The Obama administration for the first time Thursday openly asserted that Pakistan was indirectly responsible for specific attacks against U.S. troops and installations in Afghanistan, calling a leading Afghan insurgent group “a veritable arm” of the Pakistani intelligence service.
Last week’s attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and a Sept. 10 truck bombing that killed five Afghans and wounded 77 NATO troops were “planned and conducted” by the Pakistan-based Haqqani network “with ISI support,” said Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The ISI is the Pakistani military’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
“The government of Pakistan and most especially the Pakistani army and ISI” have chosen “to use violent extremism as an instrument of policy” to maintain leverage over Afghanistan’s future, Mullen testified during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta also testified.
While there has been plenty of discussion of the links between the Haqqani Network and the Pakistani ISI, something that has been missed in the discussion are some of the historic tensions that made maintaining a relationship with a group like the Haqqani Network attractive to the ISI. Like so many things that have influenced this region, it has ties back to the Great Game, but this post will only really focus on the more recent history, that is to say events after the conclusion of World War II.