Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Untamable ISI

The ISI, Pakistan's "InterServices Intelligence" Directorate was the institution through which Pakistan provided support for the war against the Soviets and Afghan communists in the 1980s, and in that role it grew into a bloated bureaucracy that rivaled even the Pakistan state. Hassan Abbas has called it "a state within a state". It is widely believe to still be supporting the Islamist activities it supported during the anti-communist war - that is, Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The government denies that, but many people see lots signs that the ISI is still involved with these organizations. G. Talwalkar of The Asian Age 10/10/06] in "Taliban's friends in Pakistan" expresses the opinion of many when he expresses doubt that Musharraf is cooperating fully with the powers that want to get control of the Islamists who have found sanctuary in Pakistan. He says that the State Department now believes that "the gravamen of world terrorism has moved from the Middle East to northern Pakistan." Important as this statement is, it somehow feels all too obvious: it has seemed to be "the gravamen" for a long time. According to Peter Tomsen, who has had many years of diplomatic experience in the region, the ISI knows where all the key leaders of the Islamist movement are: Hekmatiyar, Haqqani, Mullah Omar and even Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden. He says what other people have said, that Taliban and Al Qaeda activists freely roam around Peshawar and Quetta. The Taliban even their own website, based in Pakistan. There is still plenty of evidence, as President Karzai claims, that "terrorists" are being trained and given sanctuary in Pakistan. Mr Amrullah Saleh, director of National Security of Afghanistan, has said that the "terrorists" have three "pillars": the Quetta Council, which evolved around the Taliban defence minister Mullah Obaidullah and his senior lieutenants; Haqqani's network based in Waziristan; and the Peshawar Council led by Hekmatyar. The most active of these nowadays, he says, is the Quetta Council. The Afghans want Pakistan to close down its madrasas and arrest the Taliban commanders and they have given the Pakistanis a list of individuals actively crossing the border into Afghanistan "terrorist" purposes, but there has been no action. A less critical statement is: "Musharraf's misunderstood Afghan strategy" By Ilyas Khan

Taliban's friends in Pakistan
Published: October 10, 2006 (The Asian Age)

When we hear from Musharraf that he is cooperating with us fully, I don't believe it. I believe that he is following a two-track policy... Various State Department terrorism reports have stated that the gravamen of world terrorism has moved from the Middle East to northern Pakistan. Now those areas too will become a springboard for international terrorism."

Musharraf's misunderstood Afghan strategy
Published: October 10, 2006 (BBC News)

Allies in the "war on terror" may want to turn the heat on Pakistan to rein in its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), but they may need to be careful not to drive President Pervez Musharraf too hard on the issue in public.

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