LONDON, June 13 (UPI) — Pakistani intelligence is funding, training and providing sanctuary to the Afghan Taliban on a scale much larger than previously thought, a new report says.
The report by the London School of Economics says backing the Taliban is actually the “official” policy of Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI, the BBC reported Sunday.
“This goes far beyond just limited, or occasional support,” report author Matt Waldman said. “We’re also saying this is official policy of that agency, and we’re saying that it is very extensive.”
To prepare the report, Waldman said he interviewed Taliban field commanders who corroborated the ISI’s involvement.Input was also provided by a Western analyst and a senior United Nations official based in the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Pakistan has long been accused of using the Taliban to further its foreign policy interests in Afghanistan.
The report comes at the end of one of the deadliest weeks for NATO troops in Afghanistan with more than 30 forces killed.
Some alleged that ISI agents had even attended meetings of the Taliban’s top leadership council,
the so-called Quetta shura. They claim that by backing the insurgents Pakistan’s security service is trying to undermine Indian influence in Afghanistan.
“These accounts were corroborated by former Taliban ministers, a Western analyst and a senior UN official based in Kabul, who said the Taliban largely depend on funding from the ISI and groups in Gulf countries,” the report said.
With US troops due to begin leaving next year, Pakistan and other regional players are increasingly seeking ways to assert their influence in Afghanistan, analysts say.
Pakistan has long been accused of using the Taliban to further its foreign policy interests in the country. The ISI first became involved in funding and training militants in Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion in 1979.
Since 2001, however, it has been a key US ally, receiving billions of dollars in aid in return for helping fight al-Qaeda
“Pakistan appears to be playing a double-game of astonishing magnitude,” the report says.