The murky world of the war in Afghanistan got murkier today. The BBC got its hands on a NATO report:
The Taliban in Afghanistan are being directly assisted by Pakistani security services, according to a secret Nato report seen by the BBC.The leaked report, derived from thousands of interrogations, claims the Taliban remain defiant and have wide support among the Afghan people…The report alleges that Pakistan knows the locations of senior Taliban leaders…It notes: “Pakistan’s manipulation of the Taliban senior leadership continues unabatedly”.It says that Pakistan is aware of the locations of senior Taliban leaders.“Senior Taliban representatives, such as Nasiruddin Haqqani, maintain residences in the immediate vicinity of ISI headquarters in Islamabad,” it said.It quotes a senior al-Qaeda detainee as saying: “Pakistan knows everything. They control everything. I can’t [expletive] on a tree in Kunar without them watching.”
The report details what American diplomats and Afghanistan watchers have suspected for some time. American officials have jumped to play down the report, correctly pointing out that this information should not be taken at face value. Indeed, spokesmen from NATO and the International Security Assistance Force have been “unusually” concerned with rebutting the findings of the report. Lt. Col. Jimmie E. Cummings of ISAF told the press that “this document aggregates the comments of Taliban detainees in a captive environment without considering the validity of or motivation behind their reflections…Any conclusions drawn from this would be questionable at best.”The press campaign suggests American and NATO officials are trying to maintain a constructive relationship with Islamabad. As the FT notes, “the Times quoted the report as saying that ‘despite widespread open-source reports to the contrary’ there is little evidence from detainees that Pakistan provides funding or weapons.”Via Meadia supports the idea of negotiating our way out of Afghanistan rather than cutting and running or, alternatively, settling down in that country forever. We have long feared that by telegraphing our intentions to begin drawing down troops and setting a hoped for withdrawal date, we were deeply and perhaps fatally undercutting the whole basis of our military campaign. It might have been better either to cut and run in 2009 or to double down and say nothing about withdrawal; the current course looks like the worst of all choices. We (and the Afghans) bear the full costs in life and treasure of a longer war, and we end up with the Taliban running the country much as we would have done had we withdrawn in 2009. We have also strengthened those in Pakistan who advocate a course of waiting the Americans out — with the kind of results we are learning about from the BBC.