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    Tuesday, March 31, 2009


    by Eric Margolis
    March 30, 2009

    The `New York Times’ in a front-page story last week that was clearly orchestrated by the Obama administration charged that  Pakistan’s military intelligence agency, Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), has been secretly aiding Taliban and its allies in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.  .......

    Even so, these latest angry charges being hurled by Washington at Pakistan’s spy agency ring true.  Having covered ISI for almost 25 years, and been briefed by many of its director generals, I would be very surprised if ISI was not quietly working with Taliban and other Afghan resistance movements. 
    Protecting Pakistan’s interests, not those of the United States, is ISI’s main job.....

    According to Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Washington threatened war against Pakistan after 9/11 if it did not fully cooperate in the US invasion of Afghanistan.   Pakistan’s bases and ports were and remain essential for the US occupation  of Afghanistan.
    Pakistan was forced at gunpoint to accept US demands  though most of its people supported Taliban as nationalist, anti-Communist freedom fighters and opposed the US invasion.  Taliban, mostly composed of Pashtun tribesmen, had been nurtured and armed by Pakistan. 
    Many of Pakistan’s generals and senior ISI officers are Pashtun, who make up 15-18% of that nation’s population and form its second largest ethnic group after Punjabis.  ISI routinely used Taliban and militant Kashmiri groups  Lashkar-i-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.
    Pakistan was enraged to see its traditional Afghan foes, the Communist-dominated Northern Alliance of Tajiks and Uzbeks, put into power by the Americans.   The Northern Alliance was strongly backed by India, Iran, Russia, and the Central Asian post-Communist  states......

    Pakistan supports the Afghan Pashtun, who have been excluded from power in US-occupied Afghanistan. But Pakistan also fears secessionist tendencies among its own Pashtun.   The specter of an independent Pashtun state - `Pashtunistan’ – uniting the Pashtuns of Afghanistan and Pakistan has long been one of Islamabad’s worst nightmares.  

    Pakistan is bankrupt and now lives on American handouts.
    Its last two governments have been forced to do Washington’s bidding though most Pakistanis are opposed to such policies. 
    The US has ignored intensifying efforts by India, Iran, and Russia to expand their influence in Afghanistan.   India, in particular, is arming and supplying Afghan foes of Pakistan. ( This boggles my mind, there doesn't seem to be a bigger threat to Paki than the Taliban, The guard dog is worried about the kitten> G )

    Washington sees Pakistan only as a way of advancing its own interests in Afghanistan, not as a loyal old ally.  Obedience, not cooperation, is being demanded of Islamabad.      
    President Barack Obama announced that more US troops and civilian officials will go to Afghanistan, and more billions will be spent sustaining a war against the largely Pashtun national resistance in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    None of this will benefit Pakistan.....

    It is ISI’s job to deal with these dangers, to keep in close touch with Pashtun on both sides of the border, and to counter-act the machinations of other foreign powers in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal belt.  
    Many Pakistanis also know that one day the US and its allies will quit Afghanistan, leaving a bloody mess behind them.  Pakistan’s ISI  will have to pick up the pieces and deal with the ensuing chaos.  Pakistan’s strategic and political interests are quite different from those of Washington.  But few in Washington seem to care in the least.    
    ISI is not playing a double game, as Washington charges, but simply assuring Pakistan’s strategic and political interests in the region.   The Obama administration is making an historic mistake by treating Pakistan with imperial arrogance and ignoring the concerns and desires of its people.  We seem to have learned nothing from the Iranian revolution.    


    It helps to have an accurate view of what the 'OTHER' 

    I emailed the author:
    My read of the article discloses some interesting paradigms.

    The paradigm suggests several hypothesis:

    ISI thinks the Taliban are controllable.
    They don't see al Qaeda as a threat.
    And the Taliban function in some respects as a secret police.

    ISI and the Paki government don't fear the Taliban.

    ISI "assuring Pakistan’s strategic and political interests in the region.":

    Hosting al Qaeda, suicide bombings of market places and Mosques support Pakis interests?

    How does ceding Swat to the Taliban support Paki interests?
    Erics reply:
    Taliban were Pakistan's `boys' and remain so.  Swat joined Pakistan under the proviso, long ignored, that Sharia would be observed.

    Best Wishes,

    Eric Margolis







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