The Pakistani Taliban, which seeks the overthrow of the government of Pakistan and a deeper implementation of sharia law there, is receiving financial assistance from the Afghan Taliban. The irony is that the Afghan Taliban itself is funded by the Pakistan’s spy service, the ISI.
This story illustrates, once again, that attempting to use jihadists as a strategic asset always comes back to haunt those who thought they could control them. Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and certain agencies of and politicians in Western governments repeatedly make this mistake.
This news on the Taliban boomerang came from the Associated Press earlier this month, and the AP even branded it a “Big Story,” but sadly seems to have received scant attention. Thanks to Arye Leonid Glozman for sending over a link to it:
Afghan Taliban supporting Pakistani militants
By ISHTIAQ MAHSUD
— Oct. 7, 2013
WAZIRISTAN, Pakistan (AP) — The Afghan Taliban are financially supporting Pakistani militants at war with Islamabad and providing sanctuary for them in neighboring Afghanistan, the Pakistani Taliban’s spokesman said, highlighting the risk both groups pose to the Pakistani government.
The disclosure, which the spokesman made Saturday in an interview with a small group of reporters, is meaningful because Pakistan has long been accused of pursuing a policy of differentiating between the Afghan and Pakistan Taliban as so-called “good” and “bad” militants — even though Islamabad denies this.
Pakistan has waged war against the Pakistani Taliban, which seeks to replace the country’s democratic system with one based on Islamic law. But it has held off on targeting the Afghan Taliban, which has focused its attacks on U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan. Pakistan has historical ties with the Afghan Taliban, and many analysts believe Islamabad views the group as a useful ally in Afghanistan after foreign forces withdraw.
But the Taliban spokesman’s comments illustrate the dangerous nexus between the two groups. This link could become even more dangerous for Pakistan as the U.S. withdraws most of its combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. That could give the Afghan Taliban more space to operate inside Afghanistan, which could benefit Islamabad’s enemies in the Pakistani Taliban.
“The Afghan Taliban are our jihadi brothers,” Shahidullah Shahid said in an interview in Waziristan, the Taliban’s main tribal sanctuary in Pakistan along the Afghan border. “In the beginning, we were helping them, but now they are strong enough and they don’t need our help, but they are now supporting us financially.”
The Afghan Taliban are also providing sanctuary for a prominent Pakistani Taliban commander, Mullah Fazlullah, in eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar province, said Shahid. Fazlullah was the commander of the Taliban in Pakistan’s northwest Swat Valley but was driven into Afghanistan when the Pakistani army launched a big offensive there in 2009.
The army has also staged many offensives in Pakistan’s semiautonomous tribal region, the Taliban’s main sanctuary, but the militants have proven resilient and continue to carry out regular attacks.
The Taliban have financed many of these attacks through a combination of kidnappings, extortion and bank robberies. But Shahid’s comments indicate these sources of financing do not always provide the funds they need.
The government has more recently stepped up efforts to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban, but those efforts do not appear to be making much progress…