CIA chief has ‘confrontational’ meeting with Pakistani spymaster

Ahmed Shuja Pasha

A.S. Pasha

There is almost no coverage in the US media of CIA director Leon Panetta’s trip to Pakistan —in sharp contrast to the Pakistani and Indian press, where his visit made national headlines over the weekend. A scheduled meeting with Ahmed Shuja Pasha, director of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was undoubtedly among Panetta’s most important engagements in Islamabad. According to Pakistani media accounts, the meeting between the two men —the second in less than two months— was confrontational and marred by serious differences between the ISI and the CIA —two agencies that rarely see eye-to-eye lately. Citing “well-placed sources”, Pakistani daily The Nation said that the ISI spymaster “expressed his disappointment” to Panetta about the CIA’s “dismal role in countering terrorism” in Pakistan and its “failure to provide concrete actionable information” to the Pakistani secret services. This will not surprise intelligence observers, who understand that sharing of actionable intelligence between the two agencies is currently almost non-existent.  Another point of confrontation during the meeting was Washington’s apparent refusal to act on persistent Pakistani allegations that Indian spies are sabotaging US and Pakistani security efforts in Afghanistan, reportedly in order to further destabilize Pakistan. The Pakistani claims were last month echoed by Milt Bearden, former CIA station chief in Pakistan, who told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Indian intelligence operatives were indeed active in Afghanistan, and that “the concerns of Pakistan’s Army are legitimate in this regard”. Watch this space for coverage of Panetta’s visit to India and Saudi Arabia this week.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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