(This is an Exclusive Pakpotpourri Article).
· There is general consensus that these “tens of thousands of classified documents”
procured by the Wikileaks are mostly raw battlefield reports from Afghanistan,
and reveal little that was not already known. All the same, it has created an
impact and confirmed many fears: that the war in Afghanistan was not going
too well for the US led forces; that it was largely because of Pakistan’s interservices
intelligence (the ISI) playing a “double game”; also that the Karzai led
dispensation in Kabul did little to help; and that the indiscriminate use of force by the
American military, a euphemism for war crimes, too has contributed to this failure.
· If that was the intended message, the leak was obviously deliberate. The number
and the nature of reports reinforce this inference. The following developments lead
me to believe that it was done to win more support for the course correction that
Obama’s administration has undertaken.
o During the last two years, it has often been claimed, and may even be partly
true, that under the new counterinsurgency strategy, “collateral damage” was
o Again, during the same period, since Pakistan has been successfully
persuaded/ coerced to undertake military operations against some of the
groups allied with the Afghan resistance, its support to the latter (must have)
o Most importantly, as the project Afghanistan has gone so hopelessly awry,
Obama’s decision to start withdrawing the military next year was, at the very
least, the least bad option.
· Pakistan and its sympathisers will indeed now find their own arguments to control the
o The official spokespersons cannot do much better than reiterating that
the “situation on ground” was different, that Pakistan has taken effective
measures against the militants operating on its side of the AfPak borders, and
that its policies have now won applause all around.
o A number of regional experts have rationalised Pakistan’s (alleged) support
to the Afghan Taliban because it needs a countervailing force against the
growing Indian influence (some of them even believe that in due course
Pakistan would employ them in the Indian held Kashmir). Since this
perception also exists in Pakistan and provides us with a reasonable excuse
to keep the Afghan Taliban in good shape, I have no intentions to contest it in
the present scenario.
o Not many would pick up the courage to suggest that some other countries in
the Region- Iran, Russia and China for example- too are genuinely concerned
about the presence of the US-led alliance in Afghanistan. All of them would
therefore take their own respective course to subvert the NATO’s “out of area”
missions. While Pakistan and Iran would be the obvious suspects interested
in a potent Afghan resistance, there are other players as well in this new
o An unintended consequence of these “leaks” may well be the ISI’s enhanced
stature in the eyes of the ordinary Pakistanis. With the all pervasive “anti-
Americanism” in the country, if the agency has had the gumption of
supporting the Afghan resistance against the US occupation, it would be
credited with “yet another” coup. Hameed Gul may also reap similar benefits
thought at a much reduced scale. People here have a fairly good idea that
his overt support to the Taliban notwithstanding, he has no wherewithal to
(The writer is the former Head of ISI).