THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Papers reveal doubt Pakistan is true US ally

Secret reports say Taliban get help

By Mark Mazzetti
New York Times / July 26, 2010

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NEW YORK — Americans fighting the war in Afghanistan have long harbored strong suspicions that Pakistan’s military spy service has guided the Afghan insurgency with a hidden hand, even as Pakistan receives more than $1 billion a year from Washington for its help combating the militants, according to a trove of secret military field reports made public yesterday.

The documents, made available by an organization called WikiLeaks, suggest that Pakistan allows representatives of its spy service to meet with the Taliban to organize networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even plot to assassinate Afghan leaders.

Taken together, the reports indicate that American soldiers on the ground are inundated with accounts of a network of Pakistani assets and collaborators that runs from the Pakistani tribal belt along the Afghan border, through southern Afghanistan, and all the way to Kabul.

Much of the information — raw intelligence and threat assessments gathered from the field in Afghanistan — cannot be verified and probably comes from sources aligned with Afghan intelligence, which considers Pakistan an enemy, and paid informants. Some accounts describe plots for attacks that do not appear to have taken place. But many of the reports rely on sources that the military rated as reliable.

While current and former American officials interviewed could not corroborate individual reports, they said that the portrait of the spy agency’s collaboration with the Afghan insurgency is broadly consistent with other classified intelligence.

Some of the reports describe Pakistani intelligence working alongside Al Qaeda to plan attacks. Analysts cautioned that although Pakistan’s militant groups and Al Qaeda work together, directly linking the Pakistani spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, with Al Qaeda is difficult.

The records also contain firsthand accounts of American anger at Pakistan’s unwillingness to confront insurgents who launched attacks near Pakistan borders, moved openly by the truckload across the frontier, and retreated to Pakistani territory.

The behind-the-scenes frustrations of soldiers on the ground and glimpses of what appear to be Pakistani skullduggery contrast sharply with the frequently rosy public pronouncements of Pakistan as an ally by American officials, looking to sustain a drone campaign over parts of Pakistani territory to strike at Al Qaeda havens. Administration officials also want to keep nuclear-armed Pakistan on their side to safeguard NATO supplies flowing on routes that cross Pakistan to Afghanistan.

The reports suggest that the Pakistani military has acted as both ally and enemy, as its spy agency runs what American officials have long suspected is a double game — appeasing certain American demands for cooperation while angling to exert influence in Afghanistan through many of the same insurgent networks that the Americans are fighting to eliminate.

Accusations that Pakistan is aiding insurgent groups are usually met with angry denials, particularly by the Pakistani military, which insists that the ISI severed its remaining ties to the groups years ago.

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