How the ISI Tactics!kicked the CIA out
The day the war in Afghanistan same to stop was the day the earth stood still. The Non-cooperation of Pakistan in the war in Afghanistan was not only felt in Washington but also in Moscow, Delhi and London. The prominence given to Mr. Saeed on Kashmir liberation day shook the arrogance and hubris of the Superpower that wants to exit Afghanistan. Diplomats in Delhi were in disarray. Those in Europeans capitals wondered where it was headed. All wanted it to end. For about two months the war in Afghanistan was frozen, held hostage to the fate of “Raymond Davis’ and the CIAs efforts to extricate him from the gallows.
Diplomats around the world and and analysts in Langley were concerned that Pakistan’s non-cooperation in the American war in Afghanistan could lead to trouble in the region if CIA haters were given more freedom to move.
America got a bit worried when the smoke signals from Islamabad grew blacker and the skies became more ominous. Concerns grew when ISI chief Pasha sent a message of silence to the CIA. All joint spy operations were suspended. The flow of information from spies to spies was reduced to a trickle. Even the Pakistan Ambassador to Washington (divisively labeled the US Ambassador to Pakistan) Hussain Haqqani was asked to send a message that the era of unstinting and open intelligence sharing with foreign agencies in Pakistan was over. General Kayano also sent the same message that foreign operatives would not longer enjoy unfettered access to the Pakistani countryside.
The Pakistani government has turned a new leaf and had grown a conscience. Either that or it was livid with anger at the indiscretions of the CIA. The Pakistani spy agency had already started a 24/7 “counter-intelligence operation” on all Western diplomats. Mercenaries belonging to outfits like Blackwater/Xe were deeply affected by Pakistani spies who were ordered to follow them around and essentially let them know that they were wanted. Typical anti-spy operations were initiated to harass the CIA operatives who were running amok all over the country. Kids on bikes, and officials on vehicles trailed them on this missions. The round the clock surveillance had been limited to Bharati, Russian and Afghan diplomats. Now it was extended to all European and American diplomats.
In the post 9/11 world the US and Pakistan had agreed to share intelligence. The tree of suspicion grew and grew. The US suspected the Pakistanis of running operations without their knowledge and the Pakistanis knew that the CIA had established its own offices and was not being honest with Islamabad. During the chaos of a new government in Islamabad, right after the fall of Musharraf’s governemnt in 2008, the CIA saw a colossal opportunity and began spreading its tentacles into Pakistan. Xe mercenaries hired local Pakistanis, and began hiding out in safe houses in posh US localities. The boisterous hooliganism of the private contractors led to several scuffles in crowded places in the larger metros of Pakistan. However each time this happened, the contractors were rescued by the the US Embassy. The US operatives were running independent rogue operations which kept on growing. Nothing seemed to be off limits to the contractors.
This modus operandi (MO) was a breach of trust and the Pakistanis were deeply chagrined. First they released the news about ht eoperatives to the newspapers, and the media, then they sent subtle messages to Washington. None of it registered. The US tin ear didn’t quiet get it. They didn’t see it as a direct intervention in Pakistan.
The alarm bells had gone off. The Army had sent the messages to the PPP government. The was sending warnings to the Prime Minister and to the COAS. In 2009, after the PPP government had steadied its legs a bit, Islamabad started to react. It began slowly at first and even then in a very cautious matter. First it held back diplomatic visas to hundreds of Americans who were posing as staff-members of the US Embassy. Then the reaction became more feverish, and a very serous and concerted counter-intelligence operation was started.
Things came to a head when “Raymond Davis” over-reacted to him being followed and murdered his followers in cold blood. The discovery of pictures, the links to the TTP, and the presence of the GPS tracking system opened the eyes of the most skeptical in the Pakistani establishment. The PPP was not unaffected the vents. A groundswell of opposition to the US indiscretions were bubbling up through the rank and file. Once the Davis affair exploded, Islamabad clearly told the Americans that the CIA’s presence in Pakistan would have to be severly curtailed and henceforth it would have to be limited administrative chores only. CIA personnel would have to be restricted to the consulates and embassies. They would be free to write reports on Pakistan. Pakistan informed them that all intelligence operations would be dealt with through the ISI–just like the way it was in the 80s when the ISI was running the Anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan.
The US Administration got scared by Pakistani tactics–especially after it outed the name of the CIA Chief in Pakistan. With the annual Talib Spring beginning in a few weeks, the intense and perhaps decisive battle in Afghanistan is just beginning. America’s huffing and puffing did not quite scare the Pakistanis. The relationship is being redefined. According to the Washington Post “The CIA has launched an internal review of how it trains and deploys security officers overseas after a fatal shooting by one of the agency’s contractors in Pakistan triggered a diplomatic crisis and new recriminations between the two nations’ spy services, U.S. officials said.”
Islamabad was also promised a new deal, a more powerful strategic role in South Asia than Bharat, a diminished role of the CIA and the new lay of the land where the ISI would have full reign of operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Those who think that Pakistan is a winner in this diplomatic wrangle may be wondering about the CIAs next moves in South Asia.
George Will in an fascinating article opposing the war in Libray tells an interesting tale:
“On Dec. 29, 1962, in Miami’s Orange Bowl, President John Kennedy, who ordered the Bay of Pigs invasion, addressed a rally of survivors and supporters of that exercise in regime change. Presented with the invasion brigade’s flag, Kennedy vowed, “I can assure you that this flag will be returned to this brigade in a free Havana.” Eleven months later, on Nov. 2, 1963, his administration was complicit in another attempt at violent regime change — the coup against, and murder of, South Vietnam’s President Ngo Dinh Diem. The Saigon regime was indeed changed, so perhaps this episode counts as a success, even if Saigon is now Ho Chi Minh City.”
Intrusive US interference in Iran led to the Islamic revolution.
Washington plans moves years in advance. While Islamabad seems to have kicked the CIA out–the world awaits the other shoe to fall.
The China factor has been ignored by most analysts. The Chinese Premier arrived in Pakistan and promised to invest $20 billion in Pakistan in the next five years. This colossal spending and will fundamentally transform the Pakistani infrastructure. Islamabad has also discovered hundreds of Billions of Dollars of Gold and Uranium in Balochistan. With the Middle East in turmoil, the Tajiks and the Kygyz and the Turks are swarming to Pakistan for a long term relationship. Pakistan as the fifth largest Nuclear power with intercontinental ballistic missiles cannot be overtly attacked. A few hundred CIA agents have caused damage to the psyche of the people, but the CIA cannot fundamentally undermine the country–in this sense they have failed.