Pak reluctant to act against Taliban and al-Qaeda: US report

Concerns that Afghanistan and India became too close in the post-2001 period was one reason why Pakistan was reluctant to act against Taliban and al- Qaeda.

New York: Concerns that Afghanistan and
India became too close in the post-2001 period was one reason
why Pakistan was reluctant to act against Taliban and al-
Qaeda, according to a report, which recommends engagement with
the militants to end the conflict in the restive nation.

The report, `Separating the Taliban from al-Qaeda: The
core of success in Afghanistan,` argued that Pakistan was
hesitant to take on the Taliban and al-Qaeda as they
regarded the government in Kabul as too close to India.

"They regarded the government in Kabul as too close to
India and maintained the former rulers they had supported as a
tool of pressure to protect Pakistan?s security interests,"
said the report published by New York University today.

"From a Pakistani perspective, the post-2001
period was a balancing act in which publicly expressed
interests differed from those expressed privately," according
to the report by Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn.

It said General Pervez Musharraf and other officials
"made numerous public statements pledging support for US
goals, but at the same time drew private conclusions that the
interests of Pakistan were not best served by moving against
the Taliban and their associates".

The main focus of the article, however, is to
underline the differences between al-Qaeda and Taliban, and to
recommend engagement with the latter as a way to end the
conflict in Afghanistan.

"Elements of the Pakistani state also thought they
could use an insurgency in Afghanistan as pressure against the
Afghan government and the US," the report said.

"Al-Qaeda has had little or no influence on the origin
and course of the insurgency, though it has assisted with
training and fund raising,? it said.

Both authors have lived and worked in Afghanistan for
several years.

The New York Times described them as being "among a
small group of experts who say the only way to end the war in
Afghanistan is to begin peace overtures to the Taliban."

"There is room to engage the Taliban on the issues of
renouncing al-Qaeda and providing guarantees against the use
of Afghanistan by international terrorists in a way that will
achieve core US goals," the report said.

It said that Taliban leaders were not in the loop
about the 9/11 attacks but the authors noted that Taliban
chief Mullah Mohammad Omar’s decision to protect al-Qaeda
chief Osama Bin Laden was "difficult to rationalize."

But it was in part because Mullah Omar thought he had
Pakistan`s support before the US attacked following the 9/11
terror strikes.

"He believed that the Taliban?s standing in the
Islamic world depended on resisting U.S. demands about bin
Laden," the report said.

"In the run-up to the start of Operation Enduring
Freedom, Pakistan also repeatedly assured the Taliban of its
support, contributing to Mullah Mohammad Omar’s
determination," it said.

PTI

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