By Vladimir Gladkov
A leaked secret report by the US military claims that Taliban, backed by Pakistan, is getting ready to retake control over Afghanistan.
The document, derived from thousands of interrogation and intelligence reports, also claims that Taliban still has wide support among the Afghan civilians. If the information is true, the Taliban will hardly miss the possibility, granted by NATO’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. Now after the catastrophic decline in Pakistani-US relations Washington finds itself in an extreme need of an alternative access route to and from Afghanistan, which may soon become contested territory. The solution found by Washington totally complies with the usual American tactic of foreign policy. The White House decided to waive a ban on military assistance to Uzbekistan, mysteriously forgetting about the human-rights violations of Uzbekistan’s government.
The accusations of supporting the extremists are not new for the Pakistani government. Washington and Islamabad have a long story of diplomatic scandals and mutual accusations. Both governments tried to find a compromise even after such incidents, extremely embarrassing for Pakistan authorities, as the secret liquidation of Osama bin Laden by US Spec Ops or the controversial release of the CIA contractor Raymond Davis. But now the situation seems to have finally reached its peak. In November Islamabad decided to block the border crossings into Afghanistan used by US in a response to another American airstrike that killed Pakistani troops. And as the report, leaked to the press including The Times and BBC states, the Pakistani security service does support Taliban in its plans of retaking control over Afghanistan. According to the report, such a scenario is more than possible, since the violence in Afghanistan has reached its highest level since 2001 when Taliban was driven out by NATO-backed Afghan forces. Despite the terrorist attacks, conducted by Taliban on the territory of the country, the extremists are still widely supported by the Afghan people.
“Many Afghans are already bracing themselves for an eventual return of the Taliban,” said The Times, quoting the report. “Once ISAF (NATO-led forces) is no longer a factor, Taliban consider their victory inevitable”.
The report also proves the numerous claims that Inter-Services Intelligence – the Pakistan’s security agency, was assisting extremists, directing attacks against NATO forces. “Senior Taliban leaders meet regularly with ISI personnel, who advise on strategy and relay any pertinent concerns of the government of Pakistan,” says the report, claiming that Pakistan is aware of the locations of senior Taliban leaders.
“Pakistan knows everything, – says the report, quoting a senior al-Qaeda detainee – They control everything. I can’t [expletive] on a tree in Kunar without them watching.”
“The Taliban are not Islam. The Taliban are Islamabad.”
Unsurprisingly Pakistan keeps denying any accusations. “A stable and peaceful Afghanistan is in our own interests. We cannot indulge in any activity which takes us away from achieving that objective,” says Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman describing the situation as “ridiculous”.
However, the statements of Pakistani officials will hardly help America to find a solution. While the threat of Taliban’s return to Afghanistan is more than considerable and the Pakistani-Afghan border is closed for American troops, the US has to find an alternative way in and out of Afghan territory. The White House seems to have found a solution despite the fact that it contradicts the US government’s own principles. Always ready to crucify other countries for their unwillingness to follow democratic values, America has decided to re-establish its partnership with Uzbekistan, ignoring its record of human-rights violations. Uzbekistan has been barred from receiving US military assistance since 2003, but now the former Soviet republic presents a perfect alternative to sending supplies through Pakistan. The waiver that will allow the US to provide nonlethal defensive equipment to Uzbekistan was signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on January 18. While the further development of situation is still not easy to see, Afghanistan seems to be entering its new chapter.