ISI links with Taliban would not be surprising: Petraeus

A top American military commander headed for Afghanistan has said he would not be surprised by links between Pakistan`s spy agency ISI and Islamist extremist organisations.

Last Updated: Jun 30, 2010, 18:25 PM IST

Washington: A top American military
commander headed for Afghanistan has said he would not be
surprised by links between Pakistan`s spy agency ISI and
Islamist extremist organisations, who have established a safe
haven in Pakistan`s restive tribal region.

"Let`s remember that we funded the Inter-Services
Intelligence (ISI) to build these organisations when they were
the Mujahideen and helping to expel the Soviets from
Afghanistan. And so certainly residual links would not be a
surprise," General David Petraeus, Commander of the US Central
Command, told US lawmakers.
"The question is what the character of those links is
and what the activities are behind them," he said responding
to a question from Senator John McCain at his confirmation
hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Currently the Commander of the US Central Command,
Petraeus has been nominated by the US President as the new
Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan after the
resignation of General Stanley McChrystal last week.

McChrystal had to resign after the appearance of an
interview in which he was very critical of top officials of
the Obama Administration.

When asked whether it was a matter of "concern" that
Pakistan and the ISI continues to work with the Taliban,
Petraeus said it is necessary to figure out if they are
working with the Taliban to support the Taliban or to recruit
sources in the Taliban.

"Well, again, what we have to always figure out with
Pakistan center is, are they working with the Taliban to
support the Taliban or to recruit sources in the Taliban,"
Petraeus said.

"And that`s the difficulty, frankly, in trying to
assess what the ISI is doing in some of their activities in
the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, in contacts with the
Haqqani network, or the Afghan Taliban," he said.
But for the top commander "there are no questions
about the longstanding lengths," referring to the past when
ISI mentored and helped in the growth of such terrorist
organisations.

PTI