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Steve Coll's "Directorate S" Demonizes Pakistan ISI

"Directorate S: The C. I. A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2001-2016" by Steve Coll holds Pakistan ISI's Directorate S primarily responsible for America's longest war.

The author does acknowledge other factors such as Washington's policy failures, Kabul government's corruption, divisions and dysfunction, Indian intelligence RAW's role, etc. However, he plays down the significance of these other factors and pins the blame squarely on Pakistan ISI, particularly its Directorate S which the author describes as one of the ISI directorates "devoted to secret operations in support of the Taliban, Kashmiri guerrillas, and other violent Islamic radicals".  The book sticks essentially to America's oft-repeated narrative of blaming Pakistan for US failure to win the war after 16 years of fighting.

Vital American Interests in Afghanistan:

Coll narrates top-level discussions during the successive administrations of President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama identified America's objectives/vital interests in the region are as follows:

1. Destroy Al Qaeda in the region

2.  Ensure Pakistan's stability to keep nukes out of the hands of terrorists

Notably absent from these goals is the defeat/destruction of the Taliban.

While there was considerable success in achieving the first objective, the actions taken to achieve that success induced instability in Pakistan. It gave rise to Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which launched deadly attacks on the Pakistani state that killed tens of thousands of civilians and security personnel.

Efforts by the United States to negotiate with the Afghan Taliban went nowhere, partly due to strong opposition to such talks by Tajik faction of the Afghan government.

India-Pakistan Great Game in Afghanistan:

Author Steve Coll quotes Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, President Barack Obama's representative for the region, as explaining how critical India-Pakistan relationship is to solving Afghanistan. Holbrooke said, "There are three countries here--Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India--with vastly different stages of political, social, and economic development. They share a common strategic space. As has happened so many times in history, the weak state is the one that sucks in the others. That's the history of Afghanistan and now the Great Game is being played with different players. The India-Pakistan relationship is an absolutely critical driver".

India's Covert War Against Pakistan:

Coll acknowledges Indian intelligence agency RAW's role in Afghanistan saying that "it was not as if R.A.W. had dropped out of covert actions specifically designed to undermine Pakistani stability"..... efforts that run counter to America's vital interest/goal number 2 in the region.

However, the author underplays its importance. He fails to take notice of the mounting evidence that even some Indian analysts and media find hard to ignore. Here are some instances:

1. Bharat Karnad, a professor of national security studies at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi, recently acknowledged India's use of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorist group against Pakistan in an Op Ed he wrote for Hindustan Times.

2. Indian journalist Praveen Swami said in a piece published in "Frontline": "Since 2013, India has secretly built up a covert action program against Pakistan."

3. India's former RAW officers, including one ex chief, have blamed Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, arrested by Pakistan in 2016, for getting caught in Pakistan as a "result of unprofessionalism", according to a report in India's "The Quint" owned and operated by a joint venture of Bloomberg News and Quintillion Media. The report that appeared briefly on The Quint website has since been removed, apparently under pressure from the Indian government.

4. A story by Indian journalist Karan Thapar pointed out several flaws in the Indian narrative claiming that Kulbhushan Jadhav, arrested in Pakistan while engaging in India's covert war in Balochistan, was an innocent Indian businessman kidnapped from Chabahar by Pakistani agents. Writing for the Indian Express, Thapar debunked the entire official story from New Delhi.

Former US Defense Secretary Hagel:

Indian journalist claims that India's covert war against Pakistan started in 2013. However,  former US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said back in 2011 that "India has always used Afghanistan as a second front against Pakistan. India has over the years been financing problems in Pakistan". Secretary Hagel was speaking at Cameron University in Oklahoma.

General David Petraeus's View: 

General David Petraeus, former CIA director and commander of US troops in Afghanistan, has said there is no evidence of Pakistan playing a double game and supporting terrorists in Afghanistan.

Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London in 2016, he said  "I looked very very hard then (as US commander in Afghanistan) and again as CIA director at the nature of the relationship between the various (militant) groups in FATA and Baluchistan and the Pakistan Army and the ISI and I was never convinced of what certain journalists have alleged (about ISI support of militant groups in FATA).... I have talked to them (journalists) asked them what their sources are and I have not been able to come to grips with that based on what I know from these different positions (as US commander and CIA director)".

Gen Petraeus did acknowledge that "there's communication between the ISI and various militant groups in FATA and Balochistan (Haqqanis, Taliban, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, etc) but some of it you'd do anyway as an intelligence service." He added that "there may be some degree of accommodation that is forced on them (Pakistanis) because of the limits of their (Pakistan's) forces."

Former CIA Officer Michael Scheuer's View of ISI:

To put unrelenting western and India media and analysts' attacks on the ISI in perspective, let's read some excerpts from an interview of  ex CIA officer and chief Bin Laden hunter Michael Scheuer on ISI, and watch the following video:

1. ISI is like all other intelligence services--like the Australian service or the American service.

2. ISI works for the interest of their country, not to help other countries.

3. The idea that ISI is a rogue organization is very popular--and even the Pakistanis promote it---but having worked with ISI for the better part of 20 years, I know the ISI is very disciplined and very able intelligence agency.

4. Pakistanis can not leave the area (AfPak) when we (Americans) do. They have to try and stabilize Afghanistan with a favorable Islamic government so they can move their 100,000 troops from their western border to the eastern border with India which---whether we like it or not, they see as a bigger threat.

5. We (US) have created the mess in South Asia and the Pakistanis have to sort it out. Our (US) problems in Afghanistan are of our own making.

6. Al Qaeda has grown from just one platform (Afghanistan in 2001) to six platforms now.

Summary:

"Directorate S: The C. I. A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2001-2016" by Steve Coll holds Pakistan ISI's Directorate S primarily responsible for America's longest war. The author does acknowledge other factors such as Washington's policy failures, Kabul government's corruption, divisions and dysfunction, Indian intelligence RAW's role, etc. However, he plays down the significance of these other factors and pins the blame squarely on Pakistan ISI, particularly its Directorate S. Coll downplays all evidence pointing to India's covert war being waged against Pakistan from the Afghan soil. It is this war that is destabilizing both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Ignoring it will delay any resolution to the Afghan problem.

Here's a video of ex CIA Officer Michael Scheuer talking about ISI:

https://youtu.be/-ncg9ks-MQE

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

General Petraeus Debunks Allegations of Duplicity Against Pakistan

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Karan Thapar Dismantles Official Indian Narrative on Kulbhushan Jadhav

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Has Modi Stepped Up India's Covert War in Pakistan?

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China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

Ajit Doval Lecture on "How to Tackle Pakistan" 

Views: 120

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 11, 2018 at 9:46am

Steve Coll is a journalist who started his career as a young man in New Delhi, India.

Like many impressionable young reporters who get their first lessons about South Asia while posted in India, he too learned of the region from a very Indian perspective. His book reflects that. 

And what lessons are those? 

Read Alice Albinia's preface to her book "Empires of the Indus":

"It was April, 2000, almost a year since the war between Pakistan and India over Kargil in Kashmir had ended, and the newspapers which the delivery man threw on to my terrace every morning still portrayed Pakistan as a rogue state, governed by military cowboys, inhabited by murderous fundamentalists: the rhetoric had the patina of hysteria."


http://www.riazhaq.com/2010/11/rulers-and-media-manufacture-consent... 


Comment by Riaz Haq on February 12, 2018 at 1:05pm

I heard Steve Coll, author of Directorate S, interviewed by Michael Krasny on KQED Forum this morning. 

Coll quoted Ex Vice President Joe Biden as saying: "Pakistan is 50 times more important to US than Afghanistan"

Later in the interview, Coll acknowledged that there are several ungoverned areas like Somalia and weak states elsewhere from where Al Qaeda and other Islamic militants operate. However, he said Afghanistan is different because it's next door to Pakistan which has nuclear weapons. It's important to US because Islamic militants in Afghanistan threaten Pakistan's stability and security of its nuclear weapons that could fall into the hands of terrorists. 

Coll's statements beg the following question: Are the US actions in the region contributing to Pakistan's stability? 

He answered it partly when he volunteered that Pakistan was a safe place when he traveled extensively throughout the country and covered Pakistan for Washington Post before 911. 

He also said the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) came close to marching to Islamabad in 2009 after they took over Swat. 

Coll also said that Pakistan will not be persuaded by Trump's argument that the US is prepared to stay in Afghanistan for as long as it takes to "win" . 

https://ww2.kqed.org/forum/2018/02/09/steve-coll-on-american-milita...

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 15, 2018 at 9:36am

My trip to Pakistan’s ‘Jihadi Disneyland’
A fact-finding tour of Waziristan, formerly the most dangerous place in the world
Freddy Gray

https://www.spectator.co.uk/2018/02/my-trip-to-pakistans-jihadi-dis...

Not so long ago, Barack Obama called Waziristan ‘the most dangerous place in the world’. It was the losing front in the war on terror, a lawless region in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan infested with Taleban and terrorism. Today, thanks to the Pakistan army, even a risk-averse hack like me can go there with scarcely a tremor. On Wednesday, as part of a British media delegation, I flew by military helicopter to Miranshah, the administrative HQ of north Waziristan. The soldiers took us to a newly built ‘markaz (hideout) re-enactment’ centre, which we quickly renamed Jihadi Disneyland. It is a true-to-life terrorist den, constructed by Pakistani soldiers with extraordinary attention to detail. The idea, I think, is to educate future generations about the terrorists’ way of life. But it feels more like a show home for wannabe bin Ladens, featuring everything an aspiring holy warrior might want in his property. There’s an American Humvee parked in the courtyard, a massive weapons stash and a couple of goats tethered to a tree. There’s also a brightly decorated room for brainwashing child suicide bombers, with framed pictures of some of the 72 virgins awaiting the lad when he has done his duty. Plus some fruit. The pièce de résistance is a torture chamber in the underground tunnel network. ‘This is where they do the beheadings,’ said the proud colonel showing us round.



We then went on a bus tour of Miranshah, which is being reconstructed as a model Tribal Area town. The security forces talked about establishing ‘new normalcy’, but the atmosphere was strange, something like an enormous public school not quite ready for the new term. Miranshah has a sports ground, outdoor communal areas, educational facilities, a hospital, even a ‘tuck shop’. It was eerily empty. I couldn’t tell if that was because not many people really lived there or because the army, worried that we might be attacked, had shut the town down. ‘Why are all the signs in English?’ asked one of our group. ‘Oh that’s for the visitors,’ replied the colonel. ‘The locals, they know their way around.’


It’s vile to be cynical, especially in a country that has suffered so much. That same day, just six kilometres from where we were, two soldiers were killed in a rocket attack. Some 70,000 Pakistanis have now died — ‘embraced martyrdom’ is the official idiom — in the US-led war on terror. You can see why Pakistan’s government gets upset when Donald Trump accuses them on Twitter of harbouring terrorists and offering nothing but ‘lies and deceit’.


Our press trip, organised by the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad, was meant to correct such misperceptions. We knew we were being spun, but it was impossible not to fall in love with the Pakistanis’ eccentric PR-style. In the Prime Minister’s office in Islamabad, Nasser Khan Janjua, the national security adviser, told us that Pakistan was ‘a scapegoat’. ‘Those who fight us blame us, those who side with us blame us,’ he said. He didn’t want to be gloomy, however, so for the last part of our interview he transmogrified into a representative of the tourism board and spent ten minutes showing us slides of his favourite parts of Pakistan.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 16, 2018 at 7:44am

#Pakistan slipping out of #America's influence, say #CIA and 16 other #US# intelligence agencies. #Afghanistan #Trump #India #Russia

https://www.dawn.com/news/1389542

Seventeen US intelligence agencies have warned Congress that Pakistan will continue to slip out of America’s influence and into China’s orbit in 2019, and will become a threat to Washington’s interests in the South Asian region.

The review is part of an annual report that Director of US National Intelligence Daniel R. Coats presented to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, underlining worldwide threat assessment of the American intelligence community.

The 17 agencies that jointly produced this report include Central Intelligence Agency, Defence Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Security Agency.

Pakistan

In their report on Pakistan, the agencies warned that the country will continue to threaten US interests by “deploying new nuclear weapons capabilities, maintaining its ties to militants, restricting counterterrorism cooperation, and drawing closer to China”.

The report claimed that Islamabad-backed militant groups will continue to take advantage of their alleged safe haven in Pakistan to “plan and conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan, including against US interests”.

The agencies also warned Pakistan’s perception of its “eroding position relative to India, reinforced by endemic economic weakness and domestic security issues, almost certainly will exacerbate long-held fears of isolation and drive Islamabad’s pursuit of actions that run counter to US goals for the region”.

In a brief assessment of Islamabad’s nuclear programme, US intelligence agencies informed Congress that Pakistan continues to produce nuclear weapons and develop new types, including short-range tactical weapons, sea-based cruise missiles, air-launched cruise missiles, and longer-range ballistic missiles.

“These new types of nuclear weapons will introduce new risks for escalation dynamics and security in the region,” the report added.

India-Pakistan Tension

US agencies also expect relations between India and Pakistan to remain tense, with continued violence on the Line of Control and “the risk of escalation if there is another high-profile terrorist attack in India or an uptick in violence on the Line of Control”.

India-China Tension

The agencies informed Congress that in 2019, relations between India and China will remain tense and will possibly deteriorate further, despite the negotiated settlement to their three-month border standoff in August.

This “elevates the risk of unintentional escalation”, the report added.

Afghanistan

The US intelligence community expects the overall situation in Afghanistan to “deteriorate modestly” this year in the face of persistent political instability, sustained attacks by the Taliban-led insurgency, unsteady Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) performance, and chronic financial shortfalls.

The agencies warned that the National Unity government in Kabul “probably will struggle” to hold long-delayed parliamentary elections, currently scheduled for July 2018, and to prepare for a presidential election in 2019.

“The ANSF probably will maintain control of most major population centres with coalition force support, but the intensity and geographic scope of Taliban activities will put those centres under continued strain,” the agencies assessed.

The agencies believe that Afghanistan’s economic growth will stagnate at around 2.5 per cent per year, and Kabul will remain reliant on international donors for the great majority of its funding well beyond 2018.

Russia

US intelligence agencies see Russia as bringing pressure on Central Asia’s leaders to reduce engagement with Washington and support Russian-led economic and security initiatives, and believe that “concerns about [the militant Islamic State group] in Afghanistan will push Moscow to strengthen its security posture in the region”.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 17, 2018 at 10:04pm

No #terror outfit camps exist on #Pakistan soil: Gen Bajwa at #MunichSecurityConference #Trump #India #TTP #Taliban

https://www.aninews.in/news/world/asia/no-terror-outfit-camps-exist...

Munich [Germany], Feb 18 (ANI): Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa has claimed that Pakistan does not have any organised terror outfits on its soil.

Addressing the Munich Security Conference (MSC) 2018 in Germany on Saturday, General Bajwa said, "Today, I can say with pride and conviction that there are no organised camps on our side of the border. However, presence of terrorists of various hues and colors cannot be ruled out. We still have their active and sleeper cells and they are hiding in mountains, border towns and 54 refugee camps, besides some major town and cities."

The army chief also stated that Pakistan still hosts approximately 2.7 million refugees from Afghanistan "whose concentration is regularly used by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Haqqani network to recruit, morph and melt".

Bajwa refused to blame the Kabul administration, and claimed that of the last 130 terrorist attacks in Pakistan's border areas last year, 123 were conceived, planned and executed from Afghanistan.

"We understand their [Kabul's] predicament and therefore we do not blame them, but instability in Afghanistan is also hurting us badly. And it is happening despite the presence of the most powerful alliance in Kabul," he said.

The Army Chief also urged the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) to conduct, audit and introspect to find out the causes of the standoff.

"We defeated Al Qaeda, the TTP and Jammtul Ahrar while their safe havens still exist in Afghanistan at a mere fraction of resources employed at the other side of the border. Instead of blame game it is time for the NATO to conduct and audit and introspection to find out the causes of this stalemate," he added.

The three-day MSC, which commenced on Friday, is scheduled to end today.(ANI)

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 28, 2018 at 10:14am

Bob Woodward quotes Dr. Peter Lavoy, staffer in charge of South Asia for Obama's NSC, in his book "Fear" as follows:


"There are literally thousands of sub-tribes in Afghanistan. Each has a grievance. If the Taliban cease to exist you would still have an insurgency in Afghanistan".


https://books.google.com/books?id=wKRkDwAAQBAJ&q=subtribes#v=sn...

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