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Afghanistan’s aid workers advised to seek permission from Taliban

KABUL: Aid workers should seek permission from the Taliban to operate in areas they control, said a leading NGO the other day. In a gloomy assessment of the current security situation, the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office (Anso) says the Taliban are “anticipating authority”, even to the extent of developing a foreign policy.

“The sum of their activity presents the image of a movement anticipating authority and one which has already obtained a complex momentum that NATO will be incapable of reversing,” it warns.

Anso has an unrivalled system for collecting security information from around the country. Its data shows that in the south the NATO surge has failed to degrade the Taliban’s ability to fight. Attacks have increased by 59% between July and September compared with the same period last year. It also contradicts NATO claims that the insurgency is close to breaking point. Despite NATO efforts in Kandahar, Anso says it believes there are as many as 4,000 insurgent fighters inside the southern city

It also reports a dramatic deterioration in the north of the country. Four out of 12 provinces have experienced double the average growth rate in violence and districts are in danger of slipping out of control. Lack of NATO troops and clumsy efforts to regain the initiative by using local militias have made the situation worse, the report says.

Anso’s advice to seek permission to operate from local insurgents follows a 60% increase in kidnapping of NGO workers and cases where insurgents have told those released to register their NGO’s activities to avoid further problems.

The Taliban’s growing strength has led many diplomats and senior Afghan officials to conclude that the movement will not agree to peace talks. The Taliban’s official line is that they will not talk until foreign troops quit the country.-SANA

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Haroon Akram Gill

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