The United States has caught the Afghan government secretly conniving with the Pakistani Taliban in an attempt to acquire a stronger position in a regional power game, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.
According to the report, the “disrupted plan involved Afghan intelligence trying to work with the Pakistan Taliban, allies of al Qaeda, in order to find a trump card in a baroque regional power game that is likely to intensify after the American withdrawal next year, the officials said. And what started the hard feelings was that the Americans caught them red-handed.”
The article comes just as a tripartite meeting between Nawaz Sharif, Hamid Karzai and David Cameron got underway in London, a meeting in which Karzai reportedly planned to push Pakistan into revealing the locations for Mullah Baradar.
Afghan govt caught transporting Latif Mehsud to Kabul
Tipped off to the plan, United States Special Forces “raided an Afghan convoy that was ushering a senior Pakistan Taliban militant, Latif Mehsud, to Kabul for secret talks last month, and now have Mehsud in custody.
“Publicly, the Afghan government has described Mehsud as an insurgent peace emissary. But according to Afghan officials, the ultimate plan was to take revenge on the Pakistani military.”
The New York Times further reported that a “favorite complaint of Afghan officials is how Pakistani military intelligence has sheltered and nurtured the Taliban and supported their insurgency against the Afghan government.
“Now, not content to be merely the target of a proxy war, the Afghan government decided to recruit proxies of its own by seeking to aid the Pakistan Taliban in their fight against Pakistan’s security forces, according to Afghan officials. And they were beginning to make progress over the past year, they say, before the American raid exposed them.”
The raid and the Afghan anger resulting from it was reported in news months ago, but the purpose and other details behind the Afghan plan have only now come to light.
Afghan officials claim that the Afghans thought they could “later gain an advantage in negotiations with the Pakistani government by offering to back off their support for the militants.”
Aiding the Pakistani Taliban was, the Afghans say, an “opportunity to bring peace on our terms.”
The New York Times acknowledged that the botched Afghan operation will now lend weight to Pakistani claims of militants in Afghanistan presenting Pakistan with a constant threat, claims which nobody in the international community previously heeded.
“American officials said they were also worried that the Afghan actions would give credibility to Pakistani complaints that enemies based in Afghanistan presented them with a threat equivalent to the Afghan insurgency.”
‘Mutually beneficial relationship’
Karzai is reportedly furious at the US action, while a former Afghan official claims Afghans merely wanted a ‘mutually beneficial relationship’ with the Pakistani Taliban.
“In the Afghan telling, the theft of their prized intelligence asset is an egregious example of American bullying, and President Hamid Karzai remains furious about it.”
“Afghan officials dismissed American admonishments about the dangers of working with militants as the kind of condescension they have come to expect. No one in Karzai’s government was naïve enough to believe they could turn the Pakistan Taliban into a reliable proxy, said a former Afghan official familiar with the matter.
“‘I would describe what we wanted to do was foster a mutually beneficial relationship,’ the former official said. ‘We’ve all seen that these people are nobodies — proxies.’”