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Pak's ISI backs Al-Qaeda: UK report

The British Govt-commissioned report also claims, besides supporting Taliban, ISI aided Madrid and London bombers.

india Updated: Sep 28, 2006 22:01 IST
United News Of India
United News Of India

A British government-commissioned report allegedly claims that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency had supported Al-Qaeda and the Taliban and aided the Madrid and London bombers.

The report has been prepared by the Defence Academy, a Ministry of Defence thinktank.

The report, which was leaked to BBC's Newsnight programme, comes when Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The policy paper is also reported to propose using military links between British and Pakistani armed forces to persuade General Musharraf to step down as leader of the country, accept free elections, withdraw the army from civilian life and dismantle ISI.

Reacting angrily to the findings, the Pakistan President told the BBC, "These aspersions against ISI are by vested interests and by those who don't understand ground realities. I don't accept them at all and I reject them fully... Absolutely, 200 per cent, I reject it..."

"We don't like anybody advising us to dismantle ISI, least of all the [British] Ministry of Defence."

President Musharraf said he would raise the issues with Mr Blair today.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said the study in no way represented the views of the Ministry or of the Government. "To represent it as such is deeply irresponsible and the author is furious that his notes have been wilfully misrepresented in this manner," the spokesman said.

"Indeed, he suspects that they have been released to the BBC precisely in the hope that they would cause damage to our relations with Pakistan."

"Pakistan is a key ally in our efforts to combat international terrorism and her security forces have made considerable sacrifices in tackling Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. We are working closely with Pakistan to tackle the root causes of terrorism and extremism."

The leaked British report also "paints a stark picture of failure" on the War on Terror, according to Newsnight, suggesting that the West's fight against extremism was going nowhere with no end in sight.

The British report's author, who has a military background and links to MI6, travelled to Pakistan in June with a delegation on a fact-finding visit, the BBC programme stated. He is to have held interviews with the Pakistan army and academics to prepare a report about the Islamic country and the global war on terror. The BBC said it would not name him for security reasons.

The report states that ISI is supporting terrorism by secretly backing the coalition of religious parties in Pakistan known as the MNA.

"The Army's dual role in combating terrorism and at the same time promoting the MNA, and so indirectly supporting the Taliban through the ISI, is coming under closer and closer international scrutiny," the report said.

The British policy of supporting President Musharraf because he provides greater stability is flawed because Pakistan is "on the edge of chaos", the document claimed. It added, "Indirectly Pakistan, through the ISI, has been supporting terrorism and extremism whether in London on 7/7 or in Afghanistan or Iraq.

First Published: Sep 28, 2006 21:05 IST