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Friday, March 27, 2009

Pak, Taliban in “ambiguous” relationship: Eikenberry

Pakistan's security forces and its intelligence agency have facilitated the rise of the Taliban, with whom they have an "ambiguous" relationship, a former top American army official, now headed to become the country's representative to Afghanistan has said. ISI's relationship with Taliban remains "unclear and ambiguous," Lt Gen Karl Eikenberry, nominated by the US President as his next Ambassador to Afghanistan, said terming it a focus area for the US administration right now. Eikenberry, who was the top US commander in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007 said this during his testimony in response to a question from Senator John Kerry, who is Chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "The Pakistan army, ISI, has had a very unclear - has had a very ambiguous relationship with the Taliban over the last 15 years," he told Kerry when asked to comment on a New York Times report about ISI's involvement in supporting the Taliban and facilitating their activities. "Pakistan of course and its security forces and the ISI are the ones that facilitated the rise of the Taliban, when it first advanced into Afghanistan in the mid-1990s.
Since that time, it's been unclear if all elements of ISI have dropped their support for Taliban and their extremist allies," he said. "The ongoing discussions that we have right now, with Pakistan, with Afghanistan and with ourselves of course are focusing on this problem," Eikenberry said. He said the trilateral initiatives that have begun under the aegis of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have appeared to be promising in their focus on the problem. "I know that in early May, there are another set of talks between Afghan, Pakistan and the US leaders, which will include intelligence exchanges. So this is what we're going to need to continue to have to do is to try to get cooperation and collaboration, not only between the United States and Pakistan but very importantly with Afghanistan as well," he said.

Published: March 27, 2009

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