Source: The News International
Via: Blackwater Watch
General Ahmad Shuja Pasha would have made many mistakes and would have failed on many fronts but he did wonders in limiting the role of CIA and FBI agents in Pakistan, the contribution that makes him look different from many others.
Gen Pasha has been the most hated Pakistani in Washington and a real pain in the neck for the CIA. For the same reason, his retirement has brought a sigh of relief to the Intelligence circles in the US. He was a rare breed of Generals, who would not be impressed with the influence of Washington and its powerful intelligence chief.
He has been the most difficult man to tackle for the Panettas and Patreauses of this world hence there have been demands from Washington that Pasha should be removed. It was his candidness and bluntness with his US counterparts, which made him one of the most powerful spymasters in the world.
Coming from a humble but well educated family and after having cleanly served the army with distinction for almost 35 years, Pasha took over as ISI chief, the position that earned him a lot of embarrassments and controversies.
Failures connected to the ISI during his tenure as its DG should remain a burden for him but there is hardly anyone to appreciate how he managed to limit the role of the American agencies in Pakistan.
Following 9/11 General Musharraf had put the sovereignty of Pakistan at stake and on sale by giving the kind of free hand to US agents that was simply unimaginable. “We had no idea how many foreign as well as local agents of CIA and FBI were operating within the territorial limits of Pakistan,” an official source said, adding that the American agents were spread all over.
Not only had Musharraf allowed the CIA and FBI to hire local agents in Pakistan in the garb of so-called war on terror, the Americans were also free to move in and out without any check. “At times we did not know who is coming and who is going, and what is brought in and what it taken out,” the source said.
This unimaginable concession for the US officials was first brought under check by no one else but Pasha on whose orders in October 2009 the facility of unchecked arrivals and departures with no scrutiny of their luggage at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport (BBIA) in Islamabad was formally withdrawn.
Gammon Gate of the BBIA, which was basically meant for food catering services and had a direct outside airport link without passing through immigration and customs checks, was specified for the US officials and for the UN officials too. This special facility had allowed the Americans to have unchecked arrivals and departures to and from the Islamabad Airport. The facility was massively misused and there were reports of even unauthorised and undeclared import of sensitive material and equipment, including weapons.
A CAA order, issued on the subject in 2009, did concede that the customs and immigration authorities have no arrangements/staff to check the movement and crew and other foreigners, etc. “The equipment related to aeroplane, the crew and their personal luggage also passes through this gate. During checking, US vehicles and the luggage they carry to and from apron area are not properly searched/checked by the ASF staff deputed to control the entry/exit at the Gammon Gate,” a document said, adding in view of this, use of the Gammon Gate by foreigners should be stopped forthwith as it was a serious security hazard.
In the garb of training, the CIA spies had their presence in and around vital sites of Pakistan’s national security. Police College Sihala near Kahuta Nuclear Plant was one such sensitive site from where Gen Pasha managed to root them out and packed them back to Washington.
To check the activities of ruthless members of Blackwater and DynCorp, the ISI under Pasha started checking the US “officials” and “diplomats” on the roads of Pakistan and even started questioning them and in some cases even taking them to police stations.
It was also on the direction of Pasha that action was launched against DynCorp and its local partner Inter-Risk, which was issued the prohibited bore licences by the interior ministry on the request of the US embassy.
Besides pushing the already present CIA and FBI agents out of Pakistan, Pasha pursued the policy of strict monitoring of the US visitors. He wanted a tight scrutiny of every visitor coming from Washington – a move that made the US administration angry.
Washington put pressure on the rulers in Islamabad, who in a strange decision had allowed its embassy in Washington under Hussain Haqqani to issue visas to US officials without getting clearance from the security agencies of Pakistan.
The issue of Raymond Davis and May 2 Abbottabad shame brought CIA and the ISI face to face. Clashes between CIA and ISI had actually begun after the Army chief’s refusal to lauch operation in North Waziristan, with Gen Shuja Pasha refusing to cooperate with the CIA unless the relationship was on an equal footing.
According to one report, visas to 1545 US employees in the name of diplomats, trainers, NGO workers or NATO officials were issued controversially and without proper scrutiny. After the Raymond Davis case, the ISI had asked CIA to disclose the location of its agents/employees in Pakistan and the nature of their appointment in Pakistan. After repeated questioning CIA kept denying that they had so many operatives in Pakistan. The ISI managed to expel many of them following the release of Raymond Davis – the incident that was a great embarrassment for Pakistanis – however the complete cleansing was still not done.
The clashes between ISI and CIA worsened when Pasha reportedly insisted on the one-point agenda that ISI would not support any CIA activity in Afghanistan or Pakistan if they do not declare their operatives in Pakistan. To this effect the CIA officials said in plain words that no such clarification would be made to ISI as all visas have been issued duly and by the Pakistani authorities. However, after a lot of discussion the CIA, according to the report, agreed to declare 1079 officials, which were operating in Pakistan under various capacities, but denied to give any clue about others.
The ISI, on the other hand, had a list of 438 US officials who were in Pakistan but were not present in any consulate or embassy staff of any city. Their whereabouts were reportedly asked from CIA, to which they gave a funny reply that many of them have been lost? The CIA reportedly claimed that these operatives were used in the FATA area for the war on terror but in various incidents they have either been kidnapped or killed by Talibans so now they were no more in Pakistan. This was something Gen Pasha could not stomach.
Pasha in his meeting with former CIA chief Panetta in Washington had clearly stated that if CIA did not trust ISI then ISI too was not bound to keep the ties as they were. Panetta never expected such a curt reply. Exchange of harsh words took place between the two, prompting Gen Pasha to abruptly end his visit. He left USA just 5 hours after his arrival.s