The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the US has confronted Pakistan's top brass with new evidence of links between the country's spy service ISI and militants responsible for a surge in violence in Afghanistan, possibly including the recent suicide attack at the Indian mission in Kabul.
A top CIA official travelled secretly to Islamabad earlier this month and presented the country's senior officials with new information about deepening ties between the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the militant groups operating in tribal areas, the New York Times reported Wednesday, quoting US military and intelligence officials.
In the bluntest US warning to Pakistan since shortly after the Sep 11 attacks about the ties between the spy service and Islamic militants, the CIA specifically pointed to links between ISI members and the militant network led by Maulavi Jalaluddin Haqqani, which US officials believe maintains close ties with Al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan's tribal areas.
Describing CIA deputy director Stephen R Kappes' secret visit to Pakistan July 12, several US military and intelligence officials told the Times that they welcomed the CIA's harder line toward the ISI's dealings with militant groups.
Kappes was joined by Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in his meetings with senior Pakistani civilian and military leaders.
The meetings took place within days of a suicide bomber attacking the Indian embassy in Kabul, killing dozens. At the time, Afghanistan's government accused the ISI of having a hand in the attack.
The decision to have Kappes deliver the message about the spy service could be a sign of deteriorating relationship between the CIA and the ISI, which has long been marked by mutual suspicion and dependence, the Times report said.
The CIA has depended heavily on the ISI for information about militants in Pakistan, despite long standing concerns about divided loyalties within the Pakistani spy service, which had close relations with the Taliban in Afghanistan before the Sepember 11 attacks.