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Pakistan Denies Involvement With Afghan Taliban


Pakistani political and military officials are denying a report that alleges the country's intelligence agency has direct links with the Afghan Taliban.

The report released Sunday by the London School of Economics said Pakistan's ISI agency not only provides funding, training and sanctuary to Taliban fighters in Afghanistan but is also represented on the movement's leadership council, known as the Quetta shura.

Pakistani military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas on Monday rejected the report as part of a "malicious" campaign against the country's military and security agencies.

Presidential spokeswoman Farahnaz Ispahani also said the accusations are false.

The London School of Economics report says Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and a senior ISI official allegedly visited senior Taliban prisoners held at a secret location. The two reportedly told the prisoners they were arrested only because of U.S. pressure and would be released.

The study was based on interviews with nine Taliban field commanders in Afghanistan.

Pakistan helped the Taliban rise to power in Afghanistan in the 1990s but renounced the group in response to pressure following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States.

Pakistan's government is now fighting Taliban militants based on its territory and this year captured the Afghan group's number-two leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, in Karachi.

Separately Monday, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, held talks with Pakistan's army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, near Islamabad.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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