Pakistan’s Support for Taliban in 1990s: New Documents
The National Security Archives has just published part 3 of the Taliban papers, from the US archives. Document 9 is interesting for the evidence it gives that the Pakistani government under PM Nawaz Sharif was heavily supporting the Taliban financially. It also shows that the Taliban/ al-Qaeda had horrible relations with Iran (contrary to what Joseph Bodansky alleged). It gives evidence that Saudi intelligence director Faisal al-Turki’s 1998 visit to Kandahar did involve an attempt to rein Bin Ladin in. (This document will be used by the Saudi defense in the 9/11 lawsuit, for sure).
The author of the cable is Joe Novak, the political counselor (polcouns) at the US embassy in Islamabad. His Afghan interlocutor is Abdul Hakeem Mujahid, later the ambassador designate of the Taliban in New York to the United Nations.
‘ [Mujahid] stated that the the Taliban simply could not trust any peace report that involved the Iranians– “Iran does not want peace. We (the Taliban) know they are out to destroy us. They (the Iranians) are providing huge amounts of weapons to our opponents.
5. (c) Polcouns asked [Mujahid] about reports that the Pakistani government recently agreed to provide the Taliban 300 million rupees (USD six million) (ref B). Mujahid said that the information was true; the money was for humanitarian assisstance and road reconstruction. Pakistan had already provided 400 tons of Food assistance to displaced people from the Ghoband area of central Afghanistan who are now living in Kabul. Polcouns rejoined that there were reports that the 300 million rupees was earmarked to go to pay the salaries of Taliban officials and military commanders, not humanitarian activities. [Mujahid] smiled and commented that– in any case — Pakistan had not sent the money to the Taliban as of yet. Polcouns asked if the GoP [Government of Pakistan] had promised the Taliban a cash delivery and [Mujahid] said yes.
6 (c) Turning to counterterrorism, polcouns asked [Mujahid] about confidential. The status of terrorist financier Usama Bin Ladin. [Mujahid] responded that Bin Ladin is now “under control” in Kandahar. (Note: In May and early June, Bin Ladin was in Khost province, giving press statements threatening the U.S. — see Ref. E.) Taliban authorities have “enacted new controls,” instructing Bin Ladin that he now must clear all of his activities with the Taliban, including his press interviews. Bin Ladin has told the Taliban that he will from now fully “submit” to their control. (Saudi intelligence) chief prince [Faisal al-] Turki had recently visited Kandahar and made strong points to the Taliban on Bin Ladin, …. [Mujahid] relatied itmy be easier if the Taliban “just forced Bin Ladin out of the country.” However, he continued, Taliban leader Mullah Omar had committed himself, and would not turn against Bin Ladin. ‘
Given the current massive firefight going on in Waziristan, these documents now read as especially ironic. By the way, the fighters pinned down seem to include some “Arab Afghans,” but may be mainly local tribesmen loyal to, and defending some big local drug lord.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Action Forum, the Islamist parliamentary coalition in Pakistan, is denouncing President Musharraf for his offensive against the fighters in Waziristan. The party has more or less paralyzed the Pakistani parliament for the past year and a half.