WASHINGTON — The Taliban insurgency has gained strength in Pakistan's border regions with Afghanistan in recent months despite a sustained government offensive against it, the Obama administration said in a stark new assessment of the war effort.
The report, sent to Congress on Tuesday, praised Pakistan's military for confronting the insurgency in several border regions, which Taliban forces use as training and staging areas to attack U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
But the report said that in one area, the military has conducted a "major clearing operation" three times in the past two years. The most recent operation, it concludes, is "a clear indicator of the inability of the Pakistan military and government to render cleared areas resistant to insurgent return."
"There remains no clear path toward defeating the insurgency in Pakistan," the report says.
The administration's report to Congress is a semiannual appraisal of the progress and remaining challenges facing the United States in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This one comes as the administration prepares to withdraw some of the roughly 100,000 U.S. troops from the country in July and as domestic support for the war has reached new lows.
Much of the unclassified version of the document echoes the administration's December review of the war effort, which underscored steady military gains in Afghanistan since Obama ordered an additional 30,000 troops to the country a year earlier but which called them "fragile and reversible." That warning is also in this report, which emphasized that "the challenge remains to make our gains durable and sustainable."
But the report also evaluates U.S. efforts over the first three months of this year, and it underlines alarming trends in that period beyond the "deteriorating" security conditions in Pakistan's tribal agencies.
It notes that in recent weeks, the Taliban has carried out more suicide bombing missions in Afghanistan against soft targets, such as army recruiting centers, government buildings and market places, leading to a "spike in civilian casualties."
Taliban figure captured: NATO said Tuesday that it captured the Taliban shadow governor of northwestern Sari Pul province, killing six insurgents during the raid. The governor of Sari Pul, Anwar Rahmati, said the operation was in Pusht-e-Bagh village. He identified the Taliban commander as Mullah Manaj. Rahmati said three others were detained and six were killed. He later told McClatchy Newspapers that villagers denied that the dead men were Taliban.
Information from the Associated Press was used in tis report.