Intelligence matters

Published: June 13, 2011

Panetta, unlike during past visits, did not pay even courtesy calls to the president and prime minister.

CIA Director Leon Panetta’s brief visit to Pakistan follows a sharp downturn in relations between Pakistan and the US since the Raymond Davis saga and the US raid which killed Osama bin Laden. Panetta only met Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI head Ahmed Shuja Pasha during his sudden, unscheduled trip, and it appears he swiftly left after being unable to secure any improvements in the troubled relationship. Panetta, unlike during past visits, did not pay even courtesy calls to the president and prime minister. He seems to have realised and is making it clear to all observers that the military is the true power in the country. And it is the military that is taking an increasingly hard line against the US, demanding the removal of all American military forces and CIA agents. Reports indicate that the military has also refused offers of joint operations by the two countries to kill ‘high-value’ militants.

As troubling as the fracture in the relationship is, what is even more disturbing is further evidence of possible Pakistani duplicity in the war against militancy. A few weeks ago, the CIA provided Pakistan with satellite imagery of two bomb-making facilities in North Waziristan that were supplying weaponry to the Afghan Taliban. When the Pakistan Army invaded the facility, it turned out that all the militants had mysteriously vanished. The CIA believes that the militants were tipped off by elements in the military. Although the proof may be circumstantial, it does deepen the mistrust between the two sides and will lead to greater pressure on Pakistan to launch a massive operation in North Waziristan.

Before relations with the US, who it should not be forgotten provide us the aid that keeps us financially afloat, deteriorate any further, the army has to decide whose side it’s on. It can no longer make distinctions between the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistani Taliban, fighting the latter while ignoring the presence of the former. In protesting our violating sovereignty, we never seem to notice that the Afghan Taliban are also operating with impunity in a foreign country. It is their disregard for our sovereignty that we need to fight.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2011.

Reader Comments (13)

  • Cautious
    Jun 13, 2011 - 10:26PM

    The fact that Panetta didn’t bother to make courtesy visits to the PM or President combined with the lack of press conference where he would typically praise Pakistan’s contribution to fighting terrorist is worth noting. I suspect Obama has asked Panetta for his recommendation of what to do about Pakistan and this trip was solely to determine whether the military had chosen what road it was going to follow. If the USA gets “quiet” and stops praising Pakistan’s contribution then you should get prepared for the worst.Recommend

  • Jun 13, 2011 - 11:47PM

    The realization that the Army is the center of power is nothing new for most in Pakistan. Its frustrating that when things go wrong, people forget whose in control. If all power resides with the military, even greater reason for more accountability and transparency. Recommend

  • Ahsan7979
    Jun 14, 2011 - 12:45AM

    So how do the militants vanish in plain sight of satellite and drone survelliance? May be the intelligence was faulty, which is pretty normal. In which case you would want to believe the side based on the preexisting biases.Recommend

  • Ahsan7979
    Jun 14, 2011 - 12:46AM

    If protocol is anything, Mr. Panetta should have met only his counter part which would be the ISI chief in this case…Recommend

  • Casual
    Jun 14, 2011 - 11:11AM

    I tend to agree with ‘Cautious’. I believe this was only a visit to feel the depth of relationships after 2/5. If Pakistan is an ally despite this insult act from USA then the things would be different but the news suggest otherwise.Recommend

  • Feroz
    Jun 14, 2011 - 1:57PM

    Reading the tea leaves is not possible for a Military steeped in Jihadi ideology. Top guns of the US administration have been visiting Pakistan with amazing regularity always carrying sufficient evidence to reveal the duplicity and chasm between words and deeds. The information given by ISI on Kashmiri who was targeted with drones also seems fake as US/NATO are not buying the story he was present at the site and killed. We must remember that Kashmiri was an SSG commando who till recently collaborated with the Pakistani Military on joint ventures.
    That the bomb making facilities were vacated before the Pakistani raid has made it clear to the Americans that many within the Establishment are Taliban sympathizers. Now we are likely to see many more Abbotabad style operations being launched unilaterally in Pakistan and further humiliation for the citizens of the country. The duplicity game is now entering its final phase and I am sure the outcome is going to be anything but pleasant. The civilian government must take over the reins immediately as the nations very survival is at stake. Recommend

  • Amer Khan
    Jun 14, 2011 - 3:57PM

    Protocal says cia chief meets isi chief so no worries, it was the right thing to do, 2. yes, army and isi will remain in charge of pk because of the strategic location we are in and because of the our political insititutions not mature enough to handle or even understand international political games, 3. no heaven is going to fall down, as this is the end game in afghanistan and both governments are trying to allign each other and find common grounds/ways, 4. all intelligence agencies play double-games including that of US, India, Israel, British so why not isi, 5. it looks US will give into PK as a better option in the end game for Afghanistan… Only time will tell
    Recommend

  • R S JOHAR
    Jun 14, 2011 - 10:01PM

    Since military dictates the foreign policy, Pakistan should change the protocol for visiting head of states who should meet Gen Kayani first and subsequently PM or the President.Recommend

  • Truth Seeker
    Jun 15, 2011 - 4:43AM

    Strategic location poses a serious responsibility. If one uses it wisely it is beneficial ( Suez Canal is a one example, as it helps Egypt to earn badly needed financial resources).But if one uses it considering that others are fools, then the user ends up being a bigger fool.

    Pakistanis are very happy that USA will be forced to leave Afghanistan after getting beaten up by rag tag forces of Taliban. Hameed Gul and Co are happy that USA will lose face, and in their opinion if Pakistanis follow Taliban Agenda Pakistan will not loose face.And this view is shared by a large portion of Pakistani population.Pakistanis are very vocal about their all weather friend China, but are unwilling to follow the great wise man of China, Confucius who has this advice for Pakistan,’ He who is scared to loose his face has no face to loose.’

    USA is not worried to loose her face, she is worried to fix her economy, and that is why she wants to get out of Afghanistan. Pakistan is not worried for economy, it is worried for its sovereignty.If economy goes ,so goes the sovereignty. If economy is strong you don’t have to look for sovereignty and respect, because your neighbours will see it before you start thumping your chests about it.

    As Pakistan does not trust USA, she should better learn one lesson from China. Taiwanese know that China considers Taiwan an integral part of China, but their maximum investment is in China.

    Why are Taiwanese investing in a country which is going to usurp their sovereignty, just ponder?Recommend

  • Karim S
    Jun 15, 2011 - 11:55AM

    Ahsan7979, the militants did not vanish. Satellite video shows them evacuating the place before the strike happened. And its’ not one instance, which can be dismissed as coincidence. This happened two times. Recommend

  • sallahuddin
    Jun 15, 2011 - 5:02PM

    We tend to take rather simplistic view of things in which every thing associated with US/CIA is true and above board and all associated with ISI/Pakistan Army is deception and double dealing.US is definitely not such a novice to have dealt for six decades and benifitted immensely from these setups ,paid so much through aid from the US tax payers money and now found out the truth.In this real world all do and should look after their interests before others and the two parties involved are no different.We cannot build cases on assumptions and false information.Ilyas Kashmiri never joined the Army so no question of his being an army commando[Mr Ferozes contention],secondly why is there no possibility that the two so called bomb making factories in Waziristan were not tipped off from the US/CIA side to let Pakistan down by blaming an inside tip off.As it is they use drones first for such lucrative targets ,why this departure now ?When there is such mistrust both sides could question the others motive.Finally the National leadership has to decide what it orders the Armed Foeces to do because its their sole responsibility and authority to do what they determine is in the interest of Pakistan.Any relationship devoid of respect and trust suffers the way it has started of late in our case and unless this equation is reversed the things can only get worst.Recommend

  • kritik1
    Jun 16, 2011 - 6:22AM

    The Pakistan military may be powerful but it would not be as powerful, if not for the strong support it gets from the ISI.

    How would the army find out who leaked what information?Recommend

  • kritik1
    Jun 16, 2011 - 6:33AM

    People talk as if this was the last and final visit of Panetta. And it does not matter if the meeting was brief or had lengthy discussions.

    Stupid analysis and stupid predictions.

    So unless Panetta actually ignores the the President of Pakistan and its Prime Minister in his future visits, people are putting the Cart before the Horse.Recommend

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