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Taliban appears to be regrouped and well-funded

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Anwar Panghaz commands the Taliban guerrillas operating in the provinces that ring the capital city of Kabul - Parwan, Kapisa, Kabul, Wardak, and Logar. Afghan security officials say that operations there have been light in recent months.

In Pakistan, Taliban commanders are reportedly working in alliance with like-minded leaders of religious parties who now control two provinces along the Afghan-Pakistan border. In the tribal areas of the Northwest Frontier Province, Qari Akhtar is the chief operations commander; in the Tor Ghar mountains near the Afghan border town of Spin Boldak, Mullah Mohammad Ibrahim is the Taliban's top leader.

Shahzada Zulfikar, a Quetta-based political analyst, says that Taliban commanders continue to receive support from Pakistan's powerful and secretive intelligence agencies, as they did more openly during the Taliban government. "The Taliban were and are still friends of Pakistan," says Mr. Zulfikar. "Pakistan ditched the Taliban due to American pressure, for a while, but now there are fears that their relationship might be restored due to the increasing presence of Indians in Afghanistan."

The Indian government is Pakistan's chief rival, and among the largest aid donors to the new Afghan government. In the past year, India has reopened consulates in border cities of Kandahar and Jalalabad, raising fears among Pakistan's security analysts that Pakistan may find itself in a vise between two bitter enemies.

Taliban activists in Pakistan and Afghanistan say they are receiving direct support from Pakistan's powerful religious parties, including Jamaat-i Islami and Jamiat Ulema-i Islam, which control the government of two key border provinces. "We are at home as we were before (President) Musharraf hatched a conspiracy against us at the behest of the Americans," says Mir Jan, a Taliban fighter in Quetta. "But our brothers [the mullahs] are in power, so it means we are in power."

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