It’s unquestionable that some damage will come to America’s war effort in Afghanistan as a consequence of the 92,000 documents that WikiLeaks dropped the other night. And the confirmation of existing reports showing that America believes there are extensive ties between Taliban fighters and Pakistani intelligence will cause some awkward conversations between officials in Washington and Islamabad.
But if the WikiLeaks docs were good news for the Taliban, you’d think they’d be confirming all of the contents, wouldn’t they? Not so, according to The Daily Beast’s Mushtaq Yusufzai:
Responding to WikiLeaks’ release of tens of thousands of pages of classified military documents about the war in Afghanistan, a high-ranking Taliban commander rejected reports that the Taliban had any links with Pakistan’s spy agency.
“Look, we’re at war and would like to get aid from anyone to fight against the U.S. and its allies who invaded our homeland,” Sirajuddin Haqqani, a senior leader of the Haqqani network, told The Daily Beast on Monday, denying any existing links with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, known by its acronym ISI.
Haqqani goes on to play up US and NATO ‘atrocities’ and how incidents the documents might confirm help bring Afghan civilians over to the Taliban side. What he neglects, deliberately, is that appearing too cozy with the Pakistani side isn’t good for the Taliban’s cause either. Afghans don’t want to be under the thumb of NATO and America, but they also don’t want their country run as a satellite of Pakistan, a country whose decades of basketcase rule no one in the world aspires to resemble. Portrayal of the Taliban in Afghanistan as mere proxies for Afghanistan’s slightly less dysfunctional but militarily much powerful neighbor could help the government of Hamid Karzai and his American sponsors in ways the Islamists understand all too well.