Washington, Feb 2 : The US on Wednesday said it has “long standing concerns” over ISI's links with the Taliban and wants Pakistan to “cut-off” those ties, hours after a NATO report blew the lid off the intelligence agency's “manipulation” of Afghan Taliban's senior leadership.
Pentagon spokesperson Navy Capt John Kirby told reporters during an off-camera briefing that the facts laid bare by the damning report were “not a new notion” and these concerns have been raised earlier as well.
“This is not a new notion, we made those concerns clear and the Secretary has been very clear about the ongoing problem of safe havens inside Pakistan for these groups,” Kirby said referring to a new NATO report on Taliban which says that the ISI continues to help the extremist group, which wants to come back to power in Afghanistan.
“We have made it clear already that Pakistan needs to act against safe heavens. We would like ties between some elements of ISI and Taliban to be cut-off,” he said.
Kirk said the US had “longstanding concerns” about the ties between the elements of the ISI and the Taliban but did not give details on what elements of the ISI he was referring to.
Without going into the specific of the classified report, Kirby said the US does has information that the Taliban is becoming splintered and is not a monolithic organisation. For instance, he said, a couple of weeks ago about 50 Taliban came in and asked to be reintegrated.
The reason they gave was that they can't sleep at one place for more than a day and that they do not want to kill their own Afghan countrymen, he said. So the US pressure on the Taliban is yielding results, Kirby said.
“Taliban are under pressure and influence of security forces is increasing in Afghanistan. Taliban have been a determined adversary and it is a known fact that they want to have control of Afghanistan back,” he said.
The Pentagon spokesman said the classified NATO report is based on thousands of interviews with detainees. This report is not an analysis and is merely informational, he said.
Responding to questions, Kirby said the US is committed to having better relationship with Pakistan.
“We said after Nov 26 attack as well that we respect Pakistani concerns. We are committed to having a better relationship with Pakistan, because it is in the interest of both countries.
“We want to move past this tension with Pakistan, because we have a lot of common interest,” he said. Kirby said, Pakistan also faces a threat from terrorists and has been making a lot of sacrifices.
Thousands of Pakistani citizens and soldiers have fell victim to terrorism, he added.