August 16, 2007

Pakistan Provided Military Support To The Taliban

Pakistan has insisted since 9/11 that it never provided military support to the Taliban before that date, let alone afterwards. Pervez Musharraf insists that Pakistan only provided diplomatic recognition and economic ties to the oppressive regime until the US ejected them from Afghanistan after the al-Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington. The Guardian reports that Musharraf may have lied through his teeth to save his rear end:

The Pakistani government gave substantial military support to the Taliban in the years leading up to the September 11 attacks, sending arms and soldiers to fight alongside the militant Afghan movement, according to newly released US official documents.

Islamabad has acknowledged diplomatic and economic links with the Taliban but has denied direct military support. The US intelligence and state department documents, released under the country's freedom of information act, show that Washington believed otherwise.

The suspicion has lingered that some elements of Pakistani intelligence are still protecting the Taliban and its al-Qaida allies in the autonomous tribal areas along the Afghan border. US officials have warned they might take direct military action without Islamabad's approval.

The memo at the center of this revelation comes from November 1996. The DIA received a detailed intelligence report from an operative in Islamabad that noted the extensive use of a paramilitary force by Pakistan in Afghanistan to assist the Taliban in keeping their grip on power. The Frontier Corps, as they were called, took their commands from the Pakistani military.

That's significant. After all, Musharraf leads that army as its Chief of Staff. Before that, most presumed that the Pakistani intelligence service ran security for the Taliban, not the military. Musharraf admitted that the ISI considered the Taliban an "asset", pre-9/11, but officials insist that Islamists have been purged from the ISI after the attacks.

If the Pakistani military helped prop up Mullah Omar and his gang of lunatic jihadis, it might explain Musharraf's hesitation to go after the Pashtuns in Waziristan. That would likely have been the recruiting source for the Frontier Corps. Musharraf would have to ask his military to kill their former colleagues, men who did their bidding in Afghanistan at the behest of the political leadership that now wants them dead. Musharraf may wonder whether they will carry out that kind of order -- or attack the leadership that has betrayed the former cause.


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Comments (9)

Posted by TomB | August 16, 2007 7:26 AM

The reason we'll never go after Pakistan is those pesky nukes of theirs. One more practical lesson for Iran...

Posted by the fly-man | August 16, 2007 7:36 AM

Where is AQ Khan these days?

Posted by tps | August 16, 2007 8:36 AM

There are pretty good rumors that just after the fall of the Taliban that Pakistan airlifted a bunch of Pakistani jihadi's and intell people who had been captured out of they. With our blessing so as not to embarrass Musharraf.

Posted by MaidMarion | August 16, 2007 8:49 AM

During the last week of September 2001, I traveled to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for a week's vacation arriving there a day or two before Hurricane Juliette hit. As most of my time was spent hunkered-down inside my room I ended up watching CNN those initial days before the electricity finally went out.

I shall never forget watching a subtitled clip of a nervous General Musharraf addressing a large crowd of Pakistanis (can't remember if he was inside talking to Parliament or outside to an assembled crowd) beseeching the people to BE PATIENT and TO TRUST him. In so many words he told them that Pakistan was currently faced with a huge dilemma and that he was going to have to make some very difficult decisions that would infuriate most of them, but to please please trust him. He pressed upon them that he was approaching his decision from a long-term, strategic viewpoint that they couldn't understand right now, but that in the end they would see that his current decision is the best decision to make under the circumstances.

He was basically saying that he didn't want to make the decision he made, but that there was no other option yet in the end it would work out to Pakistan's advantage.

This has puzzled me ever since. My conclusion was that he was telling his people he had no other choice than to cooperate with the United States, but that this would only be a temporary situation that he would utilize to help Pakistan achieve its goals.

Posted by docjim505 | August 16, 2007 9:06 AM

If this is true, then it might be time to have a looooong chat with Musharaff.

Or not.

Has he or his military provided arms, troops and other assistance since 9-11-01? It may be that somebody in Washington has already had that looooong chat with him.

Posted by hunter | August 16, 2007 9:26 AM

This is old news. It was well known that Pak backed the Taliban. It was spoken of in 2002 about Paks working with the Taliban having to be lifted out. It has been well known that the Pak intel apparatus has been very close to the Taliban and even AQ for years. We have known for sometime that one of the reasons we have had to restrict our AQ/Taliiban cleansing efforts in the border areas has been to respect some of the realities on the ground between many Paks and the AQ/ Taliban.
This alliance, like all alliances, is not perfect. Our patience with Mushariff has paid off - we have kept Pak from being taken over by overtly pro-taliban anti-American factions. The extremists have royally ticked off most Pakistanis by this time. Pakistan is now moving more against the Taliban supporters.
The worst thing we can do is to embrace the naivete of the Barak Obama's of the world and start destabilising Pakistan agaisnt us.
President Bush promised us that this would be tough and drawn out and to be patient. I think that is excellent advice regarding Pakistan.

Posted by Blake Ashby | August 16, 2007 9:32 AM

What would happen if the Taliban turned over Bin Laden? I think that if they did so, they should be given permissions to participate in Democratic elections.

If the US truly supported Democracy, Musharraf wouldn't be in power and Pakistan's fringes wouldn't be as alienated. Let's be honest, fringe groups unheard are ticking time-bombs.

Posted by William Tanksley | August 16, 2007 9:57 AM

"What would happen if the Taliban turned over Bin Laden? I think that if they did so, they should be given permissions to participate in Democratic elections."

What's magical about Bin Laden? Us having him won't make a single thing any different, will it?

Of course, the Taliban should be able to participate, if they renounce their old practices and agree to the same restrictions any candidate faces -- no random killings, etc.


Posted by TomB | August 16, 2007 10:47 AM

Wiliam Tanksley,
Bin Laden capture is not magical; it is highly symbolic (God save the King).
As per the Taliban participation, would you suggest all random killings, or just random manual decapitations and random suicide bombings, but targeted assassinations could be still OK?
Talibans are not part of Afghan people; they just want to conquer the land they perceive as weak.

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