'50 per cent increase in attacks on Afghanistan'

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Lahore, June 16: Gen Dan K McNeill, the outgoing US commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, has claimed that compared to the last year, attacks increased by 50 percent in April in Afghanistan's eastern region, as a spreading Taliban insurgency in Pakistan fuelled a surge in violence.

This, he said, was "directly attributable to the lack of pressure on the other side of the border". "What's missing is action to keep pressure on the insurgents," he said and added that for example, Pakistan's Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Kayani has failed to agree to attend a meeting between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US in four months. He further said that the greatest risk which the coalition forces faced at the Pak-Afghan border was the collusion between the Taliban and the tribals in the NWFP. "The greatest risk is the possibility of collusion between the insurgents who are indigenous to that region and the more intractable, the more extreme terrorists who are taking up residence there in the NWFP," the Daily Times quoted him as saying at a news conference at Pentagon.

McNeill also criticised a US-funded program to train and equip Pakistan's Frontier Corps (FC), questioning the effectiveness and loyalty of the tribally recruited guards. Gen Dan K McNeill, who left Afghanistan on June 3 after 16 months of command in the country, said that stabilising Afghanistan would be impossible without a more robust military campaign against insurgents in Pakistan.

ANI

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