“Inside Pakistan’s ISI”, an event held by think tank Middle East Institute headed by former US Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlain, attempted to answer questions about “Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency”.
The panel featured Washington Post’s diplomatic correspondent Karen DeYoung, RAND Corporation’s Senior Political Scientist Arturo Munoz and Atlantic Council’s South Asia director and author Shuja Nawaz.
DeYoung began by describing the relationship between Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) and the US’ Central Investigation Agency (CIA), saying the CIA is constantly frustrated with the ISI and how it operates. “They (CIA) know very little”.
DeYoung said that US intelligence had taped the conversations with General Kayani and General Pasha when they were told of the Abbottabad raid. According to conclusions of the voice analyses of the recordings, said DeYoung, they were not only surprised about the raid, but also that he was there.
DeYoung also described the recent event of intel on IED-producing factories in Waziristan being leaked, with the factories being found abandoned when the military went in. DeYoung said that while no one believes Kayani and Pasha tipped them off, someone did.
Describing the ISI’s structure, Shuja Nawaz said that he believes it has six wings, with brigadiers posted in major cities, and that they primarily take orders from the army chief. “The ISI does not take instructions from the prime minister because the civilian government has ceded various aspects of policy to the military. The ISI now looks to Rawalpindi for instructions.”
Arturo Munoz said that the turning point in the Pakistan viewpoint on Afghanistan came when Nato was given control of the Afghanistan war.
Munoz said that key al Qaeda leaders had been arrested with the help of the ISI. However, he said, ISI had helped in the arrest of al Qaeda leaders in urban areas as they considered them a threat but not to those in Fata, as they were not perceived to be a threat. Munoz said that these groups may now have slipped out of their control, as they were now attacking the state and as seen in the Parade Line Mosque attack.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 15th, 2011.
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