Washington: As the US prepares to leave Afghanistan, Pakistani spy agency ISI is engaged in helping Taliban - a terrorist outfit which the intelligence agency has been helping for more than two decades now, a top American expert on South Asian affairs has said.

"For twenty years Pakistan's Army - the real power broker in the country - has backed the Afghan Taliban. It helped create the Taliban's Islamic Emirate in the 1990s and build the al-Qaeda state within a state," Bruce Riedel, a former CIA official and now a scholar at the Brookings Institute, said.

"The army has provided safe haven, arms, expertise and other help to Taliban. It briefly pretended to abandon Taliban to avoid American anger in 2001 misleading George W Bush," he said.

"By 2004 under the leadership of its then spy chief and today top general, Ashfaq Kayani, Pakistan's intelligence service, the ISI, was deeply engaged in helping the Taliban. The senior Taliban leadership including Mullah Omar are protected by the ISI in Quetta and Karachi," he alleged.

The former CIA official said India has to play a key role in Afghanistan post-2014. "As America draws down in Afghanistan, India will inevitably play a larger role there. It already is constructing Afghan-Iran-India transportation links designed to isolate Pakistan," Riedel said.

"Indo-Pakistani rivalry in Afghanistan will make the post 2014 subcontinent even more dangerous. Pakistan will draw on the aid of its allies, China and Saudi Arabia. Sharif wants to reduce tensions with India and improve trade to help Pakistan's weak economy. Kayani has already warned him to go very slowly with India," he added.


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