In a damning indictment, a top US General has said the ISI is fomenting “chaotic activity” in Kashmir and Afghanistan and asked the Pakistani spy agency to change its “strategic thrust”.
The US is having “discussions” with the Pakistani leadership on this issue, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said.
Elaborating, he said the ISI has been supporting militant groups in Kashmir and the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) bordering Afghanistan.
“I believe that in the long run the ISI has to change its strategic thrust which has been to foment chaotic activity you know in its border countries,” Mullen, who has travelled to Islamabad for nearly a dozen times in the past one year, said.
“... that has been a Pakistan view to its own survival and its own security. And I think in the long run that’s got to change,” he said in a interview to Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV.
“What I mean is that they have clearly focussed on support of ... historically of militant organisations both east (India) and west (Afghanistan). I mean that’s been a focus of theirs in Kashmir historically as well as in FATA. And I think ... that fundamentally has to change,” he said. His remarks came when he was asked to explain what he meant by saying that the ISI had a strategic thrust to foment chaos in neighbouring countries.
Describing ISI’s close links with the Taliban as “another extraordinarily complex” relationship, Mullen said: “And it’s one that I’ve spoken very publicly about.”
At the same time, he said ISI has also provided “some very positive intelligence” in the past.
“...the ISI has also served ... some very positive intelligence needs both in the country and certainly between our two countries,” he said.
“So, I think it’s something we keep discussing, keep looking at. In the long run, its about the security for Pakistan and better security in the region for both those countries.”
Mullen also said that the US was having discussions with the Pakistani leadership on how to change ISI’s focus.
“There are discussions which have been ongoing in respect to that and the leadership recognises that and there is a big challenge dealing with that based on what their history is and what they need to do for the future,” he said.