Pakistani senator: ‘ISI’s strategy is to save the Taliban from defeat’

Dawn continues to release the US State Department cables related to Pakistan that were received by WikiLeaks. One cable, titled “ANP on NWFP and FATA Developments,” from July 9, 2009, includes some stunning comments from a senior Pakistani political leader. The cable recounts a meeting between Lynne Tracy, the principal officer of the US Consulate in Peshawar; and Afrasiab Khattak, a senator and the deputy leader of the Awami National Party, which now runs Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly the Northwest Frontier Province, or NWFP).

Khattak describes the ISI, or Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, as seeking to preserve the Taliban after the spring offensive to oust the group from the northwestern district of Swat. Tracy quotes Khattak as saying that the “ISI’s strategy is to save the Taliban from defeat.” Khattak also confirms that the military plays favorites with the Haqqani Network, has sought to preserve Taliban leaders Mullah Nazir and Hafiz Gul Bahadur, as well as the Haqqanis, and pushed for the February 2009 “peace deal” in Swat that brought the Taliban to power in the Malakand Division.

This is nothing that longtime readers of The Long War Journal wouldn’t already know, but it is always interesting to hear it come from Pakistani officials on the front lines. Below are excerpts from the cable:

5. (S) Khattak described a recent Apex Committee meeting where Waziristan plans were discussed. (Note: The Apex Committee consists of the NWFP Governor, NWFP Chief Minister, NWFP Chief Secretary, 11th Corps Commander, and Frontier Corps Commander. Khattak frequently represents the Chief Minister.) The military, Khattak said, was still working to separate Baitullah Mehsud from other Waziristan-based commanders, particularly Mullah Nazir, Gul Bahadur, and the Haqqanis. Following a July 2 jirga of Wazir elders, Khattak noted, Mullah Nazir had declared his “neutrality.”

6. (S) Khattak described the Pakistani military as treating the Haqqanis “separately” (NFI) from other militants. The Haqqani family, he observed, has already moved out of North Waziristan. Part of the family, he said, is living in a rented house on the Kohat Road on the southern side of Peshawar. The other half is living in a house owned by the Haqqani family in the Rawalpindi cantonment.

9. (S/NF) The relationship between ISI, TNSM leader Sufi Mohammad, and TTP-Swat leadership is a tangled one. Provincial government leaders have not forgotten that the military, and particularly ISI, pushed hard and facilitated the failed February peace deal in Swat. While Khattak and other ANP leaders continue to voice respect for senior military leaders in Islamabad and Peshawar, there is tremendous suspicion of ISI and the role it is playing in the NWFP and FATA. Khattak commented at one point that “ISI’s strategy is to save the taliban from defeat.” ISI’s motives and activities are more complicated than that statement suggests. However, the ISI-brokered deal now being described would likely undermine any progress the military has made in reversing the public perception that the military and local taliban are essentially the same entity.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Taha bin Sohail says:

    All lies, just to discredit the taliban and put all the blame on the Pakistani Army. One should ask these silly politicians that what the hell are they doing when they cannot even control the army. Just lies… lies and lies. Their beloved army is losing the battle and they just cannot believe it. Just as many don’t believe 9/11 was carried by a bunch of religious ppl, and OBL was martyred in Abbottabad. Although this is not the first time when a very small group of ppl are defeating the sixth or seventh largest army of the world (the story of David and Gollaith as given in Al-quran and other holy scriptures can be understood to understand all this).

  • steve m. says:

    Render, I would love for you to comment hear. Taha is the guy I was arguing with on another forum and he openly supports aq/taliban. He uses the David v Goliath story to justify using children as suicide bombers. Taha, I am glad you took my advice and are now reading LWJ. Hopefully this will help you to take off your blinders and educate yourself.

  • Mark says:

    Even though I completely disagree with Taha, I am glad he visited this site.
    Interaction is good.
    Opposing views expressed are good.
    Questions for Taha, why is AQ attempts to get revenge by our killing Osama almost exclusively end with the death of Muslims? Or you killed one of ours so we will kill more of ours? That is something we can’t understand.
    Another question, isn’t suicide against the Muslim belief system like it is with other People of the Book, Jews and Christians?
    Why do Pakistanians immediately condemn us when we kill someone who may or may not be a terrorist but at the same time when the taliban kill Muslims who are civilians there is no outrage.

  • Victor says:

    Don’t know where to post this but this thread seemed appropriate. The Nation is one of the papers closer to the establishment. They are now openly threatening mainland USA!
    Editorial on May 24

    Obama on the warpath
    Published: May 24, 2011
    President Obama must have taken leave of his senses when he warned that the US would launch another unilateral operation inside Pakistan to take on a high value target. This was followed by his statement that the information collected from the compound of Osama Bin Laden will be used to carry out operations against Al-Qaeda, which in reality is an another attempt to frighten our nation. Also, he made the ridiculous statement that in considering India an enemy, Pakistan was at a fault.
    Too eager to prove to the American public that he is the man of the hour carrying the

  • Richard Balmer says:

    The only way for us Americans to solve the problem of terrorism is to attack Pakistan , disband its army and ISI, and denuclearise the country.

  • bard207 says:

    One should ask these silly politicians that what the hell are they doing when they cannot even control the army.
    Are you familiar with the political history of Pakistan? The politicians have always struggled to control the Army. Until the Pakistani Army gets used to the idea of being controlled by the civilian government, there will continue to be problems.
    Military coups in Pakistan
    Military coups in Pakistan began in 1958 and number three successful attempts. There have also been numerous unsuccessful attempts since 1949. Since its independence in 1947, Pakistan has spent several decades under military rule (1958 – 1971, 1977 – 1988, 1999 – 2008).

  • Sanaullah Afridi says:

    Re Victor
    The editorial in The News and in many other newspapers of this kind are actually by extremist minded columnists in Pakistan most of whom are paid by ISI. Please note that in Pakistan, ISI has recently spent a lot of money on increasing anti-Americanism in the country by using their puppets in the media – while at the same time getting more money from US as aid.
    The only way forward is for Mr Obama to stick to his policy to hunt down AQ and Taliban which now has the backing of entire peace loving world. Pakistan, in order to deflect US pressure post bin laden, is playing its China card but US must seek more support from Europe and Russia and pursue war on terror in more aggression.

  • bard207 says:

    steve m.,
    Please don’t invite people who are going to be unresponsive in discussions.


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