US, Pak working to reduce ISI role in war on terror, domestic politics

August 7th, 2008 - 7:06 pm ICT by ANI  

Pervez Musharraf

Washington, Aug.7 (ANI): The governments of the United States and Pakistan are working together to overcome intelligence-related problems, even as Washington, or more specifically the Pentagon, has admitted that Pakistans Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) needs to be reined in.
“With regards to the Pakistani intelligence services, I think that’’s been historically an issue in that country,” he said. “There are signs that it remains so. And our two governments are working to deal with those problems,” the Dawn quoted Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell as saying during a regular briefing on Wednesday.
Morrell was responding to question on whether Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had assured the US that the ISI would cooperate with US forces to help stop cross-border attacks into Afghanistan.
Reports in the US media, published since Gilani’’s visit, claim that the US and Pakistan are going to work together to reduce ISI’’s role in the war on terror and its influence in domestic politics.
Morrell also stressed the need for Pakistan to be a concerted and consistent in its efforts to go after the militants to prevent them from either creating training grounds and safe havens within Pakistan or going into Afghanistan and causing trouble there.
The US, he said, would not only want Pakistan to continue its efforts to defeat militants but wanted “to see probably even more robust efforts on Pakistan’’s part”.
As far President Pervez Musharraf’’s future is concerned, the Americans have indicated to Islamabad that they regard this as an internal problem of Pakistan and will accept whatever decision is taken.
He rejected a suggestion by an Indian journalist that the United States had given billions of dollars to Pakistan.
“You”re saying we”ve given billions of dollars — and I would take issue with the fact we”ve given it. We”ve reimbursed the Pakistanis billions of dollars for operations they”ve conducted on our behalf within their borders,” he said.
But he agreed with the journalist that despite this generous assistance, the US remained unpopular in Pakistan. “That’’s a sad reality if that’’s the case. And it’’s something that this (US) government is working hard to try to remedy,” he said.
Meanwhile, an article appearing in the Christian Science Monitor (CSM) has said that as long as the present government in Pakistan doesn”t stand up and start taking responsibility for its actions, it will never be able to exert control on any of the institutions of the state, including the ISI.
It says that with Pakistan facing mounting pressure from its neighbours and the United States to clear pro-Taliban elements from its intelligence service, the Gilani government is struggling to respond in a convincing way.
It says that the timing of the allegations against the ISI is weighing heavily on Pakistan, which has struggled to assuage its neighbours” and Washingtons complaints.
It says that the Pakistan Governments decision to place the ISI under the Interior Ministry and then revoke it within 24 hours, suggests knee-jerk responses with the objective to trying to impress on the Americans that they have a firm control over the military and intelligence agencies.
According to Hassan Askari Rizvi, the author of “Military, State, and Society in Pakistan, it was a major miscalculation, and it backfired badly.”
Former Army general and security analyst Talat Masood says the retraction showed “where the real power still is.”
Officially, the ISI is answerable directly to the civilian government, but experts say that the agency has always followed the lead of the Pakistan Army. While the precise chain of command and the limits of the agency’’s influence are debated, the history of close cooperation between the ISI and the Taliban is long and well documented.
“It’’s possible that there are certain individuals in the agencies who have developed ideological sympathies with the Islamic militants,” says Professor Rizvi, “but there is more likely a real strategic calculation being made by the agencies and military here.”
These agencies, he says, might support the Taliban more as a way to counter long time rival India’’s growing influence in Afghanistan. (ANI)

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