Brown announces Afghan troop boost

Gordon Brown says 500 extra British troops will deploy in December in central Helmand.

    Brown's latest pledge increases the number of UK troops in Afghanistan to 9,500 [AFP]

    In an interview broadcast by British Sky News on Sunday, Brown also said he wanted to see more progress in the search for Osama bin Laden along with Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's second-in-command.

    Although Brown praised Pakistan's recent offensive in South Waziristan and the government's efforts to combat the Taliban, he said Pakistan must match the efforts of international forces and that more evidence was needed of Pakistan taking action.

    'Pakistani action'

    "The Pakistan authorities must convince us that they are taking all the action that is necessary to deal with that al-Qaeda threat," he said.

    "What can the Pakistan authorities do that is far more effective to help us make sure that the al-Qaeda threat is dealt with in Pakistan itself?" he asked.

    "The fact remains that eight years on al-Qaeda has a base in Pakistan, that base is still there, that they are able to recruit from abroad," Brown told Sky News.

    Brown said during Sunday's interview that eight years on "people are going to ask why has Osama bin Laden never been near to being caught?"

    Brown's comments came after Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, criticised Pakistani officials during a visit to Lahore last month for not doing enough to capute al-Qaeda leaders.

    During an interview with Pakistani journalists, Clinton said she found it difficult to believe that no one in the Pakistani government knew where the group's leadership is hiding.

    A recent US Senate report said bin Laden was within the reach of US troops in December 2001, when he and some bodyguards walked out of Afghanistan's Tora Bora mountains and into Pakistan's tribal area.

    The report says that capturing bin Laden would not have removed the threat of extremism, but it would have prevented him from becoming a "potent symbolic figure" who continues to attract followers worldwide.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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