Consider the following. Iranian media featuring an interview with a Taliban leader operating in the tribal areas on Pak-Afghan border, who is strongly critical of the Pakistani military’s subservience to the United States.
The fiasco of the trilateral summit of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran in Islamabad on Feb 16-17 just got over, with Pakistan dragging its feet on the Iran gas pipeline and Washington reportedly pressuring Islamabad to grant permission to open intelligence outposts in Baluchistan province bordering Iran.
Wali-ur-Rehman Mehsud, formerly spokesman for later Baitullah Mehsud, is no ordinary guy. The interview is a recent one, as there are references to the Taliban’s peace talks in Qatar and the false American claim of the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud in a drone strike on January 12..
Surely, Iran’s networking with Afghan groups continue to be terrific, including with Taliban sanctuaries on the Afghan-Pakistan border region, to which foreigners have no easy access. The interview brings out the strong bonding between Mullah Omar and the Pakistani Taliban and the latter’s extreme hostility toward the Pakistani establishment (civilian and military).
The Taliban sense that the US-Pakistani rift is a shadow play with the two sides jockeying for advantageous positions. Equally, they are expanding in Baluchistan, but independent of Baluchi separatists. They share Iran’s perspective on Arab Spring as Islamic awakening, which the West is desperately trying to finesse.
Rehman stresses that the Pakistani army and intelligence have lost control of the tribal regions. He repeatedly flags that Taliban are disenchanted with the Pakistani military leadership, which they see as serving American masters. The transcript of the interview is here.
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– February 21, 2012