‘Pakistan’s ISI aids insurgency in India, Afghanistan’

July 26th, 2010 - 10:02 am ICT by IANS  

Taliban By Arun Kumar
Washington, July 26 (IANS) Thousands of secret US military records leaked by a whistleblower site reveal that Pakistan’s spy service ISI was actually aiding the Afghan insurgency with a wing operating against Afghanistan and India given broad functional autonomy.

Some 98,000 documents leaked by Wikileaks suggest Pakistan “allows representatives of its spy service to meet directly with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organize networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders,” according to the New York Times.

The Times, London’s Guardian newspaper and the German weekly Der Spiegel were given early access to the documents, which according to WikiLeaks.org founder Julian Assange, are the military’s own raw data on the war, including numbers killed, casualties, threat reports and the like.

Taken together, the reports indicate that American soldiers on the ground are inundated with accounts of a network of Pakistani assets and collaborators that runs from the Pakistani tribal belt along the Afghan border, through southern Afghanistan, and all the way to the capital, Kabul, the Times said.

The reports, the influential US daily said suggest the Pakistani military has acted as both ally and enemy, as its spy agency, Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, “working alongside Al Qaeda to plan attacks” runs what American officials have long suspected is a double game

American officials, it said, have described the ISI as a rigidly hierarchical organisation that has little tolerance for “rogue” activity.

“But Pakistani military officials give the spy service’s ‘S Wing’ - which runs external operations against the Afghan government and India - broad autonomy, a buffer that allows top military officials deniability.”

American officials have rarely uncovered definitive evidence of direct ISI involvement in a major attack, the Times said. “But in July 2008, the CIA’s deputy director, Stephen R. Kappes, confronted Pakistani officials with evidence that the ISI helped plan the deadly suicide bombing of India’s Embassy in Kabul.”

From the current trove, one report according to the Times shows that Polish intelligence warned of a complex attack against the Indian Embassy a week before that bombing, though the attackers and their methods differed. The ISI was not named in the report warning of the attack.

The documents indicate that Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul, who ran the ISI from 1987 to 1989, has worked tirelessly to reactivate his old networks, employing familiar allies like Jaluluddin Haqqani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whose networks of thousands of fighters are responsible for waves of violence in Afghanistan.

The documents indicate that from July to October 2009, nine threat reports detailed movements by Taliban suicide bombers from Pakistan into populated areas of Afghanistan, including Kandahar, Kunduz and Kabul, the Times said.

Some of the bombers were sent to disrupt Afghanistan’s presidential elections, held last August.

In other instances, American intelligence learned that the Haqqani network sent bombers at the ISI’s behest to strike Indian officials, development workers and engineers in Afghanistan. Other plots were aimed at the Afghan government.

A White House statement by National Security Advisor Gen James Jones, while condemning the “irresponsible leaks”, did not confirm or deny the authenticity of the documents.

Stressing the special relationship between the US and Pakistan, he said since 2009 “counter-terrorism cooperation has led to significant blows against Al Qaeda’s leadership.”

“Yet the Pakistani government - and Pakistan’s military and intelligence services - must continue their strategic shift against insurgent groups,” Jones said. “The balance must shift decisively against Al Qaeda and its extremist allies.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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