From Pakistan, with love
chief spy, head of the famous Inter Services Intelligence Agency
(ISI), General Ehsan ul Haq, will be spending the next 3-4 days with
his counter-parts in the American CIA, discussing issues crucial to
the future of Pak-US and Indo-Pakistan relations.
visit, at the invitation of the CIA Chief, will be his first but
will be following a pattern of similar visit by previous ISI chiefs.
At least two of them, Lt. General Khwaja Ziauddin and Lt. General
Mahmood Ahmed, were removed from ISI shortly after they returned to
Pakistan. Ziauddin was first named army chief by then Prime Minister
Nawaz Sharif, but was not allowed by General Musharraf to take over
and was arrested.
was retired shortly before the US launched its attacks on
Afghanistan in October because of his suspected links with Taliban
and Al-Qaeda leadership. He was said to be under house arrest for
some days, a fact which he did not deny when he presented himself
before Islamabad journalists at a rare dinner he hosted for them
Ehsan’s visit comes at a time when Washington is pressing Pakistan
hard to stop what the Indians call cross-border terrorism and
Pakistanis describe as indigenous freedom struggle of the Kashmiris.
has also climbed down from its position of “No talks” before the
“Core Issue” of Kashmir was on the table. Islamabad has also
offered to resume trade and many other ‘confidence building
measures” , CBMs as they are called, to ease tensions in the
region and start a dialogue on Kashmir with Prime Minister
Vajpayee’s government who says he is giving Pakistan the last
chance of a peaceful solution.
General Ehsan will have a hard time first explaining and then
assuring his hosts that his organization would not repeat what many
US and western intelligence experts allege was a “double game”
played by ISI, with US and with India.
the new scenario, ISI will have to ensure that the outlawed
terrorist outfits active in Indian held Kashmir do not get support
from Pakistan in any form or shape, something which will be very
hard for General Ehsan to guarantee.
State Department recently declared Sipah Sihaba and more importantly
Hizb Mujahideen, the militant wing of now politically powerful
Jamaat Islami, as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), besides
others. This means it will now be ISI’s duty to ensure that these
outfits do not operate inside Pakistan, do not raise funds or
manpower, do not supply the Kashmiri fighters with weapons and money
and do not cross the Line of Control.
with these tough demands on Kashmir, the US side would also seek
assurances and guarantees that ISI was not playing a double game on
the western border with Afghanistan where General Pervez Musharraf
last week claimed Osama bin Laden may still be alive and hiding.
biggest challenge to General Ehsan would be the demand, in some form
or shape, to purge the ISI of fanatics and radicals at the middle
and lower ranks. Or if that has already been done, provide evidence
that the purge was real and effective.
Ehsan would also be making a lot of explanations as researchers and
academics have been making serious allegations against his
organization and its role, in both pre and post 9/11 periods.
such research, done by Michel Chossudovsky, a Professor of
Economics, University of Ottawa for the Center for Research on
Globalization (CRG), Montréal, Canada, accused the ISI and General
Mahmood of being in direct link with Mohammed Atta, the main 9/11
about General Mahmood’s visit shortly before 9/11, Chossudovsky
said Pakistan's chief spy Lt. General Mahmood Ahmad "was in the
US when the attacks occurred." He arrived in the US on the 4th
of September, a full week before the attacks. He had meetings at the
State Department "after" the attacks on the WTC. But he
also had "a regular visit of consultations" with his US
counterparts at the CIA and the Pentagon during the week prior to
was the nature of these routine "pre-September 11
consultations"? Were they in any way related to the subsequent
"post-September 11 consultations" pertaining to Pakistan's
decision to cooperate with Washington. Was the planning of war being
discussed between Pakistani and US officials? On the 9th of
September while General Ahmad was in the US, the leader of the
Northern Alliance Commander Ahmad Shah Masood was assassinated. The
Northern Alliance had informed the Bush Administration that the ISI
was allegedly implicated in the assassination.”
Bush Administration consciously took the decision in "the post
September 11 consultations" with Lt. General Mahmood Ahmad to
directly "cooperate" with Pakistan's military intelligence
(ISI) despite its links to Osama bin Laden and the Taliban and its
alleged role in the assassination of Commander Masood, which
coincidentally occurred two days before the terrorist attacks,”
the Canadian Professor wrote, noting that on the Sunday prior to Oct
7 bombing on Afghanistan, Lt. General Mahmood Ahmad was sacked from
his position as head of the ISI in what was described as a routine
also quoted a report published in the Times of India, allegedly
revealing the links between Pakistan's Chief spy Lt. General Mahmood
Ahmad and the presumed "ring leader" of the WTC attacks
Mohamed Atta. The ToI article was based on an official intelligence
report of the Delhi government that had been transmitted through
official channels to Washington. AFP then reported: "The
evidence we [the Government of India] have supplied to the US is of
a much wider range and depth than just one piece of paper linking a
rogue general to some misplaced act of terrorism."
to the Canadian Professor in assessing the alleged links between the
terrorists and the ISI, “it should be understood that Lt. General
Ahmad as head of the ISI was a "US approved appointee". As
head of the ISI since 1999, he was in liaison with his US
counterparts in the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and
the Pentagon. Also bear in mind that Pakistan's ISI remained
throughout the entire post Cold War era until the present, the
launch-pad for CIA covert operations in the Caucasus, Central Asia
and the Balkans.
existence of an "ISI-Osama-Taliban axis" was a matter of
public record. The links between the ISI and agencies of the US
government including the CIA are also a matter of public record. The
Bush Administration was fully cognizant of Lt. General Ahmad's role.
In other words, rather than waging a campaign against international
terrorism, the evidence would suggest that it is indirectly abetting
international terrorism, using the Pakistani ISI as a
charges, wild they may seem in the present context, have been
circulating in Washington for some time and General Ehsan would have
to answer many of the questions raised by his hosts in this context.
what would be of utmost importance and concern to the US is the
latest “rehabilitation” of General Mahmood, in the form of a
cushy corporate position as head of Fauji Fertilizer, the
multi-billion rupees business corporation run by ex-army men.
to lessen some of the US concerns, Mahmood invited journalists to
his home last week and spoke to them for the first time, in tones
which showed defiance to General Musharraf. He did not want to be
seen as being rehabilitated by Musharraf, though in practice he has
been. “My boss is greater than the man you are referring to,” he
told reporters when asked who was the boss who appointed him.
arrangement with South Asia Tribune