Spy vs. spy syndrome
Sultan M Hali


The current standoff between CIA and ISI reminds one of Spy vs. Spy, a black and white comic strip that debuted in Mad magazine in the early 1960s. The strip, created by Antonio Prohias, provided insight to his views on the Castro regime and the CIA (who were constantly attempting to oust Fidel Castro).

The comic strip always features two spies, who are completely identical except for the fact that one is dressed in white and the other black. The pair is constantly warring with each other, using a variety of booby traps to inflict harm on the other. In the cold war era, the strip alternating between victory and defeat for each spy, depicted KGB and CIA.
The current sparring between ISI and CIA is also reminiscent of the Spy vs. Spy syndrome. The professional partnership between the duo to tackle the onslaught of terror now appears to have soured and degenerated into tit for tat actions; following the arrest of CIA operative Raymond Davis, who was caught red handed after murdering two Pakistanis, and the CIA sponsored Operation Geronimo to get Osama bin Laden clandestinely from Abbottabad. After pressurising Pakistan to release Davis, within hours of his safe egress, the CIA hit back by launching its most deadly drone attack in the Pakistani territory killing 47 people. Following the Osama episode, CIA Chief Leon Panetta accused the ISI of being incompetent or complicit in sheltering the Al-Qaeda chief. In response, Pakistan asked the US government to cut down on its huge army of CIA operatives meandering through the alleys of its countryside, trying to recruit agents, informers and operatives for their surreptitious activities, under the garb of diplomats, or under cover of trainers, or health workers trying to obtain DNA samples of Osama and his family members; NGO staff posing to provide social services and numerous other furtive activities.
The CIA struck back by suspending $800 million aid commitment and withholding other finances in the head of Coalition Support Fund. Pakistanís ISI Chief Lieutenant General Shuja Pasha visited Langley (CIA Headquarters in Virginia, USA) to redefine the rules of engagement. Within hours of his departure, the American intelligence agency retaliated by arresting renowned Kashmiri leader Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, through the FBI.
Dr Fai, a highly respected US citizen, has been lobbying for the right of Kashmiris in the US for the past two decades quite visibly and vociferously, organising seminars, discussions, walks and rallies. He has been receiving funds from the Kashmiri Diaspora as well as Pakistanis concerned for the plight of the Kashmiris suffering under the yoke of tyranny under Indiaís illegal occupation. If Dr Fai has committed a crime then so have various lobbying firms in USA, who also receive money directly from the Indian and Israeli governments to lobby for their interests. A huge chunk of such money is disbursed to select US parliamentarians to promote Indian and Israeli interests. If these funds are illegal, then CIAís double standards are exposed because the FBI should conduct investigations against India and Israel, who spend millions of dollars on lobbying in USA. The preposterous charge against Dr Fai is that he has been accused of receiving funds from the ISI.
It seems that the CIA has struck a double blow with Dr Faiís arrest: Firstly, it has tried to smear the ISI in another vilification campaign and, secondly, the arrest has taken place when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was touring India and trying to woo it.
It is well known and even endorsed by US President Barack Obama that Kashmir is a flashpoint between India and Pakistan, the plight of Kashmiris is pathetic and their struggle for liberation is just. Yet, America has not only hit back at the ISI, but has also tried to please India - the latest US paramour by trying to disparage the just Kashmir cause.
It is high time Langley and Foggy Bottom (the location of US State Department Headquarters) grew out of the Spy vs. Spy syndrome and gave Pakistan a breather to concentrate on the war on terror in accordance with its priorities. However, there appears no light at the end of the tunnel because General David Petraeus has taken over as head honcho at Langley. He is on record blaming Pakistan for his string of failures in Afghanistan as NATO and US forces commander, while Hillary Clinton - the iron lady of the Hades at Foggy Bottom - has shown her true colours in New Delhi.