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|Gen. Akhtar(Above) - Gen. Pasha(Below)|
During the tenure of General Akhtar Abdur Rahman, ISI nurtured mujahideen in madrassas (religious seminaries ) along Pakistan’s tribal belt. The Pakistani army generals were put in charge of training these guerilla fighters, instilling in them the required skills to devise military strategies and defend their their homeland from the Soviets. In the mid 80s, ISI was not only supplying logistical support but had sent Pakistani soldiers to fight alongside the mujahideen, in guerilla garb. Some reports also say that in 1986 the ISI sent atleast three attack squads into former Soviet lands comprising of around 20 Pakistan army soldiers, to destroy arms dumps and convoys headed for Afghanistan. The Americans, upon finding out, beseeched General Zia to stop their incursion into Soviet territory as it could trigger an all-out conflict between the Americans and the Soviets, who were suspecting these raids as by-product of American incitement.
The ISI’s successful military operation against Soviet aggression did not go unacknowledged. General Rtd Hamid Gul, who was appointed the next Director General of ISI in the wake of General Akhtar Abdul Rahman’s assasination in 1989, was sent a piece of the Berlin Wall with a plaque honouring ‘those who struck the first blow’.
Fast forward to the year 2012, Afghanistan is once again under occupation, and eleven years since the USZ occupation began, remains unconquerable. And if American allegations are to be believed, ISI’s outgoing Director General Ahmad Shuja Pasha (recently named in the ‘TIME Magazine 100 Most Influential people’ list) has for the last four years followed in the footsteps of his predecessor, General Akhtar Abdur Rehman.
Today, on the day of his retirement, Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha stands accused of harboring, training, and arming the mujahideen fighting the occupying USZ forces in Afghanistan during his four year tenure. Western media, analysts and military officials are increasing the pressure on Pakistan, pinning the blame of American and NATO failure on ISI. Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency is described in the media as a state within a state, running its own policy in Afghanistan, contrary to the USZ-sponspored ‘democratic’ government’s subservient doctrine. Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha is to Americans what Gen. Akhtar Abdul Rahman was to the Soviets. The grand puppet-master, calling the shots and directing attacks on the occupying forces and slowly but surely griding their hopes of domination in this key region, into the dusty plains of Afghanistan.
Admiral Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the USZ Joints Chiefs of Staff, told the USZ Senate Armed Services Committee last year that he believes the Afghan mujahideen to be a ‘veritable arm’ of the ISI. He also alleged that the ISI planned and conducted various attacks on USZ forces inside Afghanistan, including the September 14th assault on the USZ Embassy in Kabul. Other high-profile attacks accredited to the ISI and the Pakistani military include last year’s assault on the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul, as well as the Indian Embassy blast in Kabul in 2009.
One of the victims of an attack on the Indian Embassy in 2009 was the Indian Defence Attache, Brigadier R. D. Mehta, whose list of ‘credentials’ include heading the Indian Army’s notoriously brutal Intelligence wing for Jammu and Kashmir – responsible for thousands of enforced disappearances and extra judicial murders of innocent Kashmiris in the last two decades. His presence in Afghanistan, assisting with training the Afghan National Army, illustrated India’s influence in Afghanistan;s government and military circles. If there is truth in American allegations, then it is this particular incident which is of more significance than others.
Pakistan was one of the three countries who recognized the government of Taliban as legitimate, the others being Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The ISI had supported Taliban’s takeover of Kabul from the Indian sponsored Ahmad Shah Massoud and his Northern Alliance a few years earlier. According to Pakistan’s then-dictator Pervez Musharraf, all it took was a phonecall from the then USZ secretary of State Colin Powell for this relationship to come crashing down shortly after 9/11. Musharraf neither matched his predecessors in intelligence nor in loyalty, and eventually caved under American pressure, agreeing on assisting the USZ occupy and overthrow the Taliban government. In view of intense USZ and international pressure, Pakistan’s foreign policy made a complete u-turn concerning ‘former’ ally, the Taliban.
In the months and years to follow, the Pakistani military planners watched in horror as the USZ stubbornly displayed its utter disregard for its supposed ‘front line ally’s national security interests by supporting the Indian / Iranian-backed Northern Alliance for leading the new Afghan interm government, which later got itself ‘elected’ for more terms and continues to hold office ten years since the occupation began. The past decade under Karzai’s government has seen a long list of unending atrocities and blows to Pakistan’s security – including infestation of Pakistan with spies and undercover agents, bribing and buying out top shelf news media and talk show anchors and media houses in order to promote USZ agendas in Pakistan, drone strikes and air assaults killing hundreds of civilians and Pakistan army soldiers, thousands of civilians and military deaths in violence and terror attacks – just a few examples of American treachery that come to mind.
As the blood-soaked years dragged on, Pakistan’s worst fears had come true as Afghan territory was now being used to launch a ruthless and bloody terror campaign in Pakistan’s major cities. Weapons and funds flowed in from Afghanistan while terrorists struck with impunity in Pakistan, attacking busy markets, mosques, and military bases. Another Baloch ‘insurgency’ (originally initiated in the 1970s by the Soviets using Indian covert agents and long dead since the Soviet pullout) was revived under CIA’s umbrella. Pakistan’s requests to the CIA of putting a leash on Indian agencies active in Afghanistan kept falling on deaf ears, and continue to do so.
Americans allege that it was around 2005-06, during the reign of General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani as the ISI Chief (now COAS) when they first started recieving intelligence reports implicating the ISI in attacks on American and Indian interests in Afghanistan. Kayani, after being promoted to the COAS role in October 2007, appointed Ahmad Shuja Pasha as his ISI Chief. If American accusations are to be lent any credibility, then this duo has not only revived covert Pakistani support for Afghan resistance, but has also caused billions of dollars in economic damage to the USZ and undone years of hard intelligence networking by curtailing CIA’s influence and sending back hundreds of USZ contractors and covert agents in the last year and a half. Any such action from Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies – if the allegations were true – would be justified by what an overwhelming majority of Pakistan’s citizens see as treachery and backstabbing by the Americans by allowing India – which does not share a border with landlocked Afghanistan – a slice of the Afghan pie.
If the mutual mistrust and covert action on both sides of the border wasn’t enough, the situation was further complicated by a number of events last year, including the arrest (and later release) of a USZ army contractor – found with a phone book full of numbers of known terrorists and their cohorts and a camera containing photos of sensitive military installations in Pakistan. Then there was ofcourse the May 2nd raid by American forces on a house in Abbotabad using stealth helicopters which apparently took out Osama Bin Laden, and finally the unprovoked attack on a Pakistan military outpost in Salala, near the Afghan border, in which 24 Pakistani soldiers embraced Shahadat after coming under fire from a USZ helicopter.
These incidents, while they aggravated public opinion in Pakistan even more against the USZ occupation of Afghanistan, also provided a golden opportunity to Shuja Pasha to further curtail CIA’s tentacles in Pakistan. All non-essential CIA staff and defence contractors have been sent packing. Information gleaned by CIA contractor Raymond Davis enabled Pakistan to make hundreds of arrests and shut down CIA’s local information and covert action cells. And after the November 26th attack on Salala post least year, Pakistan army took another significant step towards formally end the partnership with the USZ occupation, by shutting down the land route from its port in Karachi, which was used to deliver thousands of containers daily to the USZ forces in Afghanistan.
All of this after Pakistan army, under the leadership of Kayani and guidance of Pasha has already broken the back of the terrorists on its soil in recent years, freeing up large swathes of territory in the tribal badlands and in Swat where the terrorists had established their mini fiefdoms.
There are many reasons why Pasha is said to have been one of CIA’s most hated men, chief among them being that it was during his tenure when relations between Pakistan and USZ soured and mistrust on both sides eventually led to further deterioration. It was also under his tenure that CIA’s networks of informants and covert agents were unravelled and a number of key CIA assets (if not all) were neutralized. It was in a meeting with the then CIA Director Leon Panetta after the raid on Abbotabad last year, when Pasha is said to have brushed off his counterpart’s threatening tone by retorting that his ‘Boss is Allah, not America’. The sigh of relief brought on by Pasha’s retirement can be heard from Langley right through to Delhi.
As Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha steps down from his post today, it is fair to ponder if there is truth in the American allegations of the ISI’s role. Because if they are true, and if Pasha and Kayani have been giving the Americans a bloody nose in return for what Pakistanis see as backstabbing by the Americans, if Shuja Pasha has indeed followed in ISI tradition of bringing down superpowers by giving the USZ another Vietnam, and if his planning, intelligence and audacity has brought the USZ military might close to annihiliation in the unforgiving terrain of Afghanistan, then there will be millions of Pakistanis who will always view this man as a Hero. Alongside General Akhtar Abdul Rahman.
Pakistan Cyber Force