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‘Taliban CIA-Pak creation’

London: The CIA worked in tandem with Pakistan to create the ‘monster’ that is today Afghanistan's ruling Taliban, a leading US expert on South Asia said here.’I warned them that we were creating a monster,’ Selig Harrison from the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars said at the conference on ‘Terrorism and Regional Security: Managing the Challenges in Asia.’ Harrison said: ‘The CIA made a historic mistake in encouraging Islamic groups from all over the world come to Afghanistan.’ The US provided $3 billion for building up these Islamic groups, and it accepted Pakistan's demand that they should decide how this money should be spent, Harrison said.

Harrison, who spoke before the Taliban assault on Buddha statues, told the gathering of security experts that he had meetings with CIA leaders at the time when Islamic forces were being strengthened in Afghanistan. ‘They told me these people were fanatical, and the more fierce they were the more fiercely they would fight the Soviets,’ he said. ‘I warned them that we were creating a monster.’

Harrison, who has written five books on Asian affairs US relations with Asia, has had extensive contact with the CIA and political leaders in South Asia, recalled a conversation he had with the late Gen Zia-ul Haq of Pakistan. ‘Gen Zia spoke to me about expanding Pakistan's sphere of influence to control Afghanistan, then Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and then Iran and Turkey,’ Harrison said. That design continues, he said. Gen. Mohammed Aziz who was involved in that Zia plan has been elevated now to a key position by Chief Executive, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Harrison said. The old associations between the intelligence agencies continue, Harrison said. ‘The CIA still has close link with the ISI.’ Now it is Pakistan that ‘holds the key to the future of Afghanistan,’ Harrison said. The creation of the Taliban was central to Pakistan’s pan-Islamic vision,’ Harrison said.

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