ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's interior minister has urged western countries involved with security duties in Afghanistan to review the procedures for conducting military operations there in the face of growing resentment from Afghanistan's local population.
"The way the troops are operating in Afghanistan has unified everyone [against them]" said Aftab Khan Sherpao, Pakistan's interior minister, in an interview with the FT.
"For instance, there have been occasions when troops [search houses] without first asking the women ... to step away to one side. The Afghans have their own traditions".
His remarks followed a recent visit to Pakistan by Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, who is believed to have urged the regime of General Pervez Musharraf, the south Asian country's military ruler, to intensify operations against militants entering Afghanistan from its side of the border.
The US, Britain and other members of Nato who have sent troops to Afghanistan are increasingly concerned over the safety of their forces amid rising attacks, by members of al-Qaeda and the Taliban movement. On July 08, a member of the Spanish military patrol was killed by a roadside bomb in western Afghanistan.
Mr Sherpao said the resurgence of militants in Afghanistan was the result of a set of "complex issues" including a growing drug trade which supports the militant warlords, a weak government and increasing evidence that the Taliban and al-Qaeda were teaming up with nationalist rebels.
Additionally, he said many Afghans were disappointed with the failure of the western world to step up the pace of reconstruction that would revive the economy.
Western diplomats say that the US remains actively engaged behind the scenes to encourage closer co-operation between the Pakistani government and the Afghan regime of President Hamid Karzai, although hardliners in both countries are discouraging the effort.
Members of Afghanistan's former Northern Alliance, a coalition which fought against Taliban rule, were recently described by a Pakistani official as "the main source of blocking all efforts to normalise relations".