WASHINGTON: Some newly disclosed US government documents, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and recently posted on the website of the George Washington University National Security, have shed more light not only on early Taliban offers, but also on the role of Pakistan before and after the attacks.
According to one of the recently released State Department documents, a Pakistani official told the US that “Pakistan ‘will always support the Taliban’,” Foreignpolicyjournal.com reports.
This “policy cannot change, he continued; it would prompt rebellion across the Northwest Frontier Provinces, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, and indeed on both sides of the Pashtun-dominated Pak-Afghan border.”
US’ talks with the Taliban, prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, were also revealed in a document, including talks with regard to the repeated Taliban offers to hand over Osama bin Laden to America.
The US was urged to “find a way to compromise with the Taliban”, and possible “ways that the U.S. and the Taliban might use to break the impasse” were suggested, including “the possibility of a trial in a third (Muslim) country”, “U.S. assurances that bin Laden would not face the death penalty”, and “a US outline of what the Taliban would gain from extradition of bin Laden,” but the “State Department officials refused to soften their demand that bin Laden face trial in the US justice system.”
A newly released document dated August 30, 2001 shows that Pakistan was continuing to urge the US “to maintain open channels to the Taliban.”
Pakistani officials denied that their support for the Taliban included military assistance; and when asked, “Why Pakistan supports the Taliban”, an official replied, “We don’t support but inter-act with the Taliban.”
Pressed further on why Pakistan continued “to give the Taliban international diplomatic support and to press the United States’ government (USG) to engage with the Taliban,” the Pakistani officials “reiterated that the Taliban are the effective rulers of at least 90 percent of Afghanistan, that they enjoy significant popular support because they ended the banditry and anarchy that once bedeviled the country, and that the instant success of the opium poppy production ban underscored … the reality and effectiveness of Taliban authority.”