Pak's 'dubious' involvement in Quetta Shura top worry for US: Patterson

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Washington, Sep.29 (ANI): The United States has expressed concerns over the ease with which the Taliban fighters from Afghanistan sneak into the other side of the border into Pakistan and have established a safe haven there.

While the NATO forces have intensified their battle in South Afghanistan, the Taliban commanders, taking advantage of the porous border, have crossed over into Pakistan's lawless tribal areas and are carrying out their extremist activities from there.

US ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson also expressed concerns over the Taliban's Quetta Shura (leadership council), which is operating from Quetta, the capital of insurgency hit Balochistan.

atterson said that while Al-Qaeda was on top of the Obama Administration's agenda earlier, it is the Taliban which is now of prime concern for Washington.

"In the past, we focused on al-Qaeda because they were a threat to us. The Quetta Shura mattered less to us because we had no troops in the region. Now our troops are there on the other side of the border, and the Quetta Shura is high on Washington's list," The Washington Post quoted Patterson, as saying.

Experts also said that the Quetta Shura is of utmost importance for the Taliban, as it was from there that the fighters were being recruited and funded for waging war against the US troops in Afghanistan.

"Quetta is absolutely crucial to the Taliban today. From there they get recruits, fuel and fertilizer for explosives, weapons, and food. Suicide bombers are trained on that side. They have support from the mosques and madrassas," said Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani expert on the Taliban.

"The Quetta region's refugee camps is a great 'reserve army' for the Taliban," said Michael Semple, a former U.N. official in Afghanistan, as saying.

Underlining the fact that Islamabad had once trained Islamist fighters to operate against India, Patterson said Pakistan definitely has different priorities.

"You cannot tolerate vipers in your bosom without getting bitten. Our concern is whether Pakistan really controls its territory. There are people who do not threaten Pakistan but who are extremely important to us," she said.

Experts also believe that Pakistan's intelligence agency, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) is still offering covert support and train the Taliban fighters in Quetta.

Patterson highlighted that Pakistani officials were growing "extremely nervous" that the current policy disputes in Washington would lead to a premature U.S. pullout from Afghanistan.

It is not the first time the United States has raised concerns over the Quetta Shura.Washington has long complained that senior Taliban leaders based in Quetta, provide money, military supplies and assist their counterparts in southern Afghanistan with strategic planning.(ANI)

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