US now says Pakistani support for Taliban ‘in the past’

July 30th, 2010 - 11:30 am ICT by IANS  

Taliban By Arun Kumar
Washington, July 30 (IANS) With the storm over WikiLeaks revelations refusing to die down, US officials are at pains to suggest that while some people in Pakistan’s intelligence community had supported the Taliban, that situation is changing.

“That’s been a problem in the past, it’s a problem we’re dealing with, and [it] is changing,” Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview aired on NBC Thursday.

“All those leaks predate our policy,” Biden said referring to WikiLeaks revelations that Pakistani spy agency, ISI, supported the Taliban while accepting US funding to fight against them.

“Not one leak is consistent with our policy announced in December.” He added that no US money was diverted from its stated purposes in Pakistan.

Asked to justify US spending in Afghanistan, Biden said the US mission there is not “nation-building,” but to stamp out Al Qaeda so the terrorist group cannot continue to threaten the United States.

Defence Secretary Robert M. Gates and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen condemned the WikiLeaks organization for endangering the lives of US soldiers by publishing over 90,000 classified US military documents.

“These documents represent a mountain of raw data and individual impressions, most several years old, devoid of context or analysis,” Gates said as he announced he has asked the FBI to help Pentagon authorities investigate the leak.

Asked to comment on British Prime Minister David Cameron’s warning to Pakistan not to export terrorism, he suggested: “In the last 18 months or so there has been a dramatic change, in my view, in Pakistan’s willingness to take on insurgents and terrorists.”

Mullen, however, was more forthright in asserting that continued ties between some elements in the ISI and extremist groups were not acceptable to the US even as he gave a clean chit to the spy agency as such.

“I’ve said before and would repeat that it’s an organization that, actually, we have, in ways, a very positive relationship, very healthy relationship between our intelligence organizations.”

“That said, there have been elements of the ISI that have got relationships-a relationship with extremist organizations, and we …consider that unacceptable,” Mullen said.

“In the long run, I think that the ISI has to strategically shift …focused on its view of its own national-security interests.”

“And they are strategically shifting,” he said.

At the White House, spokesman Robert Gibbs suggested “WikiLeaks was not something that took up any real measurable amount of time” at President Barack Obama’s monthly review meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

State Department spokesman Phillip Crowley stressed the US is “working with Pakistan to eliminate the safe havens which are a threat to Pakistan and a threat to Afghanistan and a threat to the United States.”

The US was relying on the “kind of effective action by the Pakistani military that we’ve seen in Swat, we’ve seen in South Waziristan, and we want to see continue,” he said.

“And our message to Pakistan is that that offensive, if you will, needs to continue,” Crowley said. But “We have no plans to send US combat forces to Pakistan.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at

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