Pakistan army’s links with Taliban too deep: former CIA officer

August 2nd, 2008 - 3:40 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Taliban

London, Aug 2 (IANS) A former American intelligence officer says the Pakistani army and Inter-Services Intelligence’s (ISI) links with Taliban militants are so deep and extensive that the country is in danger of breaking apart. “It is too deep in the army. They can’t root it out. The real question is, is this Taliban influence spreading to Punjab, Sindh and other parts of the country? That is the real worry,” said Bob Bayer, a former CIA officer who has been described by the American CNN channel as “legendary.”

“It’s a bit alarmist: will Pakistan break up? If we - the US and the West - force the army to go into the border areas, Pakistan will be break up,” he said.

“Balochistan is already more or less independent. The ISI told me ‘don’t go to Balochistan. You’ll be killed. We can’t keep your security there’,” he told BBC Radio 4 news Friday.

Bayer said the CIA believes ISI offered “some sort of material support to the Taliban” in the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul July 7.

“Large parts of the ISI are officered by Pashtuns with blood ties with Taliban leaders in FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas),” Bayer said.

He said “many senior officers” in the Pakistan army are also related to Taliban leaders, adding: “There’s no way to separate the two.”

Bayer, who spent two months in Pakistan this year, said he met a “senior officer who invented the Taliban effectively,” and “got through a court hearing where I had a Taliban judge…and this was in Islamabad.”

Bayer’s comments come after US President George Bush raised the issue at the White House earlier this week when he met Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

According to reports here, the Bush administration would like to see Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden captured before the president leaves office in January.

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