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NATO document: Taliban strength, motivation, funding and tactical proficiency remain intact.

February 1, 2012

A timely leak?

The BBC, amongst other news outlets, has picked up the story that the UK Times newspaper has apparently seen a NATO classified document that appears to state – or at least veers dangerously close to stating – that elements of the Pakistani government/military/intelligence system have been and are still providing support to the Taliban.  This story, of course, is not a new one – in any ways this issue has been driving Afghanistan’s path since the 1990s.  The frustrations of the international community at the highest levels at the lack of co-operation and even collusion of the Pakistani intelligence services have been evident for 10 years.

The NATO report apparently doesn’t just cover this angle, but also suggests that the population are preparing themselves for the inevitable return of the Taliban to power and that even some members of the Afghan government and security forces are collaborating with the Taliban.  Kill/capture – the intensive ISAF military efforts to target insurgent mid-level commanders – is also apparently quoted as having: “a negligible effect”.

This from Bloomberg:

A report by senior NATO officers in Afghanistan says the Taliban are unbeaten and, supported by Pakistan, may take control of the country, the London-based Times reported.

The report, entitled “State of the Taliban,” was based on 27,000 interviews with detainees and has been reviewed by the newspaper; it says that, though the insurgent movement took a battering last year, “its strength, motivation, funding and tactical proficiency remain intact,” according to the Times.

Pakistan is, the NATO report states, colluding with the Taliban in directing attacks against coalition forces, using a network of spies and intermediaries to provide strategic advice, the newspaper said.

Another fragment from the report:

“It remains to be seen whether a revitalized, more progressive Taliban will endure if they continue to gain power and popularity…Regardless, at least within the Taliban, the refurbished image is already having a positive effect on morale.”

I’ve used the caveat “apparently” quite a few times here.  This is information based on second-, third- (or even fourth-) hand reporting.  But it still fits with everything else I have understood about Afghanistan’s current situation.  It looks convincingly like a further downward step in the relationship between the international community and Pakistan and a worrying indication of Afghanistan’s possible future direction.

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