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January 15, 2008
'What ye sow, so shall ye reap'
According to several intelligence officials, Pakistan has lost control of the militant and extremist networks they created in the 1980's:
Pakistan’s premier military intelligence agency has lost control of some of the networks of Pakistani militants it has nurtured since the 1980s, and is now suffering the violent blowback of that policy, two former senior intelligence officials and other officials close to the agency say. Evidently, the catalyst for the ISI losing control of the militants was the establishment of close ties between Pakistan and the United States after 9/11. At that point, the ISI had been riddled with extremist sympathizers - so much so that three directors had to be cashiered for supporting them. And a dozen more ISI members had also been fired for their activities with extremists.
As the military has moved against them, the militants have turned on their former handlers, the officials said. Joining with other extremist groups, they have battled Pakistani security forces and helped militants carry out a record number of suicide attacks last year, including some aimed directly at army and intelligence units as well as prominent political figures, possibly even Benazir Bhutto.
The growing strength of the militants, many of whom now express support for Al Qaeda’s global jihad, presents a grave threat to Pakistan’s security, as well as NATO efforts to push back the Taliban in Afghanistan. American officials have begun to weigh more robust covert operations to go after Al Qaeda in the lawless border areas because they are so concerned that the Pakistani government is unable to do so.
The unusual disclosures regarding Pakistan’s leading military intelligence agency — Inter-Services Intelligence, or the ISI — emerged in interviews last month with former senior Pakistani intelligence officials. The disclosures confirm some of the worst fears, and suspicions, of American and Western military officials and diplomats.
Clearly, this situation was intolerable and only got worse when Musharraf went after the militants in 2004 and again last year. Now the militants are suspects in the death of Benazir Bhutto and the opposition doesn't buy the idea that the government is blameless in the matter.
I fear the answer may inevitably be some kind of small scale, secretive US Special Forces action in the tribal areas, utilizing the manpower supplied by friendly tribes (or tribes that can be bought) and a heavy dose of American air power. But if it ever got out that we were operating on Pakistani soil, the country would erupt and in a spasm of anti-Americanism and anti-Musharraf protests make the situation even worse.