US Confronts Pakistan over ISI Ties with AQ

We tried shaming the Pakistani government a few years ago by doing this exact same thing; having a high level official deliver an intelligence assessment of activities and connections between the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, and al-Qaeda/Taliban groups operating in the tribal areas.

It didn't do any good then nor will it now, most likely. The government cannot control the activities of the ISI unless they are willing to start firing people in that organization. And even Musharraf wouldn't do that:

The decision to confront Pakistan with what the officials described as a new C.I.A. assessment of the spy service's activities seemed to be the bluntest American warning to Pakistan since shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks about the ties between the spy service and Islamic militants.

The C.I.A. assessment specifically points to links between members of the spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, and the militant network led by Maulavi Jalaluddin Haqqani, which American officials believe maintains close ties to senior figures of Al Qaeda in Pakistan's tribal areas.

The C.I.A. has depended heavily on the ISI for information about militants in Pakistan, despite longstanding concerns about divided loyalties within the Pakistani spy service, which had close relations with the Taliban in Afghanistan before the Sept. 11 attacks.

That ISI officers have maintained important ties to anti-American militants has been the subject of previous reports in The New York Times. But the C.I.A. and the Bush administration have generally sought to avoid criticism of Pakistan, which they regard as a crucial ally in the fight against terrorism.

The problem appears to be that some elements of the ISI and army are extremely helpful in keeping tabs on AQ and the Taliban. There has always been a large group of army and intelligence officers who like the United States - many of them have been trained here. And there is also the carrot of military aid that ensures even more cooperation.

But at the same time, there is ample evidence that the Pakistani government and many elements in the army and ISI see Afghanistan falling within their sphere of influence and cannot stand the idea of foreign troops administering to her and protecting her independence from Pakistan.

Recall that the Taliban is a creation of the ISI, was put in power by the ISI, and received a lot of assistance from the intel organization. Those long standing ties are hard to ignore - even though Bush and the State Department tried their best to do so for 6 years.

I think this is more than a warning to the Pakistan government. By telling them we know they have been playing both ends against the middle in Afghanistan, it becomes more likely that sometime in the near future, those tribal areas are going to get a visit from NATO troops that will deal with many camps and safe areas for AQ and the Taliban that the government refuses to deal with
.
We tried shaming the Pakistani government a few years ago by doing this exact same thing; having a high level official deliver an intelligence assessment of activities and connections between the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, and al-Qaeda/Taliban groups operating in the tribal areas.

It didn't do any good then nor will it now, most likely. The government cannot control the activities of the ISI unless they are willing to start firing people in that organization. And even Musharraf wouldn't do that:

The decision to confront Pakistan with what the officials described as a new C.I.A. assessment of the spy service's activities seemed to be the bluntest American warning to Pakistan since shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks about the ties between the spy service and Islamic militants.

The C.I.A. assessment specifically points to links between members of the spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, and the militant network led by Maulavi Jalaluddin Haqqani, which American officials believe maintains close ties to senior figures of Al Qaeda in Pakistan's tribal areas.

The C.I.A. has depended heavily on the ISI for information about militants in Pakistan, despite longstanding concerns about divided loyalties within the Pakistani spy service, which had close relations with the Taliban in Afghanistan before the Sept. 11 attacks.

That ISI officers have maintained important ties to anti-American militants has been the subject of previous reports in The New York Times. But the C.I.A. and the Bush administration have generally sought to avoid criticism of Pakistan, which they regard as a crucial ally in the fight against terrorism.

The problem appears to be that some elements of the ISI and army are extremely helpful in keeping tabs on AQ and the Taliban. There has always been a large group of army and intelligence officers who like the United States - many of them have been trained here. And there is also the carrot of military aid that ensures even more cooperation.

But at the same time, there is ample evidence that the Pakistani government and many elements in the army and ISI see Afghanistan falling within their sphere of influence and cannot stand the idea of foreign troops administering to her and protecting her independence from Pakistan.

Recall that the Taliban is a creation of the ISI, was put in power by the ISI, and received a lot of assistance from the intel organization. Those long standing ties are hard to ignore - even though Bush and the State Department tried their best to do so for 6 years.

I think this is more than a warning to the Pakistan government. By telling them we know they have been playing both ends against the middle in Afghanistan, it becomes more likely that sometime in the near future, those tribal areas are going to get a visit from NATO troops that will deal with many camps and safe areas for AQ and the Taliban that the government refuses to deal with
.