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Pakistan the key to the war in Afghanistan, s -

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Pakistan the key to the war in Afghanistan, says expert

The World Today - Friday, 27 March , 2009 12:41:00

Reporter: Sara Everingham

TANYA NOLAN: Ahead of the US President's new strategy on how to fight the war in Afghanistan, one
message is coming through loud and clear: in order to succeed, more needs to be done in Pakistan.

An Australian expert on counter-insurgency advising the White House says elements of Pakistan's
military and intelligence service continue to support the Taliban.

And unnamed American, Pakistani and other security officials have been giving details of their own.
They've reportedly been revealing the level of support being provided to Afghani militant groups by
Pakistan's spy service.

Sara Everingham reports.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Under Barack Obama's new Afghanistan policy, there'll be extra troops for training
and advising the Afghan armed forces. That's on top of the 17,000 troops that's already announced.

Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry was once the top US commander in Afghanistan. He's now the
President's nominee to be the Ambassador to Afghanistan. He doesn't underestimate the size of the

KARL EIKENBERRY: The situation in Afghanistan is increasingly difficult and time is of the essence.
There will be no substitute for more resources and sacrifice.

However I believe with the President's leadership and direction and with the support of the United
States Congress, we can and must foster the conditions for sustained success inside of Afghanistan
and Pakistan.

SARA EVERINGHAM: The plan sees both Afghanistan and Pakistan as key to success in the war on

Robert Gibbs is a White House spokesman.

ROBERT GIBBS: The President asked the team here at the White House and within his administration to
conduct a review and to base that review not simply on a strategy for one country and one, in one
place, but for the first time take a regional approach to the problem.

SARA EVERINGHAM: One expert on counter-insurgency who contributed to the Afghanistan review is
Australian David Kilcullen. He's regarded as one of the world's most influential thinkers on
guerrilla warfare. During last year's surge in Iraq he was a senior advisor to General Petraeus and
Condoleezza Rice.

On 'The 7.30 Report' last night he delivered this assessment of progress in Afghanistan.

DAVID KILCULLEN: Three years since 2005 we've seen about a 500 per cent increase in violence in
Afghanistan. In the same timeframe, the area that's affected by the insurgency has more than

The counter-narcotics campaign has, I would say, stalled. Narcotics hasn't got worse but it's still
sticking at such a high level that Helman province, the British province which they are securing is
now the world capital for opium and heroin production.

And we've also seen a drop in support for both the international presence and the Karzai Government
of 20 or 30 percentage points in that timeframe.

So I think overall we'd have to say it's not going well.

SARA EVERINGHAM: President Obama's plan will call for more aid for Pakistan on the condition its
leaders confront militants in the border regions.

But David Kilcullen warns that could be difficult to execute.

DAVID KILCULLEN: The Pakistanis have a long history of supporting the Taliban as an unconventional
counterweight to Indian regional influence. They are continuing to do that.

And I don't talk here about the Pakistani civilian leadership, which is democratically elected and
generally favourable to the international community effort in Afghanistan. I'm talking about
sections within the military and the intelligence community.

SARA EVERINGHAM: In an article in 'The New York Times', unnamed American, Pakistani and other
security officials have provided more details of those ties.

The US officials complain elements in Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence are providing
increasing and more diverse support for the Taliban.

The unnamed Pakistani officials told the paper they had first-hand knowledge of the links, but
denied they were strengthening the insurgency in Afghanistan.

Lieutenant General Eikenberry hasn't confirmed the report.

KARL EIKENBERRY: It's been unclear if all elements of ISI have dropped their support for Taliban
and their extremist allies.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Pakistani officials deny the links.

Abdul Basithas is a Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman.

ABDUL BASITHAS: We have seen this article, and its contents and conclusions are nothing but
sensational journalism.

SARA EVERINGHAM: David Kilcullen says attention must stay on Pakistan.

DAVID KILCULLEN: Pakistan's got 173-million people, it has 100 nuclear weapons, it has an army
larger than the US army, and it has al-Qaeda headquarters sitting there, right there in the
two-thirds of the country that the Government doesn't control.

So if Pakistan were to collapse and we were to see an al-Qaeda takeover, that would be a problem
that would dwarf anything we've seen since 9/11 in terms of scale and severity.

So I think, really, the focus that we need to be putting in terms of long-term issues in what we
used to call the 'war on terrorism' is primarily Pakistan.

TANYA NOLAN: That's guerrilla war expert and White House consultant David Kilcullen.