Bisecting Tehreek E Taliban Pakistan’s insurgency for its funding source

The United States squarely puts the blame for the failure of the War on Terror and anything related to the Taliban and the Al Qaeda on Pakistan. Unfortunately the bubble is blown by none other than a US congressman. Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher claimed “The Taliban was a construct of the CIA and was armed by the CIA” Let’s explore how far this is true.

In a 1998 interview, Zbigniew Brezinski, Carter’s national security adviser admitted that U.S. aid to the mujahideen factions began before the December 1979 invasion and played a role in inviting the Russians into the region. The entire plan had been to trap the Russians in Afghanistan and use factions such as the Taliban to fight their war for them. According to Brezinski the first ruling for secret aid to the mujahideen came on July 3, 1979 under President Carter himself. Soon after that an American delegation was sent to Pakistan to use it as a puppet to fight their war against the Soviets for them. Pakistan took almost all the losses for the war and the blame for arming the Taliban which could never have been possible without American financing and naturally when the war was over so was the assistance that Pakistan had been promised by the United States. Today Pakistan faces the fallout of what happened back then in the face of a raging insurgency fuelled further by the American presence in Afghanistan that has killed over 2500 Pakistani soldiers and over 8000 Pakistani civilians with over 20000 Pakistanis grievously wounded.

Certain media outlets are telling the World that Pakistan is receiving ‘huge amounts of aid’ and may be supporting the militants to milk that aid. However they aren’t telling the World what makes this theory implausible. According to Pakistan’s Interior Ministry the damage caused to the Nation in the loss of infrastructure and life was $35 Billion in up to July 2009. This was based on a conservative estimate but for lack of other figures we will use this. Since there has been no real let up in the violence from that period the current estimates put the damage to well over $42 Billion in return for a meagre and reluctant American compensation. The exact figure of aid is still unknown and various estimates put it from 4 Billion to 17 Billion. So from being in the War on Terror Pakistan is already at a loss financially without counting the loss in investment and the loss of developing markets for Pakistani exporters.

In any case to have caused such much major damage the Tehreek E Taliban would need to be exceptionally well organized, very well armed and extremely well funded. The well funded and well armed bit specially stands surprisingly true since around 86% of the Taliban have never gone to a college or university before and 40% have only studied till Matric (About 9th grade) or even less. Most of the Taliban soldiers are completely illiterate and can barely sign their names on a piece of paper. The riddle of where the money may be coming from in a country where about 70% of the population lives below $2 a day or even how the major commanders seem to have evaded capture every time Pakistan launches an operation still remains unsolved.

To give the Taliban their due however they have indeed developed a source of funding in Pakistan over time. According to analysts the primary known sources of the Taliban’s wealth are donations from its sympathizers, looting of supply convoys, kidnap for ransom and extortion of protection money. Recent reports indicate that Taliban are even involved in bank robberies in major Pakistani cities such as Karachi while it has also been speculated that a great deal of the poppy growth cultivation in Afghanistan directly benefits the Pakistani Taliban. According to the past governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa this reserve seems to be increasing by approximately $45 Million annually. This in itself is a large figure. In fact it is actually just about half of what the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has been capable of spending on the war on terror. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government spent about $89.5 Million on law and order according to the 2009-10 National budget.

According to analysts the Taliban has also accumulated around $250-400 Million of wealth over time. Therefore the word that the Taliban is operating its own government with its own standing finances stands correct.

If any further evidence of this is required, according to a report from Dawn a single Pakistani police constable makes about $80 a month while a Taliban foot soldier in Pakistan makes $170 per month. Even in death the government cannot match up to the Taliban. The heir of a dead policeman receives about $6000 while a suicide bombers family is often given sums of over $20000. The total number of Taliban troops and terrorists associated with other radical organizations operating under the umbrella of the Tehreek E Taliban Pakistan is 35,000. Using the figures and multiplying the yearly expenditure of the Taliban on salaries for its fighters and compensation for the families of suicide bombers the figures add to $72 Million. This is more than the $45 Million they are earning.

Given that the organization has spent approximately $72 Million of its wealth to pay their bombers and their foot soldiers it still leaves the question of acquisition of arms, weaponry and other expenses for its fighters. If that isn’t enough to prove that the Taliban is a power to be reckoned with even bolder is the announcement of Hakeemullah Mahsud the Taliban commander that the Taliban can give $20 Million in aid to the government to provide for the flood victims of Pakistan if the American aid for the floods is rejected.

It is certainly clear that the Taliban is earning more than $45 Million annually and that money is not enough to maintain the group’s terrorist activities. It is also clear that to spend $72 Million yearly they would have to have another income source. This definitely means that either someone from outside is supporting the Taliban or the Taliban have even more sources of income that have not come under the scrutiny of Pakistani analysts and officials.

Pakistan becomes a punching bag: Blaming the ISI

The ISI has been the target of the blame for the monster we face today. Many writers and journalists even within Pakistan have begun taking a page from the American media and questioning whether it is certain Pakistani generals and the ISI secretly supplying the terrorists. The question is could this be true today and if so have these same generals or the ISI actually benefitted from the current situation of Pakistan?

Even if the claim that sympathetic generals within the army are supporting the insurgents holds true the question still remains how can the insurgent’s have estimated wealth reserves of around$250-400 Million when it comprises of a group of ragtag and illiterate men, most of whom cannot read a single passage in any language. If the ISI is responsible, as the US media would have us believe, well then it’s for sure that the agencies entire staff’s salary is being handed over to the Taliban for the group’s sustenance while the agencies own agents and operatives are going home without their salaries. Not to say they are perfectly happy with the murder of their own fellow countrymen by the Taliban. The funds available to the ISI are classified but for an impoverished country like Pakistan it is likely to be much less than $250 Million.

Nonetheless ‘rogue agents’ from the ISI are the focus of the blame. The fact that totally makes this theory baseless is how severely the same intelligence set up of the country has been targeted. A small count of the attacks on the ISI in the country will reveal this.

-The attack in Multan on the ISI building kills 8.

-The attack in Peshawar on the ISI kills around 10.

-ISI provincial headquarters in Lahore attacked on 28th May killing 35 and wounding over 300.

-The brutal murder of 2 main ISI agents Khalid Khwaja and Colonel Imam by the Taliban, the two very same people often blamed for supporting the Taliban were killed by the very people the US media alleged they were supporting.

-The very recent bombing of the ISI building in Faisalabad.

This proves that ISI is losing both men and is suffering severe financial losses in the War on Terror. These are some of the bomb attacks that are known but there are more deaths that are going unaccounted for by the media.

According to an unnamed official many agents and operatives have been sent to the North and South Waziristan region to collect intelligence and have wound up dead. The ISI keeps mum about its losses officially which sometimes makes it hard for people to understand that it has also taken losses in this war.

If the losses are compared to other intelligence agencies the results are strikingly different. Well known CIA operations remain intact in Afghanistan and it’s a surprise that the militants would so selectively attack the locations of the countries intelligence agencies and that also with absolute impunity. What is even more surprising is that many ordinary citizens of Pakistan do not know the locations of the ISI, yet the Taliban have attacked their headquarters in almost every major city.

Another whipping boy: The Pakistani Military

The military has suffered even more financial loss than the ISI. No doubt much of the American aid and assistance is militaristic in nature and ends up in the hands of the Pakistan army however on the other hand this same institution is the primary loser in the violence that has gripped the country.

Asad Khalil a self styled analyst who is trying to get a hold on the real figure on army losses both in terms of finances and personnel claims that the army has suffered at least $7 Billion in losses in the war on terror. If so even the army is losing more financially than it is gaining.

It is made further senseless to suggest that the Pakistani military is supporting terrorism when even videos tapes are revealing that terrorists are being tortured and shot by soldiers themselves enraged by the deaths of their comrades at the hands of the militants. A person just has to walk through any military building to see the fury military men have towards the terrorists.

Furthermore no matter how much we blame the mistakes of the past on our own military including Pakistan’s role in the Afghan civil war it is clear that the military could not have dreamed of facing the Soviets without US support, $4 Billion which were handed over to militants. Would it be sensible for Pakistan to face a superpower of that time such as the Soviets without support and would our leadership have taken the same decision if an American delegation had not come up and demanded help against the Soviets? So perhaps the United States is more to blame for the creation of terrorists than Pakistanis because in reality Pakistan was just used as a puppet state for an American war at that time.

Foreign Support to the Taliban

When it comes to certain Right Wing media groups they have continuously stood up and taken every opportunity to say that terrorism is being sponsored by various intelligence agencies of certain countries that are against the ideal of Pakistan.

The United States has sometimes been blamed for both directly or indirectly supporting terrorism in Pakistan but there has been no real official claim and nothing recorded from an official source. The USA’s activities in Pakistan would quite successfully have evaded the radar when it comes to supporting militants due to the deal the Pakistani government has made with them. Unfortunately for them and fortunately for the Pakistanis the country woke up from its slumber when a man operating in Pakistan as Raymond Davis murdered two Pakistanis on the streets of Lahore in broad daylight. That’s when reports of contacts on his cell phone came up, the gadgets in his car and photographs from his camera containing sensitive locations. There were 33 calls on his cell phone of which 27 were to known or suspected militants.

It appears Davis has been in contact with militants. According to Shakil Ahmed a journalist, Davis was only one of 1200 Blackwater agents spread out across the country. Police officials from Lahore further backed up these claims saying he had close links to militants and was instrumental in recruiting youth for the terrorists. Furthermore the ISI which according to the agreement with CIA is to keep tabs on all agents present in the country does not have Davis in its records.

Many people believe it was unfortunate what happened that day but perhaps it was lucky as it allowed Pakistanis to understand just what is going on in their country.

India has also been blamed and in this case rare examples of politicians, or media supporting these claims have come up. An article in late 2009 appeared claiming India was supporting terrorism in Pakistan and had funnelled $650 to the Taliban insurgents in Pakistan, a fact which was revealed by three captured militants themselves.

Another video appeared on the internet briefly where a militant commander admits to have been paid by India to fuel sectarianism in Pakistan on the television screen. Also after the Sri Lankan cricket team attack a report was made public that had been received by the local police in Lahore. This report can be seen here.

It is also imminent to mention here that India has four consulates in Afghanistan. This is more than the number of consulates a country would want to have in such an impoverished country. What is most alarming for Pakistan is that three of these consulates are right across the border. India has continuously been blamed for fomenting unrest in Baluchistan.

Although the patriotic men and women of Pakistan are prepared to believe these reports and are eager to find out just what exactly they are facing in the shape of an extremely powerful, never ending insurgency and just who exactly is supporting them to destroy Pakistan, the only issue is none of this subject matter related to intelligence is discussed by our politicians and rarely have these claims been backed up.

All this can only mean that India and the United States are both working together to destabilize Pakistan. At this stage the people of Pakistan just want to know what they are facing.

The biggest question is why and how plausible is this theory?

The grim reality is that the Taliban is both earning and spending much more than was initially believed. Someone has to find out from where that money is actually coming from and come out clean once and for all about who is sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan.

The natural suspicion within Pakistan is and if the government tells us what is going on people are willing to actually believe or will it be seen as just another conspiracy theory as anything said against America these days is? The only way to make people believe is to prove it.

Why would the United States betray a key ally like Pakistan?  Many Pakistanis however reply to this question by saying hasn’t it done that in the past by abandoning the Pakistanis in terms of aid and economic support and the Afghans at the mercy of the Taliban whom they used to defeat the Soviets?

The fact is the USA is gaining from terrorism across the World and using it as an excuse to occupy lands where they had no presence in the past. It is also not taking most of the direct losses in the war which are rather pushed on to the local people of the regions where the wars are being fought yet these same allies are also the focus of blame. The United States is clearly hiding a huge secret here. It is more than time for that secret to be revealed and solid concrete proof presentable in the court of law must be brought forward detailing the countries support for terrorism.

If an agreement has been formed between India and USA in this regard this information must be revealed.

Whatever the case the Military is not coming out about who is sponsoring the insurgents while Pakistan is being made a scapegoat for a failing war on terror. At the same time it is surprisingly taking almost all the losses even when the militant groups claim to be fighting Americans.

This is creating a very dangerous situation for Pakistan and the stage is being set to abandon Pakistan again just like it was when it was used as a puppet against the Soviets to defeat them in Afghanistan. Pakistan cannot let the past repeat itself by following the American line again especially if this is some arm twisting manoeuvre where we are being forced even when we know the Americans are supporting terrorism.

Citation

Will present soon

Before dismissing this as a conspiracy theory learn this is a well researched piece for which I contacted 64 different sources. Why go through all this? Because I want to get to the bottom of what is going on in my country and I know for sure swearing on my own life that someone is supporting the Taliban very heavily. To defeat this insurgency that financial support has to be cut.

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An anonymous letter (translated)

Pakistan has been in existence for more than 60 years. In this time this Nation has seen it all. War, death, destruction, internal strife, corruption, power-hungry heads of state, severe foreign interference. Everything. Everything but the progress and prosperity we dreamed off. Power to some extent we have attained but still how does it matter when 60% of our people still live below a dollar a day? In this case it is something to wonder why we are constantly interfering in wars and countries where we do not belong. Why not concentrate almost completely on developing the country?

Recently we received a letter from a member describing his experiences in the past and questioning when we would rise above our differences and start putting Pakistani interest first rather than taking the first opportunity we find to interfere in another Nation. The letter also asked why we are worshiping US aid, much of which is eaten by the corrupt bureaucracy.

The letter also questions why despite all our sacrifices the west does nothing but treat us as terrorism suspects and how can we continue in this way if we are being treated as an inferior group of people even while we take their losses. Here is the letter.

Dear Zerab,

I became a part of the movement on 4th of July 1986, the years of the Soviet Afghan war. I saw the turmoil that the war had brought. I watched the years pass as the drugs, the illegal weapons and the refugees filled my land becoming a burden on our beloved country. I, a resident of Peshawar watched as my beloved city was turned into a refugee camp. All this was happening when we could barely feed our own. Pakistan’s involvement in Afghanistan is often a hotly debated subject when there are people of highly religious backgrounds present but most today agree that it was one of our foreign policy blunders that resulted in three things:

1)      More fanaticism in society

2)      US achieved its goals in defeating the Soviets but when it did the aid to us ended. A valuable lesson.

3)      Taliban gained an opportunity to spread terrorism in Afghanistan successfully making it a fanatical nation till the Allied invasion.

What happened during the War should have become a valuable lesson for us that taught us that interfering in another country always has consequences and should be avoided no matter how horrible the situation of that country seems to be. But we don’t learn our lesson’s because when the United States again came to us asking us to declare war against their own funded terrorists we accepted. Now this would have been a brilliant thing if it was not for the truth that we would be the ones who took all the losses and directed a highly fanaticized population against ourselves. We have taken more causalities than the United States and the war is being fought right on our land.

I doubt the Nationalist values of honour and many of our members thirst for vengeance will allow them to even think about not waging war on Tehreek E Taliban Pakistan movement. But maybe it is more than time to declare ourselves completely neutral to what happens in Afghanistan, that means both to the USA and the Taliban. This will:

1)      Destroy TTP’s excuse that we are supporting the USA which they use to recruit and brainwash. An upcoming withdrawal by NATO forces will improve the situation in Pakistan further. We just need wait. This should leave their most fanatical core. That core must still be finished.

2)      Pakistan will stop being treated as a colony by the USA and we will at least live with some honour. Their agents like Raymond Davis won’t be killing our people in broad daylight for one.

3)      Will allow us to look at other foreign policy options. The relationship with USA is outdated. In the beginning of this war they were mad but now they are stuck in Iraq and Afghanistan, bullying Iran and Syria, they won’t do anything to make the matter any worse. We should use the opportunity to slowly draw away from the country and look at a closer relationship with Russia. After all at least they are more reliable allies.

4)      Pakistanis are being pulled out of lines at airports. A suspect generally has to be Pakistani. Further evidence is our own chapter heads in some countries are becoming victims of severe persecution. We are treated as terrorists when we have the highest number of losses. Even patriotism is a crime today. We have nothing to lose. We had more respect before.

I hope our various organizations follow this strategy and accept it as our policy idea. There is no end in sight to this madness and only if we adapt a principle of non interference no matter what the situation can we succeed. What happens outside our country is not our problem.

(Member not comfortable with releasing name here)