- - Thursday, October 4, 2012

A top Afghan official said Thursday that he has believed for years that most insider attacks on foreign troops have resulted from the Taliban’s infiltration of Afghanistan’s security forces — an assessment that contradicts Pentagon conclusions.

“I think it’s absolutely a majority of it is a terrorist infiltration in the ranks,” Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister H.E. Jawed Ludin said Thursday at a press briefing at the Afghan Embassy in Washington. “We’ve always believed this.”

Insider attacks — in which Afghan soldiers and police turn their weapons on their international coalition trainers — have killed more than 50 foreign troops this year, and frayed trust between NATO and Afghan forces. The Pentagon for months has attributed the majority of such attacks to personal grievances and cultural clashes between Afghan and coalition forces.

“Some people who think this is essentially a cultural thing vastly overstate and actually really ignore the fact that we’ve been doing this for 10 years now, and this really has come in the last six months,” Mr. Ludin said.

He said that Taliban infiltrators had been overlooked in the rush to meet NATO recruiting targets in recent years, as the international coalition moves to withdraw all combat troops by the end of 2014.

“Infiltration has not been a new phenomenon,” he said.

PAKISTAN

Anti-drone ‘peace march’ will go ahead in tribal areas

ISLAMABAD — Pakistani politician Imran Khan insisted Thursday that a “peace march” to the country’s restive tribal areas would go ahead despite doubts over whether the authorities would allow it.

Mr. Khan, who heads the Pakistan Movement for Justice party, plans to lead a convoy of activists and Western journalists to South Waziristan this weekend to protest against U.S. drone strikes.

A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, whose members are killed by U.S. missiles, told Agence France-Presse that the militant group had not yet formulated its position on the march.

Mr. Khan said the Taliban had given its agreement through intermediaries in the tribal areas.

Access to the tribal areas, where Taliban and al Qaeda-linked militants have strongholds, is strictly controlled by Pakistan, and independent access for foreigners is banned.

There have been conflicting reports this week about whether permission for the march to enter South Waziristan has been granted, and by whom, but Mr. Khan insisted it would go ahead.

PHILIPPINES

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