Mil News Parkistan aids Taliban

John A Silkstone

Mi General
MI.Net Member
Jul 11, 2004
Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan receive direct support from the "S" wing of Pakistan's main intelligence agency, according to a report published on Thursday.

US officials have occasionally leaked claims of the ISI's collusion with the Taliban in order to place pressure on Pakistan to do more against extremism Photo: REUTERS/STRINGER
American officials, quoted by The New York Times, said that members of Pakistan's Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) were helping the Taliban with money, military supplies and strategic planning.

The report calls into question assurances given by every Pakistani government and most recently by President Asif Ali Zardari. Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, Pakistan has promised to help the West to defeat the Taliban and break up al-Qaeda cells.

The United States government will on Friday unveil a major review of the war in Afghanistan and outline how President Barack Obama plans boost troop numbers to take the fight to the Taliban.

Mr Obama's new strategy is expected to stress more co-operation with Pakistan to thwart the ambitions of the Taliban, as well as more international troops, vastly expanded Afghan security forces and a surge of civilian contractors to help development and rebuilding.

Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy to the region, has warned that the Taliban-led insurgency is receiving huge donations from individuals in Gulf states that when combined exceed the income the insurgents gain annually from the drugs trade.

General Ashfaq Kiyani, the army commander, told Western diplomats two years ago, when he served as head of the ISI, that a cell had been set up to counter the "S" wing's rogue activities. Pakistan helped found the Taliban in 1994 and aided its rise to power and the capture of Afghanistan's capital, Kabul in 1996.

Since then, Pakistan's establishment has played a delicate balancing act between retaining its own influence in Afghanistan through its Taliban proxies and jeopardising its relationship with America. US officials have evidence that senior Pakistani officials ordered the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul, last year.

But this has become an increasingly dangerous policy for Pakistan. Some of its former proxies have now turned on their benefactor and begun attacks inside Pakistan itself, posing a direct threat to the country's stability and to Mr Zardari's government.

Yesterday's report suggested that the ISI drew a distinction between extremist groups focused on destabilising Pakistan and those primarily concerned with attacking Afghanistan. The ISI was allegedly opposing the former while helping the latter.

But US officials have occasionally leaked claims of the ISI's collusion with the Taliban in order to place pressure on Pakistan to do more against extremism.

The West has grown increasingly frustrated with its own lack of success in Afghanistan. As American attention has shifted from Iraq, Washington is refocusing efforts on Pakistan and Afghanistan. President Barack Obama's administration will today outline its new plan to deal jointly with the challenge posed by both countries.

America may increase the scope and range of its missile attacks on Pakistani soil that are launched from unmanned drone aircraft. Pakistan publicly complains that US missile strikes are "infringements of national sovereignty". However, many of the American drone aircraft are stationed and armed at a Pakistani airbase in the southern province of Baluchistan. Pakistan designates corridors and boxes inside its airspace within which the drones are allowed to operate.

Baluchistan's capital, Quetta, is deemed by Western intelligence officers to be the home of the Taliban's main shura or council. The Taliban's overall leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, is believed to have found refuge in the city.

The New York Times said there was evidence ISI operatives were meeting regularly with Taliban commanders. Pakistani officials said that operatives sometimes cultivate relationships with the Taliban as means of creating a backchannel with the "enemy".

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