Monday 13 September 2010

US documents shed light on dealings with Pakistan

The US National Archive has issued a remarkable set of documents showing diplomatic and military events in the aftermath of 9/11 between the United States and Pakistan. For example, a diplomatic cable dated November 2002 reports on a discussion in Pakistan between Richard Haass, then director of policy planning at the US State Dept, and an unnamed Pakistani official - probably the head of the Army.
Haass says he has been told that the Pakistani Army is completely committed to the idea of wiping out al-Qaeda in the tribal territories along the border with Afghanistan. His informant told him that US military operations in Afghanistan had created a window of opportunity for the Pakistan Army to enter "No-go areas" in the tribal areas where it could not previously operate. He adds that during the Tora Bora operation, the army had deployed along the border opposite Tora Bora with local leaders' cooperation. "Tribes were overawed by US firepower across the border and had allowed the Pakistan Army to operate freely. That window had since closed", the informant told Haass.
Another cable, dated 13 September 2001 and detailing a meeting between deputy secretary Richard Armitage and Lieutenant General Mahmud Ahmed, head of Pakistan's intelligence service, the ISI, sets out Americas seven demands for the Taliban in the light of the 9/11 attacks of two days earlier. These were to:
Stop al-Qaeda operatives at Pakistan's borders, intercept arms shipments and end all logistical suport for Osama bin Laden;
Provide the US with blanket overflight and landing rights of Pakistan;
Provide as needed territorial access to US and Allied military intelligence and other personnel to conduct operations against the perpetrators of terror or those who harbour them;
Provide the US with certain intelligence, redacted;
Continue publicly to condemn the 9/11 attacks and any other attacks against the US or its friends and allies;
Cut off all shipments of fuel to the Taliban, as well as recruits en route to Afghanistan;
Should the evidence strongly implicate bin Laden, and should Afghanistan and the Taliban continue to harbour him and his network, then Pakistan should break all diplomatic relations with the Taliban government, end support for them and assist the US to destroy bin Laden and his network.
The conditions were accepted by General Musharraf, as can be seen here.
Another cable shows that in late September 2001 ISI head General Mahmud Ahmed was about to meet for a second time with Mullah Omar of the Taliban to ask him to give up Osama bin Laden to the USA as a way of avoiding war.
General Mahmud urged American Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin not to be too hard on the Taliban: "I implore you not to act in anger. Real victory will come in negotiations." He added that if the Taliban were deposed, Afghanisan would revert to warlordism. An account of Mahmud's first trip to meet Mullah Omar, on 17 September 2001 in Kandahar, is contained in another of the newly released documents. Shortly after returning from his second trip, Mahmud was sacked as head of the ISI by General Musharraf.
In all there are 15 documents in this collection. Well worth reading, particularly a 2005 report written by State Department officials called "Impressions of Waziristan".

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