Monday, May 11, 2009

Taliban a child of CIA & ISI, says Zardari

American dollars, CIA assistance helped spawn Taliban. Why blame Pakistan's ISI alone?

Kanchan Gupta / Comment / May 11, 2009.

That America's CIA collaborated with Pakistan's ISI to set up the Taliban is no secret. Veteran journalist Steve Coll, in his fascinating book, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (Penguin)had laid bare details about how American 'interests' of the time were best met by handing over Afghanistan to a bunch of Isalmist goons who had studied theology (and hence the name 'Taliban') at Deobandi madarsas in Pakistan. This allowed Pakistan virtual overlordship of Afghanistan. What followed was a nightmare, leading to the spectacular 9/11 attacks in the US and sending Americans scurrying for cover: The chickens of Washington's chicanery had come home to roost.
Every time the CIA's role -- with the US Administration's approval -- in creating the monster called Taliban came up for mention in the past, it would be strenuously denied. In his testimony before the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher named the Clinton Administration, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia for creating the Taliban: “Let me repeat that: The Clinton Administration, along with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, created the Taliban." There was studied silence.
Addressing a conference on 'Terrorism and Regional Security: Managing the Challenges in Asia', in London in March, 2001, leading US expert on South Asia said Selig Harrison who was then with the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, said the CIA worked in tandem with Pakistan to create the "monster" that is today Afghanistan's Taliban. "I warned them that we were creating a monster," Harrison said, adding, "The CIA made a historic mistake in encouraging Islamic groups from all over the world to come to Afghanistan." The US provided $3 billion for building up these Islamic groups, and it accepted Pakistan's demand that they should decide how this money should be spent, Harrison said.
John Pilger wrote an interesting piece for The Guardian (September 20, 2003):
"For 17 years, Washington poured $4 billion into the pockets of some of the most brutal men on earth - with the overall aim of exhausting and ultimately destroying the Soviet Union in a futile war...
CIA director William Casey backed a plan by Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, to recruit people from around the world to join the Afghan jihad. More than 100,000 Islamic militants were trained in Pakistan between 1986 and 1992, in camps overseen by the CIA and Britain's MI6, with the British SAS trained future al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in bomb-making and other black arts. Their leaders were trained at a CIA camp in Virginia. This was called Operation Cyclone and continued long after the Soviets had withdrawn in 1989..."

Cut to last week. In an interview to NBC's David Gregory (video here), Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari was blunt in telling the truth that the US has till now sought to keep out of public discourse -- that America, having helped procreate the Taliban, must share the responsibility for the threat that the monster now poses to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Here's a relevant extract from the interview:
Gregory: And is it America's war or Pakistan's war?
Zardari: It's a war of our existence. We've been fighting this war much before they attacked 9/11. They (Taliban) are kind of a cancer created by both of us, Pakistan and America and the world. We got together, we created this cancer to fight the superpower and then we went away -- rather, you went away without finding a cure for it. And now we've both come together to find a cure for it, and we're looking for one..."

US President Barack Hussein Obama should elaborate on the point made by Mr Zardari. Not that silence will amount to denial -- the Americans (and their CIA) have known to indulge in such activities around the world -- from Korea to Vietnam to Latin America. Given a chance they would do it in India, too. If Manmohan Singh gets to remain Prime Minister after May 16, this could happen sooner than later.
PS: On a lighter note, here's a delightful news story I found on the Russia Today Website:
CIA’s weapon against Taliban - Viagra!
The KGB was once notoriously known for using attractive women as ‘honey traps’ to achieve their goals. Now, as time and technology move forwards, US intelligence has found a new way of exploiting the sexual angle…Viagra.
Cash and weapons are well-tried options but in some cases they don’t tick all the boxes, particularly when trying to garner support among Afghanistan’s tribal leaders, reports The Washington Post.
The newspaper quotes Jamie Smith, a veteran of CIA covert operations in Afghanistan and now chief executive of SCG International, a private security and intelligence company, as saying: “If you give an asset $US 1,000, he'll go out and buy the shiniest junk he can find, and it will be apparent that he has suddenly come into a lot of money from someone. Even if he doesn't get killed, he becomes ineffective as an informant because everyone knows where he got it.”
Amidst the growing Taliban insurgency, CIA operatives are using a wide range of other products and services to win supporters among the locals. Pocketknives, tools, medicine and surgery, toys and school equipment, tooth extractions and travel visas are all among the gifts offered.
“Whatever it takes to make friends and influence people – whether it's building a school or handing out Viagra,” as one longtime agency operative and veteran of several Afghanistan tours commented.
The Viagra method proves to be especially effective with ageing Afghan chieftains who often have four wives, the maximum number allowed by Koran, and are eager to be at their best.

* * *

I will revert to this issue soon. Meanwhile, here are two links to articles worth reading on the Taliban:

Story of US, CIA and Taliban

The Taliban

I am thankful to Srikanth Nalla for pointing out that the story of the CIA luring Afghan informants with Viagra appeared on three months ago. Actually someone had sent me the snippet from Russia Today and I was keeping it for appropriate use. Zardari's assertion offered the opportunity.
The story was published under the headline "The CIA's Bizarre Plan to Win Hearts and Hard-ons in Afghanistan" and appeared on February 11, 2009.

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