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US playing double game on Taliban: Report

US-led NATO forces vacated more than half a dozen security check posts on the Afghan side of the border just ahead of the major ground offensive launched by the Pakistani military against the Taliban in the volatile South Waziristan region, a media report said Monday.

world Updated: Oct 19, 2009 15:32 IST

US-led NATO forces vacated more than half a dozen security check posts on the Afghan side of the border just ahead of the major ground offensive launched by the Pakistani military against the Taliban in the volatile South Waziristan region, a media report said Monday.

"It is feared that the American decision will facilitate Afghan Taliban in crossing over to Pakistan and support militants in striking back at the Pakistani security forces in the troubled tribal area," The News said in a report headlined "On whose side is US anyway?"

Sources close to the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) government and military strategists told the newspaper that US forces vacated eight security check posts on the Afghan side of the border just five days before the anti-Taliban operation began in South Waziristan on Saturday.

"Latest reports indicate that the Americans have also removed some posts close to North Waziristan, which could encourage even more Afghan Taliban fighters to cross over to the Pakistan side. This has raised many eyebrows in government and military circles with points being made about 'conflicting interests' and dubious American designs," The News said.

"The NWFP government and civilian and military officials in the provincial capital have been astonished by this move and more so intrigued by its timing. Alarmed and concerned about its likely adverse affect on the military operation in South Waziristan, where...28,000 (Pakistani) soldiers are expected to face fierce resistance from the heavily armed Taliban-led militants, the NWFP government recently alerted the relevant authorities in Islamabad about it," the newspaper added.

Experts believe the US move could undermine the military action by the Pakistan Army.

While on the one hand it could offer an easy escape route to some militants, it is believed that this would facilitate movement of Afghan Taliban into the Pakistan side to join hands with the Al Qaeda-backed local Taliban, as well as foreign militant groups against the military action.

"Some observers see it as a tactical move by the US to ward off pressure from its own forces in Afghanistan that have been under severe attacks by the Afghan Taliban. Hence they want to provide them unhindered passage to the Pakistan side as it would help shift the main theatre of war from Afghanistan to inside Pakistan. The Americans themselves have been saying that 70 per cent of the area in Afghanistan is out of their control," The News noted.