Pak contributions to NATO in Afghanistan praised


London : Pakistan’s contribution to the NATO efforts in fighting the Al-Qaeda and Taliban elements in Afghanistan has been praised.

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At a briefing on ‘NATO involvement in Afghanistan-its role and purpose in the region’ at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Friday, a senior NATO British diplomat said Pakistan has been a crucial partner in the war on terror and its role and co-operation has been welcomed by the NATO commanders.

He said President General Pervez Musharraf has taken bold steps in countering these elements on the Pakistani side of the Pak-Afghan border and as consequent Pakistan has sustained heavy losses.

The diplomat also underlined Pakistan’s importance as a member of the Tripartite Commission which is engaged in intelligence gathering and sharing with the NATO and Afghan authorities.

He acknowledged that Pakistan-Afghan border was a difficult terrain and the challenge of patrolling such a tricky area is of enormous concern to Pakistan which has been taking significant measures in this regard.

The diplomat appreciated that day-to-day co-operation is increasing between Pakistan and NATO forces. He said the military aspect of NATO’s mission in Afghanistan has been going quite well and the insurgents have suffered significant losses.

“But these losses have been offset by the increase in the general public anxiety over security as the Taliban have shifted to asymmetrical violence through suicide bombing and improved explosive devices,” he said.

The Brussels-based diplomat who returned from a recent visit to Afghanistan said Sangin and Helmand remains a trouble spot and the Afghan Government forces must hold on to the area wrestled from the control of Taliban by the NATO forces.

Responding to a question, he said the NATO forces were involved in counter-insurgency which may take a long time to overcome. He advocated a comprehensive approach in terms of building Afghan institutions and attacking drugs trade which is fuelling the insurgency.

Responding to a question, the British diplomat said it was up to the Afghan Government to enter into negotiations with the saner elements of Taliban for finding a peaceful solution.

He said NATO has been taking extreme care to ensure that innocent civilian are not killed in air strikes but is facing an enemy which is not restrained by moral or ethical principles.