June 26, 2014
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has accused "foreign interests" of being behind a Taliban offensive in Helmand Province, while other Afghan officials are specifically blaming Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.
In a statement issued by Karzai's office after the Afghan president met with Pashtun tribal leaders from Helmand Province on June 26, Karzai said that "foreigners were the motive" behind the Taliban offensive and "have been seen" fighting on the side of the Taliban. Karzai called on Afghan Taliban "who consider themselves as children of Afghanistan to have mercy upon their own nation and stop fighting for foreign interests."
Meanwhile, Helmand Province Governor Mohammad Naim told media that plainclothes members of the ISI and other Pakistani nationals have been seen fighting as part of Taliban units. Naim said since the offensive was not organized by the Afghan Taliban, but rather, was "a major plan designed in Quetta [Pakistan]" by the Taliban's supporters and "frankly, the ISI."
Afghan officials on June 25 said more than 800 militants launched an offensive on June 20 along the northern arc of the Helmand River in a bid to retake territory recently vacated by U.S. troops and handed over to the control of Afghan government security forces. More than 2,000 families have fled the fighting in the districts of Sangin, Nowzad, Kajaki, and Musa Qala.