Pakistan Slammed For Afghanistan Aid

The U.S.-based group Human Rights Watch accused Pakistan on Friday of defying U.N. sanctions by continuing to send arms and ammunition to the Taliban army that rules neighboring Afghanistan.

Pakistan sharply denied the accusation calling it "absolutely not true. It's difficult to know where they get their facts," Gen. Rashid Quereshi said of the report released Friday by the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch.

"We firmly abide by the U.N. sanctions," he said.

In January, the United Nations imposed an arms embargo on the Taliban to force them to hand over suspected terror mastermind Osama bin Laden, who is believed by the United States to have plotted the 1998 bombing of two U.S. embassies in East Africa.

Pakistan is considered the Taliban's biggest ally and one of only three countries to recognize the hard-line Islamic militia's government. Pakistan has consistently denied sending either arms or ammunition to the Taliban.

"We cannot afford to be giving anything to anyone. We need everything that we have," said Quereshi. He said the Taliban were using what remains of ammunition dumps left by the former Soviet Union when it pulled its troops out of Afghanistan in 1989, ending a 10-year occupation.

"There were enormous amounts of weapons and ammunition dumped in Afghanistan by the erstwhile former Soviet Union. There is enough for years, and may be even for export to other countries. They don't need weapons and equipment from us," Quereshi said.

Human Rights Watch called for a complete arms embargo on Afghanistan to be lifted only after human rights abuses are ended and perpetrators brought to justice. It also urged the United Nations to send monitors to Pakistan to monitor the arms embargo and for Pakistan to be penalized for defying the boycott.

Despite widespread belief that Russia and Iran are assisting the anti-Taliban alliance, led by ousted defense minister Ahmed Shah Massood, the United Nations did not impose an arms embargo on the opposition. The Taliban rule roughly 95 percent of the country.

While accusing Pakistan of violating U.N. sanctions, Human Rights Watch also slammed Russia and Iran, accusing them of also fueling the conflict.

In a statement issued Friday, Human Rights Watch said, "Pakistan has violated the U.N. arms embargo on the Taliban ... permitting arms to cross its border into Taliban-controlled territory."

As well as arms and ammunition, the report accuses Pakistan of sending military advisers to provide strategic front-line advice during key battles. And Human Rights Watch says Pakistan is actively encouraging young Pakistanis to fight alongside the Taliban.

Quereshi demanded proof of the accusations.

"There are U.N. and NGO people running all over the place in Pakistan. There are no restrictions. Where is the proof? Pakistan is considered guilty and then asked to prove its innocence. That's all upside down," he said.

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