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BY IRSHAD SALIM

Karzai's ISI-CIA-Unocal Nexus


OCT 7 - Afghanistan’s president Hamid Karzai is a former associate of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and he worked for it when the agency had its horns locked with the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, a former ISI official  disclosed in an interview in Qatar, reported its leading daily the Peninsula today.

“Mr Karzai had been with us during the entire Jihad. He was commissioned with me. Not only him — his brother, his father — all of them were working with us — I know the whole family,” revealed former ISI officer Col (Retd) Shuja Khanzada in the interview.

“They (Karzai's) used to call on me every week for instructions. Today, he is talking rubbish,” he added.

Several sources, most notably the film Fahrenheit 9/11, have reported that Karzai once worked as a consultant for the oil giant Unocal.

Karzai has denied any such relationship.

The claim appears to have originated in the December 9, 2001 issue of the French newspaper Le Monde. It was also stated by the Christian Science Monitor.

In 1997, UNOCAL led an international consortium - Centgas - that reached a memorandum of understanding to build a $2 billion, 1,275-kilometer-long, 1.5-meter-wide natural-gas pipeline from Daulatabad in southern Turkmenistan to Karachi, via the Afghan cities of Herat and Kandahar, crossing into Pakistan near Quetta. A $600 million extension to India was also being considered. The dealings with the Taliban were facilitated by the Clinton administration and the ISI. But the civil war in Afghanistan would simply not go away. UNOCAL had to pull out. In this geostrategic grand design, the Taliban were the proverbial fly in the ointment.

Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Karl Inderfurth, a friend of Karzai's, has reportedly said that after the murder of his father, Karzai approached Washington with plans for leading resistance to the Taliban. "It did seem like a mission impossible," says Inderfurth, "because he'd be putting himself at great risk."

Karzai joined the struggle against the Soviets in 1982 and became director of operations of the Afghan National Liberation Front (ANLF) building supply lines between anti-Soviet Afghan guerrillas and American backers - the CIA et al.

When the Taliban erupted on to Afghanistan's political scene in the early 1990s, Karzai initially supported them.

However, by late 1994 he had become suspicious of the movement, fearing it had been infiltrated and was controlled by foreigners, including Pakistanis and Arabs.

In 1997, Karzai joined many of his family members in the United States, from where he worked to reinstate King Zahir Shah.

When his father - a former parliamentary deputy - was assassinated in 1999 in Quetta, the murder was widely attributed to the Taliban. Karzai swore revenge by working to help overthrow them.

The assassination also saw Karzai enshrined as the head of the influential Popalzai clan with long links with Afghanistan's monarchy.

In the months following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Karzai worked with the United States to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan and muster support for a new government.

On Oct. 7, 2001 he "slipped" inside southern Afghanistan, recruiting tribal elders to join an anti-Taliban coalition. It was not long before the Taliban got on his trail. He escaped ambush and certain death by calling in U.S. forces who rescued him by helicopter. The U.S. says it whisked him out of the country; he insists he never left-- perhaps concerned about being seen as too close to the U.S.

In his recent visit to the US, Karzai complained to the Americans that the ISI was supporting the resurgent Taliban movement that controls much of southern Afghanistan today. His complaint came at the same time a report was published by the British Ministry of Defense, stating that the ISI has been fostering ties with “extremist” elements in the region. The document went so far as to propose the dismantling of the agency.

Former ISI official Khanzada brushed all these charges aside, pointing out that the timing of the back-to-back accusations revealed a visible pattern behind the sudden onslaught on the ISI. “This appears to be the sequel to the campaign launched by American media in 1992 when they wanted to clip the wings of the ISI,” he said.

Presenting the other side of the picture, Khanzada said: “The ISI is one of the best intelligence agencies in the world. It has been tasked with the responsibility of safeguarding the country’s integrity and sovereignty both domestically and internationally.

“The Afghan Jihad could never have been possible, leave alone successful, without the ISI. The bear-trap could never have been laid and the Soviet superpower could never have been brought to its knees had the ISI not planned, coordinated and conducted the Afghan resistance for 10 long years.

“The ISI is the same organization that defended the world from Soviet expansion. The agency has shielded Pakistan from all threats to our nuclear capability and to our sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

 
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