Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Secret document outlines Taliban dependency
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- The Taliban in Afghanistan depend on Pakistan for support, even though they do not necessarily welcome it, a secret NATO report says, according to a journalist who has read it.
"It is a marriage of convenience," Times of London reporter Jerome Starkey said Wednesday, citing the report. The Taliban see Pakistan as manipulative, but they see no alternative to accepting its support, he said.
The Taliban are absolutely confident of victory, he said the report found, based on 27,000 interviews with over 4,000 detainees ranging from senior Taliban commanders to Afghan civilians.
They also include mid- and low-level Taliban, al Qaeda, and foreign fighters, he said.
The leaked NATO document revives the longstanding accusation that elements in Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence agency are aiding the insurgency in Afghanistan.
It says the ISI knows the whereabouts of all senior Taliban commanders, Starkey said.
Pakistan denies helping the Taliban Pakistan denies NATO report claims Progress in Afghan peace talks.
NATO downplayed the importance of the report Wednesday, after it was leaked, while Pakistan rejected key conclusions entirely.
A spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan said Wednesday not to read too much into it.
The classified report is based on the "opinions or ideals" of Taliban detainees -- and represented only their opinions, not the actual progress of NATO against the Taliban, Lt. Col. Jimmie E. Cummings said.
He said it was "extremely important not to draw conclusions based on Taliban comments or musings" and that the report "should not be used as any interpretation of campaign progress" against the insurgency.
Pakistan firmly dismissed the accusation it was helping the Taliban across the border.
"We are committed to non-interference in Afghanistan," Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said Wednesday.
"This is frivolous, to put it mildly," Basit said.
"Pakistan has suffered enormously because of the long conflict in Afghanistan. A stable and peaceful Afghanistan is in our own interest and we are very much cognizant of this," he said.
The alleged contents of the report would be consistent with international concerns that elements within Pakistan's powerful ISI agency are helping the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The U.S. intelligence community said Tuesday that Afghanistan's insurgents remain "resilient" and senior Taliban leaders "enjoy safe haven in Pakistan."
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Posted by Steve Douglass at 6:24 AM