US hesitant about endorsing LSE report on ISI-Afghan Taliban links

Last Updated: Sun, Jun 20, 2010 08:00 hrs

The United States appears to be hesitant about endorsing a London School of Economics (LSE) report, which blames Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) for maintaining links with the Afghan Taliban.

It, however, has also not rejected the damning report completely.

Speaking during a congressional hearing earlier this week, General David Petraeus, the CENTCOM commander overseeing America's war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, said he doesn't approve the conclusion of the LSE's report "in all respects".

"Well, first of all, I don't want to imply that I would accept the London School of Economics study or the individual who wrote that for them, his conclusions in all respects," General Petraeus said.

The LSE's report had claimed that supporting the Afghan Taliban was the "official policy" of the ISI.

Although General Petraeus acknowledged that "some of those ties continue in various forms", he said that such links were useful too.

"Some of them, by the way, gathering intelligence ... you have to have contact with bad guys to get intelligence on bad guys. And so it's very important, I think, again, to try to have this kind of nuance feel for what is really going on," The Dawn quoted General Petraeus, as saying.

"I do believe that the Pakistanis - the people, the leaders, the clerics, and the military - all recognise that you cannot allow poisonous snakes to have a nest in your backyard. Even if the tacit agreement is that they're going to bite the neighbour's kids instead of yours, eventually they turn around and bite you and your kids," he added.

According to the LSE's report, which is said to be based on interviews with nine Afghan Taliban commanders, the ISI is providing funds, training and sanctuary to the Taliban on a scale much larger than previously thought.

The report also said that President Asif Ali Zardari was reported to have visited senior Taliban prisoners in Pakistan earlier this year, where he is believed to have promised their release and help for militant operations. (ANI)