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.

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


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.

Riaz Haq said...

Trump locks America into its forever war by Fareed Zakaria

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:

Riaz Haq said...

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

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...

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’


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.

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.