Afghan army chief: 'Pakistan controls Taliban'


The head of the Afghan army tells BBC Hardtalk fighting in Afghanistan could be stopped "in weeks"

Fighting in Afghanistan could be stopped "in weeks" if Pakistan told the Taliban to end the insurgency, the head of the Afghan army has told the BBC.

Gen Sher Mohammad Karimi said Pakistan controlled and gave shelter to Taliban leaders, deliberately unleashing fighters on Afghanistan.

Pakistan denies controlling the Taliban and says the comments are "malign".

It was one of the Taliban's main supporters from its launch in 1994 until the 2001 fall of the regime.

Most of the Taliban's leaders reportedly then fled to Pakistan and the group is still considered to be heavily dependent on the support of certain elements in the country.

Sensitive time

"The Taliban are under [Pakistan's] control - the leadership is in Pakistan," Gen Karimi told the BBC's Hardtalk programme.

"Madrassas have been closed and all the Taliban have been unleashed to Afghanistan."

Afghanistan could achieve peace if this was desired by both the US and Pakistan, said the general.

Taliban fighters in Afghanistan Gen Karimi accused Pakistan of unleashing Taliban fighters on Afghanistan

"If [Pakistan] put pressure on [Taliban] leadership or convinced them what to be done, that can help a lot," he added.

A Nato report leaked in April said Pakistan was aware that Taliban leaders were taking refuge within its borders.

But Pakistan consistently denies wielding influence over the Taliban, saying many militants have based themselves across the border in Afghanistan's eastern province of Kunar, from where they are known to have carried out attacks in north-western Pakistan.

"The allegations that Pakistan 'controls' the Taliban and has 'unleashed' them on Afghanistan have no basis," a foreign ministry spokesman said.

"We reject them categorically. Pakistan has exercised extreme restraint in the face of highly provocative language used by the Afghan civil and military officials over the last few months, not to mention some totally fabricated accusations."

The spokesman said that such comments reflected "insincerity" on the part of some elements in the Afghan government and that Pakistan was fully supportive of the reconciliation process.

"Pakistan will not be deterred in its efforts to support the international community's efforts to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan," he said.

Securing the long, porous border between the two countries has long posed a major challenge to the authorities.

Lack of trust

Gen Karimi's comments come at a sensitive time, says the BBC's Richard Galpin in Islamabad.

The US is pushing for peace talks with the Taliban as Nato combat troops continue to withdraw from Afghanistan - a process due to be completed next year.

Last month the Taliban opened their first official overseas office in the Qatari capital, Doha - the first step ahead of the expected peace talks.

US and Afghan leaders want the Taliban to join the Afghan government as a result of the peace process.

They say peace talks will succeed when the Taliban finally sever all ties with al-Qaeda, end violence and accept the Afghan constitution, including its protections for women and minorities.

Pakistani officials are adamant that Pakistan's "legitimate interests" in Afghanistan must be recognised after the withdrawal of Nato troops.

The Taliban insist on the complete withdrawal of foreign forces as a pre-condition to becoming part of a political settlement in Afghanistan.

Gen Sher Mohammad Karimi was speaking to the BBC's Sarah Montague for Hardtalk and BBC Radio 4's Today programme.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    It's very easy for General to blame Pakistan where as the fact is Afghan rulers are sitting in power just because of foreign occupation. Talbans are Afhani just like Tajiks and Uzbeks. Anercans have tried their best to maintain occupation but with failure. Now when they are leaving the are desperate to have dialogue with Talbans and the game is over for present rulers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    That's all it takes? For Pakistan to say stop?

    We've been bombing the wrong country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    Pakistan holds the ace as a power-broker in Afghanistan. There is no doubt Pakistan pulls the strings as it gives shelter to Taliban leaders. Despite Pakistani denials, it is common knowledge the Taliban would be a spent force if there was no shelter in Pakistan. For peace talks to succeed it is imperative that there is greater transparency, a willingness by all sides to have constructive talks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    Oh it's that easy? Why then the US could just buy out the Pakistanis to switch off the Taliban. So simple just pump a few million dollars into the pockets of the right Pakistani politicians and army chiefs and the war is over Taliban fades away. Right? I think the Afghan leadership is trying to excuse itself for not being fully effective in the field. Taliban has studied US history in Vietnam.

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    If Afghanistan progress reads:

    Where is there Afghan political &/or commercial "Change"?

    Next the power vacuum:
    To be at peace the whole community must live together peacefully.
    The Taliban are part of that equation even if hiding in Pakistan.
    Just like the IRA - the Taliban need engagement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    Fighting in Afghanistan could be stopped "in weeks" if Pakistan told the Taliban to end the insurgency, the head of the Afghan army has told the BBC.
    Oh Really !!??

    Gen Sher Mohammad Karimi reminds me of the story of King Canute.
    Ordering the sea to retreat probably results in getting wet.

    The Taliban were in power before USA and UK decided to oust them.
    Now they are simply WAITING.

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    One word of Advise to Army Chief in Afghanistan, be an Afghan. Traditionally Afghan Gov have been bitches of foreigner power, i.e. Kandahar has more consulates to terrorize Baluchistan than USA has Indian consulates. Don't believe it! ask the paid general. No respectable nation will leave its back yard to be the brothel....

    If Afghan Gov wants peace, DON'T BE BITCH TO your neighbor

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    Pakistan reconcile to that fact and change tack, the faster peace can return to the region. I do not understand the pathological hatred of India! They seem to want to do anything to spite India!! Such a pity, as, just over a generation back, they and all their ancestors were Indians too!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    The Bin Liner supporters seem to have gone quiet........
    So these Blogs serve a very useful purpose : they agree with an Afghan General who sees Pakistan as the main culprit. The world knows what he is saying is true. We all know. This BBC article just draws attention to a matter which MUST be addressed. How do we put an end to the chaotic State called pakistan and stop its Talibanism ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    Agree with all who see Pakistan as the real impediment to peace.They have no peace in their own land, they kill elected politicians,have Army Juntas every 5 minutes, were the chief supporter of Taliban when Taliban was imposing its vile ideology on the poor Afghans.The Afghan General may be described as a conscript by Pakistan supporter(only one here !) but what he says is all true.No to Pakistan!

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    #175---oh poor old Pakistan : misunderstood and maligned !!!! The sooner we see Pakistan as a rogue state that colluded with the Taliban openly until forced to hide their support by 9/11 public opinion.....the better. Even Afghan General, who should know, tells truth and says Pakistan is the real problem.
    A rogue state that needs to be boycotted by the rest of the world in my humble opinion ...

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    Afghan General is not even a real General. So whatever he says means even less.

    He is just a conscript rushed into the position, unlike Pakistan where it takes over 35 years of professional training to even get to a Major General.

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    A pharmacists bottle of Zocor might do the trick for him I suppose it depends if he can tell the difference any more, he might of course have been rendered abroad somewhere, it is of concern that he has been unusually quiet on this matter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    Osama Bin Ladin was hosted by Afghanistan, not Pakistan, OBL ran into Pakistan and hid there without any collusion with the authorities, OBL had no use for Pakistan, he was attacking the politicians and leaders like twice attacks on Musharraf and Benazir, the conspiracy nuts and Pakistan haters obviously got an excuse to beat up Pakistan with.

    Fact is, Pakistan is a major victim of Afghanistan.

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    Afghan general is quite right. Pakistan is a totally anarchic country that supported the Taliban until the 9/11 atrocity made it hide its Taliban sympathies.Since then it has kept Taliban support covertly, even hiding Bin Liner in their own country.Pakistan is a mess and a blight on the world stage in my opinion and that of many in the region, including India which has misfortune to live next door

  • Comment number 173.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    171 Dave. You could be right there. I thought perhaps Hague had forgotten to take his medication. The medication that allows him to sleep at night, even when his Government spies on it's citizens, covers up evil deeds and gives all the worker's cash to our master's, the rich and famous.

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    William Hague is in the Queue to see Rupert Murdoch and other right whingers behind our peace envoy Tony Blair getting instructions on how to make money out of the situation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    Where's William Hague ? He's the man to fix this mess. His and the Governments disastrous regime-change plans have hit the buffers. Perhaps he's in an emergency COBRA meeting at Downing St, having misplaced his Sky TV remote control, I wonder.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    Pakistan controls the Taliban ? surely not, our Pakistan friends and allies ? Thankfully we have countries like Egypt that have just rid themselves of so called Democracy in just a year. In Britain we have had a twisted version of Democracy for 2 years, yet we'll have to suffer it for another 3 years.


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