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Afghan Leak Comes With Hot Air

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– British newspaper says that info in leaked files, fail to provide a convincing smoking gun for ISI complicity
-Proves most of the reports are vague, filled with incongruent detail, or crudely fabricated

By Makhdoom Babar in Islamabad & Cherry Ferguson in London

British newspaper The Guardian’s report with regard to the leak of Intelligence files in the US, describing Pakistan’s ISI being hand in glove with Taliban or warlords in Afghanistan proves that the info in the leaked files were not credible and is based in unreliable sources with no evidence available to make the info authentic.

The Guardian report, rejecting the info in the leaked files says “They also link the ISI to some of the war’s most notorious commanders. In April 2007 for instance, the ISI is alleged to have sent 1,000 motorbikes to the warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani for suicide attacks in Khost and Logar provinces. But for all their eye-popping details, the intelligence files, which are mostly collated by junior officers relying on informants and Afghan officials, fail to provide a convincing smoking gun for ISI complicity. Most of the reports are vague, filled with incongruent detail, or crudely fabricated. The same characters – famous Taliban commanders, well-known ISI officials – and scenarios repeatedly pop up. And few of the events predicted in the reports subsequently occurred.”

The Guradian report further says “A retired senior American officer said ground-level reports were considered to be a mixture of “rumours, bullshit and second-hand information” and were weeded out as they passed up the chain of command. “As someone who had to sift through thousands of these reports, I can say that the chances of finding any real information are pretty slim,” said the officer, who has years of experience in the region.

If anything, the jumble of allegations highlights the perils of collecting accurate intelligence in a complex arena where all sides have an interest in distorting the truth.

ISI terms accusations malicious

US condemns leaks; praises Pak anti-terror effort

ISLAMABAD-Pakistan’s premier spy agency on Monday lashed out against a trove of leaked U.S. intelligence reports that alleged close connections between it and Taliban militants fighting NATO troops in Afghanistan, calling the accusations malicious and unsubstantiated.
Pakistan on Monday rejected a WikiLeaks report that Islamabad has aided the Taliban in spreading the insurgency in Afghanistan and links of its Inteligence agencies with the Taliban as ‘baselss’ and ‘unsubstantiated information.’ While the National Security Department and senior army officials have also declared the report as ‘malicious propaganda’ and ‘devoid of ground realities’.
The online whistle-blower WikiLeaks on Sunday published a record of 92,000 secret documents on the Afghanistan war dating from 2004 to 2009, providing details, among other things, of Pakistan’s support for the Taliban.
The documents revealed that US ally Pakistan would allow its spy service to collaborate with the Taliban and meet them in secret ‘to organize networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan.’ Foreign office spokesman Abdul Basit talking to media said that Wikileaks report is nowhere near to the truth and with this report nothing new has come forward and in fact shows that writers of such reports have no understanding of the issues. He said that Pakistan’s role in stability and peace in Afghanistan cannot be negated through such reports.
In this regard when National Security departments and senior army officials were contacted they were of the stance that if ISI has links with Taliban than why scores of soldiers and men of the ISI and the Pakistani army have sacrificed their lives to win this war.
He said we are practically playing the role of front line state in the war against terror and not only the armed forces but the people of this country are also sacrificing their lives to fight terrorism. They said that western media always attempts to malign the working of Pakistani institutions. While US and allies of Pakistan is not only well aware of Pakistan’s army role in war against terror but highly praise the successes and role of Pakistan.
The secret US military records about the war in Afghanistan were leaked to the media by the WikiLeaks website, and published by the New York Times, British daily the Guardian and German weekly Der Spiegel.-Agencies

WASHINGTON-The United States has strongly condemned the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organizations which, according to an American newspaper account, allege a linkage between the Afghan insurgency and Pakistani intelligence. Reacting to release of the documents by Wikileaks web organization, President Obama’s National Security Advisor James Jones praised the hard won Pakistani gains against Taliban over the last year and reaffirmed close strategic partnership with the ally. He said the “irresponsible” leaks “could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security” but these would not impact the ongoing U.S. commitment to deepen partnership with Pakistan to defeat common enemies.
Jones pointed out that the documents posted by the organization and quoted by The New York Times Sunday, “reportedly cover a period of time from January 2004 to December 2009.” He reminded the critics that “since 2009, the United States and Pakistan have deepened our important bilateral partnership.”
The former US commander recalled that on December 1, 2009, President Obama announced a new strategy with a substantial increase in resources for Afghanistan, and increased focus on al Qaeda and Taliban safe-havens in Pakistan, precisely because of the grave situation that had developed over several years.
“Counter-terrorism cooperation has led to significant blows against al Qaeda’s leadership.The Pakistani military has gone on the offensive in Swat and South Waziristan, at great cost to the Pakistani military and people,” the former Marines general said in a White House statement.
Wikileaks, he said, made no effort to contact the U.S. government about these documents. “The United States government learned from news organizations that these documents would be posted. These irresponsible leaks will not impact our ongoing commitment to deepen our partnerships with Afghanistan and Pakistan; to defeat our common enemies; and to support the aspirations of the Afghan and Pakistani people.”
Stressing on close cooperative ties between the United States and Pakistan, he said the two countries have also commenced a Strategic Dialogue, which has expanded cooperation on issues ranging from security to economic development.
Pakistan and Afghanistan have also improved their bilateral ties, most recently through the completion of a Transit-Trade Agreement, he noted. “Yet the Pakistani government and Pakistan’s military and intelligence services must continue their strategic shift against insurgent groups,” he said in the statement. “The balance must shift decisively against al Qaeda and its extremist allies. U.S. support for Pakistan will continue to be focused on building Pakistani capacity to root out violent extremist groups, while supporting the aspirations of the Pakistani people.”
The Obama Administration’s shift in strategy, he said, has addressed challenges in Afghanistan that were the subject of an exhaustive policy review last fall.-Agencies

“The fog of war is particularly dense in Afghanistan,” said Michael Semple, a former deputy head of the EU mission there. “A barrage of false information is being passed off as intelligence and anyone who wants to operate there needs to be able to sift through it. The opportunities to be misled are innumerable.”
The Guardian report further says, “Many of the 180 reports appear to betray as much about the motivation of the sources than those of the alleged foreign puppet-masters. Some US officers were aware of this. One report from 2006 notes that an informant “divulges information for monetary remuneration and likely fabricated or exaggerated the above report for just that reason”.

Some of the most striking claims come from the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan’s foremost spy agency and a bitter rival to the ISI.
In July and August 2008 the NDS passed information to the US that three Pakistan-trained militants plotting to kill Karzai had been groomed by a named ISI officer and had trained at the Zarb Momen camp outside Karachi. The attackers were Palestinian and Arab, the report said, and intended to strike during a visit by Karzai to a Kabul mosque or the luxury Serena hotel.

But the report’s strong assertions fade under retrospective scrutiny. The predicted assault on Karzai never took place (the last reported attempt was in April 2008, four months earlier), and there is no known militant camp called Zarb Momen in Karachi, a city with hundreds of hardline madrasas. The al-Rashid Trust, a charity with militant links, publishes a magazine by the same name, said Amir Rana, an Islamabad-based militancy expert.

Agencies add: Senator John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has said the documents released by WikiLeaks raised serious issues about the U.S.’s handling of the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“However illegally these documents came to light, they raise serious questions about the reality of America’s policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan. Those policies are at a critical stage and these documents may very well underscore the stakes and make the calibrations needed to get the policy right more urgent.” The Washington Post newspaper notes how WikiLeaks’ decision to let The New York Times and two European news outlets have access to the classified reports “reflects the growing strength and sophistication of the small nonprofit Web site.”

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