BBC interview, said a drawn-out process would benefit the Taliban and al-Qaida.
preliminary election tabulations are expected to be released Saturday
by the country's government-appointed Independent Election Commission.
But another entity, the U.N.-supervised Election Complaints Commission,
is ordering a partial recount and says it is investigating hundreds of
serious fraud allegations.
President Karzai has more than 50
percent of the vote - enough to avoid a run-off election against
challenger Abdullah Abdullah. But the former foreign minister says he
will not accept the results, alleging favoritism in the process for the
incumbent and the inclusion of tainted votes amid widespread reports of
wholesale ballot box stuffing by Karzai supporters.
eastern part of the country, two more soldiers of the NATO-led
International Security Assistance Force have been killed. This year has
become the deadliest for the foreign troops since the 2001 ouster of