Peter Hoskin

Pakistan’s double game comes under the spotlight once again

Pakistan's double game comes under the spotlight once again
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The leak that keeps on leaking has one or two embarrassing titbits about our domestic policymakers this morning. Yet far more noteworthy are the documents on Pakistan. While they don't tell us too much that is surprising – being mostly about the duplicitous game that country is playing with the West – they do highlight some potentially worrying trends.

Chief among them is the growing influence of General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, the head of Pakistan's army. His name is littered generously throughout the US briefings, and it is often connected with dangerous conspiracy and double-dealing. One document, for instance, suggests that Kiyani was prepared to overthrow the Pakistani President, Asif Zardari, last year. Another advises the US government to take a strong line with Kiyani over the Pakistan Army's "overt or tacit support for militant proxies (Haqqani network, Commander Nazir, Lashkar-e-Taiba)". The last round of leaks highlighted Kiyani's policy of arming and aiding the Taliban, when he was in charge of Pakistan's security agency.

This is more than just a matter of internal Pakistani politics. As Ahmed Rashid wrote in an insightful piece for The Spectator in July, the fact that Kiyani is now the "most powerful man in Pakistan" makes him a determining factor in what happens to Afghanistan once Western forces leave. The result may well be concessions to the Taliban than few would have countenanced even a few years ago.