ISI thwarting Taliban talks: report

Published: October 7, 2010
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US newspaper report alleges ISI is pressuring Afghan Taliban members to shun US-backed peace talks. PHOTO: AFP

US newspaper report alleges ISI is pressuring Afghan Taliban members to shun US-backed peace talks. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s intelligence agency is pressuring Afghan Taliban members to shun US-backed peace talks aimed at ending the war in Afghanistan, a Wall Street Journal report alleged.

Citing Taliban commanders and US officials, the newspaper said Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency has encouraged Afghan insurgents to step up attacks, including those on civilians, and resist surrender or peace talks.

“The ISI wants to arrest commanders who are not obeying (ISI) orders,” the Journal quoted a Taliban commander in Kunar province. The commander said he had no plans to stop fighting foreign troops, but war opposed to the broad-based attacks being urged by some ISI officials.

“The ISI wants us to kill everyone — policemen, soldiers, engineers, teachers, civilians — just to intimidate people,” the newspaper quoted the commander, adding that the agency had tried to arrest him when he refused.

The Journal claims US officials said they had heard similar reports of ISI pressure on Taliban members from insurgents who had been captured or agreed to lay down arms. It remains unclear whether ISI pressure on the Taliban to resist negotiations comes from the top of the agency, or is the work of lower-level intelligence personnel, US officials were quoted as saying.

The report claims some believe that the upper echelons of the powerful organisation are trying to reform it, but face opposition from rank and file members. Other US officials believe lower level officers are acting with the sanction of their commanders. “I haven’t seen evidence that the ISI is not in control of all of its parts,” a senior US defense official told the WSJ.

This is the second critical report on Pakistan’s role in the war on terror published in the Wall Street Journal this week.

The report comes amid growing tension between the US and Pakistani governments over Afghanistan, with Washington convinced Islamabad is waging a half-hearted battle against militants. The earlier report claimed that US officials fear Islamabad has avoided tackling insurgents that use Pakistani bases to launch attacks in Afghanistan to ensure continued control over the pace of the war in its neighbor.

Islamabad denies the accusations, and a Pakistani official told the Journal that the ISI was simply an easy scapegoat for setbacks in Afghanistan. “Whenever anything goes wrong in Afghanistan, ISI is to be blamed,” a senior Pakistani official told the newspaper. “Honestly, they see ISI agents behind every bush in Afghanistan.”

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Reader Comments (40)

  • Realist
    Oct 7, 2010 - 1:00PM

    Just the usual tactics of applying pressure. That is all.Recommend

  • Shahryar Ahmed
    Oct 7, 2010 - 1:17PM

    What a story!!!! Too US, please go ahead & believe a Taliban commander or Pakistan’s ISI who have had not only their comrades killed by these people but also have had attacks on their children & families.

    Who is the writer of this report? I can smell India all over this article.Recommend

  • faraz
    Oct 7, 2010 - 1:30PM

    For months Hikmetyar bombed Kabul by the rockets that we supplied, killing thousands of civilians. Why do we claim moral superiority in foreign policy. Recommend

  • Shahid Orakzai
    Oct 7, 2010 - 1:33PM

    Looks like they are all currently suffering from a disease called Persecutory delusions.Recommend

  • Mrinal
    Oct 7, 2010 - 1:47PM

    I am an Indian and I am loving it…Recommend

  • asad paracha
    Oct 7, 2010 - 2:17PM

    Baat to sach hai magar baat hai ruswai ki we should get out of this state of denial. its time that civilians should control the security and foreign policies of our country. of course, we are trying to play on both sides. this should stop otherwise we would lose all our our sympathisers in the world..Recommend

  • Basit
    Oct 7, 2010 - 3:02PM

    Indian Dude…
    you should be, but dont get too much happy… we know how to make u cry as well..

    its apathy that people like you are still living in this world.. who loves when people get killed…
    feels sorry for all such inhuman peopleRecommend

  • Khalid Munir
    Oct 7, 2010 - 3:26PM

    All along we had been hearing from these very newspapers that America wants to fight but ISI is not intrested. What a reversal. America came to fight not to talk.Recommend

  • Ali Farooqui
    Oct 7, 2010 - 3:49PM

    hah! what do they expect they will claim victory and withdraw and we will foot the bill and pay the price? Nice one ISI !! … Pakistan firstRecommend

  • Ashutosh
    Oct 7, 2010 - 4:25PM

    This is becoming dangerous to the world peace.Recommend

  • Maz
    Oct 7, 2010 - 4:58PM

    Accept the truth the article is true:( ISI built the Taliban and r controlling themRecommend

  • Bunty
    Oct 7, 2010 - 6:18PM

    Bark on America……its been a long time since a ‘US report’ has ever shown credibility. These are usual rants which we’ve heard of before in any casesRecommend

  • Rashid Saleem
    Oct 7, 2010 - 6:40PM

    I believe this news story is based on someone’s assumptions. Pak and USA are key allies in this war on terror. They are on the same page and no one plans to back stab the other.Recommend

  • Anonymous
    Oct 7, 2010 - 7:51PM

    I read the report on WSJ… sound too lame and amateur to me but even if what it claims is true…the logic seems simple enough…there is conflict of interest…period

    in 1980-1990 – CIA masterminded the build up of mujahideen (now taliban) to bring down another super power (USSR) to protect its own country’s interests
    in 2000-2010 – ISI masterminded the build up of taliban (then mujahideen) to bring a super power (united states) to protect its country’s own interest

    how hard is it for the world to understand???Recommend

  • Singh
    Oct 7, 2010 - 7:51PM

    ISI is digging grave for Pakistan. If two face act keep going then tombstone will read Born 1947 & ** ???. All these games by pak security agency or politician give one day joy of victory by saying that they are bleeding US or India but at end of the day it will people of pakistan will pay the price dearly. Pakistan is not financially stable. It will doom if west stop giving charity. So WAKE UP. Recommend

  • oyousaf
    Oct 7, 2010 - 8:01PM

    I read the article on WSJ… sound too lame and amateur to me… but even if this is true the logic is simple enough… there is conflict of interest… full stop

    in 1980-1990 – CIA covertly helped build up the mujahideen (now taliban) to counter another super power (USSR) to protect its own country’s interests
    in 2001-2010 – ISI covertly helped build up the taliban (then mujahideen) to counter a super power (United States) to protect its own country’s interests

    How hard is it for the world to understand that???Recommend

  • SKChadha
    Oct 7, 2010 - 10:23PM

    It is incorrect to suggest that Afghanistan and Taliban does not desire peace with each other and are not been able to solve Afghan problems amongst themselves. The report now publishied in WSJ is slowly becoming an open secret. Though, many of us are not ready to agree or believe it …. !!!

    The reports filtering from media world over are suggestive of Pakistan’s interference in direct talks of Taliban factions with Afghanistan Government . Whenever Afghanistan try to resolve its own problems through discussion with Taliban directly, ISI’s interference stall it. One of projected excuse is that India’s relation/ influence with Afghanistan will result in opening fronts against Pakistan from Western as well as its Eastern borders once the US & NATO forces leave Afghanistan. The Pak establishment desires its strategic stake in Afghanistan once US leave Afghanistan to protect it from India.

    Two months back New York Times reported that ISI is interfering in direct talks of Taliban leaders with Afghanistan establishment for peace. The arrest of Mullah Baradar around eight months back in Pakistan by Establishment was widely reported in Pak media that it was under pressure of USA. Which is incorrect?

    The real game plan as reported was that Mulla Baradar tried to have direct repo with Afghan establishment for peace which is not acceptable either to ISI or to Hakkani Group. It is also reported in press that the whole game is probably the double game of ISI. As by this move on one hand they would scuttle Afghan peace talks and on other hand if at all US leave Afghanistan than they can again have influence through Taliban. It is also reported that Mullah Baradar after his arrest is resting with comfort in Pak. The Taliban are desperate to break this hegemony of ISI and desire peace with Afghan Government. The sucide attacks in Pakistan are also probably the fall out of these differences between Taliban and Establishment. I am not sure how far the story is correct. Probably somebody in Pakistan may study it and come out with factual details. The story in New York times published in August is at link: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/23/world/asia/23taliban.html?_r=1. This has also been reported by many in other media.

    This report in Wall Street Journal futher fortifies the earlier story from different source.Recommend

  • Anoop
    Oct 7, 2010 - 11:32PM

    Well, it is astonishing to see Pakistan supporting a bunch of brutes and willing to get on the bad side of the sole superpower in the world. A superpower whose aid keeps Pakistan economy afloat.

    NATO will remember all that Pakistani ISI done to jeopardize the mission and will promptly stop aid after exiting Afghanistan. I wonder why Pakistani decision makers are ignoring this possibility. By decision makers I mean Military(Who else!).Recommend

  • Salim Ansari
    Oct 8, 2010 - 4:42AM

    Americans always build up public support before a war. The Wiki leaks, the attitude of Imam Rouf of New York, the burning of NATO supplies have left most of people in US fuming with anger against Muslims in general and Pakistan in particular.

    Consider this as a warning. Bravado apart, the US will find it a lot easier to fight a regular army than it does insurgents. In the worst case scenario, the Indians will join in.Recommend

  • SKChadha
    Oct 8, 2010 - 6:39AM

    @ Anoop,

    About two months back one of HT’s Blog by Vinod Sharma i.e. http://blogs.hindustantimes.com/separated-at-birth/2010/08/23/kayani%e2%80%99s-personality-transplant/comment-page-2/#comment-12703 reported about news which filtered through Pak Establishment. It is believed by Establishment that India approached Mullah Baradar of the Afghan Taliban before the ISI arrested him in Karachi earlier this year. The Pak Establishment is also apprehensive that few of Taliban leaders Abdul Hayee Mutamin, Wakeel Mutawakil and Abdul Salam Zaeef Mutawakil who played a key role in the aftermath of the Kandahar hijack had met Indian officials in Middle East. These meetings are considered as peace broking by India in Afghanistan which is not acceptable in Pakistan. Hence Mullah Baradar was arrested as it stalled the Indian peace move and also pleased US.

    I am not sure but it is becoming clear that Pak strategy is more to have influence in Afghanistan after departure of US, rather than supporting collision forces. In this process the Taliban factions desiring peace directly with Afghanistan are becoming enemy of Pakistan. This is also one of the reasons making Karzai uneasy about Pakistan. Probably this is also the cause of protecting man of Haqqani faction inside Pak territory and drone attack by UN & NATO on these targets. It may be cause of conflict in which the innocent people of Pakistan are losing their lives on daily basis. As this game plan is becoming clear in Media, it is making West uneasy about Pak.

    The World see this move by Pak as sheltering the Taliban and terrorist, whereas probably for them this is their strategic move. However, in either way it is confusing and harming the Pak citizenry both ways one by Taliban terrorism and two by increasing Drone Attacks. That is why time and again I am harping upon Pak Media to investigate the issue and find out the facts to save its gullible citizenry. Recommend

  • Anonymous
    Oct 8, 2010 - 10:44AM

    You have to admit that the timing of the report is very suggestive. Pakistan wants to exert itself and pinches on the US supply line and now we are the bad guys. We may be the villains in the eyes of the Americans but we have to remember no amount of graces to the Americans (govt and people) will help improve our lot in Pakistan. It is very important that we do what is in our best interest. If they have to attack they will (case and point Vietnam and now Iraq). They are the lion in the jungle, but doesn’t mean that bulls don’t fight back (sorry this is after watching a lot of Animal Channel).
    I can not imagine that the holy NYT or WSJ would have reported anything of this tune during the Afghan Jihad time or for that matter a few months ago. I agree that Pakistan should not interfere in Afghanistan but then neither should US, China, Russia, India, or Iran. I have a feeling I am leaving out KSA as well.
    I wish all this bloodshed didn’t have to happen but our history as humanity suggests otherwise.Recommend

  • Rizwan T Khan
    Oct 8, 2010 - 10:56AM

    Such statements show how hollow these Newspaper giants are from inside and this is their true color. Its a crystal clear indication how weak US is getting in its self created war and now using sissy tactics for face saving and putting the blame on someone else for its brobdingnagian failure. US should act like a real super power and take the responsibility for all its wrong acts and by doing so it just might retain the last drop of respect other sensible countries have for it.Recommend

  • witness
    Oct 8, 2010 - 11:02AM

    news reporters are nowadays a joke,and one should never trust them .These where the same reporters who had ample information about Iraq having nuclear bombs etc.Even US intelligence had confirmed it.But once the drama was over we all know what they found their.
    If ISI is doing it I think it is a good policy.America does not care about pakistans concerns,the kashmir issue is not resolved,India is given to open many consulates in Afganstan around five.They don’t have that many consulates even in US,then how come they need 5 in Afganstan.The answer is to train anti pakistan elements which has been confirmed and US knows it .If you happen to visit Indian consulate in any country out side of pakistan for visa they will befriend you since you are a pakistani and then put conditions for visa.And the conditions normally are,what are the activities of pakistanies hear,what kind of business do they do,etc.This is what their consulates are about in afganstan and pakistan well knows it.There for ISI keep up the good work.Recommend

  • Anoop
    Oct 8, 2010 - 1:12PM

    @SKChadha,

    I think the decision makers realize all this. But, they realize that their supply routes run through them. They are activating another route called Northern Distribution Network. When that happens NATO will be free to negotiate with Pakistan on its terms. I dont think those terms will be pretty for Pakistan.

    Considering Pakistan is heavily dependent on NATO-led aid it is playing a very dangerous game and punching well above its weight.Recommend

  • SKChadha
    Oct 8, 2010 - 2:13PM

    For US it is more important as to come out of Afghanistan mess rather than worrying for supply line. Because for them it can be taken care either by alternate routes or by few more Dollars. For them exit strategy requires workable stability. For that Americans have now started approaching various Taliban factions including Haqqani Group. Read AFP news today in this paper. The hardening of Pak stance is also may be due to US directly involving itself with Afghanistan and Taliban sidelining Pakistan.

    @ Anonymous – Sir, probably Lion and Bull are busy in SWOT analysis …. ??? The bloodshed is already taking place and If one conclude that its center has already shifted to Pakistan and its north eastern area, it won’t be an exaggeration. Recommend

  • SKChadha
    Oct 8, 2010 - 2:15PM

    Please correct last sentance ‘North Western area’ in my above postRecommend

  • Hasib
    Oct 8, 2010 - 2:46PM

    lol, thats it, we dont have to believe this.Recommend

  • Anonymous
    Oct 8, 2010 - 4:33PM

    What is new in it. Today Musharaff admitted of training terrorists to propogate Pakistan’s “National Interest”. Tomorow Kayani will admit that he too was doublefaced. That is all there is to it. Some armies never learn!Recommend

  • Bangash
    Oct 8, 2010 - 9:54PM

    YAWN!!!!! same old media offensives that have been happening for last 9 years through “anonymous” sources. This means US/Pakistan have come to some disagreements and US has relaunched its old tactics. Recommend

  • Ahmer Ali
    Oct 9, 2010 - 11:10AM

    Assalam-o-Allaikum Warahmatullah.Again US officials are playing old blame game to put put pressure on Pakistani leaders and to pave the way of any more operations in Pakistan because our leaders much more depend on US aid especially now-a-days in these days of natural calamity.US officials must keep it in their minds that the whole Pakistani nation doesn’t like US leaders and their policies and if our leaders show some likeliness and soft corner in their hearts about US leaders then it doesn’t mean the whole nation also does have the same attitude for them.Recommend

  • proud to be nagarian
    Oct 9, 2010 - 2:25PM

    This is not a serious issue that “ISI thwarting US taliban links”but the issue is why US today endeavoring to form a friendly relations with taliban.Although,she was considering them as terrorists after 9/11 incident and had to launched a stiff crack down to eliminate them. This is a doublestandard of US foreign policy where on one side declare them “terrorists” but on other hand assume them to be “friends” for future plans.So there is no sense to be blamed on ISI.Recommend

  • SKChadha
    Oct 9, 2010 - 7:37PM

    @ Anoop – The new twist … !! Pak has opened supply line for US/ NATO and there appears to be a mood of action against Taliban. Refer news at http://tribune.com.pk/story/60466/pakistan-reopens-main-land-route-for-nato-supplies/. The reasons for such action may be a) Dollars; b) Crackdown on Taliban to scuttle their direct peace initiative with US/ Afghanistan (refer Interior Minister’s statement that families of militants hiding in Karachi): c) some crack in thinking of civilian government and Establishment or (Aane Wale Khatre Ki Hawa) or d) some other development. I am not sure. Please guess ……..???

    Dekhna Hai Oonth Kis Karwat Baithta Hai …. ???Recommend

  • Anoop
    Oct 9, 2010 - 8:06PM

    @SKChadha,

    No this was inevitable. Pakistan in order to relevant in Afghanistan had to do this. Also, its about Dollars, as you said.Recommend

  • Shahid Orakzai
    Oct 12, 2010 - 9:08PM

    @ Anoop & Sk Chanda

    I dont understand one thing.
    Americans pay us dollars to get rid of taliban & at the same time Pakistan is accused of heling taliban. Would you pay some one who helps ur enemy????Recommend

  • Anoop
    Oct 12, 2010 - 10:17PM

    @Shahid Orakzai,

    If you dont know the answer to this you are either ignorant or acting smart.

    There are 2 types of Taliban, the difference not based on ideology but the target.

    One, attacks Pakistan and many of whom fight in Kashmir and Afghanistan.

    Another is the Afghan Taliban who attack American, Afghan and Indian targets in Afghanistan.

    Pakistan is accused of supporting the latter while attacking the former.Recommend

  • SKChadha
    Oct 13, 2010 - 12:28PM

    @ Anoop and Shahid,

    The story in Dawn on 11th suggested that Pakistan will be attending Kabul peace talks. Mr. Gilaani’s statement now suggest that peace efforts will fail without Pak help? Is Pakistan still being sidelined? It is not clear to me whether Pak and its Establishment is the part of solution or of greater future problem … ??? We have to watch further moves of Haqqani Group and balance between various Taliban factions.

    It is reported in UK’s Independent that Pakistan is promoting itself as an irreplaceable interlocutor with Taliban and is wary of Dubai process of direct talks.Recommend

  • Anoop
    Oct 13, 2010 - 4:26PM

    @SKChadha,

    Pakistan is the problem and could easily be the solution only if it desires. But, that will not happen as the Pakistani army has to come out of the fear of India and India in Afghanistan.

    But, the world has to treat Afghanistan considering Pakistan as the problem and make sure it doesn’t create further problems, which is very likely.

    Afghanistan’s neighbours have to step in to help the poor country. The most important country according to me is Iran. It can easily replace Pakistan’s ports but NATO forces cant use those ports. Afghans are free to use them.

    Pakistan will try its best to make sure Afghanistan is not democratized or any other kind of government,apart from the Taliban, is installed as it knows any non-Taliban government will be hostile to Pakistan.

    All of Afghan’s neighbours despise the Taliban except Pakistan. They,if they join forces, can ensure Taliban dont take over and remained confined to the areas around the Durand line.

    I want the partition of Afghanistan. The problematic part where the Taliban have influence can form one part. The part which has access to Iran can be another. It’ll solve everybody’s problem. In this scenario except Pakistan everybody wins. Robert Blake suggested this formula and I think its worth trying. Recommend

  • Shahid Orakzai
    Oct 13, 2010 - 11:10PM

    @ Anoop

    Agreed with you. Afghanistan is a piece of cake. Cut it & eat it as you wish. What about afganis??? Why do you forget that Taliban is now more of a nationalistic resistance than a religious one.Recommend

  • Anoop
    Oct 14, 2010 - 11:06AM

    @Shahid Orakzai,

    I am suggesting a De facto Partition not a formal one.

    Taliban is not a nationalistic movement. Just because they are majority Pashtuns they dont represent them. Just like being Majority pashtuns, TTP doesn’t represent them!

    There are no nationalistic parties in Afghanistan that can unite.

    Afghan Taliban tortured the populace of Afghanistan when they were in power. No way they will be foolish enough to support them. With the absence of Taliban in the elections you cannot say so.Recommend

  • pakistanis
    Nov 25, 2010 - 11:51PM

    see what the nonsensical and rubbish it is!
    if Taliban and AL-Qaeda are true in their every statement then why US did no accept their denial of involvement in 9/11 case? if not then why US always build such a illogical propaganda through the statements of Taliban? i am quite sure non of Afghani Taliban has uttered such a statement but it can only be an episode of black propaganda by manipulative Western media.these tactics are no more secret now, Pakistanis must know the series of propaganda against the last line of defence (ISI) against these VICIOUS forces of the world.Recommend

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