Thursday, August 24, 2017

Pakistan ISI: The Bogeyman of Afghanistan?

British Afghan war veteran Major Robert Gallimore says he saw no presence of Pakistan's intelligence service ISI in Afghanistan. The Afghan Army saw the " imagined nefarious hand" and "bogeyman" of Pakistan everywhere but he never saw it. He "saw not one piece of evidence" of it. It was all in their minds.

British Army Major Robert Gallimore with Afghan Soldiers

During his three tours of duty in Afghanistan, he could hear all the radio conversations going on but never heard any Pakistani accent. He did, however, see "buckets and buckets of money" and rising Indian influence in Afghan Army that blamed Pakistan for all their problems. Pakistan is their bogeyman.

The Afghan Army says they'll feel good when they can "invade Pakistan". They do not blame the British but the Pakistanis for Durand Line that they do not recognize.

Major Gallimore sees the emergence of an India-Pakistan 21st century "Great Game" similar to its British-Russian predecessor. Many Afghans support creation of Pashtunistan by annexing northern part of Pakistan into Afghanistan. They blame Pakistan for the Durand Line, not the British or their own leaders who agreed to it. As a result, Maj Gallimore warns that Afghanistan has become much more volatile and dangerous than ever before.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUyCTJI_f-A





Related Links:

Haq's Musings

What is the Haqqani Network?

Trump's Afghan Strategy: Will Pakistan Yield to US Pressure?

Why is India Sponsoring Terror in Pakistan?

Karan Thapar Debunks Indian Narrative of Kulbhushan Yadav

Mullah Mansoor Akhtar Killing in US Drone Strike

Gen Petraeus Debunks Charges of Pakistani Duplicity

Husain Haqqani vs Riaz Haq on India vs Pakistan

Impact of Trump's Top Picks on Pakistan

Husain Haqqani Advising Trump on Pakistan Policy?

Gall-Haqqani-Paul Narrative on Pakistan

Pakistan-China-Russia vs India-US-Japan

Robert Gates' Straight Talk on Pakistan

14 comments:

Germaine said...

ISI doesn't make direct radio contact on the field or in the sphere of conflict. If it did, it would be a below par agency.
Communication is always through convuluted channels and via intermediaries.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan #PTI chief #ImranKhan's Interview with CNN's Hala Gorani about Trump's #AfghanStrategy

There are at most 2000 to 3,000 Haqqani insurgents that Pakistan is being accused of harboring.

The facts is Pakistan is a scapegoat for the failure of 150,000 NATO troops including 100,000 US troops in Afghanistan.

Pakistan can do without US aid that has been extremely costly in terms of human and economic losses to the country.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFEPCPi1So8

Riaz Haq said...

Trump locks America into its forever war by Fareed Zakaria

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-signs-on-to-the-forever-war-in-afghanistan/2017/08/24/64684004-890e-11e7-a94f-3139abce39f5_story.html?utm_term=.60d573fc3511

A leading expert on Afghanistan policy, Barnett Rubin, who has advised the United Nations and the U.S. government, explains the problem as he sees it. “The Afghan state cannot exist without outside help,” he told me. “It cannot pay its bills without the U.S. government. It cannot have a stable society without Pakistan’s help. It cannot grow economically without trade and transit with Iran.” Referring to reports that Afghanistan is endowed with nearly $1 trillion in mineral resources, he observed, “I’m sure the moon has even more mineral wealth, but you need a way to get it out to markets. And for that, you need friendly neighbors.” Rubin believes that Trump’s approach is doomed because it seems utterly unilateral, willfully oblivious to the interests of the other powers in the region, especially Russia, China and Iran.

Trump’s remarks on Pakistan were seen by many as a strong break from the previous administration, but people appear to have forgotten the unusually blunt testimony that Adm. Mike Mullen, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, gave to Congress in 2011. He called the Haqqani network, one of the most dangerous terrorist groups in Afghanistan, “a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.” That same year, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then-CIA Director David Petraeus both went to Pakistan to, in Clinton’s words, “push the Pakistanis very hard” to end their support for militant groups in Afghanistan. That was one in a series of actions that outraged the Pakistanis, causing them to shut down supply routes to U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan for seven months.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has doubled down on more of the same. More money, bombs, troops, pressure on Pakistan and tough love for the Afghans. It is a tactical approach, designed by generals, to ensure that they do not lose. But it does not even pretend to contain a strategy to win. In other words, half a century later, at a lower human cost, the United States has replicated its strategy in Vietnam. Call it quagmire-lite.

Jon said...

Well stated and the British Major somehow didn't take pictures or videos of "buckets of Indian money" either!!

Riaz Haq said...

Jon: "Well stated and the British Major somehow didn't take pictures or videos of "buckets of Indian money" either!!"

Here's ex US Def Sec Chuck Hagel talking about it:

"India has always used Afghanistan as a second front against Pakistan. India has over the years been financing problems in Pakistan".

Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGvXPgXsKTE

Riaz Haq said...

Analysis | #Trump says #Pakistan ‘harbors terrorists.’ The real story isn't so simple. #US pressure will not work

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/08/28/trump-says-pakistan-harbors-terrorists-the-real-story-isnt-so-simple/?utm_term=.34fa02475ba4

If Pakistan had a conscious policy of allowing a “haven for terrorists” in its territory, U.S. pressure might persuade the leadership to change it. Because the current situation reflects complicated domestic politics and any shift would probably result in pushback from the powerful military, the changes Washington wants are not likely to happen.

The United States has been putting pressure on Pakistan for decades, and neither tough words nor threats to cut off aid have worked for long. That suggests Pakistani leaders appear more afraid of a backlash from their society and military than they are of U.S. anger.

This does not bode well for the Trump administration’s new Afghanistan strategy. Stabilizing Afghanistan will be much easier with a cooperative Pakistan, but that is unlikely to happen. Instead of making threats, U.S. policymakers would be better off working out whatever temporary arrangements they can with Pakistan, realizing the constraints of Pakistan’s leaders — and perhaps considering other options that do not rely on Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01ghm5V3Wn4

Here's part of Gen Petraeus' response: "I looked very very hard then (as US commander in Afghanistan) and again as CIA director at the nature of the relationship between the various (militant) groups in FATA and Baluchistan and the Pakistan Army and the ISI and I was never convinced of what certain journalists have alleged (about ISI support of militant groups in FATA).... I have talked to them (journalists) asked them what their sources are and I have not been able to come to grips with that based on what I know from these different positions (as US commander and CIA director)".

Shawn Goodwin said...

You cannot mask the truth by hocus pocus. The world (except Pakistanis) is quite aware of the truth.

Pakistan's support of the Taliban". Human Rights Watch 2000:
"Of all the foreign powers involved in efforts to sustain and manipulate the ongoing fighting [in Afghanistan], Pakistan is distinguished both by the sweep of its objectives and the scale of its efforts, which include soliciting funding for the Taliban, bankrolling Taliban operations, providing diplomatic support as the Taliban's virtual emissaries abroad, arranging training for Taliban fighters, recruiting skilled and unskilled manpower to serve in Taliban armies, planning and directing offensives, providing and facilitating shipments of ammunition and fuel, and ... directly providing combat support."

"The Taliban were largely founded by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) during 1994. The I.S.I. used the Taliban to establish a regime in Afghanistan which would be favorable to Pakistan, as they were trying to gain strategic depth. Since the creation of the Taliban, the ISI and the Pakistani military have given financial, logistical and military support."
- Pape, Robert A (2010). Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It. University of Chicago Press. pp. 140–141. ISBN 978-0-226-64560-5.

According to Pakistani Afghanistan expert Ahmed Rashid, "between 1994 and 1999, an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 Pakistanis trained and fought in Afghanistan" on the side of the Taliban. Peter Tomsen stated that up until 9/11 Pakistani military and ISI officers along with thousands of regular Pakistani armed forces personnel had been involved in the fighting in Afghanistan.

........and so on and so forth.


Riaz Haq said...

SG: "Pakistan's support of the Taliban". Human Rights Watch 2000:
"Of all the foreign powers involved in efforts to sustain and manipulate the ongoing fighting [in Afghanistan], Pakistan is distinguished both by the sweep of its objectives "

You are talking about the situation pre-911 when Pakistan and several other countries, including US, supported various militant groups and the US government even tried to facilitate a pipeline deal between UNOCAL and the Taliban. Ahmad Rashid has written about all of this in his book on "The Taliban"

Major Robert Gallinore of the British Army is talking about what he observed in his three tours of duty after 911.




Riaz Haq said...

Two new books on Pakistan’s ISI and its ‘War for National Survival’

by BY THOMAS E. RICKS OCTOBER 4, 2017

http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/10/04/two-new-books-on-pakistans-isi-and-its-war-for-national-survival/

Former DIA Senior Intelligence Analyst Owen L. Sirrs’ Pakistan’s Inter-services Intelligence Directorate: Covert Action and Internal Operations is the strongest of the pair. Sirrs traces ISI’s “existential war for national survival” to the trauma of Partition, highlighting how many of Pakistan’s early military and intelligence leaders survived the dangerous trek to the new country. The ISI, a “start-up operation born out of a collapsed empire,” leveraged its ties with the CIA to build the capabilities it used to support covert action operations in neighboring India and Afghanistan. Sirrs’ discussion of the transformational role of the Afghan Program — from the early support to Islamists in 1973 through the 1991 creation of the Taliban — is strong, as are his descriptions of how Islamization undermined ISI internal discipline.

Sirrs works to “puncturing the myth of ISI as a ‘rogue’ agency operating beyond the knowledge and consent of national authorities.” He makes a convincing case that ISI operates under firm GCHQ (General Headquarters) control. I suspect, though, that Sirrs overestimates civilian leaders’ access and influence over ISI operations. Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif, and others tried to harness ISI against their enemies, but these attempts to manipulate the service fall far short of reliable control. With so little transparency into Pakistan’s civil-military relations, we are forced into a form of Kremlinology, weighing competing claims by players with every reason to spin.

----

The other book, Hein G. Kiessling’s Faith, Unity, Discipline: The ISI of Pakistan, could have been extraordinary. Kiessling lived in Pakistan for nearly two decades and had direct access to most former ISI Director Generals. He covers the same history as Sirrs (also dismissing allegations that the “strictly led and managed” service conducts rogue operations). In contrast to Sirrs’ chronological march through ISI’s development, Kiessling’s narrative veers between ISI’s organization, historical controversies, and personality clashes among military and civilian leaders. His on-the-record interviews of former ISI Directors, including the reclusive General Mahmood Ahmed, highlight service leaders’ continuing suspicions over civilian leaders’ competence and goodwill.

Unfortunately, Kiessling undermines his account with unsourced judgments and a low threshold for conspiracy theories. He dismisses accounts of ISI kidnappings and assassinations as political propaganda, proposes an unusually low estimate of ISI personnel strength, and asserts that “all fingers point towards the Americans” in the unsolved mystery of the 1988 plane crash that killed Pakistani President Zia-ul-Haq and U.S. Ambassador Arnold Raphel. Kiessling’s stated premise is that ISI is the unjustified target of “frenzied and often ill-informed discussion” and conspiracy theory, while the rival Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) is “largely let off the hook.”

In attempting to address this perceived imbalance, Kiessling allows his sources’ whoppers to go unchallenged. Thus, he republishes an ISI statement that the well-documented civilian disappearances in Baluchistan are either (a) nonexistent; (b) terrorists KIA, their bodies hidden by partners-in-crime; or (c) “mentally retarded individuals, who leave their homes and move to other parts of the country.” Elsewhere he cites claims that 9/11 was “an inside job.” The result is an unfocused narrative with some new insights, but one I would hesitate to consider reliable.

Riaz Haq said...

The Pakistani military has responded to a charge of having links to armed groups in South Asia, arguing that it is the job of intelligence agencies to maintain such connections, but rejected the notion that Pakistan supported groups such as the Afghan Taliban.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/10/pakistan-denies-allegations-supporting-armed-groups-171005170120696.html

Please understand, 'having links', and 'supporting' [armed groups] are two different things," said Major General Asif Ghafoor, the military's spokesperson, at a press conference in the northern garrison city of Rawalpindi.

"Name an intelligence agency of any country that does not have links [to armed groups]. Everyone does. If you have the links to finish the threat, then that is a positive contribution."

Ghafoor was responding to comments made on Tuesday by General Joseph Dunford, the US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who told the US Senate Armed Services Committee that he believed Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency maintained links to armed groups.

"It is clear to me that the ISI has connections with terrorist groups," he said, referring to groups that are actively engaged in the Afghan conflict, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network.

Ghafoor stressed that while the connections may exist, that did not constitute support.

"[US officials] did not say that the ISI is supporting [armed groups]," the Pakistani general said.

Earlier on Thursday, the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs also denied that Pakistan was supporting armed groups in neighbouring Afghanistan or on its soil.

"We have time and again rejected these allegations. Pakistan has done enough to erase the footprint of terrorism from its soil through indiscriminate counterterrorism operations against all terrorist outfits," said spokesperson Nafees Zakaria at a separate press briefing.

Riaz Haq said...

THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE > OPINION
Pakistan has friends in Kabul
By Taimur ShamilPublished: January 25, 2018

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1617144/6-pakistan-friends-kabul/

After returning from my recent trip to Kabul, many people that I met back home were concerned about Pakistan’s image in Kabul — opportunities for cooperation and the intensity of anti-Pakistan sentiment in Afghanistan. My answer to them was simple. Pakistan, socially and politically, has friends in Kabul and the opportunities for Pakistan are many, if we try.

Here are the facts: in terms of social relations, every day between 2,000 to 3,000 visas are issued from Kabul alone to Pakistan. The numbers of visas issued from the rest of Pakistani consulates are additional, that may vary from 800 to 1,000 as per Pakistani officials. The Afghans who travel on these visas are usually travelling for health and educational reasons. The patients who travel to Pakistan feel more comfortable in Pakistan than any other country. The reasons being obvious, most of them share the same culture, language, religion and most of the times clans and tribes as well. Also that many of them have been frequently travelling to Pakistan for the last many years. Majority of them have their families in Pakistan that either migrated during the Soviet-Afghan war or later during the last decade. These Afghans who come to Pakistan also find Pakistan economically affordable as compared to other countries in the region. It is to be kept in mind that most of the Afghans live in abject poverty and lack basic health facilities. Therefore, Pakistan is the logical and economical option.

Interestingly almost every third person that I met, Dari (Persian spoken in Afghanistan) dominated, Kabul could speak and understand Urdu. Most of the people who could speak Urdu were young Afghans. They had either been educated or had spent considerable time doing jobs in Pakistan. They have good memories attached to the neighbouring country which welcomed and hosted them.

After meeting the young Afghans, I realised that when it comes to Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, higher education is Pakistan’s strength. While Pakistan has itself improved the quality of higher education, it has worked on giving scholarships to Afghan students who want to pursue their academic ambitions. Islamabad is generally multi-linguistic city and multi-ethnic as well. One can find Hazaras, Persian speaking, and Pakhtuns in large numbers in different universities of the capital. This naturally gives the Afghan students a conducive environment to blend in.

Last year the Higher Education Commission announced scholarships to 3,000 Afghan students and a large number of those are females. These young students are the bridges and ambassadors of peace between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and a huge potential for the future of democracy and peace in Afghanistan. The tapping of this potential needs the Foreign Office’s attention now more than ever.

A lot of Pakistanis are concerned about anti-Pakistan sentiments brewing in Kabul. The concerns are, no doubt, justified and show Pakistan’s concern and urge to improve its relations with the people of Afghanistan. After all, Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghan refugees over the decades and expects that the refugees become the ambassadors of goodwill between the two countries when they return to their home country. For that Pakistan too needs consideration on smooth transition of refugees from Pakistani soil to Afghanistan. It doesn’t need to be rough and loaded with blame. That ruins the very spirit with which Pakistan hosted them for decades.

Riaz Haq said...

CIA's Ex Officer Michael Scheuer Talks About Pakistan's ISI



There continues to be a concerted effort by some western and Indian governments and the mainstream media to demonize the ISI, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency of Pakistan. Some Pakistanis, particularly Pakistani liberals, are also part of this anti-ISI campaign.

To put unrelenting attacks on the ISI in perspective, let's read some excerpts from an interview of ex CIA officer and chief Bin Laden hunter Michael Scheuer on ISI, and watch the following video:

1. ISI is like all other intelligence services--like the Australian service or the American service.

2. ISI works for the interest of their country, not to help other countries.

3. The idea that ISI is a rogue organization is very popular--and even the Pakistanis promote it---but having worked with ISI for the better part of 20 years, I know the ISI is very disciplined and very able intelligence agency.

4. Pakistanis can not leave the area (AfPak) when we (Americans) do. They have to try and stabilize Afghanistan with a favorable Islamic government so they can move their 100,000 troops from their western border to the eastern border with India which---whether we like it or not, they see as a bigger threat.

5. We (US) have created the mess in South Asia and the Pakistanis have to sort it out. Our (US) problems in Afghanistan are of our own making.

6. Al Qaeda has grown from just one platform (Afghanistan in 2001) to six platforms now.

https://youtu.be/-ncg9ks-MQE

http://www.riazhaq.com/2015/03/cias-ex-officer-michael-scheuer-talks.html

Riaz Haq said...

#Tajik, #Uzbek say #IamnotAfghan. #Afghanistan #eTazkira

https://www.thenational.ae/world/asia/afghanistan-s-identity-crisis-erupts-on-social-media-1.706857

It is a single word that outsiders commonly use to refer to nationals of Afghanistan. Its formal placement on the country's long-planned electronic identity card, however, has inspired a hashtag and arguments that reflect a national divide: #IAmNotAfghan.

President Ashraf Ghani and First Lady Rula Ghani became the first citizens to apply for the new card last week. But the proposed use of the word Afghan on its face may scupper the entire multi-million dollar project.

"I am from Afghanistan, but I am not Afghan," Aslam Niazy, a young citizen from Jowzjan province, wrote in a Facebook post, in three different national languages, on Monday. His post ignited a debate about ethnicity and identity among his friends on the social network, which has since spread across the country, reflecting a schism that continues to threaten Afghanistan’s unity.

Despite its initially apparent accuracy, members of minority ethnic groups equate "Afghan" as a synonymous and historic reference of Pashtun ethnicity, a group that makes up more than a third of the population.

"Those who oppose consider that the word Afghan is a reference to one community of Afghanistan and so cannot represent the identity of all citizens," said Ghulam Ali Danishgar, a sociologist in the capital Kabul. "However, geographically we are Afghans."

Across the world, citizens of Afghanistan are also largely and commonly referred to as Afghans. The nation's full name - The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan - also appears along the top of the card.

Although the country is riven by suicide attacks from the Taliban and ISIL insurgents the cards were primarily devised to help provide better access to public services rather than as a means to improve security.

Known locally as eTazkira, a reference to the existing paper identity document - needed to get water, electricity, education or housing - the electronic card's introduction has been delayed for years because of ethnic sensitivities.

"It's not just about the word, but about the appeasement of the Pashtun nationalists' groups," says Tahir Qadiry, head of Mitra TV and a senior adviser to Atta Noor, the recently ousted governor of Balkh province, who is an ethnic Tajik and opponent of the identity card scheme.

"Even though Ghani is a Pashtun himself, he has always showed himself to be democratic and not a nationalist. But now when he finds himself losing the Pashtun support, he is using the politics of identity to regain the Pashtun majority," added Mr Qadiry.

Other opponents include the infamous warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, who despite reputedly being in exile in Turkey retains the title of vice president, and Mohammad Mohaqeq, another anti-Soviet era fighter turned politician. Both them and Noor are planning to boycott the identity card scheme in their constituencies.

And Afghanistan's chief executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah, while not outright critical of the new cards, had called on the government to postpone the launch, pending further consultation.

There is also a broader political interest as the cards should help reduce voter fraud which is rampant in elections. The election commission lacks accurate data and fair voting and ballot counting is a subject of regular dispute, with "ghost votes" a major problem. The electronic cards would also help create a census; the last full one was in 1979 and several attempts since have fallen short.

In an attempt to avoid discord it was proposed near the end of 2017 that the ethnicity of the cardholder would be featured alongside the nationality reference. However, that amendment was also opposed and rejected by several parliamentarians.