Washington, Feb.10 (ANI): The dilemma before the United States at the moment is that some elements of the Pakistani Government continue to support the Taliban as "a proxy organization in Afghanistan."
According to Seth Jones, a terrorism analyst at the RAND Corporation, there is growing concern among American military and intelligence officials about different militants' havens in Pakistan that they fear could thwart American military efforts in Afghanistan this year.
American and other Western officials have long said they suspect that Pakistani security services do little to address the presence of senior Taliban commanders in Quetta.
The New York Times says that American officials are increasingly focusing on Quetta, where Taliban leaders are believed to play a significant role in stirring violence in southern Afghanistan.
The paper says that Taliban operations in Quetta are different from operations in the mountainous tribal areas of Pakistan that have until now been the main setting for American unease.
But as the United States prepares to pour as many as 30,000 additional troops into Afghanistan, military and intelligence officials say the effort could be futile unless there is a concerted effort to kill or capture Taliban leaders in Quetta and cut the group's supply lines into Afghanistan.
Taliban leaders including Mullah Muhammad Omar, a reclusive, one-eyed cleric, raise money from wealthy Persian Gulf donors and deliver guns and fresh fighters to the battlefield, according to Obama administration and military officials.
"When their leadership is where you cannot get to them, it becomes difficult," said Gen. Dan K. McNeill, who until June was the senior American commander in Afghanistan and recently retired.
"You are restrained from doing what you want to do,"he added.
The Taliban leaders have operated from Quetta for several years, but the increasing violence in southern Afghanistan suggests that the flow of arms, fighters and money there from the Pakistani sanctuary may be increasing.
Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan Province, abuts the provinces in southern Afghanistan where the war's fiercest fighting has occurred.
American intelligence officials said that the dozen or so militants who were thought to make up the Taliban leadership in the area were believed to be hiding either in sprawling Afghan refugee camps near Quetta or in some of the city's Afghan neighborhoods.
For the past year, the top American goal in Pakistan has been to press the national government in Islamabad for help elsewhere, in killing and capturing Qaeda fighters in the tribal areas of northwestern Pakistan, who intelligence analysts say pose a direct threat to the United States.
But NATO generals and diplomats have long complained that the command and control of Taliban fighters, distinct from Qaeda insurgents, trace back to southern Pakistan, and that Pakistani security services ignore the threat. Pakistani officials have said they lack good intelligence about the specific locations of Taliban leaders, assertions that some American intelligence operatives greet with some skepticism.
Aides to Richard C. Holbrooke, Mr. Obama's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American military commander in the region, said the issue of crippling the Taliban leadership was getting more attention from their bosses.(ANI)