Islamabad: The Pakistan Army has strongly objected to the report of the London School of Economics (LSE) which blamed the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of assisting the Taliban, describing it as part of a malicious campaign against the country’s military and security agencies.
Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) spokesperson Major General Athar Abbas criticised the report and questioned its credibility.
“It is baseless. The sacrifices by Pakistan’s Army and the ISI and the casualties in the war on terror speak for themselves. We have a series of questions on the credibility of the report,” Abbas told a foreign news agency.
According to the LSE’s report, which is said to be based on interviews with nine Afghan Taliban commanders, the ISI is providing funding, training and sanctuary to the Taliban on a scale much larger than previously thought.
The report also said that President Asif Ali Zardari was reported to have visited senior Taliban prisoners in Pakistan earlier this year, where he is believed to have promised their release and help for militant operations.
However, the presidential spokeswoman, Farah Ispahani, dismissed the allegations in the report as “absolutely spurious”.
“There seems to be a concentrated effort to try to damage the new Pakistan-American strategic dialogue,” Ispahani said.
The report stated that during the meeting, Zardari told the captive extremist leaders that Islamabad was under tremendous pressure from the US to dismantle the Taliban’s terror sanctuary in Pakistan and nab the ringleaders, nevertheless the Pakistan government would continue backing the Afghan insurgency.
“You are our people, we are friends, and after your release we will of course support you to do your operations,” sources quoted Zardari, as saying.
During his visit, Zardari is also said to have met Mullah Ghani Baradar, Taliban’s second in command, who was captured near Karachi in January this year.
Five days after Zardari’s visit, a handful of Taliban prisoners were driven into Quetta and set free, in line with the ‘president’s pledge’, the report said.
“This report is consistent with Pakistan’s political history in which civilian leaders actively backed jihadi groups that operate in Afghanistan and Kashmir,” the report added.