Controversial Rand Report on Pakistan

Pakistan rejects report that military, intelligence elements aid Afghan insurgents
The Associated Press, June 11, 2008

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Pakistan has denied and denounced a report from a U.S. think tank alleging that elements within the country's security and intelligence forces help insurgents fighting in neighboring Afghanistan.

A statement from Pakistan's military called the U.S. Defense Department-funded RAND Corp. report a "smear campaign."

"The report is misleading, factually incorrect and based on propaganda to create doubts and suspicion in the minds of (the) target audience about Pakistan's role in supporting the coalition forces in Afghanistan," said the statement, released late Tuesday.

Pakistan's border regions — in particular its remote and semiautonomous tribal areas — are considered havens for Taliban- and al-Qaida-linked fighters involved in battling U.S.-led coalition and other forces inside Afghanistan.

Pakistan's new government is seeking peace deals with some militant groups to ease the violence in its territory. The negotiations have come under criticism from the U.S., which fears they will give the militants time to regroup and intensify their attacks in Afghanistan.

The RAND report, published Monday, warns of "crippling, long-term consequences" for the U.S. in Afghanistan if insurgent hideouts in Pakistan are not eliminated.

It said some active and former officials in Pakistan's intelligence service and the Frontier Corps — a paramilitary force — directly aided Taliban militants.

It said NATO officials have found instances of Pakistani intelligence agents providing data to militants, even "tipping off Taliban forces about the location and movement of Afghan and coalition forces" and undermining their operation.

The report also alleged that Pakistani intelligence and other agencies trained Taliban and other fighters at camps in Pakistan, and gave them information, financing and help crossing the border.

Pakistan supported the Taliban regime in Afghanistan before the Sept. 11 attacks. But President Pervez Musharraf allied himself with the U.S.-led war on terror that followed and toppled the militant movement, which has since led a raging insurgency in Afghanistan.

Since then, Pakistan has sent tens of thousands of troops to monitor its porous border with Afghanistan and battle militants on its side.

The new government is currently seeking peace deals, which it insists are not with "terrorists" but rather groups willing to lay down their arms.

But NATO has reported an increase in attacks in eastern Afghanistan and blamed it on Pakistan's peace talks.

The Pakistan military statement said the RAND report and other unspecified studies had a "definite agenda."

It denied any Pakistani officials or troops were helping insurgents, and called the claim that they provided the Taliban with information about troop movements a "a poorly fabricated story to create distrust between the two armed forces."

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