Taliban commanders reluctant to go to battle zones: Report

Last Updated: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - 15:53

New York: Having suffered a series of defeats
at the hands of US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan, Taliban`s mid-level field commanders are reluctant to return to some battle zones despite pressure from their top leaders based in Pakistan, a media report said here Tuesday.

Many Taliban members had withdrawn to Pakistan after
their defeats in Kandahar and Helmand, where American troop
presence had increased by thousands, The New York Times
reported.

The Taliban leadership based in Pakistan wanted them to
go back and fight but many of the Taliban fighters were not
keen on returning, it claimed.

"I have talked to some commanders and they are reluctant
to fight," an unnamed 45-year-old Taliban commander, who has
been with the Taliban since its founding in 1994, was quoted
as saying.

"Definitely there is disagreement between the field
commanders and the leaders over their demands to go and
fight," he said.

In a meeting held earlier this month across the border in
Pakistan, the leaders ordered each commander to send four to
five men back into the home towns in Afghanistan to resume
operations by planting bombs, he said.

"While commanders are worried for their lives, they have
to go, or at least send some people," the Taliban member
said.
His comments came amid reports of new tensions
between the top Taliban leadership, which is believed to be
based in the western Pakistani city of Quetta.

US army General David H Petraeus, Commander of the
International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan,
had said last month that there were "numerous reports of
unprecedented discord among the members of the Quetta Shura,
the Taliban senior leadership body."

The unnamed Taliban commander said that even though they
had suffered losses and were tired, they would not leave their
country to foreigners.

"Compared to two years ago when people were willingly
going to fight, that mood is reduced," he said. "We are tired
of fighting and we say this among ourselves. But this is our
vow, not to leave our country to foreigners."

He said the Taliban members were also weighing the option
of peace talks but for that the foreign forces would have to
leave first.

Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar had recently issued
an audio tape calling on his men to keep fighting. "His
words have a very powerful effect on us," the commander said,
adding "We obey his orders, every Talib does, and we believe
in him."

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - 15:53

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