By Arab News
This time, five commanders of the Maulvi Nazir faction of the Pakistani Taleban were killed including a younger brother of Nazir, according to US sources. The faction has been accused of carrying out cross-border raid against NATO-led forces in Afghanistan.
Clearly, there is still close military intelligence between the CIA running the covert drone program and Pakistan. It is estimated that so far this year, at least 325 militants in the area have been killed in drone attacks. It could not have happened without eyes on the ground, and those eyes are obviously not American. Indeed, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said as much during her visit to Pakistan last week. “There is greater sharing of intelligence so we can prevent and intercept the efforts by the Haqqanis or the Taleban to try to cross the border or to plan an attack.”
Note the use of the word “greater” — and that is despite the fact that the Pakistan government regularly criticizes the drone attacks. But then it knows full well that not to do so would be a public relations disaster, given the mounting number of civilian casualties.
Yet, against this are the persistent allegations that Pakistan is playing a double game, that it helps the Americans but is also the mastermind behind Taleban activity in Afghanistan. Those allegations come from the US, and the BBC broadcast “evidence” on Wednesday showing that Pakistan’s intelligence services, ISI, has been training, funding and arming the Taleban.
We do not believe that the Pakistani government is at all involved in any way with the Afghan Taleban or its support networks in Pakistan, which certainly exist. The Taleban are Pakistan’s enemy. The country suffers more from terrorism than any other nation on earth. Last year, at least one and a half thousand Pakistanis were killed in terrorist attacks. The cost of terrorism to the country over the past decade has been put at $68 billion. Only yesterday two soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in South Waziristan, two policemen were wounded in a bomb attack in Khyber tribal region near the Afghan border and four people were injured in a bomb blast at a market in Peshawar. Terrorism is almost a daily occurrence in Pakistan. That Pakistan is fighting it was demonstrated forcibly two years ago in the campaign to free the Swat Valley from militants. Almost 4,000 soldiers died in that campaign. Over 8,000 were wounded.
On the other hand, intelligence services the world over have a reputation for pursing their own agendas. The allegations about the ISI have to be investigated. Simply dismissing them will not do. It will only make people believe that they are true. Pakistanis, moreover, need to know that the ISI is the servant of the country, not a local version of the CIA. If they are not investigated and answered, Pakistan may well pay a high price. Local public opinion may not care what the US does, but other traditional allies will also wonder whether they can trust it.
That would be both politically and economically dangerous.