Pakistani Intelligence Still Helping Afghan Insurgency

Great report in The New York Times by Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt about Pakistani intelligence’s continued support of insurgent groups in Afghanistan:

The support consists of money, military supplies and strategic planning guidance to Taliban commanders who are gearing up to confront the international force in Afghanistan that will soon include some 17,000 American reinforcements. […] In a sign of just how resigned Western officials are to the ties, the British government has sent several dispatches to Islamabad in recent months asking that the ISI use its strategy meetings with the Taliban to persuade its commanders to scale back violence in Afghanistan before the August presidential election there, according to one official. […]

But the Pakistanis offered a more nuanced portrait. They said the contacts were less threatening than the American officials depicted and were part of a strategy to maintain influence in Afghanistan for the day when American forces would withdraw and leave what they fear could be a power vacuum to be filled by India, Pakistan’s archenemy. A senior Pakistani military officer said, “In intelligence, you have to be in contact with your enemy or you are running blind.” […]

Little is publicly known about the ISI’s S Wing, which officials say directs intelligence operations outside of Pakistan. American officials said that the S Wing provided direct support to three major groups carrying out attacks in Afghanistan: the Taliban based in Quetta, Pakistan, commanded by Mullah Muhammad Omar; the militant network run by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar; and a different group run by the guerrilla leader Jalaluddin Haqqani.


I think the failure to address the point about India is probably the key failure of our posture in the region. However much the war in Afghanistan may be termed a “necessary war,” the United States has the option of leaving the region. Pakistan does not. It will always be between Afghanistan and India. A responsible Pakistani official’s first concern is bound to be with India. Consequently, the main objective of Pakistani policy in Afghanistan will always be to secure Pakistan’s interests vis-a-vis India. And the Pakistanis have been consistently convinces — for years — that a stable Afghan government headed by anti-Taliban elements is not consistent with those interests. Unless Richard Holbrooke can conjure up some way to change that larger regional calculus, it’s difficult to see how we can achieve an ambitious set of goals in Afghanistan