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Volume 684: debated on Thursday 6 July 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they are planning significant new measures to assist the Government of Afghanistan in resisting the growth of the Taliban insurgency.[HL6627]

Localised attempts by the Taliban to test the resolve of the nations deploying military assets into the south of Afghanistan, the coalition's current high tempo of activities across southern Afghanistan and the increased amount of reporting of incidents as a result of the UK presence in Helmand collectively give the impression of a growing insurgency. Overall, however, the security situation is broadly stable, if fragile, in certain areas and the insurgency, which we assess accounts for no more than about one-fifth of all incidents in Helmand, does not pose a credible strategic threat to the stability of Afghanistan.

The UK provides a variety of types of assistance to the Afghan Government's efforts to exercise their authority and to extend the rule of law. Our Armed Forces are undertaking operations in Helmand to help to create an environment in which institutional capacity can be built and development programmes put into effect. This activity forms part of an integrated strategy, involving the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for International Development and the Ministry of Defence, designed to support Afghanistan's central and provincial institutions. We intend to accelerate this activity as the security situation improves. In addition, in Kabul, the UK supports the Afghan Government’s Taliban reconciliation programme in its attempts to draw former Taliban and other insurgents into the accountable, democratic process.