How Pakistan Helps the Taliban: Newsweek

Discussion in 'Pakistan' started by ejazr, Feb 6, 2011.

  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    A flashback to a 2009 article on how the Afghan Taliban perceives the Pakistani security establishment, and why ending the war in Afghanistan and some sort of rapproachment with the "moderate" Afghan Taliban may be a good thing.

    http://www.newsweek.com/2010/07/31/with-friends-like-these.html
    The Afghan Taliban say they have one thing in common with the Americans: they’re both getting played by Pakistan.

    The Afghan Taliban logistics officer laughs about the news he’s been hearing on his radio this past week. The story is that a Web site known as WikiLeaks has obtained and posted thousands of classified field reports from U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and hundreds of those reports mention the Americans’ suspicions that Pakistan is secretly assisting the Taliban—a charge that Pakistan has repeatedly and vehemently denied. “At least we have something in common with America,” the logistics officer says. “The Pakistanis are playing a double game with us, too.”

    Pakistan’s ongoing support of the Afghan Taliban is anything but news to insurgents who have spoken to NEWSWEEK. Requesting anonymity for security reasons, many of them readily admit their utter dependence on the country’s Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) not only for sanctuary and safe passage but also, some say, for much of their financial support. The logistics officer, speaking at his mud-brick compound near the border, offers an unverifiable estimate that Pakistan provides roughly 80 percent of the insurgents’ funding, based on his conversations with other senior Taliban. He says the insurgents could barely cover their expenses in Kandahar province alone if not for the ISI. Not that he views them as friends. “They feed us with one hand and arrest and kill us with the other,” he says.

    The militants say that most often they’re dealing with middlemen who appear to be merchants, money-changers, or businessmen, although the assumption is that they’re working for Pakistani intelligence. Some provide money, some motorbikes; others supply contacts for sources who can provide weapons. One smuggler who funnels much of his profits to the insurgency claims that Pakistani forces reserve one remote border crossing in Baluchistan for the Taliban and force civilians to divert to far-off posts.

    But many insurgents still blame the Pakistani government for its cooperation in the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11. “We can’t forget or forgive Pakistan for turning against us nine years ago,” says a senior Taliban intelligence operative, also speaking with NEWSWEEK along the remote border. And the betrayals didn’t stop there. Every Taliban can recite a long list of insurgent leaders who have been arrested in Pakistan or who were killed in Afghanistan with assumed Pakistani complicity. One of the biggest losses was Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Osmani, a driving force in the Taliban’s revival whose hideout near Quetta was raided by Pakistani forces in 2006. He fled across the border, where he was killed in a U.S. airstrike. Another was Mullah Dadullah Akhund, one of the insurgency’s most feared commanders, who died in a coalition raid in Helmand—with the help of the ISI, the Taliban suspects. The insurgents say he was too brazen, too independent, and too close to Al Qaeda for Pakistan’s comfort.

    That illustrates a central point, Taliban say: the only thing Pakistan can be relied on for is a single-minded pursuit of its own national interest. Some ISI operatives may sympathize with the Taliban cause. But more important is Pakistan’s desire to have a hand in Afghan politics and to restrict Indian influence there. “They’re neither in bed with the [Afghan] Taliban nor opposed to them,” says Stephen Biddle, an analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations. “The reality is that they’re in between, which is the rational place for them to be.”

    The insurgents say they, too, never know what to expect from the Pakistanis. “Sometimes they’re angry, sometimes friendly,” says a district commander in southern Afghanistan. “Sometimes they want to show us who’s boss.” No Afghan insurgent can be sure he’s safe, says the smuggler, a former Taliban subcommander. After all, he observes, some of the Taliban commanders arrested by the Pakistanis were once favorites of the ISI. “They’re like psychopaths,” he says. “One minute your friend, the next minute your enemy.”

    Taliban sources say Pakistan uses catch-and-release tactics to keep insurgent leaders in line. All told, the ISI has picked up some 300 Taliban commanders and officials, the sources say. Before being freed, the detainees are subjected to indoctrination sessions to remind them that they owe their freedom and their absolute loyalty to Pakistan, no matter what. As one example, the sources mention Abdul Qayum Zakir, who spent five years at Guantánamo and is now the group’s top military commander. They say the Pakistanis detained him and about a dozen other Taliban commanders and shadow governors earlier this year, soon after having picked up the insurgency’s No. 2, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, only to set them free several days later after making sure their priorities meshed with Pakistan’s.

    Some leading Taliban even suspect that Mullah Mohammed Omar, the leader and symbol of their jihad, may also be in ISI custody. He has appeared in no videos and issued no verifiable audio messages or written statements since he disappeared into the Kandahar mountains on the back of Baradar’s motorcycle in late 2001. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the ISI arrested us all in one day,” says a former cabinet minister. “We are like sheep the Pakistanis can round up whenever they want.”

    On top of the years of grudges, there’s a persistent strain of ethnic animosity between the Taliban’s overwhelmingly Pashtun membership and its mostly Punjabi patrons from Pakistan’s security forces. The insurgents refer contemptuously to the ISI as “blacklegs,” for their supposedly darker skin. “Any commander who is more or less self-sufficient and independent of Pakistan becomes more popular with his fighters,” the intelligence officer says. Nevertheless, the insurgents see little choice about accepting any help they can get from Pakistan.

    The Pakistanis, for their part, continue to resist U.S. pressure for strikes against Taliban sanctuaries. “Their aim seems to be to prolong the war in Afghanistan by aiding both the Americans and us,” says the logistics officer. “That way Pakistan continues to receive billions from the U.S., remains a key regional player, and still maintains influence with [the Taliban].” And which side is Pakistan on? “That’s a foolish question,” says Anatol Lieven, a professor in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. “Pakistan is on Pakistan’s side, just as America is on America’s.” Nobody knows that better than the Taliban.
     
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  3. anoop_mig25

    anoop_mig25 Senior Member Senior Member

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    well spot on thanks sir for the article but i still fill having afgan taliban in afganistan would be good for pakistan only and not for india.
     
  4. thakur_ritesh

    thakur_ritesh Administrator Administrator

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    I think it was well put, pakistan is on pakistan’s side and none other though the term pakistan is in reference to the pakistani ruling elite and not the lower end of strata and they go to extremes to do nurture their interests.

    They can cut deals with the northern alliance against the afghan taliban and then on the other hand play the afghan taliban to their interest against the others including NA. they can pit the afghan taliban against the gulbuddin hekmatyar faction, one of their most trusted allies, more than even the afghan Taliban, and this stuff is not just limited to Pakistanis since this effect sees a spin off with hekmatyar cutting deals with old friends trued foes NA and when again bought over by pakistanis again turn foes. And in all this the milking of the Americans is legendary.

    It’s a fascinating game, no one trusts anyone and almost everyone who has money is playing the other to their use, all that one needs is money and fire power and since there is no end to the supply of recruits the game continues and hey who says Americans are there to just cull the extreme form of islam that was prevalent when afghan Taliban was there or al-qaeda or obl, geopolitics and economics are two interesting words and so the show goes on.

    For india too it is about serving self interest and nothing more, there are mineral reserves expected to be around 1-3t usd, get a slice of that, bid a higher price and move on no matter who runs the show though if pakistani puppets can be kept at a bay the better but still we will have to deal with them, may be not all over a’stan but certainly in parts.

    Anyways pakistan does need to fear the ttp who would be full of recruits, smuggling/extortion/mafia/drug money and confidence in case tomorrow the afghan Taliban was to make a return in a’stan for unlike 90’s this time they are there in the picture and have a mission to serve and in all this the elite and the liberal Pakistani including the PA are seen as infidels and the way Pakistan is going conservative, today’s Pakistan would look like way too liberal today to what we will see in years/decades to come.

    Did anyone observe the PA didn’t have a word to say on blasphemy law, sings of times to come, we will have a slightly refined version of Afghanistan as our next door neighbor soon enough!
     
  5. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    Seriously though, would pakistan be able to maintain the same kind of control over Taliban should the US withdraw and Astan was to fall again to Taliban? Would the Talibs give Pakistan the strategic depth they are looking for considering the past treachery?
    If so, would the US and for that matter India dabble with doing business with Taliban post US withdrawal? India can give Taliban far more money than Pakistan and return make sure no terrorists from there come to Kashmir.
     
  6. thakur_ritesh

    thakur_ritesh Administrator Administrator

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    US wont withdraw, but will curtail their operations with significant influence.

    control on afghan taliban will depend on to what extent they will be able to keep the taliban isolated from the rest of the world, pakistan would want the af-taliban to be seen as some vampires out to get the rest and only people who can negotiate with them are pakistanis. the world needs to engage taliban directly and till the time that is not happening taliban and the world dont have too many choices no matter what the past.

    talibs understand they cant rely on PA/ISI for too long and rest assured in times to come and if they were to return in a'stan like in 90's they will support ttp and rest of the terror groups in pakistan who are sympathetic to them and want to implement the same form of islam that af-taliban did in a'stan. they see those pakistanis as brothers, not the PA/ISI types who are seen as pithoos of the west and infidels who can sell anything if the price is right.

    if the world opens up to taliban, if they were to take over, then it is unlikely they would be as open to strategic depth but yes they will have a pay back to give since today pakistan is used as strategic depth for operations in a'stan so that factor will remain though if we engage them at some level we would limit the usage of land/resources when the situation arises, though all this is tricky diplomacy.

    1-3t usd worth of mineral reserves, 100's of billions of energy resources, 10's of billions of oil pipelines to flow through a'stan, add to this the geo politics where a'stan acts as a gateway to CAR, ME, SA and with china/india/russia in close vicinity will always keep bigger powers engaged in a'stan and irrespective of who rules that country US and India at some level will engage them.

    incase pakistan was to be taken over by ttp and if af-taiban's extreme interpretation of islam were to be implemented in pakistan then talibs would be very interested in kashmir, as of now they see the kashmir issue as no more than pakistan's attempt of extracting money from the ME and other interested groups. india can throw in the money but then pakistan has had access to oil money, then a'stan is a land locked country, with iran and neighboring CAR countries hostile to taliban so they dont have too much choice but to rely on paks and do as pakistanis dictates.
     
  7. Bangalorean

    Bangalorean Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Well, nothing to see here, all this is already known. :rolleyes:
     

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