ISI chief to India: talk to us, we make policy too

Discussion in 'West Asia & Africa' started by Daredevil, Jul 23, 2009.

  1. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    ISI chief to India: talk to us, we make policy too

    Nirupama Subramanian and Siddharth Varadarajan
    New Delhi will only respond to request made by Pakistani government
    ISLAMABAD/NEW DELHI: Days before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani met in Egypt, the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence floated a suggestion that India deal not just with Pakistan’s civilian government but also directly with its Army and intelligence agency.

    Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha made the out-of-the-box overture during a meeting earlier this month with the three Indian defence advisers representing the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force attached to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, The Hindu has learnt.

    The sit-in at Lt. Gen. Pasha’s office in Rawalpindi on July 3 took place entirely at his initiative, though it was ostensibly convened in response to a request made by the Indian High Commission “years before.” It is normal for defence advisors attached to various diplomatic missions in Islamabad to seek and be granted calls on the ISI director-general — a wing of the ISI is the co-ordinating agency for them — but Indians have rarely had an audience.

    During their discussion, Lt. Gen. Pasha and the defence advisors did not refer to the Mumbai attacks or the investigations into it, either on the Indian or Pakistani side. Nevertheless, senior officials in Delhi saw the interaction as an attempt by the ISI to “reach out” to India in the run-up to the Sharm el-Sheikh meeting of the two Prime Ministers.

    The Hindu has learnt that during the course of the extremely cordial meeting, Lt. Gen. Pasha came clean in stating that the ISI and the Pakistan Army were involved in framing Pakistan’s India policy, along with the Foreign Office. He made the oblique suggestion that India deal directly with these three institutions if it had a similar three-way mechanism.

    In their effort to understand the genesis of this idea, Indian officials sought to establish whether the ISI chief — who has a reputation for speaking his mind freely — had merely made an off-the-cuff remark or was floating a trial balloon after consultations with all other “stakeholders” in the Pakistani establishment.

    Ministry of External Affairs officials asked Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik about the ISI chief’s suggestion, but the envoy was unaware that the meeting had even taken place. This led the MEA to conclude that the Pakistani foreign office may not be in the loop.

    Asked about the July 3 meeting last week, Mr. Malik confirmed to The Hindu that it took place but said he was unaware of what was discussed. Major-General Athar Abbas, the Pakistani military spokesman, said he had no knowledge of the meeting. Officials at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad also refused comment.

    Highly placed South Block officials told The Hindu that India is not averse to talking to the Pakistani military or the ISI even as it engages with the civilian government but there were two problems with the suggestion. First, any proposal to open new lines of communication must come from the Pakistani government. And second, the power structures in India and Pakistan cannot really compare with each other.

    Although Prime Minister Singh and Prime Minister Gilani agreed the ISI chief could come to India in the immediate aftermath of last November’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai, Islamabad quickly backtracked. Since then, no formal proposal for interaction between the ISI and an Indian intelligence agency has been made. Indeed, Mr. Gilani told The Hindu at Sharm el-Sheikh that the question of an intelligence chiefs’ dialogue did not come up in his meeting with Dr. Singh, a fact confirmed by Indian officials.

    But apart from form, it is the question of structure that poses an obstacle. “The Research & Analysis Wing operates within the law and is subordinate to the government,” a senior intelligence official told The Hindu. “There, the government is subordinate to the ISI, which is a law unto itself.”

    South Block officials said the Indian High Commissioner and his officers could and should be in touch with the Pakistani army and intelligence chiefs. “But I wonder what would be the point of the Indian Army Chief talking to his Pakistani counterpart … their job definitions are so different.”
     
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  3. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    I really don't understand what the ISI chief is trying to get at. By engaging Indian govt. and its institutions, ISI might be trying to extricate itself from blame for any of the future attacks on India by so called non-state actors. This deal seems to be a really shady one if it is realized. GoI should stay away from ISI.
     
  4. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    he is simply saying talk to us we run the country.
     
  5. 1.44

    1.44 Member of The Month SEPTEMBER 2009 Senior Member

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    He's saying 'Nothing will happen unless we allow it'.
    India is surely wasting it's time.
    Title is misleading:Talk to us:We make the ONLY policy
     
  6. xebex

    xebex Regular Member

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    Exterminating an Emo means one low-life less!
    I dont even know who is in charge of Pakistan, i mean one day Zardari says somthing, next day Gilani reject it, by the mean time ISI override both. Man this is a mess!
     
  7. F-14

    F-14 Global Defence Moderator Senior Member

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    `why the sudden chage of hearts when we wanted to"Talk" to him where was he ???
    in his In Laws house ??
     
  8. EnlightenedMonk

    EnlightenedMonk Member of The Month JULY 2009 Senior Member

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    Don't get me wrong, but I have always felt that the only way to get things done from Pakistan is through pressure on the intelligence agencies...

    If you guys have noticed whenever the US wants to talk to Pakistan, they involve the Army and the ISI as well in addition t the politicos since they know that the real power lies elsewhere and the actual talking is a tripartite one between the Army, ISI and the Americans...

    We must also use a similar policy since they are the real source of power in Pakistan and the only concessions, if any, can be gotten out of them. I know that some people may consider this ethically and politically wrong, but that's a fact of life.

    Our ultimate goal is to protect our own people and if that means that we have to deal with a lot of unsavoury people to achieve that goal, then I see no wrong in it... as long as the terror attacks and anti-India activities can be kept under a tight leash by the ISI and the Army, then I see no wrong in talking to them...

    Case in point is that during the reign of Musharraf there was no major incident after the Parliament attacks. I guess that after those attacks we talked directly to Mush and he was successful to some extent in controlling these people because he was the Army chief as well...

    You can see where I'm going with this...
     
  9. F-14

    F-14 Global Defence Moderator Senior Member

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    i agree the Civies in pakistan are a total waste they are all puppets in the hand of the Army and ISI
     
  10. SATISH

    SATISH DFI Technocrat Stars and Ambassadors

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    wow...an intelligence agency that makes foriegn policy?...First time I have heard something like this. Back to the topic....Perhaps the ISI wants to distance itself from the monster it created. Or is the Indian pressure wrecking the ISI's back bone?...we have to see that.
     
  11. IBM

    IBM Regular Member

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    Pakistan is run by AAA

    Army
    Allah
    above all there (PAK) father America...........:d_training::d_training:
     
  12. hit&run

    hit&run Elite Member Elite Member

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    if india is concerned; even municiple council of karachi can suggest and make foriegn policy. Even a golgapewale will make anti india policy and hatered for india in pakistan.
     
  13. Flint

    Flint Senior Member Senior Member

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    Well, India can't possibly talk to the ISI in public, if you get what I mean.
     
  14. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    Intelligence agencies play a BIG role in foreign policy if any major country. Who do you think shaped Americas policy during the cold war? Who created the Taliban? Who ran the war in Vietnam? Who gave the courage to Indira Gandhi to go ahead with the break up of Pakistan and create Bangladesh? It was RAWs biggest achievement.

    ISI has always shaped Pakistans policy there is no two doubts about it. Along with the army, they are just biding time while they are the focus of the war on terror. One wrong move by the "democratic" government and that will be the end of it.
    For India to resolve any issue including Kashmir, it has to have a deal with the ISI/PA. Without them there is going to be no peace.
     
  15. Energon

    Energon DFI stars Stars and Ambassadors

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    This whole matter has far more to do with the management of the internal power dynamic than actual foreign policy per se.

    Pakistan has always maintained a multi polar power structure where various participants have played musical chairs. The current participants are: the civilian leadership (Gillani-Zardari), the military (Kiyani) and it's sub section the ISI. The classical troika of the president-PM-COAS no longer exists since the both the president and PM now have an ad hoc alliance to regain power from years of military dictatorship. The interesting development of course is ISI's independent status. In the aftermath of 9/11 and Pakistan's "alliance" with the US, Musharraf had to split the ISI from the main fold of the ruling military in order to maintain deniability while still staying in America's good graces. Whether the army and ISI have developed divergent agendas since then is anyone's guess; I personally do not think that's the case (yet).

    Either way, the ISI is an independent entity and the classical power dynamic model mandates they make themselves indispensable to the other two power holders by commanding at least one critical aspect of the nation's machinery which plays into Pakistan's existential conundrum.

    Track 2 diplomacy vis a vis India and Afghanistan (where the real business happens) currently factors into the ISIs lifeline. Letting the civilian government completely take over the diplomacy with India will be unacceptable to the ISI and they're merely trying to establish their role.

    India for the most part has no real options here. On one hand there seems to be a general consensus to empower the civilian government who has been making overtures to India (especially Zardari). But everyone is also well aware that unless the ISI is on board not only will there be a lack of progress but things could completely backfire. There is a long precedent for Indo-Pak tensions being a byproduct of Pakistan's internal power struggle, Kargil being the biggest one. Which is why IMHO India is going to have to entertain the ISI's demand whether they like it or not.

    The wild card in all of this is Pervez Musharraf. He was the one who turned the ISI into an independent body, reversed the civilian governments decision to bring the ISI into their fold, and both Kiyani and Pasha are known to have been his closest allies during his tenure as COAS-dictator. If he is able to turn the tables on Zardari/Gillani and return to power as a civilian candidate before either Kiyani or Pasha retire, he will have inherited the entire system.
     
  16. Energon

    Energon DFI stars Stars and Ambassadors

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    Yes and no. You're certainly right about the importance of intelligence agencies in shaping and enabling a nation's foreign policy, but in most cases the intelligence agency is under the control of the governmental structure who gives them orders and in return obtain information from their findings and of course utilize their achievements. The difference here is that the ISI is an entirely independent body that isn't obliged to (and for the most part doesn't) report to the legitimate representative government of the nation.

    India effectively has to deal with two different representatives from Pakistan who generally have differing agendas and are always trying to undermine each other.
     
  17. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    No harm in talking to the ISI

    Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence directorate reportedly wants to be involved in the talks with India.

    We requested B Raman, India's best-known expert on counter-terrorism and a former senior official at the Research and Analysis Wing, India's external intelligence agency, what he thought of the ISI's suggestions. This is what Mr Raman, who wrote this piece en route to Singapore, said:

    The Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan, the bete noire of the Indian security agencies, is again in the news for two reasons.

    The first reason is due to the agreement between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [ Images ] and Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani at their recent summit at Sharam-el-Sheikh that the two countries would share real-time actionable intelligence on terrorism.

    The second is the report carried by The Hindu, the national daily, under the joint by-line of Nirupama Subramanian, its Islamabad [ Images ] correspondent, and Siddharth Varadarajan, its New Delhi [ Images ] correspondent, about a recent meeting between Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who was appointed by the Asif Ali Zardari [ Images ] government as the ISI's director general in September last year reportedly under US pressure.

    General Pasha replaced Lieutenant General Nadeem Taj, whom the US allegedly suspected of masterminding the terrorist attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul in July last year and of leaking US-origin secrets to the Taliban [ Images ].

    Pasha enjoys the Americans's trust and affection until now. After the Mumbai [ Images ] terrorist attacks of November 2008, American non-governmental experts on India-Pakistan affairs, with close contacts to the US administration at different levels, had believed that if at all there was an ISI involvement in Mumbai 26/11, it would have been under Taj and not under Pasha.

    It may be recalled that Ajmal Kasab [ Images ], the sole surviving terrorist of the Mumbai attacks, had reportedly told interrogators that the original target date for the attacks was in September, but the Lashkar-e-Tayiba [ Images ] postponed it for reasons not known to him. Taj was still the ISI chief at that time.

    The inference from this was that the conspiracy for the attack was drawn up by the Lashkar, with the knowledge if not at the instance of the ISI headed by Taj, but when he was replaced under US pressure, the ISI withdrew from the conspiracy. The Lashkar went ahead with the plot without the ISI's further involvement.

    Taj, who was very close to then Pakistan president General Pervez Musharraf [ Images ], had a reputation of being strongly anti-India, whereas Pasha, it is believed, is not. I had referred to this in one of my articles on 26/11.

    The Hindu report has created some excitement because it has referred to a meeting between Pasha and the Indian military attaches posted at the Indian high commission in Islamabad at which the ISI chief was reported to have suggested that the Government of India remain in touch with the Pakistan army [ Images ] and the ISI in addition to its interactions with the elected leadership in Pakistan. This meeting was apparently held at Pasha's initiative.

    In his conversation on board his aircraft with Indian journalists who had accompanied him to the G-8 summit in Italy [ Images ], Dr Singh was reported to have referred to a meeting between Pasha and the Indian defence attaches in Islamabad as part of the ongoing effort to explore the possibility of resuming the interrupted dialogue between the two countries.

    Immediately thereafter, The News, a Pakistan daily newspaper, published a report, attributed to official sources, denying that such a meeting had taken place.

    And now comes the report in The Hindu. Was it based on information originating from the ISI in Pakistan and the Pakistani high commission in New Delhi or from the Indian high commission in Islamabad and the Indian foreign office in New Delhi? It is difficult to say.

    Whoever was behind the report, there is an element of psychological warfare behind it -- either initiated by the ISI or by elements in the Government of India. It is, therefore, difficult to say how much of it is a fact and how much motivated spin.

    Whatever be the truth, it has been seen recently that Pasha and his officers have been playing an increasingly active role in interacting off-the-record with the media and giving the army's and the ISI's version of the situation in the India-Pakistan-Afghanistan region.

    Interestingly, coinciding with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's [ Images ] visit to India last week, an unidentified ISI official or officials in Islamabad briefed one or more US journalists on the situation in which concern was expressed over the implications of the stepped-up US offensive against the Taliban in the Helmand province in Afghanistan and over the continued perception in the Pakistan army of a likely threat from India, which inhibited its operations against the Pakistani Taliban. A report based on this briefing was carried by the International Herald Tribune. I do not remember the date, but I read it on board an aircraft on the night of July 22.

    From all this, it is evident that there is active lobbying -- if we do not want to use the word pressure -- for a liaison relationship between the ISI and an appropriate Indian intelligence agency. The US seems to be playing a role in this exercise.

    The Americans had made a similar effort in 1993 after the Mumbai blasts of March 1993, when Bill Clinton [ Images ] was the president and P V Narasimha Rao was our prime minister. The Central Intelligence Agency offered to arrange a meeting between the heads of the ISI and R&AW. While Nawaz Sharif [ Images ], the then Pakistani prime minister, reacted positively after some initial hesitation, Narasimha Rao was negative in his reaction. This was partly due to his scepticism about the US role and partly because of the strong opposition from J N Dixit, then the foreign secretary.

    Dixit's opposition arose from his distrust of the ISI as well as R&AW. His distrust of R&AW dated back to his days as India's high commissioner in Colombo. He felt annoyed that R&AW did not keep him totally in the picture about its independent interactions with the Sri Lankan leadership.

    There was another reason for Dixit's distrust. There were three sporadic meetings between the heads of the ISI and R&AW in third countries between 1988 and 1991 to discuss Indian allegations of the ISI's support to Khalistani terrorists in Punjab [ Images ] and Pakistani allegations of R&AW's meddling in Sindh. Karachi was burning at that time due to the violent activities of various anti-Punjabi militant groups.

    These meetings were organised at the initiative of a member of Jordan's royal family. President Zia-ul Haq, who died in August 1988, his successor Benazir Bhutto [ Images ] and her successor Nawaz Sharif were in the picture. In India, then prime ministers Rajiv Gandhi [ Images ] and Chandra Shekhar were in the picture. There were no meetings when V P Singh [ Images ] was the PM.

    The ministries of defence and external affairs were annoyed at R&AW for not keeping the interactions with the ISI confined to terrorism and for expanding the agenda to include possible ways of solving the Siachen issue. In fact, it was Rajiv Gandhi who encouraged R&AW to discuss Siachen with the ISI. Despite this, Dixit was annoyed with R&AW when he discovered these meetings in 1993. Ultimately, the US proposal of 1993 as conveyed by the CIA remained a non-starter due to Narasimha Rao's scepticism strengthened by Dixit's views.

    Now this proposal has again come up after 26/11. I have been of the view that R&AW and the ISI should maintain a secret liaison of which only the leaderships of the two countries should be aware. Such a liaison helps in many ways: Firstly, it provides the leadership with a clandestine channel of communication. Secondly, intelligence chiefs of the two countries are able to know and assess each other in flesh and blood during personal meetings and not merely through media reports and uncorroborated source information. Thirdly, it helps them to pick each other's brains and understand each other's mindset.

    Intelligence professionals are not like diplomats. They speak to each other more freely and frankly than diplomats do. And the fact that they enjoy the confidence of their leadership and have direct access to them for informal discussions gives them a certain self-confidence which non-intelligence senior bureaucrats do not have.

    There is no harm in our giving a try to the idea of an informal, clandestine one-to-one liaison relationship between the ISI and R&AW. We should not have any illusions that it would result in a sharing of actionable intelligence. Intelligence agencies share actionable intelligence only when they have common State and non-State enemies. India and Pakistan do not have common enemies.

    Even countries, which do not have an adversarial relationship, do not sincerely share all intelligence. They pick and choose depending on their national interest. The CIA has had a liaision relationship with Indian intelligence for nearly 60 years. While I was in service, it had shared a lot of intelligence with us on China, but not on Pakistan and its support to anti-India terrorism. It was its perception that it was in the US national interest to help India against China, but not against Pakistan.

    In the cae of all liaison relationships there is a danger of the other intelligence agency trying to mislead by planting false intelligence. This danger will be very high in the ISI's case. It could create alienation between the Government of India and our Muslim community by planting false intelligence about selected members of the Indian Muslim community, particularly about those it does not like.

    The liaison relationship should be carefully supervised by the political leadership.

    B Raman
     
  18. Antimony

    Antimony Regular Member

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    There is certainly no harm in engaging ISI. Hell, behind closed doors, I will not be surprised if Shuja Pasha orders Gilani to bring him his tea:wink:

    HOWEVER,

    dealing with multiple power centers IN PUBLIC is a folly for both India and Pakistan.

    For Pakistan, it makes there civil government look stupid and therefore useless for any further dealings. For India, there will soon be accusations floating around of India "interfering" with Paksitan's sovereignty by bypassing the elected civil government and approaching the military directly.

    I would say let Pakistan figure out who should be shown as the one in charge (as opposed to the one really in charge) and we will be happy to put a joint statement with him.

    Menawhile. let the back door talks with ISI continue
     
  19. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    My second para says as much.
     
  20. sayareakd

    sayareakd Moderator Moderator

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    probably what ISI ment was talk to us, we are the only one who can stop terror in India, as it was we who are sending terrorist in India...... therefore talk to us, as this is our policy and civilian govt cannot do anything in this regard in Pakistan as we are state within state in Pakistan.

    talk to us and give us our share of limelight which we never got.......
     
  21. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    The problem is, what we will talk to ISI about?. What information or actionable intelligence will they give us??. What do we gain by talking to ISI??.

    I can only envision that there will be talks just like we had in case of 'Joint terrorism co-ordination committee', which have yielded nothing but waste of time and resources. In the same manner, talking to ISI will yield nothing as long as we don't have common interests.
     

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