Afghanistan's effort to forge a peace deal with the Taliban was branded "a disgrace" by the sacked head of the country's spy service.

President Hamid Karzai's dismissal of Amrullah Saleh, the head of Afghanistan's National Directorate for Security (NDS) - the equivalent of MI5 - and Hanif Atmar, the head of the Interior Ministry, on Sunday exposed deep divisions within the Afghan government and Nato members over an emerging peace talks process.
The move has been hailed as a boost for negotiations on reconciliation with insurgents by those in favour of the talks, including some British officials and Pakistan, but criticised by their American counterparts.
Mr Saleh and Mr Atmar were sacked after the Taliban carried out a rocket attack on a gathering of tribal elders in Kabul last week during a speech by President Karzai. Although the rockets missed the building were the peace conference was being held, the breach was deemed a serious assault on the Afghan government.
But Mr Saleh said the reasons for his dismissal went beyond the security failure, adding that he had worked to undermine efforts to achieve peace with the Taliban. "Negotiating with suicide bombers will disgrace this country," he said.
Officials in Pakistan hailed the development as a sign Mr Karzai was ready to deal with his enemies. He said: "Perhaps this will bring to an end the mixed signals Kabul sends out by conducting dialogue on the one hand and sabotaging talks on the other."
However, Nato officials said the loss of two key security officials was "not helpful".
Mr Saleh has led the NDS for six years and the organisation is held in high regard. "The NDS is very effective, very efficient and in the long term his removal will lead to a security vacuum," said a member of a British think tank who has met the spy chief.
Separately, Pakistan on Tuesday claimed it had crushed the Taliban presence in the war-torn region along the Afghan border.
Major General Tariq Khan, Inspector General of the Frontier Scouts, said major operations across the mountainous region would wind down in the next two months.
He said it would leave only North Waziristan – a rugged, mountainous region that has drawn jihadi groups from across Pakistan – in the hands of the militants.
Maj Gen Khan said his men had cleared 13,000 square miles in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, with large-scale fighting remaining in one last area.
"We are about to conclude our operation in Orakzai, which will be the last of it," he said. "The Frontier Scouts area will more or less be cleared of militants to the extent that we can stop kinetic – large-scale – operations but we will continue policing operations."

By Damien McElroy and Rob Crilly in Peshawar
Published: 4:54PM BST 08 Jun 2010