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Pakistan’s ISI military intelligence accused of directly funding Taleban
06-19-2010, 01:08 AM,
#1
Pakistan’s ISI military intelligence accused of directly funding Taleban
June 14, 2010
Pakistan’s ISI military intelligence accused of directly funding Taleban
Jeremy Page, South Asia Correspondent

Read our investigation into Britain's military fiasco fighting the Afghan Taleban at The Times's new website

Pakistan’s military intelligence agency directly funds and trains the Afghan Taleban and is officially represented on its leadership council, according to a report by a British academic. The study, published by the London School of Economics, also alleges that Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani President, met Taleban leaders imprisoned in Pakistan and promised them early release and future support.

Pakistan dismissed the report by Matt Waldman, a Harvard fellow who interviewed current and former members of the Taleban, as “baseless” and “naive”. A spokesman for the Pakistani Army said that the state’s commitment to opposing the Taleban was demonstrated by the number of soldiers killed fighting on the Afghan border.

Western officials and analysts have often accused elements within Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency of supporting the Afghan Taleban, even as its army combats the Pakistani Taleban on the northwestern frontier.

However, Mr Waldman’s report goes further, arguing that support for the Afghan Taleban is “official ISI policy” and is backed at the highest levels of Pakistan’s civilian administration. “Pakistan appears to be playing a double game of astonishing magnitude,” the report says. “There is thus a strong case that the ISI orchestrates, sustains and shapes the overall insurgent campaign,” it said. “Without a change in Pakistani behaviour it will be difficult if not impossible for international forces and the Afghan Government to make progress against the insurgency.”

The ISI helped to create the Taleban in the early 1990s, principally to prevent its arch-rival, India, from gaining a strategic foothold in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of Soviet troops. It claims to have severed all links with the Islamist movement but remains determined to prevent a pro-Indian government from taking power in Kabul after Nato troops leave.

The report follows one of the bloodiest weeks for foreign troops in Afghanistan, with 30 Nato soldiers killed, and the announcement of a two to three-month delay in a counter-insurgency operation in Kandahar — the Taleban’s stronghold.

It also comes a few days after Amrullah Saleh, who resigned as head of Afghanistan’s intelligence service last week, described the ISI as “part of the landscape of destruction in this country”.

Mr Waldman worked in Afghanistan for two and a half years as Head of Policy and Advocacy for Oxfam and is now a fellow of the Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. He advised the Liberal Democrats on defence and foreign affairs from 2004 to 2006.

His study carries weight because it was based on interviews with nine Taleban field commanders and ten former senior Taleban officials, as well as Afghan elders and politicians, foreign diplomats and security officials. The ISI “provides huge support in terms of training, funding, munitions, and supplies”, the Taleban field commanders are quoted as saying.

Major-General Athar Abbas, Pakistan’s military spokesman, described the report as ridiculous and “part of a campaign against the Pakistan Army and the ISI”.
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