Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search

Can Pakistan clean up its intelligence agency?

The US, India, and Afghanistan are pressuring the government to root out pro-Taliban agents.

By Shahan MuftiCorrespondent of The Christian Science Monitor / August 7, 2008

Defusing tensions: Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani (l) and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh (r) in talks at the SAARC summit in Colombo.

Gurinder Osan/AP


As Pakistan faces mounting pressure from its neighbors and the United States to clear pro-Taliban elements from its intelligence service, its weak government is struggling to respond in a convincing way.

Skip to next paragraph

Last week, American officials alleged that members of Pakistan's powerful intelligence agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), had helped plan the bombing of the Indian consulate in Kabul, Afghanistan, last month. The claim echoed those lodged by both affected neighbors, India and Afghanistan.

On top of these accusations came reports that a top CIA official had confronted Pakistani leaders with evidence of the ISI's support for militants that the Pakistani Army has been battling in the country's restive northwest tribal areas.

The timing of the allegations against the ISI is weighing heavily on Pakistan, which has struggled to assuage its neighbors' and the US's complaints.

While it denies its intelligence agents' involvement in the July bombing, it has acknowledged that the ISI still includes agents who sympathize with Islamic militants.

To defuse escalating diplomatic tensions, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani met last weekend with Afghan and Indian leaders on the sidelines of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit to reiterate Pakistan's commitment to fighting terror.

In talks Saturday with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh, Mr. Gilani promised to investigate the ISI's alleged role in the Kabul bombing. The next day, in a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, he also agreed to work towards "developing a common strategy" to overcome the challenges terrorism poses to the stability of both of their countries.

The reports from the US surfaced just as Gilani was completing his first visit to Washington, where he met with President Bush. The tour was widely criticized for its failure to ease US growing concerns about Pakistan's role in the war on terror. A column in the Daily Times, a national English-language newspaper, called the trip an "unmitigated disaster."