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Pak military still supporting Taliban: Scholar

Notwithstanding America's best efforts to distance Pakistan from Taliban, the Pakistani military continues to support the militant outfit and it is "too late" to reverse its course, a noted scholar has said.

world Updated: Sep 10, 2010 11:43 IST

Notwithstanding America's best efforts to distance Pakistan from Taliban, the Pakistani military continues to support the militant outfit and it is "too late" to reverse its course, a noted scholar has said.

"It's clear that the Pakistanis are still supporting the Taliban. This was known well before WikiLeaks disclosed secret documents detailing supposed links between the Pakistani military and Taliban," Gilles Dorronsoro, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment, said.

Having just returned from Afghanistan, Dorronsoro argued that the Taliban's connection with the Pakistani military continues and said that the US policy on Pakistan is disconnected from reality.

In February, the Taliban's operational commander, Abdul Ghani Baradar, was arrested in Karachi. As the second-ranking Taliban official after Mullah Muhammad Omar, the arrest was heralded as Islamabad's new devotion to eradicating the Taliban and fighting terrorism, Dorronsoro said.

"But the arrest was not a change in strategy; it was designed to cut off secret peace talks between Kabul and Baradar that left out Pakistan. The Taliban's connections with the Pakistani military persist," he said.

"US policy on Pakistan, however, is disconnected from reality. Washington continues to funnel money to the Pakistani government to move against the Afghan-Taliban — but this is yesterday's policy," Dorronsoro said.

"It's far too late for the Pakistani army to reverse course. And even if Washington got what it wanted and high-level Taliban leaders were arrested, it would not kill the insurgency. The Taliban are too strong and the remaining players in Afghanistan will refuse to negotiate," he said.

In fact, he said, if Islamabad loses influence over the Afghan-Taliban, it will be a loss for Washington. "Instead of trying to disconnect the Pakistani government from the Taliban, the United States should use the links to start talking. The United States must start using the situation to its own advantage," Dorronsoro said.