Who is Backing the Taliban?
Asia Times Online says that foreign-sponsored 'Taliban', who are operating outside the 'Old School' Taliban defeated in 2001, are working to establish Pakistani interests in the Pashtun heartlands.
Think about the wheels within wheels here. If Tehran is sponsoring the Taliban, then NATO and US forces are fighting a proxy battle with Iran. If Islamabad is sponsoring the Taliban, then the fight is against Pakistan - and its sponsors, China, whereas the US and NATO could find allies in India. Even more complex, are the CIA and ISI in cahoots to inflitrate the Taliban to break Mullah Omar (if indeed he is alive or even matters any more?) Or are the CIA and ISI working at cross purposes?
Afghanistan is at the point now that, apart from the Taliban, independent commanders have emerged. Nearly two centuries ago, they were sufficiently organized to drive out the Soviets.
Now, in their new struggle against foreign forces, they could evolve into a separate movement fueled by Iran or Pakistan, or both, or turn into an independent movement. Alternatively, as in the recent past, they could melt into the Taliban.
Whichever way it develops, this force will have an important bearing on Afghanistan's future - and, as important, its neighboring countries.
More interesting paragraphs, detailing the formation of various groups, below.
Soon after the Taliban's retreat from Kabul and Kandahar in 2001, ISI officials tracked a few harmless clerics to Peshawar, Pakistan. They were associated with the Taliban regime as minor central or provincial ministers and had never been a part of the Taliban's fighting corps. In Pakistan, they were simply looking for food and shelter.
The ISI gathered them into a group called the Jamiatul Khudamul Koran and they all rejected Mullah Omar's policy of harboring Osama bin Laden and his jihadist training camps. They received training in Parachanar, a town near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in North-West Frontier Province, from where they launched operations into Afghanistan against foreign forces. They were pure ISI proxies, and never a part of the Taliban. Nevertheless, most of them eventually left the organization and did join the Taliban as true members.
Similarly, Jaishul Muslim was launched by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the ISI to break Mullah Omar's iron grip over the Taliban. Jaishul Muslim established a network in Afghanistan. However, many of those who had been given a lot of money and training then broke ranks and melted into the Taliban.
Similarly, a group of "good" Taliban was pioneered jointly by the ISI and the CIA in Quetta, with members mostly drawn from towns in the Chaman-Spin Boldek area. A team of former Taliban leaders led by one Mullah Abdul Razzaq, for the first time, negotiated with the US on "any terms" that would bring about a truce. Without Mullah Omar, though, the initiative was doomed from the start.