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Secret Pakistan: BBC documentary on how Pakistan’s ISI trains and arms Taliban

Related posts: On BBC’s Secret Pakistan and Ejaz Haider: Their denials and propagandists – by Abbas Daiyar

A comment on Bruce Riedel’s proposed accountability of Pakistan army

Appeal to international community: Impose travel restrictions on all senior officers of Pakistan army

BBC’s documentary Secret Pakistan is a two part series shown on BBC2 on 27th October and 3rd November 2011, looking at the role of Pakistan’s secret service, the ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) in training Islamo-fascist terrorists (TTP, LeJ, SSP, JeM etc) for attacks in Afghanistan and India. Pakistan’s ISI provides weapons and training to Taliban insurgents fighting US and British troops in Afghanistan, despite official denials, Taliban commanders say.

Pakistan has been accused of playing a double game, acting as America’s ally in public while secretly training and arming its enemy in Afghanistan according to US intelligence.

In a prison cell on the outskirts of Kabul, the Afghan Intelligence Service is holding a young man who alleges he was recruited earlier this year by Pakistan’s powerful military intelligence agency, the ISI.

He says he was trained to be a suicide bomber in the Taliban’s intensifying military campaign against the Western coalition forces – and preparations for his mission were overseen by an ISI officer in a camp in Pakistan. After 15 days training, he was sent into Afghanistan.

Bruce Riedel

In Afghanistan we saw an insurgency that was not only getting passive support from the Pakistani army and the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, but getting active support” Bruce RiedelAdviser to President Obama in 2009

“There were three of us. We were put into a black vehicle with black windows. The police did not stop the car because it was obviously ISI. No-one dares stop their cars. They told me… you will receive your explosive waistcoat, and then go and explode it.”

Taliban bases in Pakistan

The man recruited to be a suicide bomber changed his mind at the last minute and was later captured by the Afghan intelligence service.

But his story is consistent with a mass of intelligence which has convinced the Americans that, as they suspected, for the last decade Pakistan has been secretly arming and supporting the Taliban in its attempt to regain control of Afghanistan.

These suspicions started as early as 2002, when the Taliban began launching attacks across the border from their bases in Pakistan, but they became more widely held after 2006 when the Taliban’s assault increased in its ferocity, not least against the ill-prepared British forces in Helmand province.

The final turning point in American eyes was the attack on Mumbai when 10 gunmen rampaged through the Indian city, killing 170 people – two weeks after Barack Obama’s US presidential election victory in November 2008.

Despite Pakistan claiming it played no part in the attack, the CIA later received intelligence that it said showed the ISI were directly involved in training the Mumbai gunmen.

President Obama ordered a review of all intelligence on the region by a veteran CIA officer, Bruce Riedel.

Taliban commander Najib says he was trained by Pakistan military intelligence

“Our own intelligence was unequivocal,” says Riedel. “In Afghanistan we saw an insurgency that was not only getting passive support from the Pakistani army and the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, but getting active support.”

Training and supplies

Pakistan has repeatedly denied the claims. But the BBC documentary series Secret Pakistan has spoken to a number of middle-ranking – and still active – Taliban commanders who provide detailed evidence of how the Pakistan ISI has rebuilt, trained and supported the Taliban throughout its war on the US in Afghanistan.

“For a fighter there are two important things – supplies and a place to hide,” said one Taliban commander, who fights under the name Mullah Qaseem. “Pakistan plays a significant role. First they support us by providing a place to hide which is really important. Secondly, they provide us with weapons.”

Another commander, Najib, says: “Because Obama put more troops into Afghanistan and increased operations here, so Pakistan’s support for us increased as well.”

He says his militia received a supply truck with “500 landmines with remote controls, 20 rocket-propelled grenade launchers with 2000 to 3000 grenades… AK-47s, machine-guns and rockets”.

Pakistani military

Evidence of Pakistan’s support for the Taliban is also plain to see at the border where insurgents are allowed to cross at will, or even helped to evade US patrols.

And the recent drone attacks in Pakistan have become increasingly effective as intelligence has been withheld from the Pakistanis, claims Mr Riedel.

“At the beginning of the drone operations, we gave Pakistan an advance tip-off of where we were going, and every single time the target wasn’t there anymore. You didn’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to put the dots together.”

Osama Bin Laden’s capture and killing followed this same model – the Americans acting on their own, to the humiliation of Pakistan. Trust between the two supposed allies has never been lower.

Taliban fighters

Bin Laden was the reason America had attacked Afghanistan and overthrown the Taliban who had always refused to hand him over. His death has removed a major obstacle to peace.

Peace talks

But those who claim that Pakistan’s hidden hand has shaped the conflict fear the same is now true of the negotiations for peace. Last year, in the Pakistani city of Karachi, Mullah Baradar, the Taliban’s second-in-command, was captured by the ISI.

Secretly, Baradar had made contact with the Afghan government to discuss a deal that would end the war. He had done so without the ISI’s permission and he was detained “to bring him back under control” according to one British diplomat.

More recently, Hawa Nooristani, a member of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, says she was called to a secret meeting.

Waiting for her was a commander from the most lethal faction of the Taliban, the Haqqani network, which first brought suicide bombing to Afghanistan. To her astonishment he said he wanted peace talks.

“He said it was vital Pakistan intelligence knew nothing of the meeting. He said not to disclose it because Pakistan does not want peace with Afghanistan and even now they are training new Taliban units.

“He was also scared that the Pakistanis will arrest him because he lives in Pakistan and he said it would be easy for them to arrest him.”

Former Afghan President Rabbani
Talks with the Taliban collapsed after the killing of former President Rabbani

The Afghan government began peace talks with the Taliban but these were abandoned after its chief negotiator, former President Rabbani, was killed by a suicide bomber purporting to be a Taliban envoy.

Any future peace will have to be concluded with Pakistan President Karzai has since declared

To American policy advisers like Bruce Riedel, the message is clear:

“The ISI may not be able to deliver the Taliban to the negotiating table, but they can certainly spoil any negotiations process. So far, there’s very little sign, that I’ve seen, that Pakistan is interested in a political deal.”

While denying links to the Taliban, Pakistan insists that it is doing no more than what any country would do in similar circumstances.

“We cannot disregard our long term interest because this is our own area,” said General Athar Abbas, chief spokesman for Pakistan’s military.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during a recent visit to Pakistan: “The Pakistanis have a role to play, they can either be helpful, indifferent or harmful.”

But there are those like Mr Riedel who fear that the forces unleashed in 10 years of war may yet come to haunt the whole world:

“There is probably no worse nightmare, for America, for Europe, for the world, in the 21st Century than if Pakistan gets out of control under the influence of extremist Islamic forces, armed with nuclear weapons…The stakes here are huge.”

What happens in Pakistan may yet be the most enduring legacy of 9/11 and the hunt for Bin Laden.

  • Secret Pakistan is on BBC Two on Wed 26 Oct and Wed 2 Nov at 21:00 (UK time)
  • Watch afterwards via iPlayer (UK only)

Source: BBC

The second film in this timely and enthralling two-part documentary series reveals how Britain and America discovered compelling evidence that Pakistan was secretly helping the Taliban and concluded they had been double-crossed. It tells the story of how under President Obama the US has waged a secret war against Pakistan. Taliban commanders tell the film makers that to this day Pakistan shelters and arms them, and helps them kill Western troops – indeed one recently captured suicide bomber alleges he was trained by Pakistani intelligence. Chillingly, the film also reveals that, based on some evidence, Pakistani intelligence stands accused of sabotaging possible peace talks. Pakistan denies these charges, but relations between Pakistan and America now verge on hostility. (Source)

Secret Pakistan: Double Cross (part 1)

Secret Pakistan: Backlash (part 2)

About the author

Jehangir Hafsi


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  • Fifteen Ways ISI Twists the Afghanistan Story
    By Melissa Roddy

    The Public Record

    May 21st, 2010

    Make no mistake, withdrawal of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan, before the country is strong enough to defend itself, would not result in peace for the Afghan people. It would result in a repeat of the horrors of the 1990s, when, according to Human Rights Watch, over 400,000 Afghans were killed.

    Recently, Benjamin Barber published an editorial entitled 15 REASONS WHY WE CAN’T WIN IN AFGHANISTAN. I want to thank him for neatly putting in one convenient place so many of the common distortions and lies propagated by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (“ISI”) to encourage the United States and our allies to abandon the Afghan people, who have suffered grievously for well over 30 years at the hands of various ISI sponsored criminals.
    Below in italics are his jingoistic “15 Reasons,” thoroughly refuted, point by point.

    1. There is no “Afghanistan,” only an inchoate collection of warring tribes, factions and clans.

    First of all, Afghanistan was organized as a nation-state in 1747, more than 30 years before the American colonies won their independence from Great Britain; and 200 years prior to the establishment of Pakistan (by Great Britain).

    There are several reasons why Pakistan promotes this blatant lie. Fundamentally, it is Pakistan which is only barely a nation. Afghanistan came into being when a group of elders from around the country got together in what Afghans call a “jirga” (council) and chose a king from among the group. At that time, the Indian subcontinent was under the colonial control of Britain, which, over the following 150 years, exerted constant military pressure on India’s western boundary, pushing more and more deeply across the Afghan frontier.

    Finally, in 1893, Sir Mortimer Durand negotiated a treaty with the Emir of Afghanistan, establishing what has come to be known as the Durand Line.

    The Durand Line was so arbitrarily drawn that it not only divides large swaths of Pashtun and Baloch ethnic regions, it actually runs through the middle of towns and even properties. There are actually places along the border where it is possible to each lunch in Pakistan and go to the loo in Afghanistan. In establishing the Durand Line, Britain lopped off a large chunk of Afghanistan, dividing the Pashtun region nearly in half. When the British were leaving India in 1947, the Afghans began to eagerly assert that it was time for reunification of their country. Instead, Pakistan was created.

    Pakistan is primarily comprised of four ethnic regions:
    Punjab in the northeast; Sindh in the southeast; the Pakhtunkhwa (Pashtun lands) in the northwest; and Balochistan in the southwest. For centuries, the Pashtun and Baloch peoples have been fighting against Punjabi domination of their lands, yet that is exactly the situation in which the British left them. Punjabis are the largest ethnic population in Pakistan. More importantly, Punjabis dominate the military in this country where the military is the government.

    Because there have been Pashtun and Baloch separatist movements in Pakistan since the creation of Pakistan, and since many of Pakistan’s Pashtun are inclined towards reunification with their brethren in Afghanistan, ISI believes that, in order to keep its territory from fracturing down the middle (the Indus River), it must keep Afghanistan either unstable or under Pakistani control.

    Therefore, in classic red herring style, ISI promotes the notion that Afghanistan is only barely a country, in order to divert attention from Pakistan’s own inherent instability.

    2. To the extent there is an “Afghanistan,” its government is deeply corrupt and unable to control its own divided country.

    Much of the current leadership of Afghanistan (including President Hamid Karzai) is actually controlled by ISI for the very reasons described above. Afghan leaders who do not avail themselves of Pakistan’s corrupting influence, and who refuse to go along with the plan to keep their country unstable, get threatened, are accused of the very corruption they oppose or are simply assassinated.

    Unfortunately, the US and NATO, who are largely responsible for having empowered corrupt leaders such as the Karzais, Gul Afgha Shirzai and Abdul Rasul Sayaf, did not come to understand this dynamic until fairly recently.

    A simple rule of thumb for identifying who should not be governing Afghanistan would be to eliminate from consideration any Afghan leader who was based in Pakistan during the 1980s war against the Soviet Union. Far too many persons fitting that description lost their integrity to ISI influence at that time. This was evidenced in 1988, when Professor Sayed Majroo, director of the Afghan Information Service, published a survey taken among Afghans in the refugee camps in Pakistan. The survey demonstrated that less than 1% of the people polled wanted any of the Afghan mujahiddin faction leaders to govern their country after Soviet withdrawal. Assassination by ISI was Professor Majroo’s reward for publishing the will of his people.

    3. President Karzai, our “ally” and the official representative of the “state” on whose behalf we fight, would prefer that we leave – at least when it comes to what he says for internal consumption.

    As noted above, President Karzai is unduly influenced by Pakistan, which, as stated above, is dedicated to the policy that Afghanistan must be kept either, weak and unstable or under Pakistani control. This policy is misleadingly known as “strategic depth.” It is misleading, because it implies that Pakistan only wants to control Afghanistan out of fear of an Indian invasion. India has not invaded since 1972. Therefore, “strategic depth” is pure bupkis. At any rate, Karzai’s reputed (according to Barber) desire for the US and NATO to withdraw is far more indicative of ISI’s desires than those of the Afghan people.

    4. Not that it matters what he thinks since the President of Afghanistan is for all practical purposes little more than the Mayor of Kabul – and that’s on good days.
    This simple statement, which is patently untrue, describes a complex situation influenced by not only Pakistan and the corrupt Afghan warlords it controls, but also Karzai’s ability, to the extent he is interested, to effect change and nurture development in his country, a process which was hamstrung during the Bush years by the profound inadequacy of the security/military and development support being provided by the international community. What’s more, the United States owes this support to the Afghans, because we enabled Pakistan’s demolition of their country during the 1980s and 90s. According to journalist Selig Harrison and former UN

    Special Envoy Diego Cordovez, the Soviet Union began expressing its desire to withdraw from Afghanistan as early as 1981. It was American support for the Islamic fundamentalist militias (a/k/a Charlie Wilson’s “freedom fighters,” and predecessors to the Taliban) organized by Pakistan, which prevented them from doing so.

    5. The only thing that unites this otherwise disintegral non-state is that the fractious tribes that despise one another hate foreigners even more.

    This is simply Pakistani propaganda, similar to what was already refuted in Item No. 1. Its purpose is to convince the world that Afghanistan is not much of a country, and Afghans would be better off under Pakistani dominion.

    The most deeply despised foreigners in Afghanistan are the Taliban. Sit with Afghans for three cups, or even three-quarters of a cup of tea, and you will hear them chant over and over, “They’re from Pakistan! They’re from Pakistan! The Taliban are from Pakistan!”

    6. Foreign forces, whatever their intentions, will always be seen as occupiers and hence, the enemy.

    In the autumn of 2009, a group of women traveled to Afghanistan as part of a trip organized by the well-known anti-war group, Code Pink. Simply put, every Afghan woman with whom they met expressed the firm belief that US/NATO forces were the only thing standing between them and the abject misery of life under the Taliban. Much to their astonishment, the women on that Code Pink trip came home with a very different perspective than what they had anticipated.

    Make no mistake, a premature exit of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan will not result in peace for the Afghan people. It will result in a repeat of the horrors of the 1990s. It boggles the mind that people who generally take pride in their sense of compassion, have not only succumbed to mass amnesia, but also seem completely immune to the vivid reminders of that period as demonstrated by the Taliban upon the people of Pakistan’s Swat Valley over the past year.

    7. Ghengis Khan, the British and the Russians all tried to “win” in Afghanistan, and they all failed; it would be an exaggeration to say their futile attempts brought down three empires… or would it?

    This sort of sloppy scholarship is simply inexcusable from someone with Mr. Barber’s credentials. It is utter nonsense that Afghanistan has never been conquered. It was conquered by the Greeks under Alexander, who named the land Ariana (the name of Afghanistan’s national airline). It was conquered by the Persians, the Mongols, the Moghuls, the Tartars and … the British.

    Ghengis Khan conquered Afghanistan, which remained part of the Mongol Empire for approximately 150 years, after which it was conquered by Tamerlane.

    Most importantly, the Durand Treaty of 1893 made official Great Britain’s conquest of over half of Afghanistan’s Pashtun ethnic region.

    However, the US is not trying to “win” or conquer Afghanistan. The mission of our military is to stabilize the country and assist in reconstruction, with the goal of leaving it strong enough to once again defend itself against the ongoing threat from its neighbor, Pakistan.
    The purpose of the oft repeated propaganda, that Afghanistan has never been conquered, is simply to inspire a defeatist attitude; i.e., nobody’s ever succeeded there, so we might as well give up and go home; thus leaving the path clear for Pakistan’s minions to resume their pattern of scorching Afghan earth.

    8. You can’t win wars when you’re killing civilians, yet in Afghanistan where the boundary between combatants and civilians is blurred you necessarily are killing a great many civilians a lot of the time.

    While there have been many tragic mistakes committed by the US and our NATO allies, the numbers speak for themselves. Between the fall of the Communist government in 1992 and the fall of the Taliban in 2001, Human Rights Watch estimates that over 400,000 Afghan civilians were killed. Not to diminish the loss to their families and communities, but since 2001, less than 16,000 civilians have been killed. Afghans consistently express the fear that if the US and NATO leave before Afghanistan can defend itself, the 400,000 figure will be greatly exceeded.

    Upon taking command in the summer of 2009, General Stanley McChrystal issued new rules of engagement, whereby US and NATO soldiers were ordered to hold fire if pursuit of the enemy put civilians at risk. This policy reduced by 28% the number of civilian deaths caused by western forces in 2009.

    Moreover, Barber’s statement that “the boundary between combatants and civilians is blurred” promotes the impression that the Taliban is a native movement. It is not. The Taliban is a Pakistani paramilitary force. Every soldier serving in Afghanistan knows that the Taliban come from Pakistan and go home to Pakistan.
    The Taliban is not even a Pashtun movement. There are people spreading the notion that, because they are Pashtun, the separatists in Pakistan support the Taliban. Nothing could be further from the truth. Since 2003, the Taliban has assassinated hundreds of Pashtun tribal leaders in Pakistan and destroyed hundreds of schools in the Pakhtunkhwa, so that families have no choice but to send their sons to JUI madrassahs, i.e., Taliban training centers. In the past year, they have busied themselves blowing up bazaars in the region and even the UN Food Program. This is a direct assault on Pashtun women and children, and no one makes friends with a group that targets their children.

    9. Occupying places where Muslims live (and where they die at your hand) will always been (sic) seen as a war against Islam rather than a war against terrorism.
    Again, Afghans do not view us as conquerors, but rather, defenders.

    10. You can’t make people free at the barrel of gun.
    This is a cute slogan, but it’s absurd.

    11. There is no better way to create terrorism than to make war on Muslims in the name of fighting wars against terrorism.

    The US and NATO are not creating the terrorists. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are doing that. The Saudis provide the funds. Pakistan provides the weapons and training.

    12. America can’t save the world, and risks losing what is best in America when it tries.

    This head-in-the-sand statement is not only heartless, it ignores the fact that, since the invention of the passenger jet, isolationism is simply not possible.

    13. Military force and overwhelming firepower applied from the outside are more likely to undermine than sustain the development of democracy inside a developing country.

    The military force being applied to undermine democracy in Afghanistan is coming from Pakistan, not the United States.

    14. Al Qaeda is not Afghanistan and it is not the Taliban either; it is a malevolent NGO and winning Afghanistan or defeating the Taliban cannot vanquish al Qaeda.

    Though this statement is true, it is demonstrative of the severe shortcomings of Mr. Barber’s memory. If Afghanistan is not properly defended and restored to some semblance of national health, then it will be overrun, once again, by the Taliban, which is sympathetic to the global pan-Islamist goals of Al Qaeda. That is how Afghanistan became a safe haven for Al Qaeda and a spawning ground for global terrorism in the first place.

    15. We can’t pay for questionable wars abroad and afford justice and economic recovery at home and trying to do so is likely to lead to losing the war and undermining justice.

    The United States provided the cash, weapons and training utilized by Pakistan in its destruction of Afghanistan during the 1980s and 1990s. We, therefore, have a duty to rebuild and defend that country, until it is strong enough to defend itself. To Mr. Barber I say, yes we can… we must.

    Melissa Roddy is the director of CONFLICT OF INTEREST, a documentary film focused on underlying and previously unreported issues regarding Afghanistan and Pakistan. Like several of the principals in the saga of that region, she is also a native Texan. In December of 2007 she achieved worldwide attention with the publication of a print article and documentary short exposing propagandistic misinformation in the movie “CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR.”


  • This is a conclusive evidence of ISI’s sinister links with the beasts who are killing innocent people in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    Will Chief Justice take action against them?

    Will President Zardari order an inquiry?

    Will the UN, other international bodies take action against terror supporting army generals?

  • Pakistan Ambassador to USA busy in defending ISI, just like Rehman Malik:

    husainhaqqani Husain Haqqani
    Reuters– ‘Pakistan military denies BBC report on Taliban links’ reut.rs/ss7aLH

  • mirza9 Shaheryar Mirza
    Haven’t seen the documentary but this @ejazhaider piece raises the right questions. is.gd/WWJxhy via @Maria_Memon #pakistan
    32 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply

    godfatheriv Über Rana
    “@Maria_Memon: Journalism or jabberwocky? j.mp/s0MEhA via @ejazhaider” a MUST READ.
    35 minutes ago

    Maria_Memon Maria Memon
    Journalism or jabberwocky? j.mp/s0MEhA via @ejazhaider


    AbdulNishapuri Abdul Nishapuri
    EH types reinforce my belief that fake liberal friends of DS in Pakistan’s English media are as dishonest as rightwing friends in Urdu media

    Gen Ather Abbas threatens lawsuit against BBC. Do it, mate! http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2011/10/111027_ather_interview_sen.shtml

    AbdulNishapuri Abdul Nishapuri
    Gen Ather Abbas’s arguments (last para in BBC Urdu interview) were exactly used by Ejaz Haider in his piece on BBC documentary. Coincidence?
    میں دیکھنا پڑے گا کہ این ڈی ایس (افغان انٹیلی جنس) کے ان سابق افسران کی باتیں کیوں پھیلائی جا رہی ہیں اور انہیں روکا کیوں نہیں جا رہا کیونکہ پاکستان اور دیگر اتحادیوں کے درمیان غلط فہمیاں پیدا کرنے میں ان لوگوں کا بڑا کردار ہے‘

    AbdulNishapuri Abdul Nishapuri
    According to EH: “I will report what general Ather Abbas said but I cannot present what he said as the ultimate truth.” Amen to that!!!
    1 minute ago Favorite Reply Delete

    AbdulNishapuri Abdul Nishapuri
    EH treats “WikiLeaks saga and NDS reporting on alleged Pakistani activities, reports based on dubious sources and quite often contradictory”
    3 minutes ago

    AbdulNishapuri Abdul Nishapuri
    EH asks: “who is training those who are attacking the ISI here and also killing Pakistani civilians?” Ever heard of Frankenstein’s monster?
    5 minutes ago

    AbdulNishapuri Abdul Nishapuri
    EH does not mention that “troops deployment to and around North Waziristan” is to facilitate, not deter the Taliban’s operations.
    7 minutes ago

    AbdulNishapuri Abdul Nishapuri
    EH writes “How does BBC know forsure it spoke with Taliban commanders and not plants by NDS?” How do we know forsure EH is not an ISI plant?
    8 minutes ago

    AbdulNishapuri Abdul Nishapuri
    Ejaz Haider who routinely embeds with ISI to misrepresent Shia & Baloch genocide objects to BBC’s interviews with NDS. Pot calling the…
    11 minutes ago

    AbdulNishapuri Abdul Nishapuri
    Ejaz Haider’s piece bit.ly/ut7Dvn is in fact ISPR’s rebuttal to BBC’s documentary on Taliban-ISI Alliance bit.ly/uBvNWg

  • Journalism or jabberwocky?
    News Comments (11)
    By:Ejaz Haider 16 hrs ago | Comments (11)

    The BBC documentary fails some basic tests of reporting

    Call it the new style of reporting Pakistan’s ‘perfidy’. Go to Afghanistan, embed with the National Directorate of Security (NDS), interview alleged Taliban commanders, their faces covered, present their ‘confessions’ to the world as an ‘authentic’ story on what Pakistan and the Inter-Services Intelligence is doing, run an old sound-bite by Pakistani military spokesperson and, lest I forget, interview ‘impartial’ actors like former NDS chief Amrullah Saleh, former CIA officer Bruce Riedel and former British officer Col Richard Kemp and voila!

    That this should happen on BBC2 makes one shake one’s head.

    Wait. We haven’t got to the facts section yet. The question here, as yet, is not about what Pakistan might be doing but whether the manner of presentation of this documentary passes some tests of good reporting. Simply put, it doesn’t.

    • How could the BBC ensure the veracity of its story when the primary facilitator for it was the NDS? Pakistan has, in its custody, many Taliban commanders who have been trained in camps in Afghanistan. Would the BBC interview them and present that documentary as authentic proof of what several intelligence agencies in Afghanistan are doing to hurt Pakistan without corroborative reporting?

    • Why did the BBC not feel the need to talk to Pakistani officials, resorting instead to running an old sound-bite by Maj Gen Athar Abbas, DG-ISPR? If that is correct then it is akin to deception?

    • Why did it not underscore the documentary with the disclaimer that given the fog in this region with several state and non-state actors playing multiple games its story cannot be presented as anything beyond what is visible and is said by people who have their biases and agendas?

    • Why was there no attempt to mention the role of state actors other than Pakistan? Is the Pakistani state acting – even if, for the sake of the argument, one were to accept the allegations contained in the report – in a vacuum and without any cogent reason(s)?

    • Are other state actors merely reacting to Pakistan’s perfidy? Is there a context here, and if there is, should the BBC not have mentioned it?

    • How does the BBC know for sure it spoke with Taliban commanders and not plants by the NDS? Does it have any independent proof of the IDs of those it spoke with, and who are incognito in the documentary, beyond the NDS’ word about them?

    • Does the BBC not know the published views of Saleh and Riedel on Pakistan? Should that have been a concern for the channel?

    Nemo iudex in causa sua: it is a principle of natural justice that no person can judge a case in which they have an interest. In journalism, one has to deal with biased actors. But it is precisely for that reason that a reporter has to make that extra effort to sift the grain from the chaff. The BBC documentary, titled “Secret Pakistan”, fails most of the basics tests. That raises the obvious question: is this an attempt to frame Pakistan or just bad reporting?

    Now to some facts.

    The documentary says there is no significant troop deployment in North Waziristan. This is a widely held misconception and I first tried to dispel it in a May 25, 2010 article in The Indian Express captioned, “A very long engagement”. This is what I wrote:

    “There are more troops deployed to and around North Waziristan than South Waziristan, where the army launched Operation Rah-e-Nijat (Path to Salvation) last October [2009]. Statistics compiled from media reports and local journalists, and corroborated with data from the military, show that since 2005, militants based in the area have launched between 70 and 80 raids on different army posts in North Waziristan. These attacks have resulted in about 200 casualties, including over 50 soldiers killed.”

    This was more than a year ago. There have been more attacks since then. There is a Division-plus with 5 Brigades deployed to the area which is over 30,000 troops. The Frontier Corps wings are in addition to this deployment. To call this deployment insignificant would take some doing.

    Then, of course, we have the supposed ISI generals monitoring training camps including suicide bombers. They come to these camps in uniform so that they can be ID-ed. These camps also have Al-Qaeda cadres, forget the number of top AQ leaders the ISI has captured and handed over to the US or killed. And while ISI ‘generals’ train AQ and Taliban commanders, AQ, TTP and their affiliate groups have attacked and killed nearly 300 ISI officials and blown up 5 ISI centres across Pakistan.

    So, while the ISI trains Afghan Taliban, who is training those who are attacking the ISI here and also killing Pakistani civilians? According to data compiled by PIPS, from 2008 until Sept 2011, there have been 259 suicide attacks in Pakistan which have killed 4124 people and injured or disabled 10,216. The fact is that such camps exist on both sides of the Durand Line and suicide attacks have been a problem on both sides. If it is accepted that Pakistan is sending suicide bombers to Afghanistan, then who is sending the ones that come and attack Pakistan – the ISI?

    We already have the WikiLeaks saga with NDS reporting on alleged Pakistani activities, reports based on dubious sources and quite often contradictory. Sure, the NDS would do that. It’s part of its job. But it shouldn’t be the job of the BBC to swallow the NDS narrative hook, line and sinker and present it to the world as the ultimate truth on what Pakistan is doing.

    Maj Gen Athar Abbas was less charitable. “It is because of the miserable performance of all the intelligence agencies in Afghanistan that this thrust is being directed towards the ISI. If they cannot do their job, they shouldn’t undermine our effort this side of the border.”

    There, then. How should I treat this statement, as gospel? I can’t. It is the general’s job to defend the Pakistani military and the ISI. I will report what he said but I cannot present what he said as the ultimate truth. That would require more sources. But then I am not the mighty BBC!

    The writer is Contributing Editor, The Friday Times.



    Looks like the documentary nailed it judging your response. The level of your denial proves quite a lot. But then again, Mr Ejaz Haider, you are one among the many in Pakistan who suffer from this conspiracy theory virus. The whole world is accusing your country. THERE IS A GOOD REASON FOR THAT AND YOU KNOW THAT REASON.


    Muhammed Umer Farooq · 12 hours ago
    So now we have the likes of Mr Ejaz Haider lecturing the BBC on impartiality. Doesn’t get more ironical than this.

    Mulla Toofan · 6 hours ago
    Ok, BBC was dishonest, and ISI was not supporting Taliban. Then what is the bone of contention between Pak and NATO-ISAF? Everything should be peace, happiness and pancakes.

    Mulla Toofan · 5 hours ago
    Preach to BBC the reporting ethics which you yourself fail to practice, as obvious from your pieces in defence of security establishment.

  • A strange post on Pakistan Media Watch. Why does PMW uncritically cite Ejaz Haider’s arguments?


    Journalism and Agency Managed Media

    The thin line between journalism and managed media was pointed out by Ejaz Haider in his column for Pakistan Today, ‘Journalism or Jabberwocky‘. Writing about a recent BBC report claiming that ISI is training and arming Taliban, Ejaz points out that, wait, the entire investigation was managed by Afghanistan’s spy agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS). “How could the BBC ensure the veracity of its story when the primary facilitator for it was the NDS”. This is not to say that the BBC report is inaccurate or accurate, it is just to say that when the information is provided by an intelligence agency, journalists should look for neutral sources who can verify the information, recognising that intelligence agencies have specific agendas that they are charged with promoting, none of which are ‘good journalism’. As Ejaz Haider notes, the response denying the BBC‘s claims by ISPR does not help much either. “How should I treat this statement, as gospel?”, Ejaz asks. “I can’t. It is the general’s job to defend the Pakistani military and the ISI.”

    This is an underlying problem with much of the information we are presented by media today. How much of it actual journalism, and how much is actually media carefully managed by intelligence agencies of one nation or another? Without knowing who is the man behind the message, we, the public, are left in the dark.


  • Soon after 9/11 I wrote an analyses of just 2 pages about FP of USA that she would not attack Afghanistan because it might lead towards 3rd world war… a simple thing that four atomic powers are almost directly linked with Aghan border(China,India,Pakistan,Russia)and other three are almost engaged in a war at Afghan lands(USA,Britan,Franc)since more than ten years.. means we r living in a third world war ere…. International Politics is all about National Intrest,so seven atomic powers have their intrests in Afghan policy and peace is not still the commen intrest of all.. so please tell me a single of above states which is not trying to double cross the other,, or rest of the world??

  • They rule the media and its their biggest weapon people! Where is the proof of dead OBL??? have u seen any? no! Actually noone has seen any kind of proof of the death of OBL. They by their media announced and forced people to accept the existence and death of OBL in Pakistan.

  • I am sure that now USA/NATO are stuck in afghanistan, & they blame pakistani ISI that he is not favouring us.
    as afghan has history for 250 YEARS that they can not defeted by british/USSR & etc.and now Nato/USA are feeling that they have the END point of Dead.
    So i being pakistani say that NATO/USA live in peace if they dela a contract sign with Afghan peoples, otherwise, the always face difficulities in matter of PEACE.


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  • That,s gud Job……. hey americans We are Not Terriorist … We are against taliban And Terriorist…. Please change your thinking…… And great job.. Pakistani Rockxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx….

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  • as i knew isi could,nt support taliban they just depend his nation.
    pakistan is the only country in which all the over world secret agencies make disturbence and inferior the image of pakistan…………..as u c on the media bomb blast in pakistan etc,,still isi coul,dnt control these actions.
    BBC reports shows an opposite image of pakistan isi

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  • we are Pakistani…we are intelligent…we are wise…..each of us think like ISI…….because we are ISI we are MUSLIMS…….this knowledge comes from our Peers……nd Our great Prophet Hazrat Umar(R.a) introduced all forces …….so no 1 can beat us no 1 can beat our ISI cz ISI is not a Agency it is Our God Gifted TalenT ……

    • ISI is our pride and USA is the most brutal and stupid country who are used lie and play double game with any of their ally because it is in their genes to deceive others…USA played the real double-game by strengthening INDIA in AFGHANISTAN…!!! USA is master in planting fake events like 9/11 and they lave learnt it from their ancestors,so they can never ever be sincere with anyone.

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  • well it was a good personal opinion about defaming Pakistan and its mind blowing pride agency.as far as US and its allied forces are concerned, they put their best to get control of Afghanistan but invain ultimately concluded that its not game of kids so now they are looking for the ways HOW TO RUN from the ground. The views you tried to present as thoroughly searched out infact are the false excuses coz US has to say something in order to hide the face.US has only one problem that is Pakistan being a muslim country has the nuclear capacity.

  • the 9/11 game was very successful.a camera man was given camera to stand near world trade center and he was told that in few minets a plane will arrive from such direction and will hit the world trade center, so please capture it carefully because we have to show to the world that America is under attack.After few minets another plane will arrive to hit the building so please dont move from your place….stand alert

  • it was necessary to stop and beat US in Afghanistan coz she was dreaming about gaining strategically very important next colony in the world and afterwards spreading and increasing its influence on pakistan, India and China which is an ever growing new threat,,,,,,,hmmmmmmm very smart