October 5, 2006: NATO has now taken command of peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan. Included in the NATO force are 12,000 U.S. troops. There are troops from 26 NATO countries in Afghanistan. Another 8,000 American troops, searching for Islamic terrorists and al Qaeda, will continue to operate outside NATO control.
October 3, 2006: The government is trying to find housing for 15,000 families (about 80,000 people) who fled Taliban terror in southern Afghanistan. Many more Afghans stayed in their rural villages and gave the Taliban what they wanted. In many villages, there were locals who believe in the Taliban goal of a religious dictatorship for the country. When these men are backed up by a few dozen, or few hundred, armed Taliban, the entire village (of up to a few thousand people) has to go along, or leave. In villages where the anti-Taliban faction was strong enough, the pro-Taliban people would keep quiet (as they have been doing since late 2001). But the factions in the villages are a common feature in towns and villages throughout southern Afghanistan.
NATO commanders in Afghanistan believe that the essential element in continued Taliban violence is the presence of Taliban bases and training centers in Pakistan. If these were shut down, the Taliban would be a minor nuisance in Afghanistan. But Pakistan insists that there is no Taliban support network in Pakistan, and denies any evidence U.S. or NATO officials put forward. NATO commanders believe that, if Pakistan does not do something about Taliban supporters on its territory, these Taliban forces will, in effect, begin taking control of Afghan territory on the border. In effect, the pro-Taliban tribes in Pakistan are extending their control into Afghanistan through terror and brute force. Pakistan does not want to get involved in this war, because it has, for decades, had nothing but trouble with the tribes on its side of the border. Pakistan currently has a peace deal in force with its tribes, but the tribes are using that deal to allow the Taliban to do whatever they want. The tribes on both sides of the border are usually both Pushtun, although in southwest Afghanistan, the tribes on the Pakistan are Baluchi. In any event, the Pushtun tribes on both sides of the border have always been conservative, and it was from these tribes that the Taliban movement emerged in the 1990s. But the Taliban movement is strictly a regional thing. The rest of Afghanistan wants nothing to do with them, which is why, on September 11, 2001, there was still a civil war going on in Afghanistan (with the Taliban controlled government, and its al Qaeda allies, battling the Northern Alliance).