US worried about Taliban safe havens in Balochistan

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Lahore, Feb 23 (ANI): The Taliban safe havens in Balochistan are the real cause of concern among US officials, as the militant outfit is using Quetta to stir violence in Afghanistan.

There is growing concern among US officials, even as CIA drones pound targets in FATA, about alleged Taliban havens in Balochistan, The New York Times reported.

Taliban operations in Quetta are different from operations in the Tribal Areas and US is intelligence officials are worried that 30,000 more American troops will be of no use unless there is a concerted effort to kill or capture Taliban leaders in Quetta to cut the group's supply lines into Afghanistan.

Afghan and US commanders have long said Taliban leaders, including Mullah Muhammad Omar, guide commanders in southern Afghanistan from the city.

"When their leadership is where you cannot get to them, it becomes difficult. You are restrained from doing what you want to do," said General Dan K McNeill, who until June was the senior American commander in Afghanistan and recently retired.

Quetta is close to the provinces in southern Afghanistan where the war's fiercest fighting has occurred, the Daily Times reported.

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 Afghan refugee camps near Quetta or in some of the city's Afghan neighbourhoods.

For the past year, the top American goal in Pakistan has been to press Islamabad for help elsewhere - in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan.

But NATO generals and diplomats have long complained that the command and control of Taliban fighters, distinct from Al Qaeda insurgents, may lie in southern Pakistan, and that Pakistani security services ignore the threat.

"We've made progress going into the Tribal Areas and Northwest Frontier Province against al Qaeda, but ... not ... against the Quetta shura," said a senior Obama administration official.

Balochistan has long been an area hostile to government control, and even Pakistani spies have difficulty building a network of sources there, they said. (ANI)

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