INDIA DEFENCE CONSULTANTS
ISI MAY STAB USA IN THE BACK
Delhi, 23 October 2001
IDC has pleasure in putting up an interesting article on the ISI of Pakistan as it is relevant. It must be realised that Intelligence is a management tool for governance whether it be for the Nation, an Armed Force or an Organisation. It cannot solve problems but it provides information for success.
Any good Intelligence organisation has to have a dirty tricks department and a very good Intelligence organisation must be able to achieve the aims of its political and military masters with alacrity. False intelligence can be dangerous. Therefore the Leaders must appreciate how to task their Agencies which invariably have a lot of funds at their disposal and the Leaders must ensure that the Intelligence set up does not become a law unto itself. This happens every so often when control is lost and money power, religion and politics are allowed to enter the objectives of the Intelligence set up .
Reams have been written about the dedicated Mosaad of Israel, the KGB, MI 5 and MI 6 of UK, CIA etc. The CIA has even exterminated Leaders and now has President Bush's authority to exterminate Osama Bin Laden. There is a lot of literature on the IB and RAW of India and how they trained and armed the LTTE and controlled the politics of Sri Lanka during Mrs Indira Gandhi's time, but when Rajiv Gandhi took over he lost control and RAW fell out with the LTTE and led to a debacle for the Indian Army .
In the case of ISI it is a powerful, rich and naughty tool of the Pakistani Army but has direct and tenuous links to the political set up from time to time. Religious fervour has set in. As IDC had explained earlier the culture in the sub continent is such that whereas the Indian (Hindu) can be bought, a Pakistani (Muslim) can only be rented. This has been the bane in Kashmir and ISI has rented terrorists.
In the case of Afghanistan, the ISI built up Mullah Omar (who was a piddly ISI Agent) and the Taliban, because since late 80s when USA funnelled arms and money to the Mujahedeen in Afganistan, the ISI was the conduit. Many became rich and the narcotic trade funded the ISI. A brilliant and bold General Naserullah Babbar, as the Home Minister, (who met and hosted many Indians from RIMC including Generals like Sharma and Ashok Mehta a few years ago in Pakistan), built up the Taliban.
Mahendra Ved of TOI and Sreedar of IDSA have written two volumes which every interested and inquisitive reader will enjoy titled 'AFGHAN BUZKASHI' , Wordsmiths. In the present 'OP Enduring Freedom' it is more illuminating than CNN or BBC or Barkha Dutt on USS CARL VINSON about what is happening in Afghanistan. ISI is pivotal.
"TALIBAN AND Pakistan’s Inter-services Intelligence Agency (ISI)
commandos and US infantry enter Afghanistan and fan out in search of Osama
Bin Laden and members of his al-Qaida group, they'll need timely and
accurate intelligence to complete their mission. Most agree that their
best source will be agents of the Interservices Intelligence Agency (ISI),
Pakistan's powerful spy organization.
the ISI is such an utterly unreliable ally that just hours after US and
British planes launched their first attacks on Afghanistan, Pakistani
President Pervez Musharraf sacked the head of the agency, who he
apparently suspected of being too close to militant Islamic groups.
Indeed, the reason the ISI is in a position to lead American troops to Bin
Laden's tent is that it has longstanding ties to al-Qaida's leader. It was
the ISI that initially introduced Bin Laden to the Taliban, and at least
until very recently the agency has remained close to both.
only the beginning of the ISI's awful résumé. The agency has also
sponsored heroin smuggling and a variety of militant organizations that
have committed acts of terror in the Indian state of Kashmir, which
Pakistan claims is the Kashmiri people’s war of independence. More
troubling from a practical standpoint, many ISI officers are deeply
hostile to the West and make no secret of their friendship with Bin Laden.
As one person familiar with the agency, and who asked to remain anonymous,
says, "If the ISI is going to be our eyes and ears in Afghanistan, I
suggest that we watch our back."
by the British in 1948, the ISI has a long and checkered history of dirty
tricks, leading one Pakistani newspaper to call it "our secret
godfathers." During the 1977-88 dictatorship of Gen Zia ul-Haq, the
agency played a key role in crushing internal dissent. The ISI is widely
believed to have played a role in Pakistan's efforts to procure foreign
nuclear and missile technology from China and North Korea. Pakistan's
success in that endeavor led Congress in 1990 to bar military and economic
aid to Islamabad - sanctions that the United States dropped in late
September in return for support from Musharraf, who took power in a coup
two years ago.
ISI worked with the CIA during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan to
distribute weaponry to the anti-Soviet mujahideen fighters. Since
Pakistan's goal was to have an Islamic state on its northern border, it
made sure that the most radical elements got most of the goods. The ISI's
favorite freedom fighter was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the Islamic militant who
in 1991 supported Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War and who as prime minister
of Afghanistan in the early 1990s oversaw the destruction of Kabul.
"Pakistan began employing Islamic extremism as a tool during the
jihad," says Charles Santos, a former political adviser to the U.N.
Special Mission to Afghanistan. "They've been refining it as an
approach ever since, but they lost a handle on it. You can't refine
Tony Blair presented his case against Bin Laden to Parliament last week,
he accused al-Qaida's leader of drug trafficking in collaboration with the
Taliban. What he didn't mention was that the ISI has also been a partner
in the trade, another practice that dates to the anti-Soviet jihad. In his
book Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil & Fundamentalism in Central Asia,
Ahmed Rashid says that in one instance, the agency's entire staff in the
border town of Quetta was fired because it had turned to heroin
trafficking to finance the war and enrich themselves.
ISI's involvement in the drug trade has apparently decreased in recent
years, but elements within the agency still have dirty hands. The same
goes for members of the armed forces. In 1997, a Pakistani air force
officer was arrested in New York after he tried to sell $2 million worth
of heroin to an undercover DEA agent. He smuggled the heroin into the
country on a Pakistani military plane that had come to the United States
to fetch spare parts for F-16 fighters.
recent years, the ISI has devoted much of its time - and a $1 billion
budget - to backing the Taliban. It played a key role in the group's rise
to power, culminating in its capture of Kabul in 1996, and since then has
supported the Taliban's war against the Northern Alliance, the group
Washington hopes to use as front-line troops in Afghanistan. According to
a July 2001 report from Human Rights Watch, the ISI has been
"bankrolling Taliban military operations … arranging training for
its fighters, planning and directing offensives, providing and
facilitating shipments of ammunition and fuel, and on several occasions
apparently directly providing combat support."
its ties to the Taliban, the ISI developed deep links to Osama Bin Laden,
who first came to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets and funded some of the
agency's training camps for mujahideen fighters. According to Rashid, the
ISI introduced Bin Laden to Taliban leaders in 1996 - the same year that
the Taliban took power and that Bin Laden issued his first jihad against
the United States. By his account, Pakistan's goal was to convince the
Taliban to let Bin Laden run training camps for ISI-backed Kashmiri
militants. The Taliban agreed. In return, Bin Laden built a home for its
leader, Mullah Omar, and funded some of its other top officials.
ISI's other chief preoccupation has been Kashmir, which both India and
Pakistan claim. Kashmir is Hindu India's only majority Muslim state, and
New Delhi's heavy hand has sparked legitimate grievances. However, most
Kashmiris seem to oppose Pakistani control as well, instead favoring an
the past decade, Pakistan has fought a proxy war in Kashmir, using rebels
not locals alone but with a healthy contingent of Arab & Afghan
radicals - trained in Afghanistan to attack military and civilian targets.
Though Islamabad maintains that it offers only moral and diplomatic
support to the Kashmiri radicals, few take such claims seriously.
"Pakistan's military government, headed by Gen Pervez Musharraf,
continued previous Pakistani Government support of the Kashmir insurgency,
and Kashmiri militant groups continued to operate in Pakistan, raising
funds and recruiting new cadre," says the State Department's Patterns
of Global Terrorism report released last April.
Oct 1, terrorists believed to be backed by the ISI carried out a suicide
attack at the state legislature in Kashmir that killed 38 people. Four
days later, the State Department named a militant group called the Harakat
ul-Mujahidin as one of 28 "Foreign Terrorist Organizations,"
along with groups such as al-Qaida, the Abu Nidal Organization, Algeria's
Armed Islamic Group, and Hezbollah. The State Department says the HUM is
"active in Pakistan without discouragement by the Government"
and charges that its secretary-general, Fazlur Rehman Khalil, signed one
of Bin Laden's fatwas that "call[ed] for attacks on U.S. and Western
interest." In 1998, weeks after Bin Laden's operatives bombed U.S.
embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the United States fired 70 cruise
missiles at terrorist training camps in Afghanistan run by Bin Laden and
his allies. One of the primary targets was a facility run for the HUM
(then known as the Harakat ul-Ansar) in the province of Khost.
its own nasty history, many in the ISI loathe the United States. They view
America as an unreliable and duplicitous ally, being especially resentful
of the 1990 sanctions, which came one year after the Soviets pulled out of
Afghanistan. Furthermore, the ISI is dominated by Pashtuns, the same tribe
that is the Taliban's base of support across the border in Afghanistan.
Partly because of its family, clan, and business ties to the Taliban, the
ISI, even more than Pakistani society in general, has become increasingly
enamored of radical Islam in recent years.
ISI has occasionally assisted the United States—for example, it turned
over to American authorities Ramzi Yousef, who fled to Pakistan after he
planned the 1993 World Trade Center bombing - but it has repeatedly
refused to cooperate in apprehending Bin Laden. In an interview in 1999,
Bin Laden obliquely expressed gratitude to his ISI friends, saying,
"There are some governmental departments, which, by the Grace of God,
respond to the Islamic sentiments of the masses in Pakistan. This is
reflected in sympathy and cooperation. However, some governmental
departments fell into the trap of the infidels. We pray to God to return
them to the right path."
an interview in Islamabad a few weeks ago, Hamid Gul, a former head of the
ISI and ardent Taliban supporter, suggested that his old agency won't be
offering much help to the United States in the days ahead. "If you
can't even find the terrorists in your own country, what makes you think
you can find Osama in Afghanistan?" he gloated. "Your soldiers
are going to come out of Afghanistan bloodied and empty-handed. "
(Courtesy: Washington Post)