(This was originally posted in Hindustan Times by Joydeep Bose)
Pakistan’s intelligence chief General Faiz Hameed, the director-general of the notorious Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) held a meeting in Islamabad on Saturday with the intelligence heads of multiple nations, including China and Russia, regarding the evolving situation in Afghanistan. Although there was no official confirmation from either side, those familiar with the development said that that the meeting, hosted by the director-general of the ISI, indeed took place and it was attended by the intelligence chiefs of China, Russia, Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. They said the participants exchanged views on the measures needed for “lasting peace and stability” in the region.
Pakistan has been seeking an active hand in the situation which developed in Afghanistan after the Taliban’s lightning-fast offensive won the militants control of the state machinery in the war-torn land. Amid widespread criticism for its ‘proxy war’ in Afghanistan, the Pakistani intelligence chief’s meeting with his counterparts in other countries now assumes special significance in light of the debilitating political and economic scenario in Kabul.
According to Pakistani news channel SAMAA TV, the participants of the rare meet agreed that Afghanistan “should not be left alone” to deal with its problems. The development takes an interesting perspective for Afghanistan experts and political observers, many of who believe that it was, in fact, Islamabad which was behind the Taliban’s aggressive advance against the erstwhile Ashraf Ghani government’s forces in August. They also say Islamabad has been assisting the Taliban on all possible fronts, hoping to cut a piece of the pie in the new regime.
ISI chief Hameed visited Afghanistan recently and met with the Taliban leadership in Kabul to discuss a host of issues. Days after the visit, the Taliban announced their interim government, a hardline all-male cabinet that betrayed the group’s earlier promises to be inclusive and ‘moderate’ to a measure.