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Afghanistan

New Book Exposes Pakistan’s Huge Support of Taliban

The book titled "Directorate S" refers to the arm of Pakistani intelligence that covertly supports the Afghan Taliban. 

In his new book “Directorate S”, prominent American author Steve Coll has revealed that Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has been providing massive support to Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.
 
The book titled "Directorate S" refers to the arm of Pakistani intelligence that covertly supports the Afghan Taliban. 

It has been written on the basis of classified documents and interviews with over 500 individuals who in some way were involved in affairs related to Afghanistan. 
 
In his book, Coll writes that the amount of ISI support to militant groups in Afghanistan was so extensive that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) initially thought that Pakistan’s top military officials had themselves been caught in the hook of Islamic radicalism. 
 
Coll states in Afghanistan, Pakistan has never ceased to support the very enemy that the United States and allied forces have been struggling to defeat. Its army and intelligence services remained throughout "an incubator and enabler of extremism." 

Coll concludes that Washington's inability "to solve the riddle" of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence and "to stop its covert interference in Afghanistan" constituted the "greatest strategic failure of the American war." 
 
In the book, Coll has also talked about the developments in Afghanistan following the assassination of Ahmad Shah Massoud until 2016 and how the US decided to intervene in Afghanistan. 
 
Coll also points towards the payment of money by the CIA to the opponents of the Taliban to persuade them to cooperate with the US. 
 
According to Coll, Taliban leaders who were afraid of the US’s military power were looking to surrender to the US through a ceremonial mechanism, therefore Taliban’s founding leader Mullah Omar wrote a letter to former president of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai and other Taliban leaders, but Washington in that epoch of time was pursuing only a military solution. 
 
“We did fail to achieve our goals and why we are still in Afghanistan, so I want to pick four themes that were occurring in the narrative and may be give you a (sense) of some of the episodes. One is the problem of our warring at some stages of the war, second is the failure of our relationship with Hamid Karzai and the fragility of our investment in democratic Afghan politics more broadly. Third is the illusion that built up in our counter-insurgency war in Afghanistan and finally the failure of political and diplomatic strategy,” said Coll. 
 
Of even greater significance, in Coll's view, is Washington's dysfunctional relationship with the government of Pakistan, or more specifically with the Pakistani Army, which effectively calls the shots on all matters related to internal and external security. 

Pacifying Afghanistan was always going to pose a challenge and without Pakistani collaboration, it would become next to impossible, Coll writes. 

The United States needed two things from Pakistan: first, that it would permit supplies bound for coalition forces in landlocked Afghanistan to transit its territory; and second, that it would prevent al-Qaeda and Taliban remnants from using Pakistan as a sanctuary and operating base.
 
“In July 2009, the National Security Council also reviewed intelligence reporting on “threat finance,” meaning the Taliban’s budget. The latest reporting listed the Taliban’s key financial resources as fund-raising in the Persian Gulf emirates, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which brought in an estimated $100 million annually, and then drug dealing, protection rackets, local taxation, extortion, and kidnapping. 

Doug Lute noted at an interagency meeting that the Taliban appeared to be succeeding with very lean operating funds: “We spend $60 billion a year,” Lute remarked. “They need $60 million a year,” an excerpt from the book reads. 
 
Coll writes that the Pakistani military leaders were playing a double game. United States officials knew they were being had, yet could do little about it. With its own well-established record of having broken promises to Pakistan, Washington was not exactly in a position to call in any markers.
 
Referring to the mistakes made by the US in Afghanistan, Coll writes that the Americans were not focusing on the double games by the Pakistani military or deliberately neglected such moves. 
 
He writes that former US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke was looking to Karzai to lose the 2009 presidential elections so that Abdullah Abdullah could come in as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the government, but Karzai was strongly opposed to such a plan. 
 
Yet among policymakers and operators alike, the sense of futility is palpable, writes Coll. If "Directorate S" has a unifying thread, it's this: Policies formulated on the basis of trial and error aren't likely to work as long as they fail to take critical factors into account, one book reviewer stated. 

In Coll's telling, two such factors in particular stand out. The first is an absence of trust between Washington and Kabul. The longer the Americans stayed the more difficult it became to persuade Afghans that their presence was helpful and their purposes benign, the revue stated. 

Over time, Karzai, the West's chosen leader of "liberated" Afghanistan, came to see the United States as an occupying power - part of the problem, rather than part of the solution. Karzai believed, not without reason, that United States officials paid lip service to his concerns, were willing to cut deals behind his back and on occasion plotted to replace him with someone more accommodating.

Afghanistan

New Book Exposes Pakistan’s Huge Support of Taliban

The book titled "Directorate S" refers to the arm of Pakistani intelligence that covertly supports the Afghan Taliban. 

Thumbnail

In his new book “Directorate S”, prominent American author Steve Coll has revealed that Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has been providing massive support to Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.
 
The book titled "Directorate S" refers to the arm of Pakistani intelligence that covertly supports the Afghan Taliban. 

It has been written on the basis of classified documents and interviews with over 500 individuals who in some way were involved in affairs related to Afghanistan. 
 
In his book, Coll writes that the amount of ISI support to militant groups in Afghanistan was so extensive that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) initially thought that Pakistan’s top military officials had themselves been caught in the hook of Islamic radicalism. 
 
Coll states in Afghanistan, Pakistan has never ceased to support the very enemy that the United States and allied forces have been struggling to defeat. Its army and intelligence services remained throughout "an incubator and enabler of extremism." 

Coll concludes that Washington's inability "to solve the riddle" of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence and "to stop its covert interference in Afghanistan" constituted the "greatest strategic failure of the American war." 
 
In the book, Coll has also talked about the developments in Afghanistan following the assassination of Ahmad Shah Massoud until 2016 and how the US decided to intervene in Afghanistan. 
 
Coll also points towards the payment of money by the CIA to the opponents of the Taliban to persuade them to cooperate with the US. 
 
According to Coll, Taliban leaders who were afraid of the US’s military power were looking to surrender to the US through a ceremonial mechanism, therefore Taliban’s founding leader Mullah Omar wrote a letter to former president of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai and other Taliban leaders, but Washington in that epoch of time was pursuing only a military solution. 
 
“We did fail to achieve our goals and why we are still in Afghanistan, so I want to pick four themes that were occurring in the narrative and may be give you a (sense) of some of the episodes. One is the problem of our warring at some stages of the war, second is the failure of our relationship with Hamid Karzai and the fragility of our investment in democratic Afghan politics more broadly. Third is the illusion that built up in our counter-insurgency war in Afghanistan and finally the failure of political and diplomatic strategy,” said Coll. 
 
Of even greater significance, in Coll's view, is Washington's dysfunctional relationship with the government of Pakistan, or more specifically with the Pakistani Army, which effectively calls the shots on all matters related to internal and external security. 

Pacifying Afghanistan was always going to pose a challenge and without Pakistani collaboration, it would become next to impossible, Coll writes. 

The United States needed two things from Pakistan: first, that it would permit supplies bound for coalition forces in landlocked Afghanistan to transit its territory; and second, that it would prevent al-Qaeda and Taliban remnants from using Pakistan as a sanctuary and operating base.
 
“In July 2009, the National Security Council also reviewed intelligence reporting on “threat finance,” meaning the Taliban’s budget. The latest reporting listed the Taliban’s key financial resources as fund-raising in the Persian Gulf emirates, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which brought in an estimated $100 million annually, and then drug dealing, protection rackets, local taxation, extortion, and kidnapping. 

Doug Lute noted at an interagency meeting that the Taliban appeared to be succeeding with very lean operating funds: “We spend $60 billion a year,” Lute remarked. “They need $60 million a year,” an excerpt from the book reads. 
 
Coll writes that the Pakistani military leaders were playing a double game. United States officials knew they were being had, yet could do little about it. With its own well-established record of having broken promises to Pakistan, Washington was not exactly in a position to call in any markers.
 
Referring to the mistakes made by the US in Afghanistan, Coll writes that the Americans were not focusing on the double games by the Pakistani military or deliberately neglected such moves. 
 
He writes that former US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke was looking to Karzai to lose the 2009 presidential elections so that Abdullah Abdullah could come in as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the government, but Karzai was strongly opposed to such a plan. 
 
Yet among policymakers and operators alike, the sense of futility is palpable, writes Coll. If "Directorate S" has a unifying thread, it's this: Policies formulated on the basis of trial and error aren't likely to work as long as they fail to take critical factors into account, one book reviewer stated. 

In Coll's telling, two such factors in particular stand out. The first is an absence of trust between Washington and Kabul. The longer the Americans stayed the more difficult it became to persuade Afghans that their presence was helpful and their purposes benign, the revue stated. 

Over time, Karzai, the West's chosen leader of "liberated" Afghanistan, came to see the United States as an occupying power - part of the problem, rather than part of the solution. Karzai believed, not without reason, that United States officials paid lip service to his concerns, were willing to cut deals behind his back and on occasion plotted to replace him with someone more accommodating.

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