The Taliban is secretly receiving military and other supplies from Pakistan, according to U.S. officials. The goods, including ammunition and fuel, are being sent with the help of some officials in the Pakistani government.

Government officials, speaking anonymously, say the trade is approved by officials of the Pakistani military and the Inter-Services Intelligence service (ISI). The ISI is said to have close ties with the Taliban regime.

The supplies are shipped at night by trucks and travel from Quetta to the Pakistani border town of Chaman and then on to Kandahar, a known Taliban stronghold. ?There are two border control regimes: One before sundown and one after sundown,? says one official.The trade violates a resolution by the United Nations imposed in December that bars arms transfers to Afghanistan or the ruling Taliban militia.

Several weeks ago, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf fired ISI chief Lt. General Mahmood Ahmed for being insufficiently loyal. It?s not clear whether the illicit trade is approved by the Pakistan government or is taking place behind the back of President Musharraf, in order to appease the radical fundamentalists in his country and prevent Taliban reprisals for his aid to the U.S.

A Pakistani Embassy spokesman denies the government is involved in any shipments to the Taliban. ?This is certainly not true,? says Mian Asad Hayauddin. Hayauddin admits, however, that the border with Afghanistan is porous, especially in the southern area and that local tribes are known to conduct cross-border trade.

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