This is a December 6, 1994, cable from the US Embassy in Islamabad. Originally, the cable was classified SECRET, which is above the CONFIDENTIAL classification of the other documents we have examined in this series. Additionally, it was marked NOFORN -- not to be released to foreign nationals.
The cable was from the US Embassy in Islamabad to the Secretary of State's office in Washington, copying appropriate other destinations for information. The redacted title is "______ BELIEVE PAKISTAN IS BACKING TALIBAN".
[GOP = Government of Pakistan; ISI = Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence; CAR = Central Asian Road (road leading from Pakistan, through Afghanistan, to the Central Asian Republics.)]
1. SECRET - ENTIRE TEXT.
2. SUMMARY: A WELL-INFORMED [redacted] SOURCE CLAIMS THAT THE BURGEONING TALIBAN (STUDENTS) MOVEMENT IN AFGHANISTAN IS BEING DIRECTLY SUPPORTED BY PAKISTAN. [redacted] BELIEVES PAKISTAN'S INTERIOR MINISTER IS THE PRINCIPAL PATRON OF THE TALIBAN, AND THAT ISI ADVISED AGAINST SUPPORTING THEM. END SUMMARY.
This is along the lines of what we have been getting at in this series.
We have one element in the GOP that supports the Taliban -- the same element that wants the CAR opened: Pakistan's Interior Minister. And, we have another element that advised against it, but that may have been tasked to make it happen: the ISI.
3. [redacted] CONFIDED TO POLOFF NOVEMBER 29 THAT HE HAD ACCOMPANIED [redacted] TO KABUL AT A MEETING WITH ISI DIRGEN LTGEN. GENERAL ASHRAF THE PREVIOUS WEEK. IN THE MEETING, [redacted] ASHRAF HAD VEHEMENTLY DENIED THAT HIS AGENCY HAD ANY ROLE IN SUPPORTING THE AFGHAN TALIBAN MOVEMENT IN KANDAHAR (SEE REFTEL).
4. THE ISI DIRGEN REPORTEDLY TOLD [redacted] THAT HE HAD STRONGLY RECOMMENDED TO PM BHUTTO THAT THE GOP NOT SUPPORT THE TALIBAN IN ANY WAY. [redacted] THE GENERAL PREDICTED THAT THE TALIBAN COULD BECOME A DANGEROUS AND UNCONTROLLABLE FORCE WHICH COULD HARM BOTH AFGHANISTAN AND -- POTENTIALLY -- PAKISTAN.
Might it be that the head of the ISI, Ashraf, convinced Pakistan's then-Prime Minister, Bhutto, not to support the Taliban? But, that the Interior Minister was working with elements that he was connected to in the ISI to do it anyway?
Or, might Bhutto have disregarded Ashraf's advice, and heeded that of her Interior Minister instead?
Or, might the Interior Minister have been against it, too, and merely following Bhutto's orders?
5. [redacted] COMMENTED THAT ASHRAF'S REMARKS TRACKED WITH OTHER INFORMATION [redacted] HAD RECEIVED ABOUT THE TALIBAN. ACCORDING TO [redacted] THE TALIBAN'S SEPTEMBER SEIZURE OF THE SPIN BOLDAK ARMORY WAS PRECEDED BY ARTILLERY SHELLING OF THE BASE -- FROM PAKISTANI FRONTIER CORPS POSITIONS. THE ENSUING CONFUSION HAD HELPED THE TALIBAN TO CAPTURE THE WELL-DEFENDED OUTPOST. [redacted] CLAIMED TO HAVE EVIDENCE THAT THREE SEPARATE TALIBAN UNITS WERE INVOLVED IN ASSAULTING THE BASE, WITH COORDINATION PROVIDED BY PAKISTANI OFFICERS ON THE SCENE. THE TALIBAN'S MILITARY COMPETENCE (QUICKLY ROUTING TWO MAJOR BATTLE-TESTED COMMANDERS IN KANDAHAR -- NIFA COMMANDER LALLAIE AND HIG COMMANDER SAR KHATIB), AND THEIR USE OF TANKS AND HELICOPTERS, STRONGLY SUGGESTED PAKISTAN TUTELAGE OR DIRECT CONTROL, [redacted].
This sheds light on Taliban military capabilities. Here, their battlefield victory was credited to Pakistani support, specifically a Frontier Corps artillery barrage that disrupted the Taliban's enemy, and Pakistani on-scene coordination. In Part 3 we saw how the Taliban paid off their enemies, instead of fighting them.
The Taliban ability to use crew-served and higher-tech equipment -- artillery, armor, even helicopters -- is also taken to be indicative of Pakistani support.
[The last paragraph, with the comments, should have been numbered 6, but was misnumbered 5 -- YD.]
5. COMMENT: [redacted] IS AN EXTREMELY WELL-INFORMED AND RELIABLE SOURCE AND WE DO NOT DOUBT THAT HE HAS ACCURATELY CHARACTERIZED ASHRAF'S COMMENTS [redacted] THERE APPEARS TO BE LITTLE DOUBT THAT SOME ELEMENTS IN PAKISTAN (PRIVATE AND/OR GOVERNMENTAL) HAVE SUPPORTED THE TALIBAN. WHETHER THAT SUPPORT CONTINUES, IS AS MUCH AS [redacted] BELIEVE, AND, IF SO, WHETHER IT GAVE THE GOP MUCH LEVERAGE OVER THE TALIBAN, REMAINS VERY MUCH IN DOUBT. END COMMENT.
We saw from the very first post in this series that "someone" was believed to be supporting the Taliban and trying to pull their strings, but that observers agreed the Taliban was not in fact under that "someone's" control, and was not going to be anyone's puppet. We also suggested that elements in Pakistan were, at least in part, that "someone".
Here we see these ideas being surfaced again.