REPORTING FROM ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN -- Experts have long theorized that Pakistan’s preferred scenario for a postwar Afghanistan includes the Taliban’s return to power in Kabul. A security think tank’s 2011 email, recently reported by the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, suggests that may not be the case.
The email, drafted by Kamran Bokhari, an analyst with the private think tank Stratfor, describes a meeting that Bokhari had in April 2011 with Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who at the time was chief of Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s main spy agency. Pasha retired earlier this month after heading the ISI for 3 1/2 years.
In the email, Bokhari recounts Pasha’s views on Afghanistan and the U.S.-led 10-year war with Afghan Taliban insurgents. “He said the Americans are stuck with the old notion that Pakistan wants to see the Taliban come to power again in Afghanistan. ... This is an outdated view, because Islamabad has long given up that goal, given the threat to Pakistani security. We do not wish to see the Talibs dominate Afghanistan.
“On the contrary,” Bokhari’s recollection of Pasha’s remarks continued, “we want to see a broad-based government that can end the civil war in that country, which has had a disastrous fallout for us. Of course, the Talibs will be a key player in a post-NATO Afghanistan, which we feel is necessary for true peace to take place. But that is just an acknowledgment of a reality [rather] than a desire on our part to see Talibs rule Kabul.”
Even if accurate, however, it is difficult to reconcile Pasha’s remarks with what the U.S. has repeatedly said is the ISI’s active support of Afghan Taliban insurgents and the agency's refusal to pursue Afghan militants who use Pakistani territory as staging areas for attacks against Western coalition troops in Afghanistan.
One of those staging areas is the tribal region of North Waziristan along the Afghan border. In Bokhari’s email, Pasha explains that the Pakistani military has yet to launch an offensive in North Waziristan solely because it has yet to fully secure neighboring tribal regions once overrun by militants.
“The issue is one of logistics,” Bokhari’s email quoted Pasha as saying.
-- Alex Rodriguez