Issues of ISI links with terrorists taken up with Pak: Kerry



Washington: A powerful US Senator and a close foreign policy aid of President Barack Obama has said the issue of Pakistani intelligence agency ISI having links with terrorist groups has been taken up with the highest level of the leadership in Islamabad.

Pointing out that these allegations were not new, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator John Kerry said: "We have been wrestling with these allegations and we have made some progress."

Kerry said: "these allegations about ties between extremists and Pakistan's intelligence agency are not new allegations. It is important for everybody to understand that."

His comments come after leak of voluminous classified documents on the war against terrorism in Afghanistan by web whistleblower WikiLeaks which said the ISI continues to help and assist al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

The Senator said, "(Pak Army Chief) General (Ashfaq Pervez) Kayani, (the ISI Chief) General Pasha, and others have been over here. We have had a number of meetings. We've been over there. This is not a sort of revelation of a topic."

"This is something we have been dealing with, and many people believe we are making some progress, particularly when measured against the offensives the Pakistanis themselves have taken in Swat and in South Waziristan, with great political difficulty and with great risk to themselves," Kerry said.

Condemning the leak of Pentagon papers, Kerry said the release of any classified information is unacceptable.

"It breaks the law. And equally important, it compromises the efforts of our troops in the field and has the potential of putting people in harm's way," he said.

"These documents appear to be primarily raw intelligence reports from the field. And as such, anybody who has dealt with these reports knows that some are completely dismissible, some of them are completely unreliable, and some of them are very reliable," he said.

"But raw intelligence needs to be processed properly, generally by people who have a context in which to put it. And so I think people need to be very careful in evaluating what they do read there," Kerry said.

"I also want to emphasise that the events covered in these documents occurred before last December, when the President announced a new Afghanistan strategy clearly designed to address some of the very issues that are raised by these documents. Obviously in many cases, many of us have raised the issues in these documents with the Pakistanis and with the Afghans," Kerry said.

"All of us, however, are concerned that after nearly nine years of war, more than 1,000 American casualties, and billions of US taxpayer dollars, the Taliban appear to be as strong as they have been," he noted.

"To successfully reverse that trend, it is going to be very important for us to depend on our partners in Afghanistan and Pakistan," Kerry said.

Bureau Report