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Pakistan Disputes US Allegations of Sheltering Afghan Insurgents - 2003-11-19

Pakistan is disputing allegations by the new U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, who says Pakistan needs to do more to stamp out Afghan insurgents allegedly taking shelter in its territory.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad says insurgents loyal to Afghanistan's former Taleban government are using Pakistan's territory to launch attacks against Afghan and foreign targets across the border.

But Pakistan's foreign ministry spokesman, Masood Khan, denies the charge, saying his country has made Pakistan inhospitable territory for Taleban remnants and their allies, including the al-Qaida terror network.

"I wish the U.S. envoy had chosen his words more carefully and instead of giving his individualistic interpretation had synchronized his statements with what the State Department has been saying in the past week," he said. "The State Department has said that Pakistan is committed to the war on terrorism and is doing everything that it can to effectively fight terrorism."

Mr. Khan reiterates that Pakistan has taken effective measures to prevent any illegal movement across the border with Afghanistan.

"We have deployed 70,000 troops in the area and created a quick-action force, which is conducting successful operations," he said. "Pakistan is denying sanctuaries to al-Qaida fugitives and to the Taleban regime remnants."

He also cites a recent United Nations Security Council report saying the situation inside Afghanistan is volatile and racked by warlordism and factional fighting.

Taleban insurgents have increased attacks in Afghanistan in recent weeks. In addition to targeting Afghan and foreign troops, the militants have also attacked aid workers in the war-ravaged country.

On Sunday a French U.N. aid worker was gunned down, prompting the world body to suspend relief operations in southern and eastern Afghanistan.

In response to the worsening security situation, South Korea said Wednesday that it would evacuate its diplomats from the country.