Hitherto the impression was that the United States’ drone attacks on Pakistani villages in Waziristan were counter-terrorist operations with a purpose. Now comes a rare peep into the range of factors that motivate the CIA when it orders the drone strikes. The AP exclusive is, to put it mildly, shocking. At least some of these drone attacks were apparently in the nature of the CIA’s revenge acts against the ISI. The famous drone attack of March 17, which killed 38 innocent people attending a tribal jirga, it now transpires, was indeed a revenge act for the detention of the ace CIA operative Raymond Davis for 7 weeks in custody in Lahore for killing in cold blood two persons. The chilling words of a US official, quoted in the AP story: “It was in retaliation for Davis. The CIA was angry.”
Isn’t it a war crime? Yet, then CIA boss Leon Panetta who ordered it has had a ‘promotion’ and is now Barack Obama’s defence secretary. Those 38 souls wouldn’t have known when they gathered to settle a land dispute at the jirga that Panetta and his CIA boys were so angry with the Pakistani military that they were going to be slaughtered as sacrificial lambs. It stands to reason that army chief Parvez Kayani made out the US’s motivation behind the war crime. It was a rare occasion when he publicly voiced criticism of a drone attack – that the jirga was “carelessly and callously targetted with complete disregard to human life.”
The AP story conveys a poor image of the Pakistani generals, especially ISI chief Shuja Pasha. They appear so dumb, impotent and bureaucratic in real life – especially that part about Kayani sending a memo to John Kerry while he was en route to Dubai in an aeroplane! How easily these generals ended up surrendering Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity! Pakistan’s best hope lies in that it too would some day, Inshah Allah, have someone like Recep Erdogan of Turkey as a national leader who sent the corrupt ‘Pashas’ (who also pretended they were the custodians of the Turkish state) summarily packing.
The AP story underscores the real state of play in the CIA-ISI equations. I wonder how they can ever again work together with a modicum of mutual trust. Maybe this is how spy agencies are and there is nothing unusual in the backstabbing and vanity fair. More important, does the ISI also get ‘angry’ like the CIA? And if it does, does it also order attacks on civlians like CIA boss Leon Panetta did on the fateful day on March 17? Read the AP dispatch….