New Delhi: Following the 9/11 terror strikes, when the US had made up its mind to bombard Afghanistan, Pakistan`s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and then president Pervez Musharraf made all efforts to save the Taliban.
In fact, the ISI and Musharraf tried to persuade a red-faced Bush administration to hold a dialogue with the Taliban, as the Pakistan’s agency always regarded it as one of its strategic assets.
According to recently-released documents, "On September 13, 2001, US Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin `bluntly` told Pakistani President Musharraf that there was absolutely no inclination in Washington to enter into a dialogue with the Taliban.” The time for dialogue was finished as of September 11.
"Pakistan, as the Taliban’s primary sponsor, disagreed.” Documents show Pakistani Intelligence (ISI) chief Mahmoud told the ambassador “not to act in anger. Real victory will come in negotiations… If the Taliban are eliminated... Afghanistan will revert to warlordism.”
Pakistan not only made attempts to save its Taliban brethren from US wrath, but also tried to protect dreaded al Qaeda supremo Osama Bin Laden.
The document states, "Regarding the apprehension of Osama bin Laden, the ISI chief said it was better for the Afghans to do it. We could avoid the fallout.”
Mahmoud travelled to Afghanistan twice, on September 17, aboard an American plane, and again on September 24, 2001 to discuss the seriousness of the situation with Taliban leader Mullah Omar.
Ambassador Chamberlin said negotiations were pointless since Mullah Omar “had so far refused to meet even one US demand”.
Chamberlin told Mahmoud his meetings with Omar were fine, but they “could not delay military planning”.
The ISI`s proclivity with Taliban and al Qaeda is well known. The recently released WikiLeaks and now these documents extracted from National Security Archive Electronic Briefing speak volumes about the deep running alliance.
Ironically, nine years down the line, Pakistan is again pushing hard to reconcile with the Taliban, and this time, the US and NATO are supporting it.