Washington: Two senior US lawmakers said on Sunday that Taliban have become more stronger in the insurgency-stricken Afghanistan than before President Barack Obama ordered surge of 33,000 extra troops in the region in 2009.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein while giving an interview to ‘Fox News Sunday’ said, “I think we both say that what we found is the Taliban is stronger”. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers seconded her.
The Defence Department last week asserted in a report to Congress that the surge of soldiers had decreased the power of Taliban.
It was in report that number of Taliban attacks in the region were on the wane in 2011, though Kandahar remained the centre of violence.
Radical Islamist religious schools in Pakistan were providing new recruits to the Afghan insurgency, Reuters quoted Feinstein as saying.
“So an insurgency which one can expect will burn itself out after a period of time will not necessarily burn out,” she said.
Rogers said there was a danger that Obama’s announcement of a date of withdrawal of US combat forces in Afghanistan and Washington’s decision to hold talks with the Taliban could undermine the US objective of denying a safe haven to terrorists.
“The first priority is to deny safe haven and that means a strategic defeat of the Taliban and we have to also defeat the safe havens in the tribal areas of Pakistan,” said Rogers, a Republican.
The Obama administration is due to pull the last of its 33,000 surge troops from Afghanistan by this fall, leaving around 68,000 US soldiers there.
Rogers and Feinstein both said the United States should designate the Haqqani network, an Afghan insurgent group believed to be based in Pakistan, as a terrorist organization.
“They’ve killed nearly 500 US troops. They are based in Miram Shah (in Pakistan) … This is something we have to be very aggressive to put an end to,” Rogers said.