Taliban's Afghan offensive enabled by sanctuaries in Pakistan

Taliban would not be able to mount attacks inside Afghanistan without the presence of their undisturbed sanctuaries inside Pakistan, top American experts have said.

"This (Taliban) offensive is enabled by sanctuaries in Pakistan," David Sedney, who earlier was a top Pentagon official for Afghanistan and Pakistan told the PBS in an interview released Sunday.

He's currently a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"It has also been enabled by an internecine struggle among different Taliban factions and with a new factor in Afghanistan, Da'esh, the Islamic State, which is seeking inroads there as well," Sedney argued.

Agreed Barnett Rubin, from the Center on International Cooperation New York University, who was a senior adviser at the US State Department from 2009 to 2013.

"The Taliban wouldn't be able to mount all these offensives and so on, though they would exist and they would have to be dealt with politically, if they didn't have undisturbed sanctuaries in Pakistan," Rubin said.

"And the reasons for that, other than Pakistan being evil or terrorist-supporting, Pakistan has certain interests in the region," he noted.

"We are now trying to address those diplomatically. It's extremely difficulty. We have to have enough forces on the ground in Afghanistan, so that the situation remains relatively stable to give us the space to do that diplomatic work," Rubin said.

"The main weakness on the Afghanistan government side is not whether their forces can fight the Taliban. It's the political divisions within the Afghan government which sometimes undermine the forces. And on the other side, the main issue is that the Taliban's sanctuary in Pakistan, not how strong or angry they are," he said.

This article was originally published in The Economic Times on December 28, 2015

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Dec 28, 2015
Barnett Rubin
South Asia
South Asia, Afghanistan