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Pakistan’s Spy Agency Moves Toward Open Defiance of USA

Posted by yourpakistan on June 20, 2012


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by Sara A. Carter

Earlier this month Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta sent perhaps his strongest warning to Islamabad since the start of the war.

“It is difficult to achieve peace in Afghanistan as long as there is safe haven for terrorists in Pakistan,” he told reporters during his visit to the country’s capital, Kabul. “We are reaching the limits of our patience for that reason. It is extremely important for Pakistan to take action to prevent [giving] the Haqqanis safe havens, and for terrorists to use their country as a safety net to conduct attacks on our forces.”

Panetta’s sharp words should be taken as a grim warning to all Americans. What provoked the warning, according to U.S. and Pakistani insiders, is a growing fear that the Pakistan spy agency and a large clan of Islamic extremists are working more closely together than at any time in the past to create a post-American haven for the Taliban in Afghanistan.

A U.S. military official, with extensive knowledge of the region, said the Haqqani clan, which has been responsible for a large number of the attacks on American troops in Afghanistan, has developed an intricate working relationship with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency. And, increasingly, Pakistan’s military is siding with the ISI over the civilian government.

Jim Phillips, a senior fellow with the Heritage Foundation and expert on terror-related issues, said that alliance is a critical threat to any democratically elected government in Afghanistan. The most likely outcome of the Afghan war, he said, is that Pakistan’s spy agency and military will use both the Taliban and the Haqqani clan, “to bide their time and push to overthrow the Afghan government after 2014.”

“The war is likely to get a lot more bloody and confusing” for U.S. Special Forces, trainers and diplomats left behind to aid the Afghan government after the bulk of U.S. forces withdraw by 2014, he said.

Lt. Col Jimmie Cummings, a spokesman for the U.S-led coalition, said, “Over the past several months we took a large numbers of Haqqani, al Qaeda and Taliban leadership and facilitators off of the battlefield here in Afghanistan.”

That however, has not stopped the Haqqanis from conducting coordinated attacks throughout the country.

Panetta’s remarks came a week after an attack by the Haqqanis on troops at U.S. Forward Operating Base Salerno, in eastern Khost Province. Two Americans and five Afghan soldiers were killed. More than three-dozen U.S. troops were seriously injured in the attack when a truck bomb flattened the dining hall and an adjoining building. Another 100 U.S. troops were given medical treatment for minor injuries. Fourteen insurgents wearing suicide vests were killed in the attack.

Recent “multi-pronged” attacks in Afghanistan are evidence that the Haqqanis have developed more tactical sophistication, another strong indicator of the group’s ties to Pakistan’s ISI.

“Everyone knows that Pakistan maintains ties to some proxy groups operating in Afghanistan,” according to a U.S. intelligence official with knowledge of the region. “The Haqqanis have a long-standing relationship with Islamabad and there isn’t much to suggest that Pakistan’s strategic calculus has changed.”

Pakistan’s democratic government has little control over its powerful military and spy apparatus, experts said.

That country’s former ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, said “hardliners are pushing Pakistan into an adversarial relationship with the U.S.” Haqqani was forced to resign over what the U.S. State Department has called a trumped-up treason allegation aimed at eliminating a diplomat seen as pro-American.

Pakistan’s stance toward the United States has grown openly hostile, say some officials. Last week the Islamabad government surprised the Obama administration by demanding once again that the U.S. apologize for the November cross border attack that led to the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers.

That torpedoed a deal that appeared imminent, after six months of negotiations, to open supply routes through Pakistan and into Afghanistan for the U.S.

There is a growing concern among American military and diplomatic officials that the Pakistani civilian government appears to have less and less control over the country’s military and intelligence agency. Those groups have become committed to installing a pro-Taliban government in Afghanistan.

There is “the very real possibility that a civil war after we withdraw will lead once again to a fanatical government in Afghanistan,” another U.S. military official said.

If enough American forces are left behind after 2014 it may be possible to prevent that result.

But the greatly reduced U.S. forces faced with that task after the end of next year could see some of the worst fighting in the region since the war began in 2001, Phillips said.

Sara A. Carter is The Washington Examiner‘s national security correspondent. She can be reached at scarter@washingtonexaminer.com

Source:  Washington Examiner

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