Ex-Intelligence Chief 'Pakistan Is at War Against the Afghan People'

In an interview, former Afghan secret service chief Amrullah Saleh discusses the recent wave of Taliban violence aimed at cementing power for its new leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor. He says the attacks are backed by Pakistan.

Afghan security forces inspect the site of a suicide attack in Kabul.

Afghan security forces inspect the site of a suicide attack in Kabul.

Interview Conducted By

SPIEGEL: More than 100 people have been killed in the recent series of attacks in Afghanistan. What are the perpetrators seeking to achieve with this new wave of violence?

Saleh: The Taliban have a reputation for brutality and mercilessness to defend. Their new leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor wants to prove that he can maintain these capabilities. All the major attacks require enormous military and financial resources. They are planned and executed with the aid of ISI, Pakistan's secret service. The aim of the attacks is to establish Mansoor as the new strong man. The violence is intended to show that the Taliban brand still exists, and the message as the same as before -- that the Taliban is united and powerful.

SPIEGEL: Why was the death of Mullah Omar, his predecessor, kept secret?

Saleh: We don't know if he died two years ago or five. The only thing that is certain is that Mullah Omar was living under the patronage of the ISI. Pakistan always denied this, just as the leadership in Islamabad denied that Osama bin Laden lived in the country with their protection. But how can we lead a peace process together with Pakistan when everyone lies -- from the army chief right up to the president?

SPIEGEL: Why would the new Taliban leader want to work closely together with Pakistan? He's an Afghan, after all.

Saleh: The Taliban can only continue to fight in this way with help from the ISI. Mansoor will now be provided with the necessary resources in order to solidify his authority and keep opponents within his own ranks in check.

SPIEGEL: Why is Pakistan even striving for dominance over Afghanistan?

Saleh: Since its founding in 1947, Pakistan has remained an artificial state that is uncertain of itself. The country is under major geopolitical stress -- in large part because of its rivalry with India. The expansion of its influence over Afghanistan is important to Pakistan because it gives it a feeling of strength. And they think they are reaching the finish line. They think NATO is withdrawing and the US mission will be reduced to embassy activities only. They think Kabul will come under Taliban pressure. This is the false belief they are banking on.

SPIEGEL: The NATO combat forces are unlikely to return to Afghanistan. What will happen?

Saleh: We don't want Western troops. We want political support and recognition of what is happening here: a Pakistani war with the help of its henchmen against the government in Kabul and the country's people.

SPIEGEL: Is there any hope whatsoever for peace?

Saleh: Of course peace will be possible. It will be realized sooner if Pakistan sponsored terror is stopped. It will also be realized otherwise, but it will take time.

    Amrullah Saleh, 44, is an Afghan politician. He formerly served as Afghanistan's head of intelligence.


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Juodvalkis 08/22/2015
1. Pakistan & Taliban
If it is true that Pakistan's intelligence covertly supports the resurgent Taliban,as Mr.Saleh alleges,then U.S. and its coalition partners will have no alternative but to re- assess their rickety relationship.It may not be pretty.
Truth 08/26/2015
2. Very biased
Firstly, it is important to understand the background of the former chief - he was once a member of the Northern Alliance - sworn enemies of the Taliban. Secondly, the Northern Alliance too are guilty of perpetrating violence against Taliban families and ethnic Pashtuns. Thirdly, the Afghan people are not a monolith - many are disillusioned with the corruption of the current government. It is simply not true that the majority of Afghans are against the Taliban. Fourthly, as regards Pakistan being an artificial state - this is preposterous - the Muslim League of Muhammad Ali Jinnah was widely supported in the 1946 elections held in the Punjab - in fact, the polls indicated Muslim unity in India - soon to become the new state of Pakistan. In fact, if this demonstrated anything, it was that ethnic nationalism stood for nothing - it was religion which united the Muslims of India. Sixthly, the answer to question 6) illustrates the naivety of the interviewee - many know that India's RAW is using Afghanistan as a base to support insurgencies in Baluchistan and Waziristan in Pakistan - attempting to destabilise the nation - in fact, it is Pakistan which has good reason to feel that it is being encircled by its rival - India. In reality, both Pakistan and India are nuclear powers - neither would dare go to war. The onus is as much on India as Afghanistan, to reduce the solution to Pakistan demonstrates a lack of holistic thinking and simply subjective biases.
masood_khan 08/28/2015
3. Afghans & Pakistan
If one looks into the details of the interview then can easily find vendetta devoid of any state to state relationship by the interviewee. Afghanistan was the only country among the comity of the nations that did not recognize the newly independent country even dissented in the UN in 1947. Pakistan always provided and is still harboring the refugees of that country not for one or two years but for the last forty years at the expense of her own economy and law and order. Please readers do consider the comparison of the influx of refugees from Syria, and North Africa to the Europe and especially Germany where xenophobes are on the rampage, even attacking the shelter houses for the dilapidated humans. World and especially Afghanistan should be thankful to Pakistan for such a colossal sacrifice rendered by its people who have to endure all the stresses from economic to social spheres of life. Terrorism during 80s, 90s, and even today are the direct result of Afghans refugees. One also should ponder into the dust of history (1870s) when an exodus of around 10,000 families from Indian subcontinent resulted in arson, looting and killings by the Afghans.
arka2050 08/31/2015
4. Pakistan won't survive by terrorism
Pakistan is an artificial entity without any historical background which was created on ancient Indian, Iranian and Kushani (Afghan) lands with the support of the British colonial power. Artificial countries lack a unified soul and logic to encourage their citizens in unity and that's why their leaders need a special situation to help the country to survive. Having chaotic neighbors such as Afghanistan and also declare a country as a common enemy (India) are the last chances for these countries to discourage their people from separatism and to survive as an artificial nation, which has always been the official policy of the Pakistani state.
muhammad_umair_azam 09/01/2015
5. The Liar's Paradox
He may assess a country with the 6th biggest regular army as 'Artificial State' but one must look back into the annals of history to know what has been the role of Afghanistan even during the 1st Great Game: She always enjoys being a buffer state ready to host proxy events for any side who pays better. Sussane should have asked for his opinion about following: 1) 3.8 million refugees have returned from Pakistan to Afghanistan but, Pakistan still hosts 1.5million registered Afghan refugees in addition to a huge bulk of unregistered Afghans in Pakistan, which is the largest refugee population anywhere in the world(According to UN-HCR). Even the ex-President Karzai was given refuge by Pakistan during 90's. How does this act of humanitarian adds to Pakistan's hate for Afghan people. 2) Pakistan has lost more than 27,000 lifes by hands of their not-so-beloved Talibans and Co.(Estd in Afghanistan). 32,000 militants have also been killed by Pakistani Security forces in the operations. How does these facts explains the love for Talibans by Pakistan.
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