Thursday, October 15, 2009
Pakistan's Intelligence Failures Amidst Daily Carnage
The best way to stop the increasing carnage on the streets of Pakistan, at least in the short term, is to stop the terrorist attacks well before they occur. Unfortunately, however, the intelligence agencies which are supposed to frustrate the blood-thirsty attackers appear totally ineffective, even paralyzed. The agencies, including the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB), are caught in a continuing power struggle between the civilian political elite and the military brass for control, even as terror strikes on a daily basis, claiming dozens of innocent lives.
While the battle for the control of ISI is making headlines with the well-publicized conditions attached to the recent US aid bill at the urging of Pakistan's Ambassador Haqqani, what is less well known is the disgraceful attempt by President Zardari to pack the IB and the Interior ministry with his cronies.
Let's look at the story of Shoaib Suddle, who is known to be very close to Zardari. Suddle was the Karachi Police Chief in September, 1996, when Murtaza Ali Bhutto, the younger brother of Benazir, who was challenging the role of Zardari in the PPP, was allegedly killed by the police in an apparently planned ambush. Suddle is one of the accused in the murder case filed in this connection. Suddle was appointed by Zardari in June, 2008, to head the IB, in spite of strong opposition from Prime Minister Gilani and against the advice of the military. He was given an extension of two years after he reached retirement age. In April this year, a Pakistan Supreme Court judge set aside the extension given to him and other police officers facing trial in connection with the murder of Murtaza Bhutto. In spite of this rebuff by the apex court, he was taken to the US and Europe by Zardari along with the Director General of the ISI. Shortly after his return from the trip with Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani had Suddle replaced by Javed Noor as the DGIB in deference to the Supreme Court judgment.
Pakistan's top law enforcement officer and Zardari's man responsible for internal security is Interior Minister Rehman Malik. Malik was the person responsible for the personal security of Benazir Bhutto when she returned to Pakistan under a deal with former President Musharraf brokered by the US in 2007. After the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, there were accusations of lax security against Rehman Malik, and serious questions were raised about his absence from the scene of the deadly attack in Rawalpindi. In his current role as Interior Minister, Malik's effectiveness is hampered by the fact that he has had a rocky relationship with the ISI since the 1990s, when he was the deputy chief of the FIA.
Even as the Pakistani Army prepares a counterinsurgency campaign in FATA, it is extremely important to have serious intelligence professionals working together to gain the necessary knowledge to disrupt and disable the terrorist networks, which appear to be spreading to the heartland of Pakistan's Punjab province.
As the nation bleeds like never before, it is the prime need of the hour for both the military and political leaders in Pakistan to start seriously cooperating on matters of coordinated intelligence gathering and concerted counter-terror strategy, organization, plans and actions.
There is also a sense of urgency to initiate longer term actions to address the underlying causes of terror by offering alternatives to the young people who are recruited as suicide bombers, wreaking havoc on innocent lives on almost daily basis.
Feudal Punjab Fertile For Terror
Spy versus Spy
Islamabad Marriott Bombing
Questions About Rehman Malik
Can Pakistani Military Defeat the Terrorists?
Murtaza Bhutto's Murder
National Commission For Counter-terrorism