x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Pakistan spy agency denounces Wikileaks claims

Country's most powerful spy agency lashes out against leaked US intelligence reports alleging close connections between it and Taliban.

ISLAMABAD // Pakistan's most powerful spy agency has lashed out against a trove of leaked US intelligence reports that alleged close connections between it and Taliban militants fighting Nato troops in Afghanistan, calling the accusations malicious and unsubstantiated. The reports, which were released by the online whistle-blower Wikileaks, raised new questions about whether the US can succeed in convincing Pakistan to sever its historical links to the Taliban and deny them sanctuary along the Afghan border, actions that many analysts believe are critical for success in Afghanistan.

The US has given Pakistan billions in military aid since 2001 to enlist its cooperation. But the leaked reports, which cover a period from January 2004 to December 2009, suggest Pakistan allows representatives of its Inter-Services Intelligence agency to meet directly with the Taliban to organise militant networks that fight US troops in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders, according to The New York Times.

A senior ISI official denied the allegations, saying they were from raw intelligence reports that had not been verified and were meant to impugn the reputation of the spy agency. Hamid Gul, a former head of the spy agency who is mentioned many times throughout the more than 91,000 intelligence reports released, also denied allegations that he was working with the Taliban.

"These leaked documents against me are fiction and nothing else," General Gul said. Wikileaks released the documents, which include classified cables and assessments between military officers and diplomats, on its website on Sunday. The New York Times, London's Guardian newspaper and the German weekly Der Spiegel were given early access to the documents. * AP