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    ISI still engaged with the Taliban: US expert

    WASHINGTON (PAN): The Inter-Services Intelligence continues to be engaged with the Taliban, as the Pakistan Army believes the US would abandon Afghanistan as it did in the 1990s, a top American counter-terrorism and intelligence analyst has said.

    “For twenty years Pakistan's army --t he real power broker in the country -- has backed the Afghan Taliban. It helped create the Taliban's Islamic Emirate in the 1990s and build the al Qaeda state within a state," the expert said.

    Bruce Riedel, a former CIA official and now a scholar at the Brookings Institute, accused the Pakistan Army of providing safe haven, arms, expertise and other help to the Taliban.

    “It briefly pretended to abandon the Taliban to avoid American anger in 2001, misleading George Bush. By 2004 under the leadership of its then spy chief and today top general, Ashfaq Kayani, the ISI was deeply engaged in helping the Taliban again,” he alleged.

    Senior Taliban leaders, including Mullah Omar, were protected by the ISI in Quetta and Karachi, Riedel claimed, as General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said terrorist safe havens continued to exist in Pakistan.

     Dempsey told reporters in Brussels: “We certainly know that there's still sanctuary in Pakistan and the Haqqani Network is still operating out of Pakistan.  So to that extent, I can confirm that. We still pay particular attention to that.” 

    He added: “My overall sense is the insurgency last year didn't meet their objectives, 2012. And that this year what we see is they have more difficulty with resources, so they're more challenged, and we see some friction between the leadership in the Taliban..."

    Riedel believed the Pakistan Army was confident America would sooner rather than later abandon Kabul just as it did in the 1990s. “Pakistan's generals make their country's Afghan policy, Nawaz Sharif told me that in 1998 when I first meet him."

    He continued the elected civilians just went along for the ride or got assassinated like Benazir Bhutto. Nawaz once said if he crossed the ISI-Army-Taliban axis, America would next find his successor to be a bearded jihadist in a uniform, the analyst recalled.

    According to Riedel, as America draws down from Afghanistan, India will inevitably play a larger role there. It already is constructing Afghan-Iran-India transportation links designed to isolate Pakistan.

    mud



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