Pakistan’s ‘double game’ prompts call for US policy review

July 27th, 2010 - 8:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban By Arun Kumar
Washington, July 27 (IANS) Revelations about what the US media called “Pakistan’s Double Game” of providing Afghan militants “A Sanctuary for Terror” while taking billions in aid from the US has prompted calls on Capitol Hill for a rethink of Washington’s policy.

“However illegally these documents came to light, they raise serious questions about the reality of America’s policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry said after leaks of secret US military documents.

“Those policies are at a critical stage and these documents may very well underscore the stakes and make the calibrations needed to get the policy right more urgent,” said Kerry, a key architect of legislation last year that provides $7.5 billion in non-military aid to Pakistan over the next five years.

Senator Russ Feingold, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said documents leaked by whistleblower WikiLeaks highlight a “fundamental strategic problem,” namely “that elements of the Pakistani security services have been complicit in the insurgency”.

“The Obama administration has understood the nature of Pakistan’s connections to the Taliban from its first days in office,” said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer who led a presidential review of US policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“Like India, the US administration understands there is no alternative to engagement with Pakistan,” Riedel, currently a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Centre for Middle East Policy, told the Washington Times.

Riedel noted that a former Afghan intelligence chief had confirmed that the ISI’s connections to the Taliban are still in place, that the Taliban leadership is based in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, and that the ISI has tremendous influence in the Taliban.

The influential New York Times, which was one of the three publications given early access to the leaks, in an editorial titled “Pakistan’s Double Game”, said though most of the documents could not be verified, they “confirm a picture of Pakistani double-dealing that has been building for years.”

“Why would Pakistan play this dangerous game?” the Times asked and suggested Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) “has long seen the Afghan Taliban as a proxy force, a way to ensure its influence on the other side of the border and keep India’s influence at bay”.

In a similar vein, The Wall Street Journal branded Pakistan “A Sanctuary for Terror” noting “the militants wage war in Afghanistan while using Pakistan as a place for rest, recuperation and recruitment.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at

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