US Presses Pakistan on Control of ISI - Cooper and Mazzetti, New York Times
The Bush administration is increasing pressure on Pakistan’s fledgling civilian government to bring the country’s spy service under civilian control, according to American and Pakistani officials. During meetings in Washington this week with Pakistan’s prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, senior Bush administration officials pressed their Pakistani counterparts to assert control over Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, the American officials said. The pressure comes as relations between India and Pakistan deteriorate following reports of ISI involvement in the recent bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. The American pressure reflects heightened concerns at the State Department, Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency that operatives in the ISI, who have long been believed to have close ties to Pakistani militants, have become bolder and more open in their support for militant Islamist organizations.
"Some ISI Spies Sympathetic to Taliban" - Laura King, Los Angeles Times
Stung by US allegations that elements in its premier spy agency colluded with Islamic militants in last month's bombing of the Indian Embassy in Afghanistan, Pakistan acknowledged Friday that there "probably" were Taliban sympathizers within the ranks of its powerful intelligence establishment. The Pakistani government, which immediately and indignantly denied the reports of its spies' involvement in the bombing, reiterated that there was no evidence that members of its Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence had aided Taliban militants in the July 7 attack on the embassy in the Afghan capital, Kabul, which left about 60 people dead. But by Friday evening, senior Pakistani officials were offering a more nuanced response to US intelligence officials' allegations of ISI complicity.
Pakistan Denies Links to Bombing - Sara Carter, Washington Times
The Pakistani government Friday denied allegations that its intelligence agency was involved in the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. US counterterrorism officials said that "there are indications that elements of the ISI [Pakistan's Interservices Intelligence] provided support to those believed responsible for carrying out the attack" on the embassy. "The Pakistani government and the ISI in particular are not monolithic," said the counterterrorism official, who asked that his name and agency not be disclosed due to the sensitivity of his work. "In some areas there is good terrorism cooperation. That said, there's genuine and longstanding concerns."
Pakistan Admits Spies are Helping the Taliban - Daily Telegraph
The Pakistani government has conceded that members of its Inter-Services Intelligence agency were giving support to the Taliban. A spokesman said that Taliban sympathisers had to be rooted out of the ISI. But allegations by United States intelligence officials that Pakistani agents had helped plan a bombing at the Indian Embassy in Afghanistan last month were rejected. Sherry Rehman, the government spokesman, said there are 'probably' still individual agents whose ideological convictions were formed in the 1980s, when the ISI marshalled armed opposition to Soviet troops in Afghanistan, with US support. The statement was the first acknowledgement by Pakistan's new government that there may be pro-Taliban sympathisers in the intelligence service. But in a reflection of the sensitivity of the issue, Ms Rehman later changed her statement to maintain the problems at ISI were in the past.
Delicate Task of Playing Both Sides - Saeed Shah, Globe and Mail
For a covert spy agency, Pakistan's Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence has been attracting a lot of attention. It's been rebuked by the US government for failing to curb terrorism, accused in The New York Times of involvement in an international bombing, and targeted by the government it's supposed to serve - first for increased oversight, and now for a purge of its more extremist elements. After years of denials, Pakistan admitted yesterday for the first time what others have been saying: There are "probably" still agents of Inter-Services Intelligence who are sympathetic to the Taliban and "act on their own in ways that are not in convergence" with Pakistan's interests or policies, Pakistani government minister Sherry Rehman said. "We need to identify these people and weed them out." Anyone who has tracked the history of the ISI knows this is not a revelation, but a half truth. It's not individuals in the ISI that are rogue and working with the Taliban, but the ISI itself.
British Muslims 'Fighting with the Taliban' - Daily Telegraph
A Strategy for Pakistan - Washington Post editorial
Pakistan's new democratic government is committed to fighting al-Qaeda and other extremist Islamist movements - and that may distinguish it from the country's other power centers. Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who ruled the country from 1999 until this year and remains president, has been an enemy of al-Qaeda but did little to disrupt bases of the Taliban, a onetime client of his army. The country's powerful intelligence service, meanwhile, has long nurtured jihadi groups and now stands accused by the CIA of collaborating in recent terrorist bombings in Afghanistan. The new prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gillani, who was in Washington this week to meet President Bush, says he is doing his best to convince his country that "this is Pakistan's war." But he seems not to have won the argument within his own government. This complex situation calls for a careful and flexible response from the United States - and, to its credit, the outgoing Bush administration is making a relatively good start at fashioning that response.