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Vol II Issue I

The 1st Anniversary Edition

May 2003

I N S I D E


Spotlight 

Romeet K Watt

 

Editorial

 

Feature     

K.T.N.S

                   

View Point      

K P S Gill

 

On Track

Sumer Kaul

         

Exclusive

Spl. Report

 

Analysis

Sawraj Singh

 

State Craft

Yashwant Sinha

 

Perspective

M V Kamath

 

Last Word

Ram Puniyani

                            


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E X C L U S I V E

I.S.I: From Pakistan, with love

Special Report


Pakistan’s 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.

His 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.

Mahmood 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 last week.

General 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.

Pakistan 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.

But 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.

Under 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.

The 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.

Coupled 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.

The 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.

General 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.

One 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 hijacker.

Writing 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 September 11.

“What 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.”

“The 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 "reshuffling."

He 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."

According 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.

“The 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 "go-between".

These 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.

But 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.

Probably 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.

 By arrangement with South Asia Tribune  

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