US 'extremely concerned' over ISI role in 'supporting terrorist groups'

Washington, Oct 8 (ANI): Top US defence officials have expressed concerns that some elements of Pakistan's spy agency may be involved in improper interactions with the Taliban and other insurgent groups, Pentagon spokesman Colonel David Lapan has disclosed.

Talking to reporters at the Pentagon, Lapan revealed that US officials were concerned about some elements of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) having interactions with insurgents that "may be seen as supporting terrorist groups rather than going after them."

When asked whether the ISI was supporting terrorists, he said, "I don't want to go that far, and that's why I said interaction ... Elements of the ISI might be interacting with terrorist organizations in ways that aren't consistent with what the government and the military are doing."

The spokesman added that the Pakistani Army Chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, himself a former spy chief, was aware of the US' concerns over the ISI agency and shared some of them.

"The ISI has done a great deal in fighting terrorism ... but we also have some concerns with ... the strategic focus of the ISI," he said.

Lapan's comments followed a newspaper report this week that quoted some US officials and Afghan militants as disclosing that some ISI members were pressing the Taliban to field commanders to fight against the US and its allies in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs has said that Washington appreciated Pakistan's efforts "to put Al Qaeda under the type of pressure in the tribal areas that it has never faced before." However, he added that the status quo was still not acceptable, which was also underscored in the report to Congress.

Earlier this week, the White House had sent an assessment of the Afghanistan war to Congress, mentioning that Pakistani forces had avoided direct conflict with Al Qaeda and the Taliban, in part for political reasons.

"The Pakistan military continued to avoid military engagements that would put it in direct conflict with Afghan Taliban or Al Qaeda forces in North Waziristan," the White House report stated, adding, "This is as much a political choice as it is a reflection of an under-resourced military prioritising its targets." (ANI)

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