Papers released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) demonstrate that the government of Pakistan funded and equipped the Taliban throughout the 90’s. It’s what I have long said here, but now there is proof. Benazir Bhutto funded them, Nawaz Sharif funded them, all the while living like Moghuls while Pakistan remained underdeveloped.
Many blame the Saudi-influenced Islamist nature of Pakistan on Zia-al-Haq, but these papers demonstrate that the policies were just continued under Bhutto and Sharif. So during the massacres in Afghanistan, during the terror attacks, and during the destruction of society of Afhanistan the Pakistan government did more than just look the other way; they supported it all. Here’s a historical example from August, nine years ago
August, Taliban finally capture Mazar-i-Sharif, and massacre thousands of innocent civilians afterwards, mostly Hazaras. August 20 United States launches cruise missiles hitting Afghanistan’s Khost region. US states its intent was to destroy terrorist bases/training facilities used by Osama bin Laden and his followers. September, Tensions rise between Iran and the Taliban. Iranians are angry about the killing of their diplomats and a journalist by the Taliban when they captured Mazar-i-Sharif. Soon they deploy 70,000 troops to carry out military exercises near the Afghan border. In the end, no fighting occurs between the Taliban and the Iranian army.
The US had stopped with support for the Mujahadeen after the Soviet pull-out, and keeping a large army fed and paid takes large amounts of money. Pakistan under Bhutto and Sharif paid their salaries, and bought their weapons. The sack of Kabul, the massacres, the institution of radical extreme sharia, all purchased with Saudi and Pakistani aid.
From the papers in the NSA Archives at George Washington University:
A collection of newly-declassified documents published today detail U.S. concern over Pakistan’s relationship with the Taliban during the seven-year period leading up to 9-11. This new release comes just days after Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, acknowledged that, “There is no doubt Afghan militants are supported from Pakistan soil.” While Musharraf admitted the Taliban were being sheltered in the lawless frontier border regions, the declassified U.S. documents released today clearly illustrate that the Taliban was directly funded, armed and advised by Islamabad itself.
Similar to the October 22, 1996 Intelligence Information Report (IIR), this IIR reiterates how “Pakistan’s ISI is heavily involved in Afghanistan,” but also details different roles various ISI officers play in Afghanistan. Stating that Pakistan uses sizable numbers of its Pashtun-based Frontier Corps in Taliban-run operations in Afghanistan, the document clarifies that, “these Frontier Corps elements are utilized in command and control; training; and when necessary – combat. Elements of Pakistan’s regular army force are not used because the army is predominantly Punjabi, who have different features as compared to the Pashtun and other Afghan tribes.”
According to the document, Pakistan’s Frontier Corps provide some of the combat training in Kandahar or Herat provided to Pakistani madrassa students that come to Afghanistan to fight with the Taliban. The parents of these students apparently know nothing regarding their child’s military involvement with the Taliban “until their bodies are brought back to Pakistan.”
So during that August Hazara massacre above, who was leading the Taliban, was it Bin Laden, Zawahiri, or Nawaz Sharif in charge of Kalashnikov Culture? From the papers over that period:
- November 1996: Pakistan’s Pashtun-based “Frontier Corps elements are utilized in command and control; training; and when necessary – combat” alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan. [Doc 17]
- March 1998: Al-Qaeda and Pakistan government-funded Harakat ul-Ansar (HUA) have been sharing terrorist training camps in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan for years [Link Doc 16], and HUA has increasingly been moving ideologically closer to al-Qaeda. The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad is growing increasingly concerned as Fazlur Rahman Khalil, a leader in Pakistan’s Harakat ul-Ansar has signed Osama bin Laden’s most recent fatwa promoting terrorist activities against U.S. interests. [Doc 26]
- September 1998 [Doc 31] and March 1999 [Doc 33]: The U.S. Department of State voices concern that Pakistan is not doing all it can to pressure the Taliban to surrender Osama bin Laden. “Pakistan has not been responsive to our requests that it use its full influence on the Taliban surrender of Bin Ladin.” [Doc 33]
- September 2000: A cable cited in The 9/11 Commission Report notes that Pakistan’s aid to the Taliban has reached “unprecedented” levels, including recent reports that Islamabad has possibly allowed the Taliban to use territory in Pakistan for military operations. Furthermore the U.S. has “seen reports that Pakistan is providing the Taliban with materiel, fuel, funding, technical assistance and military advisors.” [Doc 34]
During that period Iran was agitating against Pakistan as was India – the why of the creation of the original mujahadeen is understood, but how they changed to Taliban and the factors of their continuance were a mystery until now. Pakistan does not need these snakes in their house anymore to dissuade their neighbors from visiting, and it is time they were rid of them. I would also warn the liberals in America who are pushing Nawaz Sharif and Bhutto as moderates — you better know more about who you back.
More on Pakistan’s backing of the Taliban in the 90’s here.