London, September 28: A leaked British document accuses Pakistan’s intelligence agency of indirectly supporting terrorist groups including al-Qaeda, and it calls on Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf to disband the agency.
Musharraf, who is scheduled to meet British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London on Thursday, told the British Broadcasting Corp. that he rejected the assessment and would raise the matter with his counterpart.
“ISI is a disciplined force, breaking the back of al-Qaeda,” Musharraf told the broadcaster, claiming his intelligence service had secured the arrests of 680 suspected terrorists.
The BBC on Wednesday declined to name the author of the document but said the person was linked to MI6, the British secret intelligence service.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence said the document was part of academic research and did not represent the views of either the ministry or Blair’s government.
“To represent it as such is deeply irresponsible and the author is furious that his notes have been willfully misrepresented in this manner,” said a defence ministry spokeswoman, on customary condition of anonymity.
“Indeed, he suspects that they have been released to the BBC precisely in the hope that they would cause damage to our relations with Pakistan.”
The BBC’s Newsnight television program said it had been passed a copy of the document, which it said was collated as part of a private British review of efforts across the world to combat terrorism.
The broadcaster quoted the document as saying that Pakistan was coming under “closer and closer” international scrutiny because of the agency’s support for the country’s hard-line opposition Islamic coalition Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal, also called MMA.
The BBC also reported Wednesday that British military commanders were overruled by politicians in a request to withdraw troops from Iraq to strengthen force numbers in Afghanistan.
It said the document suggested military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan were heading toward an “as yet unspecified and uncertain result.”
It painted a bleak picture of military and counter-terrorism work, similar to a US intelligence assessment – parts of which were declassified Tuesday – that warned of a growing terrorist threat and concluded Iraq has become a “cause celebre” for jihadists.
British troops are being “held hostage in Iraq following the failure of the deal being attempted by the COS (Chief of Staff) to extricate UK Armed Forces from Iraq on the basis of doing Afghanistan,” the BBC quoted the document as saying.
It said senior commanders had hoped to focus resources on the NATO-led mission to secure governance in southern Afghanistan, where British, Canadian and US troops have met fierce resistance, the BBC said.
The BBC said the document reinforced claims that military intervention in Iraq had served to encourage extremism, a notion repeatedly rejected by Blair.
“Iraq has served to radicalise an already disillusioned youth and al-Qaeda has given them the will, intent, purpose and ideology to act,” the BBC quoted the document as saying.