London, Dec 1 (ANI): Pakistan's army is covertly sponsoring four major militant groups- including the Afghan Taliban and the Mumbai attackers, Lashkar-e-Taiba- and "no amount of money" will change the policy, the US ambassador to Pakistan warned in a frank critique revealed by the state department cables, according to WikiLeaks.
Although Pakistan had received more than $16bn (10bn pound) in American aid since 2001, "there is no chance that Pakistan will view enhanced assistance ... as sufficient compensation for abandoning support to these groups", The Guardian quoted the then US envoy to Pakistan, Anne Patterson, as writing in a secret review of Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy in September 2009.
The assessment highlights a stark contradiction- that one of Washington's key allies is quietly propping up its enemies- and is an admission of the limits of US power in a country that still views India, not the Taliban, as its principal threat, the paper said.
According to it, as Washington is fearful of deploying troops to fight al-Qaida in Pakistan, money has been its main weapon since 2001, with the US having given the army nine billion dollars to fight the Taliban and al-Qaida in the tribal belt, and on October 22 the White House announced an extra 2-billion-dollar aid over the next five years.
Although Pakistan generals insist that they have cut erstwhile ties with the Taliban and other militant groups, the secret cables show that US diplomats and spies believe the Pakistan Army and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency continue quietly to back selected militant groups, the paper added.
Four are singled out: the Afghan Taliban, its allied Haqqani and Hekmatyar networks on the western Afghan frontier, and Lashkar-e-Taiba on the eastern border with India. Some ISI officials "continue to maintain ties with a wide array of extremist organisations, in particular the Taliban, LeT and other extremist organisations," the paper quoted Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, as having written in December 2009.
A senior ISI official said: "These are assertions without evidence and nothing more than allegations or points of view, as such do not merit a response." The main concern was "how such sensitive information could find its way to a media outlet, and continues to do so," he added.
But Dr Peter Lavoy, a senior intelligence official, told a meeting of NATO allies in November 2008 that the ISI allowed the Taliban's Quetta Shura leadership council to "operate unfettered" in Balochistan, while it provided the Waziristan-based Haqqani network with "intelligence and financial support to conduct attacks in Afghanistan against Afghan government, ISAF and Indian targets ... Pakistan continues to define India as its number one threat and insists that India plays an overactive role in Afghanistan."
Pakistan's army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, had been "utterly frank" about the consequences of a pro-India government coming to power in Kabul, noted a 2009 briefing in advance of his visit to Washington. "The Pakistani establishment will dramatically increase support for Taliban groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan, which they see as ... an important counterweight."
Alarmed by the links with Haqqani, whose fighters kill American soldiers in Afghanistan, and fearful that its policy towards Lashkar-e-Taiba could trigger nuclear war with India, US officials have urged Kayani to change course. "The biggest single message Kayani should hear in Washington is that this support must end," the paper quoted one dispatch, as saying. (ANI)