The tribal elder was direct with the U.S. team. "People are tired of the Taliban because they beat them," he said, speaking in Kushamond, a district of Paktika Province in eastern Afghanistan, in December. "Now, if this government [also] beats them, what should the people do?"
Wells added that one of his Afghan interlocutors asked him why the U.S. doesn't "go into Pakistan," from where many insurgents infiltrate. This questions was surprising, considering that the Pashtun tribes in eastern Afghanistan are kin of the Pashtun tribes across the Pakistani border.
Yet the HTT hears a frequent refrain from the locals that the Pakistani ISI is responsible for much of the recent instability. Bhatia's report found that about 20 to 40 Paktika residents "traveled to Pakistan for [insurgent] training, only to return to Afghanistan in partnership with foreign fighters."
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