The security situation in Afghanistan continues to be dominated by a resilient insurgency, the Pentagon acknowledged on Friday but asserted local forces remained in control of major population centres and key lines of communication.
Afghan security forces continued to deny the Taliban strategic ground throughout the country, the Pentagon told Congress in its six-monthly report on the situation in the war torn country.
Although the Taliban maintained a higher-than-usual operational tempo over the winter, the overall levels of violence were consistent with historical trends, it said.
The Pentagon said although al Qaeda’s core leadership in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region had been degraded, elements continue to seek safe haven on both sides of the border to regenerate and conduct attack planning.
The continued development of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) highlighted the dynamic nature of the terrorist and militant landscape in the region, posing risks to the mission and to U.S. interests, the report explained.
It acknowledged Islamabad had a key role to play in peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban. “Pakistan must play a role in reducing the threat from terrorist and militant groups in the region,”
According to the report running into more than 100 pages, consistent mid-level military-to-military dialogue between Afghanistan and Pakistan on specific issues, such as the shared threat from IS-K, and occasional discussions at higher levels of the military and government early in the reporting period were encouraging.
“However, sustained Pakistani efforts to pressure the Haqqani network and the Taliban and to disrupt active threat streams are necessary to help decrease violence in the region, to reduce the threat posed by these groups, and to achieve lasting progress on counterterrorism issues,” the Pentagon observed.
The Pentagon said the US continued to be clear with Pakistan about steps it should take to improve the security environment and deny safe haven to terrorist and extremist groups.
It added: “These conversations continue to affect not only US dialogue with Pakistan on security and stability in Afghanistan but also during discussion of other issues in the US-Pakistan bilateral relationship such as security assistance.” (PAN)