US working for 'win' in Afghanistan: Burns
A senior US official said the objective of the Bush administration is a "win" in that country.india Updated: Jan 27, 2007 02:03 IST
Acknowledging that one of the major problems is of Taliban coming from Pakistan, attacking inside Afghanistan and then slipping back, a senior US official on Friday said the objective of the Bush administration is a "win" in that country.
"The Taliban increased its insurgency in 2006. It's a real problem. There is a problem of forces coming from Pakistan into Afghanistan to attack and then to return to Pakistan to seek refuge and refitting," Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns said.
He said his government will be seeking nearly USD 11 billions from Congress in increased aid to Afghanistan over a two year period; over and above the USD 14 billions that has been given to that country over the last five years.
Burns said Washington was in close consultation with Islamabad ensuring that Pakistani forces will "do more" and strike terrorist training camps in the tribal areas.
"We are working very closely with President (Pervez) Musharraf and with the Pakistani military and the Pakistani intelligence services to see that Pakistan will do more and make a concerted effort to strike at those terrorist training camps in North and South Waziristan and in Baluchistan. That is a major priority for our relations with Pakistan," he said.
"Now, we have a very close relationship with President Musharraf... We're working closely with Pakistan. But we do think a greater effort must be made on both sides of the border to defeat Al Qaida, because it's also attacking across the border, as well as the Taliban," he added.
"We're working very closely with President Karzai and President Musharraf to see that the Pakistanian-Afghan political establishments and militaries can work more effectively together...It's an abiding preoccupation of ours".
Burns essentially recounted what the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had said in Europe earlier-that the goal in Afghanistan is victory.
"We believe it is achievable. We're very proud of what we've done. But when the strategic situation changes, when the Taliban have mounted a much more vigorous threat to the Afghan government to the local authorities...We need to respond to that threat. And that's what this $10 billion in assistance represents," Burns said.
He rejected the contention that the Taliban has grown because Washington took the eye off the ball. "Not at all. Not at all. We've had a constant level of over 20,000 American troops in the country for the last two and a half years. We've made a supreme effort. We have been focused on Afghanistan from October of 2001 on" he said.
"And when you're in a fight like this and when the conditions of the fight change and when the numbers of the opponents grow, you adjust, and that's what we're doing. And the Pentagon's announcement on Thursday of maintaining an additional number of American troops in Afghanistan is an indication that on the military side as well as the economic side. We're going to step up and try to meet this threat," Burns added.