The BBC says that a leaked NATO report "fully exposes" the intimate relationship between the Taliban and Pakistan's internal security services. According to the correspondent who has seen the report, interviews with captured Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters say that Islamabad "knows everything" about the Taliban and "manipulates" senior Taliban leaders to serve their own interests.
A Pakistani ministry spokesman said the accusations are "ridiculous." NATO would not comment on the report because it's supposed to be classified.
The report also suggests that Afghan civilians are increasingly preferring the Taliban to the government in Kabul, which they see as corrupt and under the influence of Western nations. Once NATO soliders leave the country, it's expected that Afghan security forces, in league with the Taliban will take control of the country.
The report itself says it is "derived directly from insurgents it should be considered informational and not necessarily analytical," meaning a lot of it could just be talk from prisoners who say things their captors want to hear. But it also claims that senior Taliban representatives live in Islamabad, near ISI headquarters, and one fighter is quoted saying, "I can't [expletive] on a tree in Kunar without them [Pakistan] watching."
As with all things having to do with Pakistan however, the relationships are complicated. Pakistan's military has been fighting with Taliban units for weeks over control of a strategic mountaintop in the northwest part of their country, while at the same time being accused of protecting major al-Qaeda terrorists. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta angered the Pakistanis this week when he essentially accused people in their government of knowing the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, but doing nothing about it. The truth is that Pakistan is a divided country, with competing interests and loyalties both between and within the military, the civilian government, and the intelligence services.
Meanwhile, Taliban militants also find themselves maneuvering for position in a post-NATO world, both "surrendering" to security forces and battling them as the situation warrants. It's almost as if everyone — government, Taliban, military, spies, and civilians — are only looking out for themselves and will take sides without anyone that helps them get what they want. Shocking, but true.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.