M A I N   N E W S

Intelligence leak: ISI aiding Taliban in Afghanistan
Ashish Kumar Sen writes from Washington DC

Pakistan is allegedly allowing representatives of the Inter Services Intelligence agency to meet directly with the Taliban in “secret strategy sessions” to organise militants fighting US troops in Afghanistan as well as plot the assassination of Afghan leaders, according to leaked US military field reports.

Both the Obama and the Bush administrations have confronted Pakistani military brass with accusations of ISI involvement in acts of terror in Afghanistan, and have even presented top Pakistani officials with lists of ISI and military operatives believed to be working with the militants.

The documents, leaked by WikiLeaks to the New York Times, provide an insider’s account of the tension between the US and Pakistan over the latter’s role in fomenting acts of terrorism in Afghanistan.

The field reports also show that Polish intelligence had warned of an attack against the Indian Embassy in Kabul - a week before the bombing in 2008, which Indian and Afghan intelligence later concluded was the handiwork of the ISI.

“Americans fighting the war in Afghanistan have long harboured strong suspicions that Pakistan’s military spy service has guided the Afghan insurgency with a hidden hand, even as Pakistan receives more than $1 billion a year from Washington for its help combating the militants,” the Times reported.

The paper said that despite the deep-seated mistrust on the US side, it was difficult to link the ISI directly with Al-Qaida.

The field reports indicate that US soldiers fighting in Afghanistan are inundated with accounts of a “network of Pakistani assets and collaborators.” A lot of the data was gathered from sources close to Afghan intelligence, which considers Pakistan a threat.

The Times said current and former US officials said reports of the ISI’s collaboration with the insurgency in Afghanistan was “broadly consistent” with other classified intelligence.

The field reports also revealed US anger over Pakistan’s unwillingness to crack down on insurgents operating near the Afghan border. “The reports suggest, however, that the Pakistani military has acted as both ally and enemy, as its spy agency runs what American officials have long suspected is a double game appeasing certain American demands for cooperation while angling to exert influence in Afghanistan through many of the same insurgent networks that the Americans are fighting to eliminate,” the Times said.

“American officials have described Pakistan’s spy service as a rigidly hierarchical organisation that has little tolerance for ‘rogue’ activity,” The Times reported, adding, “But Pakistani military officials give the spy service’s ‘S Wing’ - which runs external operations against the Afghan government and India - broad autonomy, a buffer that allows top military officials deniability.”

Another field report identified a colonel in the ISI plotting with the Taliban to assassinate Afghan President Hamid Karzai. National Security Adviser James Jones condemned the leak of the field reports in a strongly worded statement on Sunday. He said the leaks would put the lives of “Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security.”

“The documents posted by Wikileaks reportedly cover a period of time from January 2004 to December 2009. On December 1, 2009, President Obama announced a new strategy with a substantial increase in resources for Afghanistan, and increased focus on al-Qaeda and Taliban safe-havens in Pakistan, precisely because of the grave situation that had developed over several years,” Jones said.





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |