Less than two months before his retirement, outgoing chief of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) told a top inquiry panel that RA&W and CIA’s constant attacks on the spy organisation were taken as ‘compliments’ to ISI’s ‘achievements’.
Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) is India’s external intelligence agency while Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is its American counterpart.
Lt Gen Shuja Pasha, then the ISI DG told Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal-headed Abbottabad Commission that the “CIA and R&AW never lost an opportunity to blame and damage the reputation of the ISI, but the Pakistani intelligence agency took it as a ‘complement’ to its ‘achievements’,” the leaked Commission report said.
In a significant admission, Pasha, who appeared before the panel for the third time on January 18, 2012, acknowledged the ISI overstepped its mandate of just external intelligence long back in the 1980s ‘which was a crucial period for the ISI’.
“There was the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Indian military build-up culminating in BRASSTACKS exercise, large scale subversives and sabotage activities conducted by Soviet Union’s KGB, R&AW and the Afghan KHAD in urban centres. These challenges enlarged the spectrum of ISI’s activities,” he said.
Pasha’s admission assumes significance in the light of Pakistan Supreme Court chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry hauling up the ISI in March, 2012, for involvement in activities that were not part of its mandate.
“There was never any trust between the ISI and the CIA, only an understanding due to overlapping interests. The main agenda of the CIA was to have the ISI declared a terrorist organisation,” the ISI chief is said to have told the panel.
The Abbottabad Commission was set up by the Pakistan government to identify serious lapses that endangered Pakistan’s sovereignty when on the night of May 1, 2011, US commandos flew 100 km inside Pakistan to Abbottabad to kill Osama bin Laden.