RAWALPINDI: Observing that the CIA does not trust the ISI because it has repeatedly demonstrated its untrustworthiness, The Wall Street Journal in an opinion piece said on Friday that Pakistan needs to be a given an ultimatum of the kind it was given immediately after 9/11.
“In the wake of 9/11, the Bush administration famously sent Secretary of State Colin Powell to Islamabad to explain that the US was going to act forcefully to protect itself, and that Pakistan had to choose whose side it was on. It’s time to present Pakistan with the same choice again,” the newspaper said in an opinion piece entitled ‘The Pakistan Ultimatum.’ Importantly, the piece comes within days of a high-profile meeting between the spy chiefs of the United States and Pakistan.
“The government of President Asif Ali Zardari allowed the US to increase the number of drone strikes. Yet it has made a point of complaining about them publicly, playing a particularly cheap form of politics to shore up its waning popularity with a domestic constituency smart enough to see through the hypocrisy,” the paper said.
Noting that relations between Washington and Islamabad have historically never been easy, and seem to have reached something of a watershed now, the Journal said Pakistan’s behaviour has not exactly been exemplary.
“Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, has longstanding links to terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Haqqani network...The government and military have made no move against the Quetta Shura, the operational nerve centre in Pakistan of Taliban leader Mulla Omar,” the daily said, adding that Islamabad’s US cooperation has also been double-edged.
“The Pakistani army was also happy to cooperate with the US when the targets of the strikes were members of the Pakistani Taliban who had their sights set on Islamabad. But the army has been less cooperative when the targets were the Afghan Taliban based in Pakistan or the ISI’s terrorist partners,” the Journal reported.
“So Pakistan now demands that the United States withdraw hundreds of American intelligence operatives and special-ops trainers from its soil and stop the CIA drone strikes on al-Qaeda, Taliban and affiliated terrorists. Maybe the Obama administration can inform its friends in Islamabad that, when it comes to this particular fight, the US will continue to pursue its enemies wherever they may be, with or without Pakistan’s cooperation,” the daily said.