Sunday, October 09, 2005

Arrest Points to Murky Taliban-Pakistan Ties

WaPo reported The recent arrest here of a Taliban spokesman was hailed by Pakistani authorities as a significant blow in the war against terrorism. But others wonder what took them so long.

Could it be that the Taliban came from Pakistan, and hence have a significant amount of political influence in the country. Musharraf has to take it very easy when he does something publically against the Taliban
As the semi-official voice of the Taliban, Abdul Latif Hakimi was in regular contact with news agencies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, calling with the latest inflated claims of U.S. and Afghan casualties at the hands of Taliban fighters. Sometimes he provided reporters with a Pakistani cell phone number.... Even now, some senior Pakistani officials acknowledge they were not troubled by the presence of Hakimi, whom they describe as a propagandist with no direct involvement in violence. They arrested him only after repeated complaints from Afghan and U.S. officials. In phone calls to reporters, Hakimi sometimes claimed to be in Afghanistan, suggesting he was able to cross the border with little difficulty. "We never went after him because he was not engaged in any militant activity," said a senior Pakistani intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Frankly we never took notice."
Or perhaps a better way of putting it, is that a lot of Pakistani intelligence officers support the Taliban, and we did not think Hakimi was worth ticking them off.
The Hakimi case speaks volumes about Pakistan's complex relationship with the Taliban. In particular, it underscores the conflict between the government's generally pro-American foreign policy and its reluctance to sever all ties with the Taliban, which it supported until 2001. The fundamentalist Muslim militia, which ruled most of Afghanistan for five years until being ousted by a U.S.-led assault in late 2001, retains considerable support in Pakistan, especially in the restive tribal areas on the Afghan border. As Taliban fighters have escalated their attacks on U.S. and Afghan forces in recent months, the Afghan government, with some U.S. backing, has repeatedly accused Pakistan of allowing the Taliban to use its territory for recruitment, logistics and training. Although the criticism ebbed slightly after last month's relatively peaceful parliamentary elections in Afghanistan, analysts said Hakimi's arrest was not likely to put those suspicions to rest -- and in some ways even vindicated them.

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