Hindu Vivek Kendra
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'Taliban is living in comfort in Pakistan with drug money', says international forces' commander in Afghanistan

Author: Shailaja Neelakantan
Publication: The Times of India
Date: November 29, 2017
URL:   https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/taliban-is-living-in-comfort-in-pakistan-with-drug-money-says-international-forces-commander-in-afghanistan/articleshow/61847308.cms

The Taliban is "living in comfort...with plenty of drug money" in Pakistan said the commander of US and international forces in Afghanistan, reported CNN.

What's more, the commander said Pakistan has yet to take significant action against the Taliban, despite it having been over a 100 days since US President Donald Trump's demand that Islamabad needs to do more in the war on terror instead of providing "safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror".

The US, on its part, recently carried out a series of operations targeting Taliban-linked opium production facilities in Helmand province, operations he said cost the Taliban as much as $10 million in revenue, but Pakistan has yet to demonstrate any commitment, said US General John Nicholson, the commander of US and international forces in Afghanistan.

"We have not seen those changes implemented yet...They (Pakistan) identified certain steps that they were going to take. We've not yet seen those steps play out...in terms of changes thus far this year, again, (Trump's) policy was announced August 21, it's now a hundred days late," said Nicholson, reported CNN and Reuters news agency.

The US General was referring to Trump's fire and brimstone speech when he accused Pakistan of sheltering terror groups that try every day to kill Americans.

"We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars but at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting. But that will have to change, and that will change immediately," said Trump in that August 21 address.

It was a speech that made even cynical policy wonks wonder if a change was indeed in the offing when it comes to Pakistan. They needn't have worried. It wasn't.

Blatant disregard of the US by Pakistan is nothing new. Nor is the failure of the US carrot-and-stick policy when it comes to Pakistan, its 'major non-NATO ally'. Because per usual, the US didn't really follow up with stringent punishment since those fighting words in August from Trump about cutting off aid to Pakistan.

Consider that Nicholson's comments come two weeks after news that the US Congress has kept action against the Afghan Taliban - especially the dreaded Haqqani Network - a key condition to reimburse Pakistan for its cooperation in the 'war on terror'.

In fact, so concerned is the US about the Haqqani Network that Congress removed another condition demanding action against India-oriented terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) as well, to be eligible for reimbursements.

"As you've heard our president (Trump) say, as you've heard all of our senior leaders say, we have got to see movement on this reduction of sanctuary and support for those insurgents and terrorists operating from Pakistan who are attacking our forces and our coalition diplomats and forces, as well as the Afghans," said Nicholson, adding that the Afghan Taliban has found sanctuary inside Pakistan since 2001.

The General said Pakistan has been told about these sanctuaries many times before, to no avail.

"The offensive operations against sanctuaries would be in other areas that we've identified with the Pakistani leadership on a number of occasions," he said.

Not only does Pakistan seem to be paying scant heed to US threats, it in fact seems emboldened anew, as can be seen with the release last week of global terrorist and 26/11 Mumbai massacre mastermind Hafiz Saeed.

Sure, the White House slammed Pakistan for allowing Saeed to go free. But that's about it. It couldn't even retain a condition the US Senate was keen to impose on Pakistan in a bill -- action against both the LeT in addition to the Haqqani Network in return for 'war on terror' reimbursements.

"The new version (of the bill on reimbursements) has confined this requirement to the Haqqani network only, indicating a desire in Washington to focus entirely on Afghanistan as long as it takes to subdue the Taliban insurgency there,'' said Pakistan's Dawn newspaper two weeks ago.

From Nicholson's statements it appears Pakistan isn't doing much on the Taliban front either.
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