Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

WikiLeaks: shaking the foundations of U.S. policy toward Pakistan

July 26, 2010

A Pakistani security official stands near a burning vehicle after it was attacked in Chaman in Pakistan's Balochistan province, along the Afghan border on May 19, 2010.

A Pakistani security official stands near a burning vehicle after it was attacked in Chaman in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, along the Afghan border on May 19, 2010.

On the face of it, you could ask what’s new about the latest disclosures of Pakistani involvement in the Taliban insurgency while accepting massive U.S. aid to fight Islamic militancy of all hues. Hasn’t this been known all along — something that a succession of top U.S. officials and military leaders have often said, sometimes  couched in diplomatic speech and sometimes rather clearly?

It was only last week that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said there must be somebody in the Pakistani government who knew Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts. Coming from America’s top diplomat, it couldn’t be more blunt.

Then why is a trove of over 90,000 classified military documents released by WikiLeaks on the war in Afghanistan causing so much consternation? Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, says  it is now much more difficult to deny or dodge the truths that everyone has been aware of:

Government officials can always deflect news stories simply by crossing their fingers and waiting for the story to sink in a haze of oil spills and Lindsay Lohan extravaganzas. Now, however, “proof” is there in the black-and-white of secret U.S. documents, compliments of anti-war WikiLeaks. Even if one does not believe that the information contained in every one of these reports is accurate (some do sound rather bizarre), and even if little in the reports can be corroborated independently, the very volume of the “secret” material is overwhelming and plausible—and yes, seductively “secret.”

The White House condemned the leak, saying it could threaten national security and endanger the lives of Americans. Islamabad said leaking unprocessed reports from the battlefield was irresponsible and added that Pakistan had paid in blood fighting militants.

But Gelb says the documents reveal the fundamental disconnect in the U.S. administration’s policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan and that “no amount of rhetorical tap dancing will allow the White House to escape these contradictions.”

According to the documents, representatives from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) met directly with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organize militant networks fighting U.S. soldiers.  One report, dated August 2008, identifies a colonel in the ISI plotting with a Taliban official to assassinate President Hamid Karzai. The report contained no information about how or when this would be carried out.

Another shows that Polish intelligence warned of a complex attack against the Indian Embassy in Kabul a week before it was  bombed in July 2008, although the attackers and their methods differed. While the ISI was not named in the report warning of the attack, CIA deputy director Stephen R. Kappes later confronted Pakistani officials with evidence that the ISI helped plan the deadly bombing.

By showering billions of dollars in aid and military assistance on Pakistan, the United States has, in effect, ended up providing the ISI with resources to fight Americans on the Afghan battlefield, Gelb argues. Gelb says:

The United States is giving “moderate” Pakistanis and the Pakistani military billions of dollars yearly in military and economic aid, which allows  Pakistani military intelligence to “secretly” help the Taliban kill Americans in Afghanistan, which will drive America out of Afghanistan and undermine U.S. help for Pakistan.

Writing in The Daily Beast, Tunku Varadarajan notes that much of the latest involvement in the Afghan insurgency by the ISI happened on army chief  General Ashfaq Kayani’s watch, when he was the head of the ISI.  Kayani, he notes, has just been given a three-year extension, to ensure continuity in the Pakistani military as it fights militancy. Varadarajan writes:

We are now at a crossroads with Pakistan, a point at which we need to pull out old words from the Bush playbook. It is time to state to them—to state, in particular, to Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Pakistan army’s chief of staff—that Pakistan is either with us, or against us. There can be no caveats, no exit clauses, no fine print, no weasely handwringing about Pakistan’s need to retain “strategic balance” in Afghanistan.


Of course there’s nothing new in all this, the Obama White House condemns the leaks because ‘they threaten US security’. For sheer spin and deflecting attention from the main issue this is hard to beat.

The only use that these leaks have is that the US can no longer maintain a three monkey like approach to Pakistan’s involvement as an ally No longer will Hillary Clinton be able to openly escort cheques of millions in the name of aid and remove trust deficits. The average US citizen doesn’t need anymore proof that it is bribery.

The real question is, will anything change on the ground? Of course it will not, the US long ago lost all backbone for a fight and all that matters now is that June 2011 cannot come fast enough for them to start running away. They remain fixed on their aim. The Afghans know it, so does the Taliban and, most of all, so does Pakistan. Between now and then they are going to squeeze Obama for all they can get. He will willingly pay up because by then the second term elections will be looming on the horizon and he will have to show results to his people by ditching out from an awfully mismanaged war.

Maybe now India’s PM will have his eyes opened too. All this talk we hear from visiting Americans of how much they have been pressing Pakistan to take action against LeT or against 26/11 perpetrators, is simply sugar coated talk. It would not surprise me one bit if all this is just plain eyewash or hogwash or simple lying through their teeth by the US. How much longer will the good Doctor continue to emulate the US three monkey game?

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive

I love how you Self Obsessed Indians are so bloody biased… keep at it.

Posted by Shawn | Report as abusive

The real issue is why is this common knowledge at the highest levels of government, but no correction of our partner’s behavior was ever forced. The answer is that the White House needed Pakistan to keep supporting the Taliban because it needed to prolong the war until favorable conditions could be manipulated on the ground to allow the war to be exported into the Ferghana Valley. The Northern Distribution Network (NDN) was created for this purpose, in addition to helping to supply Afghanistan.


One thing is clear, It is not only the Pakistanis, but the Americans also are playing a dangerous double game.

The Americans are actively trying to destabilize the region. They are hoping to drag India and Iran in a war in the region.

They are preparing Pakistan, their long time ally, for an all out war in the region and strengthening the Pakistani army by supplying the latest weapons.

Posted by neel123 | Report as abusive

The war must end. Anyone arguing for its continuation deserves a good long spell in jail.

Posted by The Bell | Report as abusive

Da ask the Indians, they been screaming at the top of their lungs for the last 30 yrs that the pakis are the real terrorists, yet U.S govt. conveniently ignores the facts and is pouring billions of dollars to pak, u can bet
at least couple of billion is making its way to the terrorists.

Posted by sergey | Report as abusive

The chickens will come home to roost ONLY when the next attack on the American mainland happens from deep inside Pakistan. That will ensure a further 180 degree turn in U.S. policy towards Pakistan. American policy towards Pakistan has been misguidend and misinformed from time to time. America wants to have its cake and eat it too. Unfortunately, Pakistan also wants to do the same. A nation, which from its inception, has moulded itself to be never pro-anything BUT only anti-something and that something happened to be India. The endgame is near. Unfortunately, for the U.S. , the landmines in its policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan can only explode in 2 parts of the American anatomy – the posterior or the face. That day is not far off.

Posted by K S Shankar | Report as abusive

Only when the next attack on the American mainland comes from Pakistan will this see-no-evil, hear-no-evil and speak-no-evil policy come to an abrupt and shuddering halt and this thought is not just in the realms of fantasy anymore.

Posted by K S Shankar | Report as abusive

All the best to the U.S. and Pakistan .

Posted by K S Shankar | Report as abusive

Are Indians the only self obsessed people in the world. Do you think the US is conniving at blackmail for reasons other than self obsession, or Pakistan or any other country jousting for position out of purely noble reasons?

Get off your high horse before you topple and lose it completely.

For those who say the war must stop – Columbus! There is no one who doesn’t wish to see it conclude. But having stoked a fire there is a moral obligation to douse it completely instead of letting it burn just because it isn’t in your own backyard.

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive

All – when will you people reslise that the US does things soley for its and Israels interests. The biggest economic earner is oil gas and weapons. It will only leave when its interests have become exhausted ie no resources left to plunder at which point its gaze will turn elsewhere.

There are those who say they are helping people but are in fact sowing the seeds of corruption in the earth…

Posted by Tahir | Report as abusive

Here is news relevant to my comment on the US intending to occupy the Ferghana Valley: the following story from the US govt. Central Asian website, incites fear of an alleged impending “Islamist” attack in Batken. These fear stories always open the door to American intervention.  /xhtml/en_GB/features/caii/features/mai n/2010/07/27/feature-02


The whole situation of this region first should be seen from RELIGION and HISTORY lens.
1. Jehad brookes no moderates and is binding glue between Alqaeda and ISI. No amount of Billions of Dollars can break that glue. Supporting successive Pakistani governments means funding Jehad against self. White House should replay 9/11 scenes on its televisions each time it writes cheques to Pakistan.
2. US wants democratic government in Pakistan but the population led by Mullas is most anti US. And White House does not see the disconnect.
3. India should have been a natural military, and political ally of USA. But where did the gap arise? How and why did Pakistan take place of India? Do not Indian policy makers have something to introspect?
4. Wrath against wiki leaks is against the process of using aid to kill US soldiers. Does it mean to endorse aid to kill Indian soldiers in Kashmir? and civilians in Mumbai? And hijack planes to Kandahar?
5. Terrorism in this part of world will recieve a setback only if aid to Pakistan is completely stopped and there is a strategic shift in US for fullest military and political cooperation with India.India should be a base for US operations. Is that feasible? If not , the terrorist state will continue to dictate world policy and both US and India will continue to pay with blood.

Posted by Srivatsa | Report as abusive

Unfortunately there are some people in the Pentagon that are enamoured to dictators & military regimens. Look anywhere in the world and the CIA is supporting such countries. Same has been true with Pakistan. It has been ruled by the military (dictators) and the pentagon loves it. They will always influence the State Dept to go soft on their pals in Pakistan. There has to be a complete over haul of the mindset in the Pantagon before the US administration can take effective action against the land of the terrorist (also known as the terror factory of the world). I hope it won’t be another catastrophe in the US. That would be totally unaceptable because we are sending out our young men & women to keep the enemy away from the US soil. If they come here and it is proved that Pakistan was involved, I seriously believe that that will be the end of that country as we know it today.

Posted by AliG | Report as abusive

dear hi
this is ali im from iran last night i heard about your site could send for me your video for me thanks


i like the comments; India should have been the natural ally of India, Let us hope that they form the allince now. The USA is going to end up like the Indian old allies, soviet union and jugoslavia?

Posted by rex minor | Report as abusive

The biggest threat to the USA security is from the current administration made up of old clintonians and headed by the , yes we can commander in chief. They need to learn that in the holy land of afghan warriors, the foreigners have always lost, the consolation prize being the opportunity to fight the invincibles and survive, The current opponentsof the Pashtoon afghns are not a good match.

Posted by rex minor | Report as abusive

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see