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Pak not fully united in fighting Taliban: US study

Military domination of the Pakistani state is the problem, not the solution, the study points out.

india Updated: May 21, 2006 13:21 IST

Pakistan was not fully united in the fight against the Taliban militia in neighbouring Afghanistan, a new US study has said.

The study released in Washington quotes American officials as stating privately that "parts of the Pakistani state may not be fully on board" in the fight against the Taliban, the Daily Times reported on Sunday.

It quotes the officials as arguing that, given President Pervez Musharraf's "vulnerability", the US should stick to a policy of "public support and private pressure" so as to not destabilise his regime.

The study also advocates that Pakistan must close camps for training Kashmiri and Taliban guerrillas run by its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

The US study, published by the Council on Foreign Relations, is prepared by Barnett A Rubin, who was UN special representative Lakhdar Brahimi's adviser on Afghanistan and has authored a number of books on Afghanistan.

Rubin argues that the US approach rests on the belief that stability in Pakistan depends solely on the military, a "self-serving view" promoted by the latter to their US counterparts for decades.

According to Rubin, the US government must recognise that security in Afghanistan hinges on democratising Pakistan. Military domination of the Pakistani state is the problem, not the solution, the study points out.

"Elections will not democratise Pakistan as long as the military continues to control state institutions. The US needs to signal at a high level that it wants to see the withdrawal of military control from Pakistan's civilian institutions and genuine freedom for political parties," Rubin notes.

Adopting an even-handed approach, he writes: "Afghanistan will have to respect legitimate Pakistani concerns about the border and an Indian presence... Afghanistan also should refrain from relations with Pashtun leaders in Pakistan that give the impression that the government represents Pashtuns."

Rubin argues that Washington must push the Pakistani government to arrest Taliban leaders whose locations are provided by the US and Afghan intelligence agencies.

The US study comes in the wake of a disclaimer by Mark Lyall Grant, British high commissioner to Pakistan, on the accusation by a British colonel serving in Afghanistan that Islamabad allowed the Taliban to use its territory as a headquarters for attacks on Western troops in Afghanistan.

"The British government is concerned about the insurgent activity in the border areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan. We know that the government of Pakistan shares this concern and is committed to dealing with the threat," the high commissioner said in reference to the observations of Colonel Chris Vernon, the chief of staff for southern Afghanistan.

First Published: May 21, 2006 13:21 IST