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Taliban leadership sheltered in Pakistan: Afghan diplomat

world Updated: Nov 16, 2009 13:49 IST

Pakistan not only created and launched the Taliban, but is now sheltering the leadership of the group inside the country, an Afghan diplomat has said and pitched for bolstering the military strength of the US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan to combat the terrorists.

At the same time, he felt, the key to securing Afghanistan will rest in the build-up of a professional Afghan army and police -- or in "Afghanising" the security sector.

"It is now clear to everyone that the Taliban leadership is tolerated and sheltered in Pakistan. And we also know that Pakistan created and launched the Taliban movement in Afghanistan during 1990s," Ashraf Haidari, the Political Counsellor at the Afghan Embassy in Washington, said in a speech at the prestigious Emory University in Atlanta.

Haidari said Pakistan made a U-turn under pressure from the Bush Administration to oppose the Taliban in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

"So it stands to reason that without an external sanctuary, sustainable funding and weapons supplies, and intelligence support in Pakistan, the Taliban could hardly regroup to begin with," he said.

"Since 2003, the Taliban have gradually expanded their influence in areas of south and east of Afghanistan where the government has been either absent or too weak to protect people and deliver basic services to them," he said.