Eli Lake’s column featured by Daily Beast is intriguing for more reasons than the obvious one that he is one of America’s ace reporters on the national security beat. Surely, someone in the know of things on the US’s intelligence operations in Pakistan gave him a peep into the secret world of the US’s intelligence network in Pakistan and that ‘someone’ must be really ‘someone’ very special of the stature of David Petraeus, for instance, for Lake to take him so seriously.
I wonder why that someone gave away so much that has a most acute angle to it (which is hard to see except if you look closely), namely, that someone is softly, gently rocking Pakistani army chief Ashfaq Kayani, suggesting it’s time to wake up from the reverie. The reason could be that the Pakistani decision to expel the US from Shamsi airbase and to root out the remaining tentacles of the US’s parallel intelligence network is hurting.
After all, Iran just showed how to shoot down America’s latest stealth drone aircraft. And Kayani just told his men in the border with Afghanistan that they could shoot at what they want. With Shamsi gone out of US hands, America’s celebrated drone warfare may be ending in our part of the world till a more sophisticated model if perfected through the trial runs in the Somalian wilds.
Lake gives a fascinating insight into how the Americans prised open Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence [ISI] and played havoc with it ultimately. And Lake reminds us gently that all these deadly US inroads into the ISI’s bowels began when Kayani was heading the ISI under Pervez Musharraf who, of course, according to Lake, gave “valuable assistance” to the Americans from the presidential palace in Islamabad. (My advice to Musharraf is to defer his proposed arrival in Pakistan in January 2012 by at least one year .)
With great aplomb, Lake slips in the intriguing thought as well that Musharraf “handpicked Kayani as his replacement as Army chief shortly before stepping down from the presidency in August 2008.”
So, the ISI’s pro-American “T-Wing” was formed during Kayani’s stewardship only, which later led to the proliferation of US intelligence activity in Pakistan. In short, it is rubbish to blame Hussain Haqqani as responsible for letting in all those hundreds of CIA operatives into Pakistan by generously granting them diplomatic visas from his ambassadorial chamber in Washington. Haqqani, it seems, was efficiently following up an entire enterprise that began under Kayani.
Lake informs us that Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of US joint chiefs of staff, was known back in Washington among the folks as the “Kayani whisperer”. Lake writes admiringly of Mullen as “a man with a special knack for quietly and discreetly influencing Kayani at crucial points.”
Just ponder for a few minutes: Why is someone in a key position in the US security establishment in Washington deliberately slandering Kayani at this point? I think, with Haqqani gone out of the loop, with President Asif Zardari probably stepping down soon in whatever strange circumstances, there is great uneasiness bordering on panic in Washington.
It seems increasingly that Washington has no Plan B. The setback has come as an avalanche. The Pakistani military has turned the table squarely on the US and the latter needs to yet figure out how to play back into the game. By the way, Shuja Nawaz, who is known to be rather knowledgeable, also makes much the same point.
Meanwhile, someone has hinted at a warning to Kayani that he is going too far in rooting out even the last traces of the US intelligence penetration that devastated the Pakistani state structure.
The overpowering sense from Lake’s dispatch is of course how the US doesn’t hesitate to degrade the state structures of even its allies if American interests are involved. If this was the ruthless fate that visited ISI – an organisation that is considered second only to Mossad – I shudder to think what would be the case with lesser mortals like, say, we Indians who live on vegetables and fruits. At the end of the historic “defining partnership” between US and India, will anything be left of our Bharat mata? Eli Lake is here.
– December 8, 2011