Pakistan's intelligence agency said to support Taliban

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A report from the London School of Economics claims that the intelligence agency of Pakistan, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), has close ties to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

According to the report, the ISI actively provides the Taliban with services such as funding, weapons, and the training of troops. Additionally, the report, which is based on interviews with members of the Taliban, says that numerous ISI officials are part of the Taliban's council of war, the Quetta Shura, although some Taliban commanders say that all Quetta Shura members have ties to the ISI. A senior Taliban official said that "[i]t is impossible to be a member of the Quetta shura without membership of the ISI."

Taliban commanders said that the ISI has specifically provided support to or encouraged strategies such as attacking specific NATO military installations or infrastructure essential to NATO operations such as roads or bridges and assassinating specific individuals, such as high-ranking tribal officials or civilians such as doctors or teachers. The ISI is also alleged to have been the impetus behind the introduction of a type of explosive called a "plastic bomb," which is undetectable with current NATO detection equipment.

The report said that "[a]s the provider of sanctuary and substantial financial, military and logistical support to the insurgency, the ISI appears to have strong strategic and operational influence—reinforced by coercion. There is thus a strong case that the ISI orchestrates, sustains and shapes the overall insurgent campaign."

The Pakistani government has denied the claims in the report; a spokesperson said that "[t]he allegations are absolutely baseless." Another official, referring to an alleged meeting of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari with imprisoned Taliban commanders, said that "[t]here’s no such thing as President Zardari meeting Taliban leaders. This never happened."