Intelligence agencies world over operate overtly more important; covertly. They are the grand daddy of their nation’s defense system. Providing foreign intelligence to their government is only one aspect of their multidimensional tasks that is instrumental in formulating national security policies.
‘Some of the CIA’s covert work is public knowledge such as their unsuccessful attempt to invade Cuba to overthrow Fidel Castro (aka Bay of Pigs Invasion); the agency’s arming of Nicaraguan contra rebels (Iran-Contra Affair); and attempting to poison the then Republic of Congo’s Prime Minister Lumumba. Since the September 11th attacks, the agency has focused on terrorism. Accordingly, they have formed joint operation centers in more than twenty countries where U.S. and foreign intelligence officers’ work together to track and capture suspected terrorists and to destroy or penetrate their networks.’ (Angelina Levy May 11, 2011)
‘RAW had stellar success in Bangladesh, where it trained covert forces who operated against Pakistani forces long before the war broke out. General Surjit Singh Uban’s Force 22 crippled Pakistani lines of communications. But the stories of the spies and secret warriors have never been acknowledged.”(The Indian Express May 9, 2015)
Arrest of Kulbhushan Yadav alias Hussein Mubarak Patel reflects the typical tactics of Ajit Doval. Arrested on spying for RAW in Baluchistan, his cover was blown when speaking in Marathi with his family. “Yadav, a commander-ranked officer in Indian Navy was working for RAW and was in contact with Baloch separatists and terrorists fuelling sectarian violence in Pakistan and Balochistan,” Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti told the media. (Local newspaper 25 March 2016)
“His goal was to disrupt development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), with Gwadar port as a special target,” Lt Gen Asim Bajwa said, “This is nothing short of state-sponsored terrorism… There can be no clearer evidence of Indian interference in Pakistan.” (Dawn March 31, 2016)
That the so-called Indian consulates in Afghanistan that are used to create trouble in Pakistan is a matter of public knowledge.
In the present scenario when Pakistan in involved in WOT within its borders, good intelligence is the need of the day. Yet there is a segment of the society that does not let go of any opportunity to run it down. Nowhere in the world have I seen citizens kicking their ace agency or making it a point of drawing room punching bag. Yes, there are screw-ups. Bound to happen in the sensitive nature of work involved-but other agencies of the world make worse mistakes. Let us remember the invasion and subsequent destruction of Iraq under Bush. It was a combination of wrongly analyzed information on Iraq’s WMD among a host of different reasons. Rice had claimed Saddam suddenly became, “a danger in the region where the 9/11 threat emerged.” The CIA director, George Tenet “conjured up a n a deceitful National Intelligence Estimate issued on Oct. 1, 2002. The NIE’s main purpose was to deceive Congress into authorizing war on Iraq, which Congress did just ten days later.” (Ray McGovern May 18, 2015) Asked by ‘Tell me More’ host Michel Martin about Iraq, Rice responded, “”The intelligence was as clear as any intelligence I’ve ever seen and I’ve been in this business a long time. … When you had intelligence assessments that said Saddam Hussein has reconstituted his biological and chemical weapons and could reconstitute his nuclear weapon in a year if he got foreign assistance — by the end of the decade if he didn’t — I’ve actually never seen clearer indications than that.
“The problem is, the intelligence wasn’t right.”
Coming back to ISI, “During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, the CIA worked closely with the ISI to arm, train and fund the mujahedeen. Between them, they drove the Russians out of Afghanistan and helped bring down the Soviet Union. There can be no closer relationship between two countries’ spy agencies than that. The CIA knows, and has long known, the ISI — perhaps better than any other country’s intelligence services.”(Myra McDonald in Reuters August1, 2008)
In retrospect, one may question the decision to support CIA in this creation; the fact remains that that was the decision of the then government. ISI delivered on its task allotted. Pakistan was the most trusted of the trusted allies to US in helping ‘handle’ Afghanistan- now the ground realities are different, trusted allies are different and Pakistan is left fighting terrorism within her own borders-on her own.
Another sore point that needs to be addressed is the presence of Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad that raised serious questions as to how the premier agency could possibly have been unaware of his presence virtually under the GHQ nose. Former ISI Chief, Gen. Asad Durrani said the following to Al-Jazeera Television,” My assessment was that it is quite possible they did not know, but it was more probable that they did — and the idea was that at the right time, his location would be revealed. The right time would be if you could get the right quid pro quo. If you had someone like Osama bin Laden, you are unlikely to hand him over to the United States. The quid pro quo to my mind … ‘you get your Osama bin Laden, now let’s agree on how to bring the Afghan problem to an end.’” (Abu Bakar Siddique October 18, 2016)
The agencies secure, procure and analyze information; this in turn helps in preventing security breach of any kind, supporting their governments is protecting the nation from economic and political damage.
The increased trouble in Afghanistan, sharing a porous border with Pakistan, India’s continuous hostile attitude towards Pakistan, to the point of ridiculous, capturing gas balloons, pigeons and whatnot allegedly from Pakistan (the fact that an overdrive to accuse Pakistan of all and sundry resulting in its back firing has obviously escaped RAW) but hostile nonetheless, CPEC coming up creating nightmares for many, changing geopolitical alliances, all require a very strong intelligence gathering in Pakistan.
Let us also not forget that sometimes in 1992, ‘General Brent Scowcroft, former national security advisor to US Presidents’ Ford and George H.W. Bush, reportedly conceded that the ISI’s assessment of Saddam’s forces was closer to the mark than their own, which highly exaggerated Saddam’s capacity.’
So when people question the presence, scope and operations by ISI, not different from any other agency in the world, only executing it much better- I pause to ask: why and why now? Tell you what; it is a dirty world out there. A world full of layers and layers of lies, deceit, spies, enemies of Pakistan who would not stop to any length to do any and every damage to our country. Our boys fight a dirty fight. Moreover, guess what, I do not care what it takes and like me, millions do not either, so long they keep our country safe from her enemies-both internal and external; including Mulla Abdul Aziz.
The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.’ She can be contacted at: email@example.com and tweets at @yasmeen_9.