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29 Dec, 2008 08:37

NATO cash sponsoring Taliban

The British newspaper the Times has accused the ISAF, or NATO’s mission to Afghanistan, of indirectly helping the Taliban in Afghanistan.

After an investigation, the Times claims truckers operating the NATO supply convoys have been paying off the Taliban to stop them attacking. The paper says the situation has been going on for 14 months.

But the alleged bribes have not been totally effective. Earlier this month, Pakistani drivers went on strike because of the increased number of Taliban attacks.

“What we've seen is the dramatic deterioration of the situation in Afghanistan and especially in Kabul with regard to the Taliban advance and presence in the country. A year ago our last research showed that the Taliban has a permanent presence on 54% of Afghanistan. Now, this figure has risen to 72%,” said Emmanuel Reinert, Executive Director of the International Council on Security and Development (ICOS).

At the moment there are more than 70,000 international troops on the ground, and the US might send 20,000 more next year. But it takes tonnes of food and fuel every day to keep the ISAF mission going.

“We use two European-based companies to supply food and fuel, though it is not prudent for us to name them. They provide their own security as part of the contract. Such companies are free to subcontract to whomsoever they wish,” said NATO spokesman, Lieutenant-Commander James Gater.

Other than flying in supplies, the only overland route is through Pakistan and Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan.

The Times's sources estimate the cost of security for every truck on roads south of Kabul is about $US 1,000, and reportedly up to 25 per cent of that could go to the local militia. With a typical allied convoy consisting of from 40 to 100 vehicles, the Taliban appear to have a steady revenue stream.

Solving the problem of Afghanistan will be anything but fast and easy. It will take years of hard work, humanitarian aid and winning over the locals before peace can be restored to the troubled land.