By MUSTAFA HAMEED and LEE FERRAN
NEW YORK — Pakistani officials recently lashed out at the Showtime series “Homeland” for its portrayal of the Southwest Asian nation as a friend to terrorist groups, among other complaints, but according to former U.S. officials and Pakistan experts, it could be a case of a fictional show hitting just a little too close to home.
Last week the press attache for Pakistan‘s embassy in Washington released a statement saying it was “very unfortunate that the underlying theme of ‘Homeland’ Season 4 is designed to create a negative perception of both the U.S. and Pakistan.”
“The show projects and reinforces stereotypes about the U.S. and Pakistan that do not serve the best interests of our two peoples and countries,” press attache Nadeem Hotiana said in a statement to The New York Post and provided to ABC News. “This is also an affront to the people and institutions in both countries who have invested a lot over the decades in blood and treasure in building this important and mutually beneficial relationship.”
This season the espionage thriller, which wrapped up last Sunday, included a story line in which an agent of the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, appeared to repeatedly assist a local terrorist group, including in a deadly attack on the American Embassy in Islamabad.
“Insinuations that an intelligence agency of Pakistan is complicit in protecting the terrorists at the expense of innocent Pakistani civilians is not only absurd but also an insult to the ultimate sacrifices of the thousands of Pakistani security personnel in the war against terrorism,” Hotiana said.
But in recent years, the “insult” of tying the Pakistani government, intelligence agencies or armed forces to terror groups was hardly “absurd” to top U.S. military and intelligence officials.
In September 2011, then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen told a Congressional committee that the real-life ISI was “exporting violence” by aiding the militant group theHaqqani network — which is the same name used by the leader of the terror group in “Homeland” — after an attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. More than a dozen people were killed in that day’s assault.
“In choosing to use violent extremism as an instrument of policy, the government of Pakistan and most especially the Pakistani army and ISI jeopardizes not only the prospect of our strategic partnership, but Pakistan’s opportunity to be a respected nation with legitimate regional influence,” Mullen said.
He went further, calling the Haqqanis a “veritable arm” of the ISI.
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