Washington, June 23 : A leading Pakistani journalist in the US has reportedly said that the Taliban was spreading its tentacles with the active support of Al Qaeda, and the recent jail break in Kandahar, Afghanistan, proved it to some extent.
He acknowledged that fact that 30-40 percent of the fighters coming into southern Afghanistan were coming from the Pakistani side of the border.
He said the sophistication with which the Taliban broke the jail, showed tat it was done in conjunction with Qaeda. "The sophistication with which the Taiban carried out the recent jailbreak seems to have been carried out with the help of Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda seems to be very much an organisational coup for the Taliban," the Daily Times quoted Ahmed Rashid as saying in an interview with CNN.
He further said that Qaeda was also raking in vast amounts of money from the drugs trade, some of which it was siphoning off to the Taliban.
About the possibilities of Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden's capture, he said US President George Bush would like to see him captured before the US presidential elections, but "we have no indication on the ground that anything dramatic is about to happen".
Asked if the new government in Islamabad was really going to move against the Taliban and Qaeda, he said, "the problem is that the military has been engaging the Taliban in peace deals for quite some years and they have not been able to get very much out of it. I think what the civilian government wants to do is to have a more comprehensive plan - political reform in the Tribal Areas, where the Taliban and Al Qaeda are based, and economic development. But, such plans have to be backed by a strong military position and the problem now is that the military is in a very static position. The military is not on the offensive, it is not showing a picture of strength to the extremists and this is going to stymie the whole effort by the civilian government."
He said the US has stepped up its attacks, including attacks by drones, on the Pakistani side of the border and if intelligence indicates that there is a gathering of Taliban or Al Qaeda, the US acts very, very fast and does not always seem to have asked the Pakistanis for permission.
Asked whether there were elements in the Pakistani military sympathetic to the Taliban and Al Qaeda, Rashid replied: "I think there is enormous sympathy for the Taliban within the military establishment and there is no doubt that the Taliban do have sanctuaries in Pakistan where they are not affected by any kind of military action."