Pakistan accuses Afghan authorities of supporting Taliban
Pakistan Defence – Rehman Malik, the Pakistani interior minister claimed today that the Afghan authorities are currently harbouring a radical anti-Pakistani terrorist, affiliated to the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
Malik claimed that Maulana Fazlullah, the leader of the insurgent group Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) is currently based in the Kunar province of Afghanistan, where he enjoys the support of the local government officials. The minister added that in addition to Fazlullah, a number of senior members of various Al-Qaeda and Taliban affiliated organizations are currently operating out of Afghanistan.
Malik claimed that he has sufficient proof to show that some elements of the Afghan government are supporting Fazlullah. The Afghan authorities hit back at the accusation, by claiming that the Pakistani intelligence authorities are maintaining close ties with the top Taliban officials for the last 11 years.
The Afghan officials have termed the accusations by Malik as uncorroborated and baseless. Meanwhile Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president today dismissed two of his top ministers, for their apparent inability to stop the cross border shelling by the Pakistani Forces. The Afghan parliament had earlier demanded the resignations of the two. Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak, and the Minister of Interior Bismillah Mohammadi lost their jobs today, and their replacements have not been announced yet.
Maulana Fazlullah, formerly based in the Swat valley had fled to Afghanistan after the Pakistani army launched a major ground offensive against him with the help of local tribes in 2009. Hundreds of armed insurgents are believed to have followed Fazlullah to Afghanistan. The Pakistani Army has repeatedly urged their Afghan counterparts to hunt down the renegades. The Afghan army, which is still in its infancy, claims that it lacks the experience, manpower and equipment to take on well-armed groups like the TNSM.
Tired of the Afghan inaction over Fazlullah, the Pakistan Army had resorted to the shelling of rebel strongholds across the border for the past few months. Both the Afghan government and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) have condemned the move by Pakistan, saying that the Pakistani forces are violating the territorial sovereignty of Afghanistan. The Afghan authorities have also claimed that many people have been killed, and tens of thousands made homeless so far in the Pakistani offensive.