South Asia Research and Analysis Studies

ISI and national security
Sajjad Shaukat

Every country has a superior intelligence agency to protect the national security of the state. It not only copes with foreign anti-state elements, but also fights the psychological warfare including internal enemies. No army can fight without the support of an efficient secret agency which collects and assesses information in a most reliable manner. American CIA, Russian KGB, British MI-6 etc. might be cited as an instance. In these terms, especially since 9/11, the role of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) was further increased to protect the country from external and internal threat, while fighting war against terrorism. In this respect, Pakistan has been facing multiple subversive acts being conducted by secret agencies like American CIA Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad which have been creating unrest in our country on massive scale. Penetration of foreign agents along with sophisticated weaponry, suicide attacks and targeted killings have become every day occurrence in the country.

When Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha became the Director General of the ISI in September, 2008, he took a number of steps to further improve the efficiency of the agency, responsible for collecting information and providing critical national security intelligence assessment to the Pakistan government. First of all, Gen. Pasha closed the internal wing of the agency. At that time, intermittently, US high officials and media have been accusing Pakistan’s army and our superior spy agency of close contacts with the Afghan Taliban and cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan. Under the pretext of these false allegations, US top officials started insisting upon Pakistan that ISI should be restructured. In this connection, the then Assistant Secretary of State, Richard Boucher had stated that ISI needed to be reformed. But when ISI DG, Shuja Pasha refused to restructure the agency on the pattern of US, blame game by America and India intensified against the agency and its chief.

It was due to the rejection of American undue demands by Gen. Pasha and his positive performance to protect the national interests of the country that with the tactical support of CIA, RAW and Mossad accelerated subversive acts in Pakistan, especially targeting ISI sub-headquarters, located in Lahore, Multan and Peshawar besides attacking the personnel of the agency at various places. At the same time, Islamabad continued its counter-terrorism and intelligence sharing cooperation with America. In this regard, ISI captured a number of renowned Al Qaeda commanders in Pakistan, and foiled many terrorist attempts through pre-arrests of the militants.

Despite all of this, under the supervision of Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha, ISI prefered the external and internal security of Pakistan. Externally, through its invisible mechanism, it castigated the anti-Pakistan plot of the US India and Israel—also against China and became an obstacle in the secret strategic designs of these hostile elements. Internally, ISI has thwarted the anti-Pakistan activities of the agents of Blackwater-US notorious private security firm in the country. Under the pretext of providing security to its embassies, US had deployed a network of espionage in Pakistan. In this respect, Blackwater and CIA started recruiting Pakistani nationals who were vulnerable and could work on their payroll. In this context, with the pre-information of ISI, Pakistan’s police and other security agencies arrested a number of agents. For instance, on September 19, 2009, police raided the Inter-Risk, a private security company in Islamabad, and arrested its two employees, namely Tauqeer and Muhammad Khan, possessing unlicensed shotguns, handguns and ammunition. On the other side, US embassy spokesperson Richard Snelsire pretended, “The US contract with the Inter-Risk is to provide security at the embassy and consulates.”

Besides, on many occasions, ISI helped in stopping the secret activities of the CIA agents who were traveling in vehicles, covered with black mirrors—showing themselves as diplomats. Sometimes weapons were snatched from them, and sometimes they were sent back to Islamabad. Meanwhile, Gen. Shuja Pasha became a special target of CIA and RAW. In this context, with the backing of Indo-Israeli lobbies, a case was filed against Pasha in New York, accusing him of facilitating the Mumbai bombings of November 26, 2008, which was, in fact, arranged by the non-stat actors in connivance with RAW. Question arises as to why a case was not registered against the US ex-President Bush and President Obama who were responsible for the illegal occupation of Iraq and massacre of thousands of people there including Afghanistan and other Islamic countries in the name of war on terror.

However, during his meeting with the CIA Director Michael Morell in July, 2011, Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha flatly told that we would continue anti-terror and intelligence sharing cooperation between the two agencies, but would never tolerate a private ‘network’ the CIA is secretly maintaining in Pakistan. In the aftermath of the Osama’s death on May 2011, US and Indian rulers including their media intensified their campaign against Pak Army and ISI. In this regard, in the in-camera session of the parliament, Islamabad decided to review its relationship with the United States. BBC quoted DG ISI Shuja Pasha, saying that Osama’s compound in Abbottbad was registered under a fake name. Earlier, he said that after the Tora Bora operation, Osama Bin Laden became an enemy of Pakistan. Nevertheless, it was US intelligence failure as its CIA which is well-equipped with modern technology failed in detecting Osama in ten years. According to BBC, Pasha explained, “Nobody expressed their condolences over the 78 officials of the ISI who have been killed.”

It is of particular attention that it was due to the professional competence of ISI under the Shuja Pasha in foiling the anti-Pakistan conspiracy that US and India accelerated their propaganda against him and the agency. In this connection, in the recent past, US Admiral Mike Mullen (R) alleged that the Haqqani network is waging a ‘proxy war’ in Afghanistan with the assistance of ISI, and blamed for an assault on the US embassy in Kabul on September 20, 2011. But US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton admitted that there was no evidence about ISI about the bombing of US embassy, while US top officials are still alleging this agency for cross-border terrorism. It shows American double game not only with Pakistan, but also with is superior spy agency. Meanwhile, while briefing the participants of the All Parties Conference, ISI Chief indicated that Haqqani network has no presence in Pakistan as it has its base in Afghanistan. Pak Army and civil government also rejected US pressure tactics to do more against the Haqqani network in the North Waziristan as suggested by ISI Chief Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha. Besides, when on November 26, 2011, unprovoked air firing by the US-led NATO on Pakistan Army outposts in Mohmand Agency killed 24 troops, Pakistan decided to review its engagement with the US and its other allies. For this purpose, the envoys’ conference deliberated on the country’s foreign policy on December 12, 2011, and ISI Chief Lt. Gen. Pasha briefed the participants about the intentional NATO strikes.

Notably, it is most regrettable that without knowing the ground realities and the services of ISI, just like the foreign enemy and their media, our rulers, some political leaders and media anchors are disreputing Pak Army—particularly ISI DG Shuja Pasha in connection with the memogate issue, while Gen. Pasha has left it to the Supreme Court to decide the case. In this context, what the difference one can note between our political leaders and media anchors who speak in tone of Pakistan’s external enemies in maligning ISI and its chief. It seems that some of our politicians and journalists are either on the payroll of US-led anti-Pakistan entities or they want to get good coverage in the western media by targeting ISI. No doubt their such acts are benefiting the US and India which want to create a division between Pakistan’s civil and security agencies so as to cause further unrest in the country. Instead of implicating ISI and its DG, Shuja Pasha, our internal elements must better know the services of this intelligence agency in thwarting various conspiracies against the integrity of the Pakistan, especially against its nuclear assets. Despite its limited resources as compared to CIA, RAW and Mossad, ISI has never failed in its goals. No doubt, ISI is essential for national security of Pakistan.