Pakistani Intelligence Aiding Afghan Taliban?
The BBC is reporting on a leaked NATO report claiming that elements of Pakistani intelligence are directly aiding the Taliban in Afghanistan even as the U.S.-led NATO forces are fighting them:
The Taliban in Afghanistan are being directly assisted by Pakistani security services, according to a secret Nato report seen by the BBC.
The leaked report, derived from thousands of interrogations, claims the Taliban remain defiant and have wide support among the Afghan people.
A BBC correspondent says the report is painful reading for international forces and the Afghan government.
The BBC’s Quentin Sommerville in Kabul says the report – on the state of the Taliban – fully exposes for the first time the relationship between the ISI and the Taliban.
The report is based on material from 27,000 interrogations with more than 4,000 captured Taliban, al-Qaeda and other foreign fighters and civilians.
It notes: “Pakistan’s manipulation of the Taliban senior leadership continues unabatedly”.
It says that Pakistan is aware of the locations of senior Taliban leaders.
“Senior Taliban representatives, such as Nasiruddin Haqqani, maintain residences in the immediate vicinity of ISI headquarters in Islamabad,” it said.
It quotes a senior al-Qaeda detainee as saying: “Pakistan knows everything. They control everything. I can’t [expletive] on a tree in Kunar without them watching.”
“The Taliban are not Islam. The Taliban are Islamabad.”
Pakistani official are not surprisingly dismissing the report as “old wine in an even older bottle”:
“We can disregard this as a potentially strategic leak,” [Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar] said, adding that Pakistan and Afghanistan should stop blaming each other for cross-border problems.
“These claims have been made many, many times. Pakistan stands behind any initiative that the Afghan government takes for peace,” she said. “We have no hidden agenda in Afghanistan.
“We consider any threat to Afghanistan’s independence and sovereignty as a threat to Pakistan’s existence.”
For their part, NATO officials are saying that conclusions should not be drawn from the report given that the source of much of the information contained therein came from highly motivated extremists:
KABUL, Afghanistan — A spokesman for the NATO-led coalition on Wednesday confirmed the existence of a report that summarizes the views of Taliban detainees, who claim that they are winning the war thanks to cooperation from some Afghan government officials and soldiers and who say their movement is controlled by Pakistan’s intelligence service.
But the official, Lt. Col. Jimmie E. Cummings of the International Security Assistance Force, disputed accounts of the NATO report that suggested the alliance’s analysts accepted the Taliban views as valid.
“This document aggregates the comments of Taliban detainees in a captive environment without considering the validity of or motivation behind their reflections,” Colonel Cummings said, in an unusually detailed rebuttal of accounts of the classified report’s contents. “Any conclusions drawn from this would be questionable at best.”
NATO’s response indicated it was more concerned at suggestions that Afghan officials and soldiers were demoralized and expected a Taliban victory once coalition troops pull out than about the claims of Pakistani collaboration.
“It is important not to draw conclusions based on Taliban comments or musings,” Colonel Cummings said. “These detainees include some of the most motivated and ruthless of the insurgents who are inspired to play up their success. It is what they want us to believe they think.”
“We also dispute the idea that somehow the Afghan national security forces might be working with the Taliban. Many dedicated patriotic Afghan security force members have lost their lives defending Afghanistan from insurgents.”
This is all well-taken, of course. However, given the other evidence we’ve seen over the years linking Pakistani actors to the Taliban and apparently al Qaeda, would it really be all that surprising if this was true?