US hikes surveillance on Pakistan border
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Last Updated: Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 22:36
Washington: The top US military commander in Afghanistan says the US has increased its surveillance over the Afghan-Pakistani border since Pakistan began pounding a militant stronghold with airstrikes, but so far officials have not seen any militants fleeing the latest offensive. Marine Gen Joseph Dunford told The Associated Press in an interview that the US was not coordinating military operations with Pakistan along the border, but officials have increased the amount of intelligence-sharing with the Afghans. He said the Afghan troops and US forces in that region were ready for any effects of the strikes, including extremists seeking refuge in Afghanistan. The US has long pressed Pakistan to root out Taliban militants who have found safe haven in the lawless tribal region of North Waziristan, along the Afghan border, and used it as a staging area to launch attacks against Afghan and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Dunford said officials have seen Pakistani families crossing the border to escape the military airstrikes that have pounded the country's northwest since Sunday. "The Afghan forces as well as our forces are fully prepared to deal with the second-order effects of the Pakistani operations in North Waziristan," Dunford said in an interview from Afghanistan. He added that officials were still trying to determine how many Pakistani families have fled into Afghanistan to escape the violence, but it was difficult because many relocate to families in the southeast and northeast.

More broadly, Dunford expressed increased confidence in the Afghan security forces, and said he did not believe that the military collapse playing out in Iraq would occur in Afghanistan once US combat troops leave. He said the US fully expects to get a bilateral security agreement with Afghanistan's government that will allow up to 14,000 US and NATO troops to remain in the country next year to advise the Afghans and conduct counter terrorism missions.

The US left Iraq after the government in Baghdad refused to agree on a security arrangement. "I don't see, at least today, the divisive politics that obviously resulted in the situation in Iraq playing out here in Afghanistan," said Dunford.


First Published: Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 22:36

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