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NATO explores new strategy for Taliban

NATO leaders began discussions with Musharraf and Pak military high command to forge a new strategy in the war against terror.

india Updated: Feb 01, 2007 13:36 IST

Top NATO and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) commanders on Thursday began discussions with President Pervez Musharraf and Pakistani military high command to forge a new strategy in the war against terrorism.

The four NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) and ISAF commanders, who arrived here on a two-day visit, are General Egon Ramms, General David J Richards, General John Craddock and General Dan K McNeil.

While the multinational ISAF was inducted to guard Kabul in 2002 after President Hamid Karzai's interim government took office, NATO stepped in subsequently to take over a part of the role and extend its reach and effectiveness.

The meeting takes place amidst a resurgence of the Taliban fugitives using the Pakistani territory and support from the Pushtun tribals on the Pakistani side.

There have also been allegations that Pakistan vehemently denies, of the involvement of sections of the Pakistan security forces and its Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

Gen Richards is the British outgoing head of ISAF replaced by Gen McNeil, a four star American general. General Ramms has just taken charge of the Allied Joint Air Force Command Brunsseum, and General Craddock is the supreme allied commander in Europe.

This is the first time since NATO and ISAF started their operations in Afghanistan that four top commanders are visiting Pakistan together.

"The visit by NATO commanders is part of their ongoing consultation with Pakistan on the situation in Afghanistan," government sources told Daily Times.

It was also learnt that the commanders would discuss Pakistan's proposal to fence and mine the Pak-Afghan border.

The proposal is being vehemently opposed by Afghanistan, even as the UN, Canada and many countries involved in monitoring the situation along the Pak-Afghan border have recommended "other means" to guard the border.

The meeting follows an agreement by the NATO foreign ministers on Jan 26 to increase civilian and military assistance to Afghanistan.

The US, Denmark and other NATO member countries also gave indications of their intention to send additional troops and increase aid.

Meanwhile, Lisa Curtis of the conservative US think tank Heritage Foundation has advised the Bush Administration to put "pressure" on Pakistan to ensure that the Taliban find "no safe haven within its borders."

Describing the Pak-Afghan border as the "most dangerous terrorist safe haven in the world", she said "the effectiveness of US policy towards Pakistan over the next few years will largely determine whether the US prevails in the global war on terror."

First Published: Feb 01, 2007 12:25 IST