As Islamabad rejects fresh accusations about its role in Afghanistan, we ask who is really pulling the strings.
Pakistan has rejected fresh accusations that it is directly supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan.
“The fact is that Pakistan supported the Afghan resistance of the 1980s and that was a blatant, open support but the Americans … have not been able to prove [their allegations] … of Pakistan supporting the Taliban’s war of resistance, which is bogging down the Americans and NATO. So where is this material support?“
– Zaid Hamid, a political analyst
The claims came from a secret US report that has been leaked to media organisations.
The “highly classified” report was put together by the US military at Bagram air base in Afghanistan for top NATO commanders last month.
It includes information obtained during interrogations with thousands of members of the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other foreign fighters.
The leaked report alleges that Pakistan’s Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) agency was assisting Taliban leaders in directing attacks against foreign forces.
It said the ISI knows the whereabouts of and harbours senior Taliban figures.
The report also quoted a senior al-Qaeda detainee as saying “Pakistan knows everything. They control everything,” and “The Taliban are not Islam. The Taliban are Islamabad”.
“I think there is evidence that some groups within Pakistan, including some people within the Pakistani government, are supporting the Afghan Taliban, at least to the extent of wanting to retain ties with the organisation in order to ensure they have a harmonious relationship in case it does come back to power.”
– Richard Weitz, a military analyst
In its conclusion, the report suggests that the US military thinks it is likely that the Taliban will retake control of Afghanistan after NATO-led forces withdraw in 2014.
So is Pakistan really pulling the strings? And, is a new Taliban government Islamabad’s favoured option for Afghanistan? Who would benefit from the Taliban being in power in Afghanistan?
Inside Story, with presenter James Bays, discusses with guests: Zaid Hamid, a political analyst and the head of security thinktank Brasstacks; Wali Massoud, the president of the Massoud Foundation and a former Afghan ambassador to the UK; and Richard Weitz, a senior fellow and director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis at the Hudson Institute.
“The Afghan people have already experienced the Taliban’s reign, and more than half the population are women none of whom want the Taliban to return. Most Afghans don’t want the Taliban to come back but that also does not mean they are backing Hamid Karzai’s government, which is as corrupt as the very medieval policies of the Taliban. We have really to assist the Afghan people to see how they can bring peace among themselves, not to leave it to others to do it for us.”
Wali Massoud, a former Afghan envoy to the UK