ISLAMABAD - Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency has long been accused of siding with the Taliban as part of a strategy to ensure a friendly government in Kabul and to ensure India cannot gain a foothold. However, this year its civilian government has taken pains to insist that any political settlement must be part of an Afghan-led process.

Now, details of an interview with Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, who stepped down as ISI director general last weekend, give an insight into the agency’s secretive world and its position on Afghanistan, reports daily Telegraph. The account of the meeting in April last year – written by a researcher with the private intelligence firm Stratfor and obtained by WikiLeaks – suggests the ISI fears that a Taliban takeover would have dangerous implications for Pakistan’s security.

“We do not wish to see the Talibs dominate Afghanistan,” he said. “On the contrary, we want to see a broad-based government that can end the civil war in that country, which has had a disastrous fallout for us. Of course the Talibs will be a key player in a post-Nato Afghanistan, which we feel is necessary for true peace to take place.”

Well-placed observers in Islamabad suggest Pakistan’s Afghan policy is undergoing a period of “evolution”.

Having worked closely with Jihadi groups to oust Soviet forces from Afghanistan in the 1980s and then helped the Taliban to power, Pakistan’s security forces have suffered huge losses in recent years as some militant groups turned against Islamabad. That concern about violent blowback remains balanced, for now, with the knowledge that Taliban allies could still prove useful in negotiating a favourable deal in Afghanistan.

The military has so far resisted US pressure to launch an offensive in North Waziristan, where the feared Haqqani network is headquartered and from where it launches attacks against Nato forces in Afghanistan. In the meeting, General Pasha apparently said the military wanted to move into North Waziristan, but was still trying to secure neighbouring areas.

“The only way to mount an offensive in NW is through South Waziristan, which we are trying to stabilise with the building of roads and resettlement of locals,” he said.