Allegiance switch warning

British commander General David Richards, Nato's top commander in Afghanistan, said yesterday the country was at a crucial point - and warned Afghans would probably switch their allegiance to resurgent Taliban militants if there were no visible improvements in people's lives in the next six months.

British commander General David Richards, Nato's top commander in Afghanistan, said yesterday the country was at a crucial point - and warned Afghans would probably switch their allegiance to resurgent Taliban militants if there were no visible improvements in people's lives in the next six months.

Afghanistan is going through its worst bout of violence since a US-led invasion removed the former Taliban regime from power five years ago. The Taliban has made a comeback in the south and east of the country and is seriously threatening Western attempts to stabilise the country after almost three decades of war.

"If we collectively ... do not exploit this winter to start achieving concrete and visible improvement, then some 70% of Afghans could switch sides," Gen Richards said.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer