Kabul to press Islamabad over militant safe havens

Updated 14 June 2012
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Kabul to press Islamabad over militant safe havens

KABUL: Afghanistan is expected to use the latest round of international talks on its future today to raise pressure on Pakistan over militant safe havens ahead of the departure of foreign troops.
Representatives from 29 countries will gather in Kabul for the one-day conference, which follows a meeting in Istanbul in November aimed at mapping out the future of the war-torn country after NATO troops leave in 2014.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai says peace depends on regional cooperation to smash sanctuaries for militant networks waging violence in his country, and has voiced hope that Pakistan can help in this process.
In April, militants staged a spectacular coordinated attack in Kabul which Washington blamed on the Pakistan-based Haqqani network.
Last week, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta added to concerns about worsening violence by describing a June 6 double suicide attack in the southern city of Kandahar as “much more organized than we’ve seen before”.
Islamabad denies any support for Haqqani activities, but the group’s leaders are widely believed to have strongholds in the semi-autonomous Pakistani district of North Waziristan.
Last year, then US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen described the network as a “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
Pakistanis say the Americans and Afghans are trying to find a scapegoat for the deterioration of the decade-old war in Afghanistan and that no country has suffered from terrorism more than Pakistan.
But in Afghanistan and the United States, critics say Pakistan’s resistance to cracking down on militant sanctuaries has only fuelled attacks.
“That is why we have continued to witness major attacks, including on US interests inside Afghanistan, that have frustrated US and Afghan officials,” Najib Mahmood, a political science lecturer at Kabul University, told AFP.
“I believe the Afghan government will seize the opportunity in this conference to put added pressure on Pakistan to deal with this problem more seriously,” he said.
Panetta said in Afghanistan last week that the United States was running out of patience with Pakistan’s refusal to eliminate terror havens.
Pakistan was the Taliban’s chief diplomatic backer when the militia was in power, and is accused by both Kabul and Washington of continuing to play a double game in supporting the insurgency despite its official US alliance.


At least 37 Maoists killed in jungle raids in India

Updated 6 min 56 sec ago
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At least 37 Maoists killed in jungle raids in India

NEW DELHI: Police said Tuesday that dozens of Maoist guerrillas had been killed in jungle raids in India’s remote interior by commandos fighting the country’s longest-running conflict.
Ambushes on rebel camps over the past two days in forest deep inside the western state of Maharashtra have left at least 37 fighters dead, police said.
In the latest raid six guerrillas, including four women, were killed in a shootout late Monday in Gadchiroli district, Maharashtra state’s head of anti-Maoist operations Sharad Shelar said.
Police also seized weapons and ammunition from the encampment, roughly 900 kilometers east of the state capital Mumbai, he added.
On Sunday special commandos had surrounded a rebel camp in forests within the same district and fought approximately 100 guerillas, police said.
Sixteen bodies were recovered from the scene, but police later pulled another 15 corpses from the nearby Indravati River of fighters they said had drowned or succumbed to injuries.
Many of the slain rebels were women, police said.
India’s Maoist insurgency began in the 1960s, inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, and has cost thousands of lives in almost daily incidents of violence.
Thousands of armed men and women — also known as Naxals — claim to be fighting for the rights of the indigenous tribal people, including the right to land, resources and jobs.
The Maoists are believed to be present in at least 20 Indian states but are most active in forested resource-rich areas in the states of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand and Maharashtra.
Gadchiroli is a key transit point for Maoist guerrillas, connecting western India with central and southern states in a restive tranche known as the “red corridor.”
Last month eight members of the security forces were killed in Chhattisgarh after suspected rebels blew up their vehicle with a land mine.
Two soldiers were killed last week in a similar explosion in the central state.