A Well Orchestrated Defaming Campaign

By Dr. Raja Muhammad Khan

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“The allegations are baseless,” Pakistan and its security setup, perhaps thought this brief, succinct, and patent elucidation enough in response to the 22 pages, Matt Waldman’s research report on, “The Sun in the Sky: The relationship between Pakistan’s ISI and Afghan Insurgents,” published by Crisis States Research Centre of London School of Economics (LSE) on June 13,  2010. While recognizing the fact the Taliban in Afghanistan is a reality, the report reveals that ISI indeed guides them in their strategic planning, decision making and even in the implementation phases of the insurgency. So much so that, the author is self-assured in claiming that starting from the training, the funding, arming, and even logistical support provided to Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network, is accomplished by this Pakistani intelligence agency. The astonishing research also reveals that, apart from the intelligence setup, President Zardari, otherwise considered to be a pro-US and Pro-West, has given assurances to the Taliban for Pakistani assistance.

U.S and NATO troops are embattling these insurgent Taliban ever since the former invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, following the incident of 9/11. To their hard-luck, these foreign forces could not subdue the resistance put up by Afghan Taliban and masses in spite of having superior weaponry and despotic tactics. Rather their tyrannical acts further fuelled the insurgency in that country. After having analysed, the consecutive failure of US and NATO troops, and their counter-productive results, Afghan President Mr. Hamid Karazai, decided to launch reconciliatory efforts to integrate the Taliban into the main stream of Afghan society and the Government. The process had the US backing and even met initial success too. Therefore, the issuance of this report at this critical juncture, once the reconciliation process is underway between Afghan Government and Taliban insurgents seems to have ill intentions. Since Pakistan, as a brotherly Islamic and neighbourly country is helping the Afghan Government in the process, therefore, is linked with the Taliban.

Pakistan indeed, believes that peace in this war-torn country; Afghanistan is a key to its own internal stability, therefore, decided to encourage and helped the Afghan Government to negotiate with the Taliban; the main insurgent group.   In this connection, the statement of Pakistani Army Chief, General Ashfaq Pervaz is on record that; “Pakistan cannot wish anything for Afghanistan which it cannot wish for itself”.  There are similar sentiments of the civilian leadership and the people of Pakistan regarding Afghanistan. After many misperceptions, the Afghan President has been very realistic during his visit of Pakistan on March 11, 2010, once he said that, “No country has ever showed more hospitality to Afghanistan than Pakistan”. Declaring Pakistan and Afghanistan as the “twin brothers,” President Karzai further said that the “destiny, grieves and happiness of both the countries are shared.” On this occasion, Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani, assured the visiting President that, Pakistan would enhance its cooperation with Afghanistan to eliminate the terrorism, and bilateral ties between the two countries would be enhanced further. Similar assurances and guarantees were promised during the visit of President Zardari to Afghanistan and in his meet with President Karazai in Washington.

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The report primarily focussed on the insurgent activities of Afghan Taliban under the Mullah Omar and the Jalaluddin Haqqani network, both allegedly supported by ISI. The very basis of the report by Watt Waldman, are erroneous that after 1971, disintegration, Pakistan started mobilizing and relying on Islamic groups to avert the threat from India. The fact of the matter is that creation of Islamists through Islamization and enhancement of Maddrassah culture are the outcome of US and Western efforts to counter the former Soviet Union in Afghanistan in 1980s. This has nothing to do with the defence of Pakistan. The paper indeed failed to identify the fact that, indeed, it was United States which concentrated the then Mujahedeen from all over the world all Pak-Afghan border to defeat and disintegrate the former USSR.   CIA, the premier US intelligence agency, indeed, did all this.

The report betrays the readers by making reference of the US Congressional Research Service (CRS), that Pakistani intelligence agencies are aware of the Taliban leadership and maintains its active links with it. Such allegations are always made once US and West aim to pressurize Pakistan for the implementation of its own agenda. The malicious nature of the report could be well imagined from the fact that Afghan Taliban are forced to obey the Pakistani intelligence agencies because their families are in Pakistan. Whereas, a large number of Afghan leadership had their residences in Pakistan. Even President Karazai had stayed in Pakistan for a long duration and still owns a house in Pakistan.

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In his research work, the author himself remained unsure, whether the interviewees; some former Taliban leaders and some current Taliban commanders in various parts of the Afghanistan are the genuine ones or presented by their intermediaries as a fake lot. The argument is further augmented by the fact that, if a researcher, who indeed was an official representative of UK Government, could find that real leadership of Taliban why cannot over 150,000 large US and NATO forces; whose UK troops are also part of, could trace them.  This is not the end; there is a huge network of the CIA, FBI, MI-6, RAW and Mossad operative in and around Afghanistan. Why did they fail to trace them and taken them to the task, instead of killing the innocent Afghans, once they are busy in undertaking their religious and social ceremonies?

There is a misperception that Pakistan is maintaining its links with the Taliban in order to use them as a strategic force at the hours of need. The fact remains that Pakistani security forces, its strategic arsenals are enough to defend the country, and it has never depended on such like forces. The West and U.S indeed used them against the former Soviet Union to accomplish their own agendas.  Rather Pakistani security forces are combating them all along the Pak-Afghan border and in other parts of the country, especially the FATA since 2003.  Furthermore, Pakistan neither desires to use Afghan soil as its strategic depth nor has intention to use the Taliban (Afghan or Pakistani Taliban) as its strategic strength.  All that Pakistan, its security forces and intelligence agencies desire is the durable peace, stability, and unity among various Afghan factions.

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The Western media, think tanks and authors like Matt Waldman, must realize that Pakistan and Afghanistan are two neighbourly Islamic countries. Both countries share a lot in terms of their culture, history, traditions, and even common origin. Destined into two independent countries, they cannot be estranged spiritually and ideologically.  This is evident from the fact the during Soviet invasion, over 3.5 million Afghan refugees (later rose to 5 million) were sheltered by their brethrens in Pakistan. Still Pakistan is housing over 2.5 Afghan refugees. The Sun in the Sky indeed is that, People of Pakistan and Afghanistan have indissoluble relationship. Therefore, such malevolent reports would not dent the mutual relationship of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Rather, these reports and efforts of extra regional forces and their intelligence agencies would further cement the so for vacillating relationship of the two countries.

The report indeed is an effort to defame Pakistani leadership and its premier intelligence agency; ISI, which has maintained a clean conduct throughout its material life. This spotless intelligence network indeed, neither has established inhuman camps like Guantanamo bay nor colonised its neighbours or undertook massacre during WW-I and WW-II. Moreover, it has not been created to destabilize its neighbours like the RAW or to unleash the terror like Mossad. Its efficiency and diligence, of course bothers the ill-conceived intelligence networks of the globe, the so-called scholars and think tanks, who do not believe on the reality, but desire to maintain their hegemony at all cost, which ISI dispels.

Dr Raja Muhammad Khan is Ph. D in International Relations from Karachi University. Now he is an Associate Professor with National University of Defence. Dr Khan’s focus is on South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. He is regular contributor to www.oly.com.pk