A war of words has erupted between CIA and ISI. The CIA fired the first shot by giving an exclusive story to NYT that ISI has picked up the US agency’s Pakistani informers who tipped off the location of Osama bin Laden’s villa in Abbottabad. Then in the typical style spy agencies plant stories, a nugget was put it into the NYT column that one of the informers was a Pakistani army officer in the rank of Major.
Rawalpindi went ballistic. Pak military leadership understood what CIA was conveying: ‘Look chums, we have penetrated your sanctum sanctorum’. Imagine the confusion this could raise within the Pak army – or any disciplined army for that matter. CIA has virtually stirred up a hornet’s nest. The Pak military denial is furiously-worded and categorical. But the damage has been done – like in William Shakespeare’s play Othello, the seed of suspicion has been planted by Iago, which of course will now go on to germinate. And that’s precisely what the CIA intended.
All this shows how bad the CIA-ISI rupture has become – like it happens when an intense relationship turns sour. The bitterness is there for all to see in the NYT story. CIA boss Leon Panetta’s Rawalpindi visit last Friday was a total disaster. The overall impression conveyed by the NYT story is that the Americans seem to be bracing for a deep chill descending on the CIA-ISI ties. In immediate terms, Rawalpindi may be asking that the drone operations cannot be undertaken from Pak air bases.
Quite obviously, the US plan to get select Taliban removed from the UN’s ‘watchlist’ of terrorists now gets an added urgency. The US will be in a rush to somehow get through to the Quetta Shura through direct channels so that ISI can be bypassed. It is a risky move as it presupposes that ISI’s hold over Quetta Shura is shaky. Two, US is in a hurry and may not care for ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban.
India faces a piquant situation on Friday when the US plan to remove 20 prominent Taliban from the watchlist comes up for the approval of the UN Security Council. Delhi will have grave reservations as the list includes some highly controversial names. Russia and China, too, are opposing the US plan. The signs are that India, Russia and China will adopt a coordinated position.
Source: Strategic Culture Foundation