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  Afghan war faces flurry of setbacks as new U.S. military policy nears: WP
WASHINGTON, June 19 (INP) As American military officials complete plans that are likely to send several thousand additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, a flurry of setbacks in the war have underscored both the imperative of action and the pitfalls of various approaches. Further complicating the picture are questions about how to deal with neighboring Pakistan and balance separate fights against Afghan and foreign-based insurgents, Washington Post said on Monday. In the latest attack Sunday morning, Taliban fighters stormed a police base in southeastern Paktia province after detonating a suicide car bomb outside. Almost every week seems to bring alarming and embarrassing developments that cast doubt on the ability of Afghan security forces to protect the public and make headway against the domestic Taliban insurgency and the more ruthless Islamic State. In eastern Nangahar province, Afghan and U.S. special operations forces have been waging a joint campaign against Islamic State fighters. But last week, in an equally dramatic response, hundreds of Islamic State fighters captured Tora Bora, the underground labyrinth that was once the redoubt of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Underscoring the confused battlefield situation, it was the Taliban that Islamic State forces fought and drove out of the area. U.S. military officials have expressed growing concern about the war and urged that several thousand more U.S. troops be sent to shore up Afghan forces. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who was recently given authority by President Trump to set troop levels in the Afghan conflict, said last week that the United States is “not winning” in Afghanistan and that the Pentagon will present its strategy plan next month. “We will correct this as soon as possible,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee. Afghan analysts and officials argue that the top U.S. priority should be pressing Pakistan to cease harboring anti-Afghan militants. A spokesman for the defense ministry said Sunday that the U.S. government needs to put “real pressure on Pakistan to make it drop its support for terrorists.” Atiqullah Amarkhel, a retired Afghan army general, said that the government is facing an agile guerrilla enemy and that United States needs to focus on cutting its “lines of supply and support and training” in Pakistan. Sending more U.S. troops, he added, will “give more ammunition” for insurgents to attract recruits among young and jobless Afghans. Mattis said the Pentagon plans to take a “regional approach” to the war and address “where this enemy is fighting from,” which is “not just Afghanistan.” Afghan officials have been more blunt, accusing Pakistan of harboring a violent Taliban branch called the Haqqani Network. At a conference this month, President Ashraf Ghani charged that Pakistan is waging an “undeclared war of aggression” on Afghanistan. Pakistan’s military commanders bristled at the “unwarranted accusations” and said Afghans should “look inward” to solve their insurgent problems. Some members of Congress and U.S. think tanks have urged the Trump administration to crack down heavily on Pakistan, a former Cold War ally and a major recipient of U.S. aid. Clearly worried, Pakistani officials have denounced recent terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and have strongly denied backing the Haqqani Network. But other voices have argued against putting excess pressure on Pakistan, saying it could risk political instability and religious unrest. Pakistan has suffered from years of militant attacks, most recently a spate of suicide bombings at Sufi shrines and other civilian targets in February. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told a congressional hearing last week that the United States has “very complex relations” with Pakistan, but Rep. Dana Rohrabacher insisted that “if we don’t succeed in Afghanistan,” it is because of Pakistan’s military-run intelligence service. INP/AH/LK
Today's INP Pakistan Stories
PM cuts short Britain visit to return home today
News Image   LONDON, June 25 (INP): The Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Sunday cut short his visit to Britain to return home today.  The PM expressed remorse over the loss of precious lives after an oil tanker caught fire and subsequently exploded in Bahawalpur's Ahmedpur East town on Sunday morning to claim 148 lives. More
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Priorities and nature of ties with India, Pakistan different: White House
News Image   WASHINGTON, June 25 (INP) Asserting that the US' ties with India and Pakistan were not a 'zero-sum game', the White House has said that the Trump administration's priorities and the nature of relationship with India and Pakistan were different.More
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