News / Asia

Former US Intelligence Chiefs: Pakistan Must Stop Playing Both Sides

A resident walks past the compound where U.S. Navy SEAL commandos reportedly killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad May 5, 2011 (file photo)
A resident walks past the compound where U.S. Navy SEAL commandos reportedly killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad May 5, 2011 (file photo)

Multimedia

Audio

The relationship between the United States and Pakistan has been severely strained in recent months.  Two former top U.S. intelligence officials say the relationship has been sorely tested because Pakistan has been trying to have it both ways by cooperating with U.S. counterterrorism efforts while maintaining ties with Taliban groups.

In separate interviews, ex-Central Intelligence Agency Director Michael Hayden and former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair both say Pakistan is trying to use Taliban groups to maintain influence in Afghanistan.

Hayden, who served as CIA chief from 2006 to 2009, says Pakistan's army and its primary intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI), have been using the Haqqani network as leverage.

"It is clear, it is unarguable, that the Pakistani government, particularly the Pakistani security establishment - the army and the ISI - view the Haqqani network, that's the Taliban group in North Waziristan, [as] more of an - in their calculus they know it's an enemy of the United States, but in their calculus it's dominated by the fact that they believe that the Haqqani network is a friend of Pakistan.  And that may be the single most troubling aspect of the relationship: our divergence of views on that particular network," said Hayden.

The Haqqani network is viewed as perhaps the most lethal of the Afghan Taliban groups, crossing into Afghanistan from its safe havens in Pakistan's tribal areas to mount attacks on NATO forces.

Former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair says Pakistan is playing both sides in anticipation of the eventual U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

"They were hedging, frankly," said Blair.  "There were trying, and they still are, to take advantage of the help that they can get from the United States while still thinking, well, maybe the United States won't be here, maybe we have to look out for our own interests, and we need contact with many different groups, both countries and these various terrorist groups.  And in addition, they have a tradition of trying to play off these extremist groups against each another."  

Both men give Pakistan some praise for its counterterrorism cooperation.  Hayden says the country has been a "powerful" counterterrorism partner and that the United States has captured more senior al-Qaida personnel with Pakistani help than any other nation.

But the U.S. has been urging Pakistan to be more aggressive in moving against Taliban and al-Qaida safe havens.  Blair says Islamabad  has been reluctant to do so.

"Pakistan has suffered more terrorist attacks than any other country," Blair noted.  "But they still have this idea that they can maintain contact with lots of groups, choose their friends, work against their enemies.  And they just haven't made the strong decision that we need to clean up our own country, go against terrorist groups, whoever they are, whether they threaten Pakistan, India, the United States, Afghanistan, or anybody else."

From the Pakistani side, statements from officials attest to anger over U.S. drone strikes on terrorist targets in its tribal regions, the presence of U.S. intelligence operatives on its soil, and, most recently, the U.S. incursion into Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden.

The U.S. team clandestinely crossed into Pakistan in darkness on May 2 and found the al-Qaida leader hiding in a compound in the city of Abbottabad, not far from Pakistan's military officer academy.  The team killed bin Laden and made it back to Afghanistan unhindered by Pakistani forces.

Hayden, a retired Air Force general, says the bin Laden raid merely underscored a relationship between Washington and Islamabad that has been in a downward spiral for some time.

"I rather look upon it as - particularly the Abbottabad raid - it may have affected the relationship," said Hayden.  "But fundamentally, what it did to the public is to rip the curtain back from the relationship. That relationship has always been difficult. And the space, the space in which American and Pakistani interests - or perceived interests - are overlapping or identical has gotten quite small."

The fact that Pakistan was not informed of the raid in advance infuriated Pakistani officials.  But Blair, a retired Navy admiral, says the Obama administration made the right call to not inform the Pakistanis in advance because of the fear of leaks.

"Unfortunately, we find that when Pakistan gets a piece of information it evaluates whether it will use that piece of information for its own interests and not necessarily for our interests," Blair added.  "So I have no quarrel with the judgment that was made that the United States needed to take action itself this time.  And frankly, Pakistan needs to know that there are certain things that the United States is not going to fool around on, and this person who led this attack that killed 3,000 Americans.  And getting him was not something we were going to entrust to others.  We were going to do that one ourselves."

Analysts think that bin-Laden's replacement, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and his core followers are hiding somewhere in Pakistan's remote tribal regions.  A recent analysis by the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy says there is a far closer relationship between al-Qaida and the Haqqani network than has been commonly believed.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid