Holbrooke criticizes shallow US intelligence on Taliban in Afghanistan

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Islamabad, Apr. 8 (ANI): President Barack Obama's special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, has expressed dissatisfaction over the shallow US intelligence about the creation and recruiting powers of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

"I am deeply, deeply dissatisfied with the degree of knowledge that the United States government and our friends and allies have on this subject," the Dawn quoted Holbrooke, as saying.

Holbrooke blamed lack of preference to Afghanistan due to intense US intelligence focus on Iraq over the past six years.

Another factor, he said, was the high priority placed on gathering intelligence about al Qaeda in the years since the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

He, however, did not mention the smaller US troop presence in Afghanistan, relative to Iraq, which makes it more difficult to gather detailed and current information.

According to Holbrooke, the lack of depth in US understanding of the Taliban has weakened efforts to counter the propaganda they use to recruit new fighters and to discredit the US.

"We need to make sure we know what the appeal of the Taliban is," he said.

That would be critical in enabling the US and its allies to split the hard-core Taliban leaders, who must be dealt with militarily, from less ideologically driven fighters who might be co-opted, he added. (ANI)

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