By Patricia Lee Sharpe
The myth holds that Pakistan’s I.S.I. (aka the Interservices Intelligence Agency) is on top of everything. Its generals are the puppeteers who control Pakistan.
If so, the infallible ISI has failed, miserably, at least twice in the last few years. More distressing from the American point of view, unless the ISI is truly incompetent, Pakistani leaders have kept the U.S., a provider of billions in aid and a partner (officially) in the war against terrorism, totally in the dark about some very important, supposedly mutual enemies.
The first suspicious case had to do with Osama Bin Laden’s long residence in Abbottabad, right under the reputedly keen noses of the Pakistani military. Is it really credible that Pakistani officials had no knowledge of Bin Laden’s presence until U.S. Seals landed their helicopters, gunned him down and snatched his body away? Or had the I.S.I. provided the safe house that wasn’t quite safe enough?
Raise your hand if you think the I.S.I. didn’t know what was going on in Abbottabad.
Now comes the news that Mullah Omar died some two years ago in a hospital in Karachi. The report comes from Afghanistan. So far from Islamabad: silence.
Now really, is it possible that Mullah Omar died in Pakistan’s largest city, only a few hours drive from Quetta, in Pakistan’s Baluchistan, where, it’s been assumed but never officially acknowledged, Afghanistan’s deposed Taliban rulers have been living in exile for lo! this past ten years or so, without the I.S.I. having the least hint of his demise there? Or of his disappearance from Quetta? Two years ago! This, too, is incredible. And knowing or strongly suspecting either, wouldn’t a trustworthy Pakistan have immediately informed the U.S., which has been hunting high and low for Mullah Omar?
Maybe I’m going out on a limb here, but it looks to me as if we’re wasting our money in Pakistan. Not only does U.S. aid indirectly underwrite Pakistan’s primary mission of undermining India, it seems to be failing in our own primary objective of securing reliable assistance against militant extremism. Surely, if the Republicans in Congress want to save some money, they might begin by putting Pakistan on a severe diet dollar-wise.
And that would be very wise indeed.