EDITORIAL: CIA-ISI tug of war - Friday, April 15, 2011

By carrying out a drone attack that killed seven suspected militants and injured four others near Angoor Adda in South Waziristan just a day after a four-hour long meeting between the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the US has given out a firm message that it is in no mood to scale down its CIA-led operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan. In the meeting held in Washington, Pakistan had put the pre-condition of limiting the scale of drone attacks for resuming intelligence cooperation with the US in the war against terror, which was stalled after the arrest of CIA contractor Raymond Davis in Lahore in January. According to the recently released report of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, more then 900 were killed in drone strikes in 2010.
Since Davis’ arrest, Pakistan’s ISI had been hoping to use it as a bargaining chip to renegotiate the CIA-ISI relationship carved through the one-sided opening provided by General Pervez Musharraf to the Americans in the aftermath of 9/11 to come out of international isolation he was facing for removing a democratically elected government through a military coup. It was inevitable that this arrangement would be questioned given its lopsided nature, giving a huge margin to the American. Some would argue it was the need of the hour; if Pakistan had not complied it would have faced severe consequences. Ten years down the line, with Musharraf out of the equation, efforts are being made to balance that relationship and put it on a proper footing. The question is: will this happen?
Given the US experience and outreach in our region, it may be done ostensibly to satisfy their hosts, but it is not likely to happen in reality. Following Davis’ arrest, it had been revealed that there are around 300-350 CIA agents working on Pakistan’s soil. Although they have supposedly left the country to secure the release of Raymond Davis, is there a guarantee they would not be replaced? It is hard to imagine that the camel in the Arab’s tent will leave voluntarily. The latest drone attack is a clear indication of the US thinking. Pakistan has lodged a protest with the US ambassador to Pakistan and public demonstrations have been held from time to time against predator strikes whipping up rhetoric that Pakistan should stop logistical support for the US forces stationed in Afghanistan, but this issue is not so simple. It seems unlikely that the US would rollback its presence or operations as long as it sees them serving its interests in the region. Though Pakistan once closed border crossing at Torkhum in response to incursion by NATO helicopter into Pakistan’s tribal areas that killed three Pakistani soldiers in a military check post, stranding hundreds of containers and fuel tankers carrying supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan, in reality Pakistan does not have this option. Given its history as a client state, Pakistan’s economy is heavily dependent on aid from Washington. Pakistan is caught between a rock and a hard place and it would take a real test of wits of Pakistan’s security establishment to find a way out. In fact, the two sides are locked in an uneasy embrace where they do not trust each other but need each other’s help. Presently, a tug of war is going on between the two. Only time will tell which way things would settle. *

SECOND EDITORIAL: ZAB reference case

The Supreme Court has accepted for hearing the
reference sent by President Asif Ali Zardari for reopening the trial case of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The PPP as well as many independent legal experts believe that the legal process of Bhutto’s case was highly flawed and that the death sentence was politically motivated. The purpose of reopening this case is to right an egregious historic wrong committed by a military dictator in connivance with the top echelons of judiciary of the time. It was, by all accounts, a highly partial judiciary and working under great pressure from the dictatorial regime in power. Therefore, it ignored some of the glaring loopholes in the case presented by the prosecution for Bhutto’s hanging. The Lahore High Court sentenced him to death for ordering the elimination of then information secretary of Tehrik-e-Istaqlal and member National Assembly, Ahmad Raza Kasuri, in 1974, and the Supreme Court upheld this sentence. The Supreme Court has decided to appoint 10 amici curiae from all the four provinces to assist it in this case.
Law Minsiter Babar Awan has resigned from his post in the federal government and decided to present the case before the court. Since its coming to power, the government has been facing difficulty in finding an appropriate person who could represent it in various cases pending before the court, including the NRO case. Recently, the Supreme Court rejected the government’s request to change its counsel in NRO implementation review case. It seems the government was once again faced with a stark choice. Given the historic importance of this case, President Asif Ali Zardari has requested one of his most trusted aides to present the PPP’s position before the court. Now that a larger bench has been created to hear this case, it would be in order if Bhutto’s trial is revisited in depth and the honourable judges come up with the correct position and remove some of the blemishes cast on their institution by their predecessors. *

Source : http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\04\15\story_15-4-2011_pg3_1

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