The Taliban are set to retake control of Afghanistan with Pakistan’s help once NATO forces withdraw from the country, according to a secret U.S. military report apparently leaked to the Times of London.
The leaked document, reported to have been “highly classified,” was put together last month by the U.S. military at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan. “Many Afghans are already bracing themselves for an eventual return of the Taliban,” the report was quoted as saying. “Once ISAF (NATO-led forces) is no longer a factor, Taliban consider their victory inevitable.”
Much of the information for the report was gained from interrogations of some 4,000 detainees at Bagram allegedly members of the Taliban or al-Qaeda. Bagram is well known as a Guantánamo-like base for US forces in Afghanistan; the information may have been gained through torture.
The Pakistani government, and more specifically its intelligence agency ISI, has denied previous accusations that they support the Taliban. But the report says Pakistan is helping the Taliban strategize and direct attacks against U.S. and NATO troops.
It’s possible that the renewed U.S. efforts to negotiate with the Taliban is in part a recognition that they aren’t going away and a concession that they will likely hold power once NATO withdraws. The talks, however, have shown no signs of constructive progress, much like the rest of Washington’s mission in Afghanistan.