Pakistan’s national security establishment may be the most dangerous force threatening world peace. Yet not all the news is bad.
Eli Lake has produced an astonishing report detailing the construction of a pro-American counter-establishment within the Pakistani services which is struggling at enormous personal risk on behalf of a secular, democratic Pakistan oriented to the West.
Officially, America’s relations Pakistan’s military and intelligence services were in a tailspin in August. Furious at having been kept in the dark ahead of the Americans’ May 2 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, Pakistan’s military had kept U.S. investigators out of the place until it was scrubbed for evidence and had refused them access to bin Laden’s wives for some time. And the Pakistanis had outed the CIA’s Islamabad station chief, putting his life at risk. Meanwhile, back in America, fears were rising over possible al Qaeda attacks on the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11.
But in the shadows, far from the public rancor, Pakistani-U.S. cooperation quietly continued.
In Quetta, the Taliban’s capital in exile, U.S. intelligence was monitoring the cellphone of the presumed planner of any Qaeda anniversary attacks, Younis al-Mauritani, the group’s newly named external operations chief. The Americans’ tracking data—signals intelligence, or sigint, as it’s known in the profession—was being shared in real time with the local branch of Pakistan’s paramilitary Frontier Corps. When his exact location was discovered, the Pakistanis smashed through the doors of his safe house and grabbed him along with two deputies.
Soon he was hundreds of miles away, at a special detention center in Punjab province, under intensive interrogation by a pro-U.S. faction of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate. The Americans began getting regular reports on potential threats connected to the anniversary. CIA officials were even given an “unofficial” visit to question Mauritani directly.
It’s an amazing piece of work, impeccably sourced, and a rare note of hope in the grim-US Pakistan relationship. Essential reading–and a partial atonement by Newsweek/The Daily Beast for their incredibly reckless action in offering Mansoor Ijaz a platform to broadcast wild fictions that have shaken Pakistan’s never very secure democracy and callously endangered the life of one of the finest of Pakistan’s dwindling group of sincere democrats, former ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani.