Thursday, July 14

What's the real story behind ISI chief Pasha's latest trip to Washington? (UPDATED July 15)

SecState Hillary Clinton arriving in India, July 2009
Things promise to be even rosier this time around

The (Pakistan) Express Tribune reports today that the Pakistani military's decision to send Inter Services Intelligence chief Lt. Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha to meet with acting CIA Director Michael Morell on Wednesday "was reportedly taken at the corps commanders’ meeting on Wednesday, a day after US central command head Gen James Mattis met with top military officials, including the Army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

The Express also reports:

The back-to-back meetings of military and intelligence officials follow the US administration’s decision earlier this week to withhold $800 million in military aid to punish Pakistan’s security establishment for expelling several dozen alleged American spies operating in the country.

Top Pakistani military commanders on Wednesday said they would use their own resources to carry forward the war on terror in what appeared to be a ‘mild but defiant’ snub to Washington’s move.

According to senior intelligence officials here, Pasha would tell the American spy chief that the ISI has no objection to anti-terror cooperation between the two agencies but would never tolerate a private ‘network’ the CIA is secretly maintaining in Pakistan.

“We are willing to cooperate with CIA in war on terror … but there is no room for a private network. That is our position and we are going to stick to that,” said an official, giving a hint of what would be discussed during Pasha’s interaction with the Americans.

The Pakistani military has been in the process of busting what is described as an underground human network the US established over the past decade.

These local individuals associated with the CIA are believed to have played a critical role in a secret manhunt that led up to the unilateral raid in which bin Laden was killed.

The US administration has been pushing Pakistani spy agencies to release at least several hundred people who were part of the CIA network and the issue is likely to feature during Pasha’s meetings as well.

But officials here said they believed the decision to dismantle these private clusters was final and there won’t be any second thoughts.[...]
The key phrase in the above is "an underground human network the US established over the past decade." Such a network couldn't have been established in Pakistan without the knowledge and tacit agreement of Pakistan's military, which explains why the military was quickly able to roll up so much of the network after the Abbottabad raid.

However, there was no need for Pasha to make a trip to Washington, or Langley, to explain a decision that's already known to the White House and CIA and which surely had already been discussed and debated at length during Mattis's meeting with Kayani. So why, then, would Kayani pack off Shuja to Washington on the heels of the meeting?

I'd venture it's because after hearing what Mattis had to say, Kayani knew that this week was the last opportunity he'd have before the second U.S.-India strategic dialogue to impress on select members of Congress that Pakistan has greater strategic importance to the USA than India. However, the more impressionable members of Congress might not be as inclined to lap up twaddle as in the past given recent developments.

Indian defense industry analyst Ajai Shukla detailed some of the developments in his June 28 report for India's Business Standard:
[T]he pivotal Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) has asked the Pentagon to submit by November 1, 2011, a detailed assessment of the current state of US-India security co-operation and a five-year plan for enhancing that.

Noteworthy in itself is the bipartisan belief within the Committee that “it is in the national interest of the US, through military-to-military relations, arms sales, bilateral and multilateral joint exercises, and other means, to support India’s rise and build a strategic and military culture of cooperation and interoperability between our two countries, in particular with regard to the Indo-Pacific region”.

But far more substantive is the SASC’s call on the Pentagon for “a detailed assessment of the desirability and feasibility… [of] a potential US partnership with India to co-develop one or more military weapon systems, including but not limited to the anticipated program to replace the US Air Force T-38 trainer jet”.

This is the first time that the US Congress has officially demanded a report from the Pentagon on the US-India security relationship.[...]
Shukla goes on to note that the fledgling U.S.-Indian defense partnership got off to a rocky start. However, much has changed, even since the first strategic dialogue in June 2010. Round two of the dialogue, taking place in the post-Abbottabad era, promises a reset in thinking on both sides:

Clinton visit: US committed to nuclear deal
Indo-Asian News Service
New Delhi, July 14, 2011

The US on Thursday underlined its commitment to full civilian nuclear cooperation with India as the two countries look to expand their counter-terror cooperation and discuss ways to stabilise the volatile Afghanistan-Pakistan region at their second strategic dialogue here next week.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton touches down here July 18 on a three-day visit that also includes a trip to Chennai, the hub of top-billing American investments.

Clinton will hold the second India-US strategic dialogue with external affairs minister SM Krishna in New Delhi on Tuesday that will encompass a broad spectrum of issues ranging from counter-terrorism and security to civil nuclear cooperation, defence and closer cooperation in science and technology.

She will also meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

On the table will be the fate of the landmark India-US nuclear deal that has become a shade complicated following the Nuclear Suppliers Group's new guidelines adopted at its meeting in the Netherlands last month. The new norms effectively ban the export of enrichment and reprocessing technologies (ENR) to countries which have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

“We want to implement all agreements which include 123 (bilateral civil nuclear pact) and waiver (granted by the Nuclear Suppliers Group in September 2008). No doubt nuclear issue will be discussed,” US Charge d’Affaires A. Peter Bulreigh told reporters here ahead of Clinton's visit.

“As far as the US is concerned, it will fully implement agreements made and move forward…and American companies will have contracts like other countries,” he said.

Clinton is likely to reassure India that the new guidelines will not impact the clean waiver granted by the 46-nation nuclear cartel to India in September 2008 that reopened the doors for global nuclear commerce for New Delhi after a hiatus of 34 years.

Clinton is also expected to share Washington's outreach efforts to help India become a member of the top four multilateral nuclear export regimes, including the NSG, the Wassenaar Arrangement, the Australia Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

The US diplomat stressed that the US has removed most of Indian entities from the export control list and assured that the existing barriers in the way of high-tech trade will come down soon.

Counter-terror cooperation will be high on the agenda, an issue that has acquired added piquancy following July 13 Mumbai serial blasts that killed 17 people and injured over 130.

US Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper and Deputy Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security Jane Holl Lute will be among those accompanying Clinton to India. They will be discussing issues relating to intelligence-sharing and deepening of counter-terror cooperation.

Terming the [serial terrorist blasts in Mumbai on July 13, 2011] as "despicable", Clinton has made it clear that she would go ahead with her visit to New Delhi for the strategic dialogue and said it is more important than ever to stand with India in the struggle against terrorism.

Issues relating to the stability of Afghanistan-Pakistan region will also figure prominently in the talks.[...]
UPDATE July 15
Reuters reported last night:
"The discussions today between General Pasha and the acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency went very well," a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity. "They agreed on a number of steps that will improve Pakistani and U.S. national security," the official said, without disclosing any more details.
At the very end of the report Reuters noted:
Pasha had also been expected to meet with the heads of congressional intelligence committees during his visit, but the meeting did not happen because of time constraints, a U.S. source familiar with the visit said.
So he got the Bum's Rush, huh? Well I guess this means the more impressionable members of Congress are not quite as impressionable as they used to be, or have less patience with twaddle since Abbottabad.

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