Pakistan appears to be playing a double-game of astonishing magnitude, a new study claims, stressing there is real evidence of extensive cooperation between the Taliban and the ISI.
The latter is said to compensate families of suicide bombers to the tune of 200,000 Pakistani rupees, claims the report, which is written by Harvard University analyst Matt Waldman.
Waldman told UK's Sunday Times: "This report is consistent with Pakistan's political history in which civilian leaders actively backed jihadi groups that operate in Afghanistan and Kashmir."
On Afghanistan, which is the primary focus of the fact finding, Waldman's research reveals: "By backing the insurgents, Pakistan's security service (ISI) is trying to undermine Indian influence in Afghanistan."
The report says: "Without a change in Pakistani behaviour, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for international forces and the Afghan government to make progress against the insurgency."
"We're also saying this is official policy of that agency (ISI). It (assistance) is both at an operational level, and at a strategic level," he asserts. These are substantiated by former Taliban ministers and a senior UN official based in Kabul. Waldman said he himself spoke to nine Taliban field commanders.
Up to seven of the Afghan Taliban leaders who constitute a 15-man shura are said to be ISI agents. The report further says that interviews strongly suggest that the ISI has representatives on the shura, either as participants or observers, and the agency is involved at the highest levels of the movement.
Major-General Athar Abbas, Pakistan's military spokesman, predictably described the claim as ridiculous. He said, "The allegations are baseless."