Pakistani intelligence agents and paramilitary forces have helped train Taliban insurgents and have given them information about American troop movements in Afghanistan, said a report published by a US think tank.
The study, published on Monday by the RAND Corp, also warned that the US will face “crippling, long-term consequences” in Afghanistan if Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan are not eliminated. It echoes recent statements by American generals, who have increased their warnings that militant safe havens in Pakistan are threatening efforts in Afghanistan. The study was funded by the US defence department.
“Every successful insurgency in Afghanistan since 1979 enjoyed safe haven in neighbouring countries, and the current insurgency is no different,” said the report’s author, Seth Jones. “Right now, the Taliban and other groups are getting help from individuals within Pakistan’s government, and until that ends, the region’s long-term security is in jeopardy.”
Pakistan’s top military spokesman rejected the findings. The study, “Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan”, found some active and former officials in Pakistan’s intelligence service and the Frontier Corps — a Pakistani paramilitary force deployed along the Afghan border — provided direct assistance to Taliban militants and helped secure medical care for wounded fighters. It said NATO officials have uncovered several instances of Pakistani intelligence agents providing information to Taliban fighters, even “tipping off Taliban forces about the location and movement of Afghan and coalition forces, which undermined several US and NATO anti-Taliban military operations”. No timeframes were given.
The report said Pakistan’s intelligence service and other government agencies provided Taliban and other insurgents with training at camps in Pakistan, as well as intelligence, financial assistance and help crossing the border.
When asked in an AP interview last month what the state of the insurgency might be in 2013, the outgoing NATO commander in Afghanistan, US General Dan McNeill, said: “If there are going to be sanctuaries where these terrorists, these extremists, these insurgents can train, can recruit, can regenerate, there’s still going to be a challenge there.”
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has pleaded with the world community to address the issue of militant sanctuaries in Pakistan. Afghan intelligence officials say young, uneducated males are recruited in the border tribal areas to become suicide bombers and fighters. After battles or attacks in Afghanistan, militants flow back into Pakistan to rest and rearm, officials say. Pakistan denied it is supporting the insurgents, but acknowledged the problem of militant infiltration.
“Whenever these kinds of places are identified or pointed out, action is taken against these places and there are umpteen examples in the past where the actions have been taken against these insurgents, or, for that matter, foreigners,” said Pakistan military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas. “Therefore, we reject this claim of sanctuaries being aided by Pakistan’s army or intelligence agencies.”