Despite US pressure, Pakistani forces have been unable or unwilling to effectively counter Taliban militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan, fuelling speculation over the role of Pakistan's spy agency, a leading strategic think tank in London says.
“Notwithstanding US pressure on Pakistan to use its army and frontier corps more actively and effectively in the tribal areas and Swat in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), Pakistani security forces in general remain unable or unwilling to effectively counter the resurgent Afghan and TTP [Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan] militants,” the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) here said in its annual report.
It said this has led to allegations of “official Pakistani complicity - particularly by serving or retired members of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) - in providing assistance to the Afghan Taliban, which Pakistan has denied.”
The London-based think tank said in its Military Balance 2009, published on Tuesday, that there was also speculation that the ISI provided Afghan Taliban militants details of the US military campaign, “which in some cases enabled the fighters to escape US missile strikes in the tribal areas”.
In this context it mentioned speculation over the alleged involvement of the ISI in the deadly suicide car-bomb attack carried out by Jalaluddin Haqqani's Afghan Taliban on the Indian embassy in Kabul on July 7, 2008, which has also been denied by Pakistan.
However, the report said Pakistan's military operations targeting the Taliban and the Al Qaeda in the Bajaur Agency of the tribal areas have been “relatively more effective”.
As a result of these operations since August 2008, the IISS said, an estimated 220,000 people have been displaced from the area.
It said the Pakistani Taliban - known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP - had begun to control “large swathes” of the tribal areas and were beginning to spread their influence to the NWFP, which in turn has seen an increase in cross-border attacks against coalition forces and civilians in Afghanistan.