– U.S. TURNS UP THE HEAT ON PAKISTAN’S SPY AGENCY
ISLAMABAD — Washington’s stunning charge that Pakistan’s spy service is backing violence against U.S. targets in Afghanistan has pushed Islamabad into a tight corner: either it cleans up the powerful agency or it faces the wrath of an angry superpower.
There has never been much doubt in Washington that the shadowy Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) plays a “double game,” supporting some militants to extend its influence in Afghanistan and counter India, while targeting others.
But the gloves came off on Thursday when U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen bluntly described the Haqqani militant network as a “veritable arm” of the ISI and accused Pakistan of providing support for the group’s September 13 brazen attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul.
It was the most serious allegation leveled by Washington against the nuclear-armed South Asian nation since they allied in the war on terror in 2001, and the first time it has held Islamabad responsible for an attack against the United States.
“Mullen has finally put Pakistan on the spot and I don’t think he has left any ambiguity about the feelings of the U.S. about the ISI,” said Rasul Bakhsh Rais, an Islamabad-based academic and political columnist. “Mullen has thrown the ball into Pakistan’s court.”
A STATE WITHIN A STATE
Pakistan’s equivalent of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) — with which it has a paradoxical relationship of cooperation and deep distrust — the ISI has tentacles so far-reaching that it is often seen as a state within a state. Widely feared by Pakistanis, it is widely believed to employ tens of thousands of agents, with informers in many spheres of life. ….
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