Influx of Afghan Taliban Worries Pakistan

(CBS)
Written by CBS News' Farhan Bokhari in Islamabad, Pakistan

Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, on Wednesday received complaints from Pakistan's leaders over Taliban militants being driven into the country following recent American military action in southern Afghanistan, senior Pakistani government officials said.

"In meetings between Holbrooke and our leaders, this matter came up as a priority issue," said one senior Pakistani official who spoke to CBS News on condition of anonymity.

Ambassador Abdul Basit, spokesman for Pakistan's foreign ministry, confirmed that the concerns were conveyed, indicating an unusual case of some friction in another close relationship built between the two countries in the war on terror. "I can confirm that this is a continuing concern for us and we have conveyed this concern again to Ambassador Holbrooke," Basit told CBS News.

Ambassador Holbrooke appeared to play down the significance of the recent U.S. military push in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province aggravating for Pakistan's security ahead of next month's Afghan national elections. Western diplomats have warned that the Taliban will seek to undermine the elections by carrying out armed attacks against politicians ahead of the polls.

"To the best of our knowledge, Taliban move freely across the border. Sometimes the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistan Taliban coordinate, sometimes they don't. There's constant movement," said Ambassador Holbrooke at a news conference in Islamabad.