By Barbara Starr
Pakistani security forces and insurgents appear to be collaborating in some cross-border attacks, the deputy U.S. military commander in Afghanistan said Thursday.
Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti told Pentagon reporters that in southern Afghanistan's Paktika province, "We have seen indications where fires have originated from positions that were in close proximity to some Pakistan outposts, which - as you might imagine - give us great concern. And we immediately get in contact with our Pakistan counterparts in that case. I think the collaboration is at least in some cases local collaborations with the insurgents, and we talk very bluntly with our Pakistan counterparts about this."
Scaparrotti said those blunt discussions have helped in recent weeks.
"The Pakistanis have in fact returned fire on several of those points of origin that we've taken fire from now. That's a positive indicator here in the last month," he said.
But he also expressed specific concern about Pakistan's Frontier Corps of local conscripts along the border and their collaboration with insurgents. "You'll see what just appears to us to be a collaboration or was a collaboration or at a minimum looking the other way when insurgents conducted rocket or mortar fire in what we believe to be visual sight of their posts."
A major target of a recent U.S.-Afghan assault in eastern Afghanistan was the Haqqani network. In a series of raids over several weeks the United States believes 200 network operatives may have been captured or killed, Scaparrotti said. Still, the major safe haven for the Haqqanis lies inside Pakistan, and the Pakistanis have said they are not militarily prepared to go after them.
Nonetheless, Scaparrotti said he is trying to repair frayed ties with the Pakistani military in the wake of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. "When I came in July, the communication was ... not open and there was a good deal of difficulty. My intent now - I've been over to Pakistan - is to improve that relationship and work together where we do have a common enemy."
The cooperation is essential, he said, because of that rising cross-border activity. Scaparrotti noted that both sides need to talk so they don't inadvertently shoot each other during an incident.