Pakistan’s double game is still alive and well, and yet no one in official Washington seems to be even getting close to suggesting that maybe we should cut off the jizya to Pakistan. “Afghan Strikes by Taliban Get Pakistan Help, U.S. Aides Say,” by Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt for the New York Times, March 25 (thanks to all who sent this in):
WASHINGTON “” The Taliban’s widening campaign in southern Afghanistan is made possible in part by direct support from operatives in Pakistan’s military intelligence agency, despite Pakistani government promises to sever ties to militant groups fighting in Afghanistan, according to American government officials.
The support consists of money, military supplies and strategic planning guidance to Taliban commanders who are gearing up to confront the international force in Afghanistan that will soon include some 17,000 American reinforcements.
Support for the Taliban, as well as other militant groups, is coordinated by operatives inside the shadowy S Wing of Pakistan’s spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, the officials said. There is even evidence that ISI operatives meet regularly with Taliban commanders to discuss whether to intensify or scale back violence before the Afghan elections.…
American officials have complained for more than a year about the ISI”s support to groups like the Taliban. But the new details reveal that the spy agency is aiding a broader array of militant networks with more diverse types of support than was previously known “” even months after Pakistani officials said that the days of the ISI”s playing a “double game” had ended.…
In a sign of just how resigned Western officials are to the ties, the British government has sent several dispatches to Islamabad in recent months asking that the ISI use its strategy meetings with the Taliban to persuade its commanders to scale back violence in Afghanistan before the August presidential election there, according to one official.
Why are they resigned to this? Why can’t they show some spine?
But the inability, or unwillingness, of the embattled civilian government, led by President Asif Ali Zardari, to break the ties that bind the ISI to the militants illustrates the complexities of a region of shifting alliances. Obama administration officials admit that they are struggling to understand these allegiances as they try to forge a strategy to quell violence in Afghanistan, which has intensified because of a resurgent Taliban. Fighting this insurgency is difficult enough, officials said, without having to worry about an allied spy service’s supporting the enemy.
But the Pakistanis offered a more nuanced portrait. They said the contacts were less threatening than the American officials depicted…
Of course. It’s all a misunderstanding, as always.
…and were part of a strategy to maintain influence in Afghanistan for the day when American forces would withdraw and leave what they fear could be a power vacuum to be filled by India, Pakistan’s archenemy. A senior Pakistani military officer said, “In intelligence, you have to be in contact with your enemy or you are running blind.”
The ISI helped create and nurture the Taliban movement in the 1990s to bring stability to a nation that had been devastated by years of civil war between rival warlords, and one Pakistani official explained that Islamabad needed to use groups like the Taliban as “proxy forces to preserve our interests.”…
Over the past year, a parade of senior American diplomats, military officers and intelligence officials has flown to Islamabad to urge Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders to cut off support for militant groups, and Washington has threatened to put conditions on more than $1 billion in annual military aid to Pakistan. On Saturday, the director of the C.I.A., Leon E. Panetta, met with top Pakistani officials in Islamabad….
They shouldn’t “threaten to put conditions” on the money. They should cut off the money.