OTHERS

Clandestine Pak. arms for Taliban?

WASHINGTON, NOV. 1. The United States is continuing to hammer away at Taliban positions near Kabul while maintaining the squeeze on Kandahar as well. According to reports, American jets and planes are keeping the pressure hoping that the Northern Alliance will soon be opening a new front in its march to the capital city.

The strikes are focussed not only on the frontlines of the Taliban but also on the villages controlled by it. The Taliban has acknowledged that American jets have knocked off a hydro- electric station that supplied power to the southern stronghold of Kandahar.

The bombardment comes at a time when a media report here has accused Pakistan of actively arming the Taliban, the clandestine trade seemingly approved by officials of the Musharraf Government.

Quoting intelligence and other officials The Washington Times argues that the ``night trade'' takes place from Quetta to the Pakistan borderpoint of Chaman and then on to Kandahar. ``There are two border control regimes: one before sundown and one after,'' an official has been quoted saying.

Aside from jeopardising the American-led ``coalition'' initiatives, the Pakistani supplies to the Taliban will be in clear violation of an U.N. embargo. An official of the Pakistani Embassy here has denied the allegations but has nevertheless noted the porous nature of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence is said to be behind the clandestine supply. There is no hard information on whether the ``supply'' has the authorisation of the Pakistani leader, Gen. Pervez Musharraf. One thinking is that this illegal transfers could be taking place behind his back. Further, the Pakistani spokesman here has advanced the argument that local tribes are known to conduct cross-border trade.

The Bush administration, which is in no mood to rock the shaky coalition, is hardly interested in taking up the issue with Islamabad in any loud fashion. But it will be one of those which will be discussed when the President, Mr. George W. Bush meets the Pakistani President, Gen. Musharraf in New York on November 10.

But the Pentagon is saying that it has no information of any significant aid reaching the Taliban. ``We know of no significant aid... organised aid from a foreign state,'' an official remarked. The assistance reaching the Taliban not only reflects the difficulties faced by the U.S. but also that of Pakistan.

The U.S. military is continuing with its ``carpet bombing'' of the Taliban areas unleashing the full potential of the heavy duty B-52s. The dropping of bombs from high altitudes is intended to pin down the enemy and demoralise the neighbourhood besides hitting a number of specific targets.

According to Rear Admiral John Stufflebeem, Deputy Director of Operations of the Joint Staff, the use of the B-52s are a part of the campaign. ``We do use it and have used it and we'll use it when we need to,'' he said.

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