A day after New Kerala reports that Pakistan is refusing to hand over fugitives requested by India, the US wants four ex-ISI officials declared terrorists, and The Times of India reports that India (with the US) has proof of ISI involvement in last week’s Mumbai attacks, but does not condemn the Pakistani administration or civilian armed forces. ( Watch ):
Chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, who was in Pakistan on Wednesday, is believed to have told his Pakistani interlocutors that Washington had enough evidence to show a Pakistani hand in the attack, the sources said.
Sources here also refuse to believe that the Pakistani army did not have knowledge of the Mumbai operation given that ISI is controlled by it.
At the same time, sources do not believe that the civilian government in Pakistan is involved in the attack. In fact, one view is that the civilian government itself may be a target of the strike which may be used by the army to heighten tensions with India to return to power.
Washington has asked Pakistan to crackdown on Lashkar-e-Taiba, which now goes under the name of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, and to arrest its chief Hafiz Mohd Saeed because it has evidence of their involvement in the attack, the sources said.
The attack was planned, equipped and organised in Pakistan where the terrorists were trained and provided logistical support.
Contrary to the version that the terrorists used a hijacked Indian fishing boat to reach Mumbai after sailing from Karachi, the view here is that much more sophisticated means were used.
The sources spoke of a clear disconnect between the Pakistani civilian government and the all-powerful military establishment, which is causing difficulties for India in dealing with the situation.
Islamabad’s about-turn on sending the Director General of ISI to India is cited as an instance of this disconnect.
During a telephone conversation Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after the Mumbai attack, President Asif Zardari had referred to an earlier Pakistani proposal for a meeting between the ISI chief and the head of India’s external intelligence agency, RAW.
Singh told Zardari that this was acceptable to India, after which Pakistan government had announced that the ISI head would travel to India.
After a post-midnight call on Zardari by Army chief Gen Ashfaque Kayani this decision was reversed with the President taking cover under a “mis-communication” with the Indian prime minister. Instead it was decided to depute a Director-level officer to India.
When the terror attack took place Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was in India and had consciously decided not to cut short his visit. However, the Indian government was told at 2.30 am that a special aircraft was being sent less than 4 hours later to take him back to Pakistan.
In what observers see as a clear message to the civilian government, the Pakistan army chief’s plane was sent to Delhi to pick up Qureshi, who boarded the flight around 7 am.
The view here is that the Pakistan army is using the current developments as a way out of the difficult situation it faces in the areas bordering Afghanistan where its writ does not run. Some 900 desertions are said to have taken place from the army.
Where this sounds like tough talk from India and the the US, this analysis of ISI is consistent with counter-terrorism and international media analysis throughout this decade.
Pakistan is a nuclear power, but there is much confusion about their new president, widower of Benazir Bhutto, Azif Ali Zardari, and prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani — both members of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
ISI was an agency much more closely related to the office of the president under Former Pres. Gen. Pervez Musharraf. It’s never been a secret that ISI supported Musharraf’s regime which was democratically overthrown by the PPP — a socio-populist party that supports democracy, not “Islamo-fascism” or imperialism or Sharia Law or moral relativism toward terrorist aggression. Indian officials, consistent with US suspicion, are implying that ISI is a rogue agency within the Pakistani power structure.
Earlier this week, I briefly touched on ISI’s relation to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) aka Jama’at-ud-Da’awa (JuD):
Conflict between ISI and the PPP is nothing new. Suspicions have always surrounded their political wing of rigging elections against the PPP as they were ‘monitoring’ the integrity of those elections.
The BBC News profile of ISI months after 9/11 is telling:
Pakistan’s powerful military intelligence agency has been accused of propelling the Taleban to power in Afghanistan and supporting militants fighting India in the disputed territory of Kashmir.
Critics of the shadowy Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), believed to have worked closely with the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, say it is a “rogue agency” – functioning as an “invisible government”….
Following an attack on the Indian parliament – blamed by Delhi on Pakistan-based Kashmiri militants – General Musharraf is now believed to have ordered the ISI to prevent further attacks by militants in India that could precipitate all-out war.
But India holds General Musharraf himself responsible for an outbreak of hostilities in Kashmir in 1999 – and there are questions about the extent of central control over the ISI.
Some Pakistani politicians have railed at what they claimed was the ISI’s failure to answer to the government – or even to the army command.
ISI ‘dictates policy’
“It is a state within a state,” says Wajid Shamsul Hasan, a former Pakistani High Commissioner in Britain who is close to former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
“Pakistan’s foreign policy has been run by the ISI rather than the foreign office,” he said….
“Under civilian rule the ISI had a fair amount of independence,” says Gary Samore of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. “Under Musharraf, they’re answerable.”
Mr Hasan, however, said: “Musharraf has made a few changes but the fact of the matter is that the organisation is too big and self-interested.”…
Kashmiri ‘freedom movement’
Asked whether the ISI was sponsoring attacks in Kashmir, General Gul said: “I would say it’s the freedom movement… They are fighting Indian occupation.”
For more on this and other suspicions, see the Federation of American Scientists Intelligence Report on ISI in July 2002:
The ISI continued to actively participate in Afghan Civil War, supporting the Taliban in their fight against the Rabbani government. Backing of the Taliban would officially end after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; however, there are suspicions that sympathetic elements of the ISI continue to aid Taliban fighters.
ISI has been engaged in covertly supporting the Kashmiri Mujahideen in their fight against the Indian authorities in Kashmir. Reportedly “Operation Tupac” was the designation of the three part action plan for the capture of Kashmir through proxy warfare, initiated by President Zia Ul Haq in 1988 after the failure of “Operation Gibraltar.”
According to a report compiled by the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) of India in 1995, ISI spent about Rs 2.4 crore per month to sponsor its activities in Jammu and Kashmir. Although all groups reportedly received arms and training from Pakistan, the pro-Pakistani groups were reputed to be favored by the ISI. As of May 1996, at least six major militant organizations, and several smaller ones, operated in Kashmir. Their forces were variously estimated at between 5,000 and 10,000 armed men.
The oldest and most widely known militant organization, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), spearheaded the movement for an independent Kashmir. This group declared a cease-fire in 1994. The most powerful of the pro-Pakistani groups is the Hezb-ul-Mujahedin. The other major groups are Harakat-ul Ansar, a group which reportedly has a large number of non-Kashmiris in it, Al Umar, Al Barq, Jaish-e-Mohammad, and Lashkar-e Toiba, which is also made up largely of fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Many of these militants were trained in Afghanistan, where several ISI agents were killed during U.S. air strikes in 1998 against terrorist training camps. Since the defeat of the Taliban, militant training camps have moved to Pakistani Kashmir.
In September 2006, BBC News discovered a leaked paper from a UK Ministry of Defence think-tank stating on Pakistan (NOTE: One of the ex-ISI agents the US wants declared a terrorist, Lt. Gen. Hameed Gul, defends ISI in this profile.):
The Army’s dual role in combating terrorism and at the same time promoting the MMA and so indirectly supporting the Taliban (through the ISI) is coming under closer and closer international scrutiny….
[The West has] turned a blind eye towards existing instability and the indirect protection of Al Qaeda and promotion of terrorism.
Indirectly Pakistan (through the ISI) has been supporting terrorism and extremism – whether in London on 7/7 or in Afghanistan or Iraq.
The US/UK cannot begin to turn the tide until they identify the real enemies from attacking ideas tactically – and seek to put in place a more just vision. This will require Pakistan to move away from Army rule and for the ISI to be dismantled and more significantly something to be put in its place.
The most recent credible report comes from, arguably, the most powerful private organization to influence American foreign policy: the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a nonpartisan think-tank on international affairs. I highly suggest reading the full report. Here are excerpts:
Many in the Pakistani government, including slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, have called the intelligence agency “a state within a state,” working beyond the government’s control and pursuing its own foreign policy.…
Constitutionally, the agency is acountable to the prime minister, says Hassan Abbas, research fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. But most officers in the ISI are from the army, so that is where their loyalties and interests lie, he says. Experts say until the end of 2007, as army chief and president, Musharraf exercised firm control over the intelligence agency. But by late 2008 it was not clear how much control the new civilian government in Pakistan had over the agency. In July 2008, the Pakistani government announced the ISI will be brought under the control of the interior ministry, but revoked its decision (BBC)“virtually no control” (PDF) over the army and the ISI. within hours. Bruce Riedel, an expert on South Asia at the Brookings Institution, says the civilian leadership has In September 2008, army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani replaced the ISI chief picked by Musharraf with Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha. Some experts say the move signals that Kiyani is consolidating his control over the intelligence agency by appointing his man at the top. In November 2008, the government, in another move to rein in the agency, disbanded ISI’s political wing, which politicians say was responsible for interfering in domestic politics. Some experts saw it as a move by the army, which faced much criticism when Musharraf was at the helm, to distance itself from politics….
…With a reported staff of ten thousand, ISI is hardly monolithic: “Like in any secret service, there are rogue elements,” says Frederic Grare, a South Asia expert and visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He points out that many of the ISI’s agents have ethnic and cultural ties to Afghan insurgents, and naturally sympathize with them. Marvin G. Weinbaum, an expert on Afghanistan and Pakistan at the Middle East Institute, says Pakistan has sent “retired” ISI agents on missions the government could not officially endorse.…
… there appears to be division within the ISI.…
… Weinbaum in 2006 said the Pakistani military has largely ignored Taliban fighters on its soil. “There are extremist groups that are beyond the pale with which the ISI has no influence at all,” he says. “Those are the ones they go after.”…
Pakistan does not enjoy good relations with the current leadership of Afghanistan, partly because of rhetorical clashes with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and partly because Karzai has made strong ties to India.…
… According to Weinbaum, Pakistan has two policies. One is an official policy of promoting stability in Afghanistan; the other is an unofficial policy of supporting jihadis in order to appease political forces within Pakistan. “The second [policy] undermines the first one,” he says. Nawaz says there is ambivalence within the army regarding support for the Taliban. “They’d rather not deal with the Afghan Taliban as an adversary,” he says.
Note: The report contains quotes in defense of the ISI from former agents and end of the CFR report refutes that of the prior cited UK think-tank RE: London’s 7/7 bombings.