'Taliban controls 54 pc of Afghanistan'

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London, Nov.22: An international think tank has in a report claimed that a resurgent Taliban is in control of at least half of Afghanistan, and predicted that the landlocked country is in serious danger of falling into the group's hands again after six years.

According to the Telegraph, the 110-page report claims that the Taliban controlled 54 per cent of Afghanistan.

The Senlis Council has called for the NATO troops to be doubled to 80,000 front-line soldiers who should be allowed to pursue militants into Pakistan.

It calculated that NATO countries should contribute 2.3 soldiers per 500 million pounds of their GDP to provide 71,000 soldiers, with 9,000 additional troops coming from Muslim nations.

If the plan is adopted, Britain would need to send 4,500 troops, significantly fewer than are deployed now. British and American military leaders say the mission in Afghanistan has been hamstrung by NATO members refusing to send reinforcements or placing "caveats" on their duties when there.

The report said: "It is a sad indictment of the current state of Afghanistan that the question now appears to be not if the Taliban will return to Kabul, but when this will happen and in what form."

The Ministry of Defence dismissed the report, saying its conclusion that the Taliban would take Kabul was not credible.

The report coincides with a study from Oxfam for the House of Commons International Development Committee, which gives warning that the security situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating.

Oxfam said that Afghans faced "severe hardship comparable with sub-Saharan Africa" and that aid was not getting to the most needy.

The Senlis Council is a Brussels-based think tank that conducts research into drugs, military intervention and development policies in Afghanistan.

Earlier this month, it advocated the growth of opium to weaken the Taliban from a funding point of view, while offering an option for farmers.

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