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Wary partners: CIA and ISI

Inside a secret detention centre in an industrial pocket of the Pakistani capital called I/9, teams of Pakistani and American spies have kept a watchful eye on a senior Taliban leader captured last month. With the other eye, they watch each other.

world Updated: Feb 26, 2010 00:59 IST

Inside a secret detention centre in an industrial pocket of the Pakistani capital called I/9, teams of Pakistani and American spies have kept a watchful eye on a senior Taliban leader captured last month. With the other eye, they watch each other.

The CIA and its Pakistani counterpart, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), have a long and often tormented relationship.

And even now, they are moving warily toward conflicting goals, with each maneuvering to protect its influence after the shooting stops in Afghanistan.

Yet interviews in recent days show how they are working together on tactical operations, and how far the CIA has extended its extraordinary secret war beyond the mountainous tribal belt and deep into Pakistan’s sprawling cities.

Beyond the capture of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, CIA operatives working with the ISI have carried out dozens of raids throughout Pakistan over the past year, working from bases in the cities of Quetta, Peshawar and elsewhere, according to Pakistani security officials.

The raids often come after electronic intercepts by American spy satellites, or tips from Pakistani informants — and the spies from the two countries then sometimes drive in the same car to pick up their quarry.

Successful missions sometimes end with American and Pakistani spies toasting one another with Johnnie Walker Blue Label whisky, a gift from the CIA.