`ISI sheltering Afghan Taliban leadership in Karachi`

Investigations reveal that ‘New Karachi Project’ started as “India centric”.

Updated: Jan 20, 2011, 15:49 PM IST

Islamabad: Most of the Afghan Taliban frontier leadership had reportedly been sheltered in Karachi under a Pakistani security establishment’s secret programme, the ‘New Karachi Project’, according to a newspaper report.

The whole notion that most of the Taliban leadership was stationed in Quetta was a “proxy… In reality it`s the Karachi Shura,” the Daily Times quoted a top NATO source, as saying.

The Taliban are known to have moved elements of their command to Karachi to avoid potential US targeting in Predator air strikes, and even elusive Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar is thought to be in a safe house in Karachi, under the protection of the ISI, the paper said.

Intense investigations reveal that the whole project, which initially started as “India centric”, has actually taken a global dimension, the paper added.

It was only after the ‘Forward Section 23’- which provided ‘cover and refugee to top militants- was closed under intense US pressure, that the ISI section in Karachi became the hub for anti-India activities, from where the Mumbai train bombing to 26/11 attacks were orchestrated’, said the paper, recalling that the boat used to travel to Mumbai to carry out the terrorist strike was bought from Karachi as well.

The ‘Karachi Project’ was confirmed by recent revelations made by a double agent, David Headley, who had been involved in carrying out the 26/11 massacre in Mumbai, the paper said.

In a recent testimony, Headley said he worked under the direct supervision of Pakistan’s top intelligence agency, the ISI, which shelters infamous Mumbai mobsters - Daud Ibrahim to Tiger Memon, and the top tier leadership of the Taliban, including Mullah Omar, the paper added.

This explains a top Middle Eastern intelligence official’s secret visit to Karachi, who was actively facilitating the negotiation process between Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the US and the Afghan Taliban, the paper said.

It also pointed out that Quetta Shura number two - Mullah Baradar- was caught from a Sunni-Deobandi-run religious seminary in Karachi, which is under the influence of Jamaat-e-Islami and the JUI-F, whose leaders had previously been caught sheltering high-profile al Qaeda leaders including Sheikh Khaled Muhammad - the 9/11 mastermind.

It is shelters like this particular seminary, along with many other “safe houses”, which are termed as “strategic assets” by the Pakistani security establishment, the paper added.