WASHINGTON: Nato-led forces are making “tangible progress” in the Afghanistan war, with Taliban insurgents under pressure and forced out of key southern strongholds, the Pentagon said on Friday.
Although, the US military acknowledged battlefield gains over the past six months were tentative and “fragile”, it painted a more positive picture than the Pentagon’s previous reports to Congress.
The findings come at a crucial moment in the nine-year-old war as the United States prepares to begin a drawdown in July of its 100,000-strong force and as the Afghan government plans to take over security in some districts.
The Pentagon, however, warned that the insurgents still enjoyed a crucial lifeline through safe havens in neighbouring Pakistan, that the Afghan government was plagued by corruption and that a shortage of trainers for Afghan forces could hold back efforts to hand over security.
“Insurgent capacity continues to be supported by sanctuaries and logistical support originating in Pakistan, and insurgents will likely retain operational momentum in areas where these support structures exist,” it said. To consolidate progress in security, Pakistan needed to do more to eliminate the sanctuaries, the Pentagon said.
The presence of the safe havens threatens to undermine the war effort and has strained relations between Washington and Islamabad, with US officials frustrated at the Pakistan Army’s reluctance to crack down on militants based in North Waziristan. …
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