December 5, 2009


ISI’s feeling pretty bubbly (Aditya Sinha, 05 Dec 2009, New Indian Express)

Champagne popped open this week as Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) celebrated US President Barack Obama’s announcement that American troops would start withdrawing from Afghanistan in July 2011. Despite the extra 30,000 soldiers and the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) expansion of its unmanned drone operations inside Pakistan’s tribal areas, Islamabad was jubilant. The ISI’s strategy of waiting for the Americans to leave was paying off. Soon, Islamabad would recapture Kabul after eight years of domination by New Delhi. Absurd as it may sound, that’s the way the Pakistan military sees it: not in terms of the Frankenstein called Islamist terrorism, not in terms of jihadis taking over the border areas of Pakistan and launching suicide attacks into the Punjabi heartland, but simply in terms of a competition with India to dominate Afghanistan. The Americans have obliged them. All the Pakistan army need do now is sit tight 18 more months.

The ISI strategy is not rocket science. The British gave up on Afghanistan thrice in the 19th century (as revenge, they drew the Durand Line through the Pushtun tribal areas to serve as Afghanistan’s artificial border with Pakistan); The USSR gave up in 1989 and disintegrated soon after. The ISI thinks it’s now America’s turn.

The Pakistanis have got this far by sheer stubbornness and wile. Since 9/11, when the US began looking for Osama bin Laden and gang in and around the Durand Line, the Pakistanis have controlled events either by saying that direct American intervention would only alienate the local population and pose a threat to the army’s hold on power (a long Cold War association convinced the Pentagon that the Pakistan army are a bunch of great guys who can be trusted with running the country); or by handing over, one by one, a “number three” al-Qaeda gentleman to calm the Americans (Pakistan has caught scores of “number three” al-Qaeda terrorists over the past eight years); or by insisting there is a big difference between the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistani Taliban. Pakistan only wants to target the latter. To say that there are different Taliban is as dubious as saying there is a moderate Taliban (a ploy Pakistan has tried before). It simply does not exist.

Clearly, the ISI runs circles around the CIA. The CIA knows it, but can do little except gnash its teeth, because it has no spies among the jihadists. The ISI doesn’t need spies; it created the Taliban.

W understood why India is so important, does the UR?

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 5, 2009 6:13 AM
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