07 December 2011

Just How Deep Are We Into Pakistan

Do we really have our own wing of ISI under our thumb?

Officially, America’s relations Pakistan’s military and intelligence services were in a tailspin in August. Furious at having been kept in the dark ahead of the Americans’ May 2 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, Pakistan’s military had kept U.S. investigators out of the place until it was scrubbed for evidence and had refused them access to bin Laden’s wives for some time. And the Pakistanis had outed the CIA’s Islamabad station chief, putting his life at risk. Meanwhile, back in America, fears were rising over possible al Qaeda attacks on the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11.

But in the shadows, far from the public rancor, Pakistani-U.S. cooperation quietly continued. In Quetta, the Taliban’s capital in exile, U.S. intelligence was monitoring the cellphone of the presumed planner of any Qaeda anniversary attacks, Younis al-Mauritani, the group’s newly named external operations chief. The Americans’ tracking data—signals intelligence, or sigint, as it’s known in the profession—was being shared in real time with the local branch of Pakistan’s paramilitary Frontier Corps. When his exact location was discovered, the Pakistanis smashed through the doors of his safe house and grabbed him along with two deputies.

Soon he was hundreds of miles away, at a special detention center in Punjab province, under intensive interrogation by a pro-U.S. faction of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate. The Americans began getting regular reports on potential threats connected to the anniversary. CIA officials were even given an “unofficial” visit to question Mauritani directly.

Many in the U.S. government regarded the capture as a crowning achievement of a decade-long, multibillion-dollar effort to build a secret network of Pakistani security forces, intelligence operatives, counterterrorism fighters, and detention centers. Its objective had been to create a friendlier, more trustworthy alternative to Pakistan’s military and intelligence services.

Now, however, just three months after Mauritani’s capture, the partnership is facing its most dire challenge. Relations between the two countries have been rocked by back-to-back incidents. First came what the media are calling “memogate,” in which President Asif Ali Zardari’s administration is accused of plotting with the U.S. to replace the leadership of Pakistan’s military and intelligence services. And then, on Thanksgiving weekend, a NATO helicopter reported being fired upon by a Pakistani military outpost near the Afghanistan border. The chopper returned fire, killing two dozen Pakistani soldiers.

By: Brant

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you would like to think that if we had this much influence, the whole place would be less fucked up