Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate continues to support the Taliban and al Qaeda in the northeastern province of Nuristan, according to the Afghan parliament’s Security Commission, while US forces have withdrawn from the area. From Ariana News:
Representatives of Wolesi Jirga’s Security Commission expressed concerns over the influence of Taliban in eastern Nuristan province.
“Some areas of the eastern Kunar and Nuristan province are being controlled by Taliban militants” commission members said.
Muhammad Naeem Lali Hameedzai, a member of Wolesi Jirga’s Security Commission said, “The Barg-i-Matal and Kamdesh district of Nuristan province are influenced by Taliban militants and have the financial and military support of ISI”.
Pakistani ISI support Arab, Pakistani and Uzbek militants and send them to these regions.
The members of the commission claim that 600 Afghan forces are resisting them.
RFE/RL provides more color on what is happening in the Kamdesh and Barg-i-Matal districts in Nuristan:
“If anybody opposes them, the insurgents burn their homes and threaten to kill them. I have witnessed several houses being burned and seen many of the inhabitants beaten,” Nuristani says. “Until the government intervenes, we don’t have the resources [to fight back]. We can’t do it alone.”
It’s not clear where the militants are from. Nuristani says they are members of the Pakistani Taliban, who control the Pakistani side of the border alongside Al-Qaeda operatives and fighters from the Hizb-e Islami group headed by notorious former warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
Calling For Help
Aziz Rahman, a village elder in Kamdesh, describes the militants as armed and wearing black clothing. He says the militants have set up a shadow government, opening local offices and collecting taxes from local residents.
“Kamdesh is under the control of the Taliban. The men in black clothing are here. They have opened a Department of the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice,” Rahman says. “They are teaching religious material and are telling people to do the right things. If people violate the rules, then they get punished.”
Rahman says the new rules include a decree that states that all men must grow long beards and refrain from smoking tobacco. He says dozens of militants are roaming the streets in SUVs and searching locals at mosques and bazaars to ensure the new rules are being followed.
Now, keep in mind that the entire justification for withdrawing from Nuristan (and Kunar) was basically that the US presence in these remote areas fuels the local insurgency, and if US forces just left, the foreign (read: Pakistani and al Qaeda) support would dry up. This July 2009 report at the Institute for the Study of War is a good example of the thinking in military and intelligence circles back in 2009 when the decision to pull back from Kunar and Nuristan was made.
Yet more than two years since the US military’s withdrawal from these remote areas, “Arab, Pakistani and Uzbek militants” continue to infiltrate and operate in Kunar and Nuristan, something that we at LWJ have warned numerous times would happen.
For a more complete discussion of this subject, see Threat Matrix report, Al Qaeda never left Kunar, and other problems with US intel.