ISI "Directly" Funding Taliban?

Pakistan's ISI Military Intelligence Accused of Directly Funding Taleban - Jeremy Page, The Times.

Pakistan's military intelligence agency directly funds and trains the Afghan Taleban and is officially represented on its leadership council, according to a report by a British academic. The study, published by the London School of Economics, also alleges that Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani President, met Taleban leaders imprisoned in Pakistan and promised them early release and future support.

Pakistan dismissed the report by Matt Waldman, a Harvard fellow who interviewed current and former members of the Taleban, as "baseless" and "naive". A spokesman for the Pakistani Army said that the state's commitment to opposing the Taleban was demonstrated by the number of soldiers killed fighting on the Afghan border. Western officials and analysts have often accused elements within Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency of supporting the Afghan Taleban, even as its army combats the Pakistani Taleban on the northwestern frontier.

However, Mr Waldman's report goes further, arguing that support for the Afghan Taleban is "official ISI policy" and is backed at the highest levels of Pakistan's civilian administration. "Pakistan appears to be playing a double game of astonishing magnitude," the report says. "There is thus a strong case that the ISI orchestrates, sustains and shapes the overall insurgent campaign," it said. "Without a change in Pakistani behaviour it will be difficult if not impossible for international forces and the Afghan Government to make progress against the insurgency." ...

More at The Times.

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Omar:

"like so many of the smart kids going to Wall street to a life of rich parasitism" Those words describe a phenomenon that underlies a deadly problem for us in the decades to come. Last year in Tom Rick's blog he described some very bright Army officers who planned on getting out then going to Wall Street. Very good people using their talent to not to make something, but to do deals. I am not blaming them at all for their decisions but I am very worried about a culture that steers them that way.

Carl,
Amidst all my sniping at the Pakistani high command, i would add:
1. They dont want to admit they were bloody fools in the past (and this lack of admission has huge psyops consequences) but I think they know they have made a mess. They will be tempted to go back to the bad old days, but may not.
2. US credibility and "power" may take a hit, but I am not sure this "power" is a net positive for the US. Its a net positive for a lot of people who actually hate the US, but are cynical enough to milk them when they can. But how much does the US really gain from being world policeman? I am sure some people who are in the policing business do well and some people who have particular business interests in X or Y do well, but does the country as a whole benefit? I am not sure.
3. Wearing my cynical hat (I have one of those too) I would say all this strategic BS is overrated. The US is in relative decline because its economy has not performed as well as it should, which has a lot to do with endemic corruption and resulting distortions in the allocation/dispersal of talent and resources (like so many of the smart kids going to Wall street to a life of rich parasitism). But its not down and out. I think its still better than China or Japan and much of Europe. I personally think it could be much better, but thats "criticism from the social-democratic future". I am not one of those who believe the world as it is NOW would somehow be paradise without big, bad US imperialism. Disaster in Afghanistan will be a disaster for the people there, not so much for the people here.....

Omsr:

What concerns me greatly are matters of morale.

If the US fails in Afghanistan we still would physically possess a big sophisticated military. But we would have failed to do what we said was vital for us to do and we would have failed another people who had counted on us. How will these failures affect our ability to want to use our big sophisticated military when the need arises?

The effect of US failure on the morale of the AQs of the world would be rather substantial.

Worst may be the boost in morale a US failure would give the Pakistani Army high command. Their machinations would have been successful thus perhaps giving them more confidence to continue the game leading to greater and greater danger, as you suggest. To me the biggest irony is the more successful the Pakistani high command is, the closer Pakistan comes to disaster.

Wilson, I think there are many reasons for America's actions, but I do not think desire for ownership is one of them. I would say are actions are largely based on the desire to help others; to keep peace in the world; and the enjoy the benefits these actions bring everyone.

I would rephrase your question slightly. Why does America believe that it must control people to force these results?

Carl, on rereading our exchange, I am inclined to add that its always hard to decide who is fooling whom. In the proverbial "long run", the US high command will still be commanding the army of one of the world's most capable and creative economies (even if we assume that it will no longer be alone at the top)while the complex and subtle strategic calculations and highwire gymnastics of the Pakistani high command may leave them fighting a wider war in a very nasty neighborhood, dependent on rents collected at increasingly greater risk from capricious paymasters in China and Saudi Arabia. Of course, we may be lucky and a simpler calculation of peace and progress may actually come to flower in Pakistan as well, perhaps midwifed by people like that dangerously intelligent looking woman who is the ambassador in Islamabad.
Wilson, the US may yet fail and leave a bigger mess behind than the one they went in to "fix". But until this point, your description is not accurate. There was actually a well organized and very large jihadi operation, headquartered in Pakistan but using Afghanistan as its prime demonstration project. That situation has drastically changed...

Why do americans think they are the owners of the world?
In 2001 there were 2 el quaida training in afghanistan. Not camps as americans would understand. Now the whole country is a training camp, for al quaida, taliban, insurgents and nato.
Nato is probably training for the war against iran.
Our politicians are totally deluded and have the media spinning the rightness of policy.

"I think on this matter, our morons totally outclass your morons"

That is the best line I've read in a long time. With that crew (ours? yours? whose knows?) I guess OBL and Omar can look forward to dying old men surrounded by loving grandchildren.

I think the infidel country with the most leverage is China. The brother islamic country with most leverage is Saudi Arabia. Both of them together can probably get the general staff to do pretty much anything.

The answer to your second question is that the question is purely hypothetical. Nothing like that is on the horizon. The US has its own compulsions and since the age of Zia, we have studied them minutely. I think on this matter, our morons totally outclass your morons (or maybe your morons just have more money to burn).
PS: the last statement can be a rich source of analysis and irony, since I am both Pakistani and American, so who is ours and who is yours?

Omar:

I'm sorry I stated the question so clumsily. The US is one of the infidel countries that will have to exert some kind of effective pressure in order to get group 3 to change. What other infidel country might exert effective pressure to force a change; or non-infidel country?

It is a depressing thought for a US citizen especially since it seems the only way for all of this to fit is if many of our very high ranking civ and mil fall into the "other moron" category along with Musharraf.

I request one bit of speculation if you don't mind. Let us say the US cut off ALL military aid to Pakistan. Humanitarian and developmental aid would continue but no more jets or spare parts. We make it plain also that if the supply line from Karachi is cut, we would be prepared to reduce the effort in Afghanistan to that which can be supplied from the north, as small as that may be, along with spending a lot of cash. But we would persist.

If we were to do something that radical, do you think that would move the Pakistani Army high command in the right direction?

Carl, my answers are below:

"What would be the best ways to push group 3, the strategic thinkers, hard enough to change their course? I assume that right now they are being pushed a little bit but not hard. Also is this group likely the most powerful?"

I think in principle, they can be pushed to change course. But I am just an amateur with no inside information. What I dont have a clue about is not the "strategic thinkers" group in Pakistan, but the "strategic thinkers" group in the USA. What is the US trying to do? I am afraid my answer (as a distant observer with no personal experience of the decision-making group in the US)is "I have no clue". I am loath to accept various leftwing theories about this because (unlike the USA decision makers) I DO know a lot of leftwing people and their record in terms of prediction is not inspiring. But I find the CNN narrative almost equally unbelievable in the sense that I cannot imagine that a superpower with such vast resources could be so clueless. But the true irony may well be that there is no wizard behind the curtain. What you see is what you get. Which is a depressing thought for a US citizen.

"The US is in the infidel group surely but who else that would matter could be included?"

I dont know what this question means.

"Can group 2, the true believer Jihadis, ever be swayed from the pursuit of their dream or will they have to be killed or chased into a cold dark corner?"

My impression is that the true believers cannot be swayed to abandon their dream, but they make compromises with reality too and sometimes that is all that matters. Again, at the risk of sounding like a nutcase, I will add that I am not totally convinced that the US (whatever that means) really wants to get rid of the true-believer jihadis.

"I imagine the cynics and the morons will just drift with the strongest wind but how hard will the paranoid India haters fight to maintain the status quo?"

I think the paranoid India-haters pretty much overlap with the morons and timeservers, so they will do whatever gets them through the day and protects their investments. Absent a serious reason to do otherwise, their default position is anti-Indian, but that is not a belief they will fight for. Not a serious threat.

"There have been articles to the effect that because Adm Mullen is friends with Gen Kayani, he might be able to affect the actions of the Pakistani Army/ISI to US benefit, sort of "Say General some of your guys are causing us rather a lot of trouble. Well Admiral, why didn't you tell me before? I'll take care of it." I think this is a bit of a western conceit. What do you think?"

Sounds like conceit to me. But as i said, the thinking of the US generals is much more of a mystery to me than the thinking of the Pakistani army. I know the US decision makers only through books and TV. I honestly dont know what they are after.

"Mr. Waldman's report states the govs and intel services of all the countries involved in Afghanistan ABSOLUTELY KNOW the extent of the ISI-Taliban connection. He uses a few words speculating why they essentially turn a blind eye to it, but nothing very convincing. What is it that has allowed the Pakistani Army/ISI to get away with this and continue to get away with it?"

As I said above, I have no clue.

Omar:

What would be the best ways to push group 3, the strategic thinkers, hard enough to change their course? I assume that right now they are being pushed a little bit but not hard. Also is this group likely the most powerful? The US is in the infidel group surely but who else that would matter could be included?

Can group 2, the true believer Jihadis, ever be swayed from the pursuit of their dream or will they have to be killed or chased into a cold dark corner?

I imagine the cynics and the morons will just drift with the strongest wind but how hard will the paranoid India haters fight to maintain the status quo?

There have been articles to the effect that because Adm Mullen is friends with Gen Kayani, he might be able to affect the actions of the Pakistani Army/ISI to US benefit, sort of "Say General some of your guys are causing us rather a lot of trouble. Well Admiral, why didn't you tell me before? I'll take care of it." I think this is a bit of a western conceit. What do you think?

Mr. Waldman's report states the govs and intel services of all the countries involved in Afghanistan ABSOLUTELY KNOW the extent of the ISI-Taliban connection. He uses a few words speculating why they essentially turn a blind eye to it, but nothing very convincing. What is it that has allowed the Pakistani Army/ISI to get away with this and continue to get away with it?

I know "my word is bond" is more often seen at lower levels and backbone extraction often seems a prerequisite for advancement to very high levels, but I tell myself there will enough people with a stiff spine when it matters. If I didn't my days would be too sad.

Thank you for putting up with all my questions.

Carl, "my word is bond" is a very good attitude to have, but do you think enough people at the top think like that? Isn't it a requirement of "success" that you become cynical about such things?

As to the Pak army, I think there are (as everywhere else) various overlapping groups in the high command (the rest matter much less in this):

1. Cynical "smart" people who may actually think about how this strategy helps them stay on top in Pakistan -- to whom anti-Indian rhetoric is a convenient device and so on. I personally think they are less numerous than commonly believed. But surely they are there.

2. True believer Jihadis who dream about the rennaissance of Islam (not to be confused with the infidel rennaissance in any shape or form) and the establishment of the transnational caliphate and so on. This is probably the smallest group, but I have no doubt that they were the drivers behind the scheme to train half a million armed terrorists between 1985 and 2008. The others may have thought it's their own brilliant scheme ("force multiplier", "strategic depth" and all sorts of similar bullshit floating around in their war-course-addled "minds") but the jihadis were using the other morons: the other morons only thought they were using the jihadis (Musharraf would be exhibit A in the "other moron" category).

3. Paranoid India-haters, who genuinely believe that India-Pakistan is a zero-sum game -- that if one succeeds, the other has to sink. So their anti-Indianism is not just instrumental; it is what they genuinely think is the reality of our neighborhood. Btw, there are similar "Pakistan-haters" in India. And both parties have some genuine complaints, but they fail to see many many other things which are equally genuinely true and which can lead on to peace and genuine progress....

4. "Strategic thinkers," who think in terms of "national interest" and so on (all the sort of things they teach in national defence university, a curse we have imported from the US and England). They are the "realists" who decided to side with the infidels and milk them for five years, but also kept the taliban "in reserve" and "planned ahead" like they were taught to do in Leavenworth. The problem is, their supposedly rational calculations are made in conjunction with a background narrative acquired in "Pak studies" classes in school. The story they tell themselves about the world is based on "the two-nation theory" and mildly to wildly Islamist notions that are not easily reconciled with their current official policy of cooperating with the infidels and bringing the Jihadis under control. People complain of "lack of capacity" as a problem in Pakistan and its true that the state is fairly weak so that EVEN if they wanted to, they would have difficulty bringing a thousand mutinies under control (just as India does against various separatist and Maoist insurgencies). But the really big "lack of capacity" is in propaganda. How to mobilize people against the terrorists? How do you get thousands of people to coordinate their efforts in one cause? Since it's a problem they have historically solved by blaming India and the Jews and the enemies of Islam, they are having a really really hard time using that vocabulary against people who are genuinely Islamist. I think when push comes to shove, this group almost always sides with "realpolitik" (who is paying them, who can beat them up), but they have to be pushed deep into a corner before they do what they could have done years ago if they had had the conceptual wherewithall to figure it out in their own heads. Still, I think in the end, this group will side with the modern world. They will make peace with India, they will get the jihadis under control -- but only if the infidels are pushing them hard. Left to themselves too soon, they will slip back into the world they know best....

4. Morons. Never discount the importance of stupidity in politics. Some of them are clueless about everything and just desperately trying to get through the next day without being outed as the idiots they are.

Omar:

do you think a lot of this can be attributed to the Pak Army attempting to retain what I understand to be its' privileged and prominent place in Pakistan? In order to retain that place, they need an enemy to fend off, that enemy being India. If India is the enemy, strategic depth (I still don't get that one) is needed etc. So, if were possible to come to terms with India, the Pak Army wouldn't because then they would lose their perks. Maybe that is why they keep sticking pins into the Indians too. In other words the Pak Army is concerned with the Pak Army, not with Pakistan.

What do you think?

When wearing my American hat the reason we have to stick it out in Afghan is because we told them we would. Word is bond thing is what matters to me most personally, but I am listening to a book called Empires of Trust that posits that being true to the word has substantial geo-political benefits too.

If I put on my American hat (and I have one now), I have a hard time seeing why the US should be wasting men and money in Afpak in a muddled and confused effort to be nice and nasty at the same time. I can see the arguments about major disorder and "mind the gap" and all that, but really, it may be that neither the US, nor the world is ready for this new world order business (and if its about central asian oil and gas or some such imperialist plot then it makes even less sense..you could never recover what you invest in such a scheme). Let the Chinese handle the international capitalist expansion in that region if they want and let them make a total hash of it (I am not one of those people who suddenly thinks everyone in China is Superman and Batman rolled into one). Lots of Pakistanis and Indians will get killed in the process, but as they say in Pakistan "what goes of my father?"
But I also have a Pakistani hat (i was born with it) and I think it will be a monumental disaster if the US pulls out and lets the chips fall where they will. The Pak army high command will find it very hard to resist slipping back into jihadi mode. They still dont have an adequate vocabulary (a coherent story they can tell themselves) for any other mode of existence and they are probably extremely uncomfortable with their current situation (working with hated secular parties, fighting against their own creations and their brothers and agents in the Islamist universe, trying to make peace with India and having to put up with Indians acting high and mighty...its a nightmare for them). And yes, I know these are not the only two options (staying the course and pulling out abruptly), but I am just focusing on the worst case scenario.

The Pakistani army/ISI has been making monkeys out of us for years and years. We scared them into quiescence for a time after 2001 but we lost interest, just like we always seem to do and are doing again, and they are back. We can't ride anything out if we persist in saying things like we must win this war but if we can't do it by next Thursday then we'll change our minds. They live in a tough neighborhood and are quick to spot weakness.

In my little opinion, if they succeed in making us bug out, things will get more dangerous than they can imagine. The Indians may not be content to sit quietly by and watch "Taliban II: the Reconquest." And if we bug out, why would Pakistan or India listen to our cautions as they slid toward war?

I guess those who know wont tell and those who tell dont know, but I will ask anyway: IF this is true, what exactly is the NATO plan in Afghanistan? Have they already made a deal with the ISI to pull out after a show of arms and ISI arranges to keep casualties low till they leave? or do they have some notion of riding this out? Can they ride this out if ISI doesnt want to cooperate with their plans? And so on....