Wikileaks reinforces the claim that Pakistan supports the Taliban
The Wikileaks documents add credence to the widely-made charge that Pakistan underhandedly supports the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. Why would Pakistan do that?
Jammu City, India controlled Kashmir
Raw government documents on the Afghanistan war released by the Wikileaks website added credence to the widely-made charge that Pakistan underhandedly supports Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.Skip to next paragraph
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Pakistani generals have regularly dismissed the idea of collaboration with the Taliban. "We would obviously like to fix these rogues. They are killing our own people and are certainly not friends of this country," General Ahmed Shuja Pasha was quoted in a 2009 book as saying.
Yet Pakistan does have compelling state interest that could argue for support of the Taliban.
For decades, Pakistan has worked to ensure its western border with Afghanistan is safe so that it could focus on its eastern border with arch-rival India.
A Taliban-influenced government in Kabul would help Pakistan deal with some of its biggest internal and external threats. The Taliban would side with Pakistan against India, rather than sandwich Pakistan between two unfriendly governments. They would also remove the threat of support from Kabul for Pashtun and Baloch ethnic separatism within Pakistan.
“For Pakistan, an Afghanistan under Pakistani influence or at least a benign Afghanistan is a matter of overriding strategic importance,” writes George Friedman, head of the Austin, Tex.-based intelligence group Stratfor.
“The region’s main ethnic group, the Pashtun, stretch across the Afghan-Pakistani border. Moreover, were a hostile force present in Afghanistan … Pakistan would face threats in the west as well as the challenge posed by India in the east.”
In the 1990s, Pakistani intelligence was the “angel investor” for the startup Taliban movement. Islamabad stuck with Mullah Omar and his band as they seized Kabul and much of the country, drew the ire of the international community, and were recognized by only two other foreign governments.
When the US came into Afghanistan on the heels of 9/11, it worked through anti-Taliban warlords – factions long supported by India. The government in Kabul still draws heavily from these factions.
While there have been rapprochement efforts between Kabul and Islamabad recently, Afghan President Hamid Karzai is limited in this effort by his governing coalition. Two of his top security ministers have quit over the issue.
On President Karzai’s watch, India has poured money into reconstruction projects and opened new consulates in Afghanistan. Conspiracy theorists in Pakistan claim some of these are used to support ethnic separatists in the Pakistani province of Balochistan.
Pakistan’s bigger ethnic worry about Karzai’s government is Karzai himself. He is a Pashtun, but he does not play the Islam card for his power. The Taliban does. The group, which is made up almost entirely of Pashtuns, makes Islamic – not ethnic – claims to power.