For the second night in a row, The Wall Street Journal has the story on US officials’ mounting frustration with Pakistan. According to the WSJ, US defense and intelligence officials and even Taliban commanders are now saying that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate is urging the Taliban to step up the violence in Afghanistan:
Members of Pakistan’s spy agency are pressing Taliban field commanders to fight the U.S. and its allies in Afghanistan, some U.S. officials and Afghan militants say, a development that undercuts a key element of the Pentagon’s strategy for ending the war.
The explosive accusation is the strongest yet in a series of U.S. criticisms of Pakistan, and shows a deteriorating relationship with an essential ally in the Afghan campaign. The U.S. has provided billions of dollars in military and development aid to Pakistan for its support.
The U.S. and Afghanistan have sought to persuade midlevel Taliban commanders to lay down their weapons in exchange for jobs or cash. The most recent Afghan effort at starting a peace process took place this week in Kabul.
But few Taliban have given up the fight, officials say. Some Taliban commanders and U.S. officials say militant leaders are being pressured by officers from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency not to surrender.
“The ISI wants to arrest commanders who are not obeying [ISI] orders,” said a Taliban commander in Kunar province.
U.S. officials say they have heard similar reports from captured militants and those negotiating to lay down their arms.