Feature

How they see us: Pointing the finger at Pakistani intelligence

Why the U.S. is blaming Pakistan’s Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, for its failure in Afghanistan.

The U.S. has found a scapegoat for its failure in Afghanistan, said S.M. Hali in the Islamabad Nation. It has settled on Pakistan’s Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, alleging that “rogue elements” in the agency were “abetting and aiding the Taliban.” Of course, the allegations are just “Indian propaganda” that the “gullible” CIA has swallowed. For months, India has conducted a “whispering campaign” against the ISI. Last month, India took the “extreme measure” of attacking its own embassy in Afghanistan “and pinning the blame on the ISI.” Indian operatives even fabricated evidence, in the form of messages supposedly from the ISI to the militants. India has long been “especially wary of ISI and has left no stone unturned in besmirching its good name and blaming it for all its woes.”

It’s no coincidence that the so-called evidence against the ISI emerged now, said Ahmed Quraishi in the Islamabad Daily Mail. The Americans may not even believe the Indian propaganda; they are just pretending to because they want to discredit the ISI. That’s because the ISI can prove that Washington has been colluding with “Indian intelligence operatives based in major Afghan cities” to support terrorism in the Pakistani province of Balochistan. The Balochistan terrorists have been photographed going to safe houses in Afghanistan with the full knowledge of the U.S. military. The ISI believes that the U.S. may even have ties to Baitullah Mehsud, Pakistan’s top terrorist—the man behind numerous bombings, possibly including the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. At the very least, the U.S. failed to strike at Mehsud even after the ISI gave the U.S. military his precise coordinates.

But what if the allegations against the ISI are true? asked Anwar Syed in the Karachi Dawn. Remember, the ISI is a military agency, and it’s “not all that amenable to external control,” whether by the president or by the prime minister. We know that the ISI has “routinely intervened in domestic politics” and that it has “given money and weapons to certain groups to fight other groups.” In this, it is not unlike the CIA. Each intelligence agency operates as a “state within a state” and a “law unto itself.” So it’s entirely believable that some ISI agents support the Taliban. It’s just impossible to know whether the government condones the agents or “is too fragile to control them.”

It’s up to the U.S. to rein in the ISI, said the Kabul Arman-e Melli in an editorial. It has become obvious that “the prime minister of Pakistan is unable to harness it.” Afghanistan will do its part in purging the government of “spies working for the benefit of Pakistan.” But we’ll need Western help. “Unless the West’s solutions for Afghanistan are based on the fact that Pakistan is behind all our miseries,” our country “will continue to be the center of war and tensions.”

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