Ab­basi De­fangs ISI

In­creas­ing DG from 1 to 4 and DDGs from 8 to 15, Pak PM has killed two spar­rows with sin­gle ar­row; first make ISI less harm­ful and put in­tel­li­gence agency un­der civil gov­ern­ment

The Day After - - CONTENT - By MriDu Ku­MAri Feed­back on: re­porter@dayaf­terindia.com

Pak­istan is un­der­go­ing ma­jor cri­sis at do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional front. De­spite this, the coun­try’s Prime Min­is­ter Shahid Khaqan Ab­basi seems to be am­bi­tious in his pro­jec­tion as a leader of sub­stance. Even though he knows well that he is oc­cu­py­ing hot seat in Pak­istan till he en­joys the plea­sure of his party’s boss and for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif, he is do­ing ev­ery­thing to carve a dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal im­age for him­self. Re­cently, he ap­proved a pro­posal to in­crease the civil­ians’ share in the up­per hi­er­ar­chy of the In­ter-Ser­vices In­tel­li­gence, a dar­ing ef­fort which was un­der­taken by Pres­i­dent Pervez Mushar­raf in 2005 when he had ap­proved the post­ing of a civil­ian as DG ISI in Grade 21 rank, a post equiv­a­lent to a serv­ing ma­jor gen­eral of the armed forces. In that way he man­aged to cre­ate one civil­ian DG’s post in the ISI.

But Ab­basi, while fir­ing gun­shot above than Mushar­raf’s mark, ap­proved in­crease in the num­ber of DG from one to four in ISI. In ad­di­tion to this, the Pak­istan Prime Min­is­ter also en­hanced the num­ber of deputy di­rec­tors gen­eral (DDGs) from eight to 15. With one stone he killed two birds: First, he de­fanged all-pow­er­ful and all-per­va­sive ISI, sec­ond, he placed the in­tel­li­gence agency un­der over­whelm­ing con­trol of the civil­ian gov­ern­ment. This de­vel­op­ment oc­curred at the time when Nawaz Sharif is strug­gling to re­gain po­lit­i­cal space, while his wife Kul­soom Nawaz is bat­tling with can­cer. But who knows Pak­istan say how hard Shahid Khaqan Ab­basi may try to gain po­lit­i­cal weight, he can’t win his party’s cadres’ trust which still is tilted in favour of Nawaz Sharif.

In the mean­while, Pak­istan and the US con­tinue to have blow hot and cold kind of re­la­tions. US De­fence James Mat­tis skipped a trip to Pak­istan even though he landed in In­dia for a three trip. Thereby, in­di­cat­ing cat­e­gor­i­cally about con­tin­ued dis­rup­tions in Washington- Is­lam­abad re­la­tions. This was ex­pected af­ter Pak­istan post­poned the visit of US act­ing As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary of State for South and Cen­tral Asian af­fairs Alice Wells to Is­lam­abad in the last week of Au­gust. Nev­er­the­less, the first high level visit by the of­fi­cial of the Don­ald Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to In­dia, which has taken place more than one month af­ter the US Pres­i­dent un­veiled his regime’s South Asia pol­icy on Au­gust 21, shows that the

US is not ready to tread the same path it used to walk un­der the Barack Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The US has stopped giv­ing money to Pak­istan that it used to of­fer an­nu­ally since 2002 with­out any string at­tached to it. Amer­ica of­fered more than $33 bil­lion in as­sis­tance to Pak­istan in the past 15 years. On Au­gust 30, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion no­ti­fied Congress that it was dolling out $255 mil­lion in mil­i­tary as­sis­tance to Pak­istan into the equiv­a­lent of an es­crow ac­count that Pak­istan could ac­cess only af­ter it un­der­takes more crack­down on ter­ror­ists op­er­at­ing from its soil.

Even as Is­lam­abad could take no­tice of it, Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son warned that Amer­ica would use its mil­i­tary re­sources to tar­get ter­ror­ists in­side Pak­istan af­ter get­ting ac­tion­able in­tel­li­gence. That means the US un­der the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is well pre­pared to carry out vig­or­ous strikes against ter­ror­ists and their camps. Cur­rently such strikes have been car­ried out through drones in tribal ar­eas close to Pak­istan-Afghanistan bor­der, but, as per Pak­istan watch­ers, they would be now taken out across Pak­istan. This sent chill down Pak­istan’s spine to the ex­tent that on Au­gust 30 the coun­try’s new Prime Min­is­ter Shahid Khaqan Ab­basi chaired a meet­ing of Na­tional Se­cu­rity Com­mit­tee which was at­tended by all three chiefs of armed forces, For­eign Min­is­ter Khawaja Asif, De­fence Min­is­ter Khur­rum Dast­gir Khan, Fi­nance Ishaq Dar and Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of ISI Lt Gen­eral Naveed Mukhtar.

In that meet­ing an or­der was is­sued to form a sub-com­mit­tee to find ways to im­prove the coun­try’s re­la­tions with the US. In the mean­time, Pak­istan called a three-day con­clave of its en­voys in the first week of Septem­ber in Is­lam­abad. The con­clave at­tended by am­bas­sadors from Rus­sia, China, Iran, Saudi Ara­bia, Bahrain, the UAE, Afghanistan and Bel­gium dis­cussed in de­tail about US Pres­i­dent Trump’s new South Asia pol­icy. Ad­dressed by Pak­istan Prime Min­is­ter Ab­basi, the am­bas­sadors’ con­clave de­lib­er­ated on the need to sen­si­tize the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity about Pak­istan be­ing a front­line state in the fight against ter­ror­ism. Am­bas­sadors were also asked to con­vey the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity that war against ter­ror­ism can be won by ben­e­fit­ing from Pak­istan’s ex­pe­ri­ence and not by con­fronting Pak­istan.

Those who know Pak­istan and its es­tab­lish­ment say that such move shows des­per­a­tion in Is­lam­abad about its chequered im­age. How­ever, prob­lem within Pak­istan is that such des­per­a­tion is not acutely be­ing felt by a sec­tion of of­fi­cials in the coun­try’s de­fence es­tab­lish­ment and ISI. They don’t want to break their re­la­tions with ji­hadi groups which per­pe­trate ter­ror­ism on In­dia and Afghanistan. All top lead­ers of Afghan Tal­iban and their fam­ily mem­bers are set­tled in Pak­istan. In­dian and for­eign in­tel­li­gence net­works have in­for­ma­tion about Pak­istan army’s se­lec­tive treat­ment with ter­ror­ist groups. In the fed­er­ally ad­min­is­tered tribal ar­eas while they tar­get ter­ror­ists from Tahreeki-Tal­iban Pak­istan (TTP), they do not take ac­tion against armed ma­raud­ers from the Haqqani group or the Afghan Tal­iban. This has dam­aged the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the US and Pak­istan to such an ex­tent that Pak­istan Prime Min­is­ter Ab­basi could not get special time to meet Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. The Amer­i­can Pres­i­dent could have a chit-chat with the Pak­istan Prime Min­is­ter dur­ing the time for­mer threw a din­ner for all heads of gov­ern­ment/state who had landed in New York to at­tend UN Gen­eral Assem­bly. In any case Pak­istan con­tin­ues to be adrift on all fronts and in no way Ab­ba­sis or Shar­ifs could cor­rect it.

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