There was a significant tumult in Pakistan over an opinion piece published in the Financial Times on October 10. It was penned by Mansoor Ijaz, a United States citizen of Pakistani ancestry. It was titled “Time to Take on Pakistan’s Jihadist Spies” (Time to Take on Pakistan’s Jihadist Spies). In the article, which was a scathing indictment of Pakistan’s top espionage agency, it was claimed that Zardari had utilized personal connections to escape the criticism and the looming backlash that would have ensued if it had been revealed that Usama bin Laden (UBL) had been found in Pakistan.
The State Department, the op-ed claims, should now label the S-Wing as a terrorist organization falling under the category of “foreign governmental organizations.” The Obama administration’s plans to blacklist the Haqqani network are pointless and will have no substantial impact on the group’s military assistance and intelligence logistics. S-Wing is purportedly the organization responsible for providing all of these specialities in the first place. It no longer makes a difference whether ISI is acting incompetently, deliberately blind, or involved in the attacks that its S-Wing is carrying out. The S-Wing must be stopped. The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency is the embodiment of the plague of extremism that has become a pillar of Pakistan’s foreign policy.
To effectively combat terrorism worldwide, the United States must now take the initiative to cut off political and financial support for a Pakistani government agency that has consistently and fatally undermined international attempts.
After the op-ed was published, chaos ensued. The media went into a delirium, and rumours began to circulate that our ambassador to the United States, Hussain Haqqani, was the one who had dispatched the document to Washington at the directive of President Zardari.
What, though, was the May 10 “Briefing for Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff” titled “Confidential Memorandum?”
The military and the civilian leadership reportedly had a tug of war over the bin Laden raid. It was believed that civilians would not be able to endure the amount of pressure that the military would apply. Furthermore, US leaders assumed that civilians had a rare opportunity to obtain priority over military and intelligence matters, and they assumed this opportunity existed right now. As a result, it was suggested that Washington’s security and intelligence infrastructure should undergo significant revisions.
The following outlandish suggestions were allegedly included in Elbe’s purported memo:
- Accusations have been made that Pakistan harboured Usama bin Laden and other key al-Qaeda leaders and provided them with aid. The President of Pakistan will request an impartial investigation into these allegations. The White House has the ability to make recommendations regarding the names of non-partisan investigators who should be included on the panel. For instance, the group should be structured similarly to the bipartisan 9/11 commission.
- The investigation will be open to public oversight and will be non-partisan. It will also produce findings that are of concrete benefit to the government of the United States of America and the people of that country. These findings will pinpoint the individuals and organizations accountable for harbouring and providing assistance to UBL within and close to the inner ring of influence in Pakistan’s government (civilian, intelligence directorates, and military). There is no doubt that the UBL Commission will result in the instant termination of active service officers in the appropriate government offices and agencies found liable for involvement in supporting UBL. This outcome is guaranteed to take place.
- Ayman al-Zawahiri, Mullah Omar, and Sirajuddin Haqqani are among the leading members of Al Qaeda and other affiliated terrorist groups still on Pakistani soil. The new national security team will implement a policy requiring Pakistan to hand over these individuals, including Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Mullah Omar, and Sirajuddin Haqqani, or give the United States military forces a “green light” to conduct the necessary operations. This “carte blanche promise” is not without political risks, but it should reflect the new group’s determination to eradicate dangerous elements on our land. This promise has the endorsement of the highest echelon on the civilian side of our house, and we will ensure that any required collateral support is provided.
- Because of your stealth capabilities, which allow you to enter and exit Pakistani airspace at leisure, one of the most significant concerns of the military and intelligence community is that Pakistan’s nuclear assets can now be considered legitimate targets. With the full backing of the Pakistani government, initially civilian but eventually including all three power centres, the new national security team is prepared to develop an acceptable framework of discipline for the nuclear program. “This effort was begun under the previous military regime, with acceptable results.” We are prepared to resuscitate those ideas and build on them in a way that brings Pakistan’s nuclear assets under a more verifiable and transparent system. This is something that we are prepared to do.
- The new group in charge of national security will remove Section S of the ISI, which is responsible for maintaining connections with the Taliban, the Haqqani network, and other groups. This will result in a significant improvement in relations with Afghanistan.
- We are prepared to cooperate fully with the Indian government under the guidance of the new national security team to bring all perpetrators of Pakistani origin to account for the attacks that took place in Mumbai in 2008. This includes perpetrators who worked outside of the government and inside any part of the government, including its intelligence agencies. This includes turning over to Indian security agencies anyone suspected of wrongdoing for which there is sufficient evidence.