Pak wanted US to talk to Taliban post 9/11, but Bush rejected

As the US prepared to invade Afghanistan in 2001 after 9/11 attacks, Pakistan`s powerful ISI wanted America to enter into a dialogue with the Taliban.

Last Updated: Sep 14, 2010, 11:21 AM IST

Washington: As the US prepared to invade
Afghanistan in 2001 after 9/11 attacks, Pakistan`s powerful
ISI wanted America to enter into a dialogue with the Taliban,
but the then Bush administration "bluntly" told President
Pervez Musharraf that it had no inclination to do so.

According to classified documents released by the
National Security Archive of the George Washington University,
two days after al Qaeda unleashed terror on the US, its envoy
to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlin "bluntly" told Musharraf on
September 13, 2001 that there was "absolutely no inclination
in Washington to enter into a dialogue with the Taliban, which
controlled Afghanistan at that time.

"The time for dialogue was finished as of September
11," he told Musharraf, the documents said. However, Pakistan,
as the Taliban`s primary sponsor, disagreed.

The documents also say Musharraf, who was facing the
US heat because of his support to the Taliban regime, accepted
"unconditionally" in 24 hours all seven demands made by the US
like stopping al Qaeda at the border, provide the US
with blanket landing rights to conduct operations and
territorial and naval access and help in "destroying Osama bin
Laden".

However, events thereafter, showed that such an
acceptance was just a "tactical move" by Musharraf for all
practical purposes there was not much change in the polices of
his government, the documents say.

The then ISI chief Mahmoud Ahmad also told the then US
ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlin "not to act in anger".

"Real victory will come in negotiations... If the
Taliban are eliminated... Afghanistan will revert to
warlordism," the documents quoted Ahmad as saying.

The then ISI chief wanted the US to give Pakistan some
time as he was headed for another trip to Afghanistan on
September 25, 2001 to meet the top Taliban leadership in this
regard, said the classified cable dated September 23, 2001.

ISI chief Ahmad returned to Afghanistan to make a
last-minute plea to the Taliban.

General Ahmad told Wendy Chamberlin "his mission was
taking place in parallel with US Pakistani military planning"
and that in his estimation, "a negotiated solution would be
preferable to military action."

"I implore you," Ahmad told the ambassador, "not to
act in anger. Real victory will come in negotiations..."

"(Taliban leader Mullah) Omar himself," he said, "is
frightened. That much was clear in his last meeting."

The ISI chief told the ambassador that America`s
strategic objectives of getting Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda
would best be accomplished by coercing the Taliban to do it
themselves.

PTI