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Afghan Insurgency Originates in Pakistan, says Top US General - 2003-07-30

The United States has added its voice to Afghan leaders' allegations that insurgent activities in Afghanistan are originating in neighboring Pakistan.

Afghan officials blame remnants of the ousted Taleban government and al-Qaida terrorist network for increasing attacks against local and foreign targets in Afghanistan. They say these anti-government forces are using bases in the border regions of Pakistan to try to destabilize the interim government of President Hamid Karzai.

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers, agreed in an interview Wednesday with the private Pakistani television station Geo-TV that the threat to Afghanistan's fragile government comes from across the border. "The biggest threats to the Interim Administration there," said General Myers. "It's a resurgence of the Taleban and remnants of al-Qaida that do not want to see success inside Afghanistan."

In an interview with the same Pakistani television station, Afghan President Karzai repeated a statement made by his interior minister in Islamabad last week: that most Afghans believe the fugitive Taleban are crossing the border from Pakistan to carry out guerilla attacks.

"There were incidents just about four days ago near Spin Boldak near Kandahar [in southern Afghanistan], on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan," said President Karzai. "Some Taleban came in and they were chased by the Afghan forces and the American forces. A lot of people [in Afghanistan] believe that there are Taleban coming from across the border and conducting operations in Afghanistan."

President Karzai says he is not sure if the insurgents are receiving backing from "rogue" elements within Pakistan's powerful military intelligence, the ISI. He says Pakistan's President General Pervez Musharraf has given him assurances that no Pakistani agency is involved in such activities.

Pakistan has deployed thousands of soldiers to try to seal the porous border with Afghanistan, and has captured many suspected terrorists in the process. Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan rejects the suggestion that al-Qaida and Taleban fugitives are regrouping inside Pakistan.

"The Taleban were not totally destroyed in Afghanistan," said Mr. Khan. "They are active there in Kandahar and they have a strong hold there. On our side we have been moving against the Taleban very decisively and we have apprehended them in large numbers."

In all, Pakistan has captured more than 500 al-Qaida and Taleban suspects since the U.S.-led anti-terrorism operations began in Afghanistan in late 2001.