How Panetta chummed at home with former ISI Head’s wife

Below is one of the e-mails of a series named ‘The Global Intelligence Files’, published by Wikileaks. The whistle-blower organization has published over five million e-mails from intelligence company Stratfor. The e-mails date between July 2004 and late December 2011, Wikileaks stated. The below e-mail (reproduced verbatim) suggest how former CIA director Leon Panetta chummed at home with former ISI Head’s wife.

Date: 2011-04-12 21:16:14

Great insight. The bit about the Pasha-Panetta discussion that is then hijacked by DoS’ involvement in the Davis case is very interesting.

On 4/12/11 1:34 PM, Kamran Bokhari wrote:

I think the details of the entire interaction (in addition to the actual conversation) provides value. Hence the context. Also, I don’t want to upset my delicate relationship with the directorate and the wider military establishment so let us not share this beyond the list.

Spoke to him over the phone on the 11th of last month. At the time he was very busy (the Raymond Davis issue hadn’t been settled and intense talks were taking place). I’m actually surprised he took my call. But then I was using my DC cell phone, which may explain him personally picking up the phone.

Given his preoccupation and my own trips to Kabul and Cairo he said let us try to meet and play it by ear. In the brief conversation I asked him what was up with him getting another extension (he hadn’t gotten it at the time) to which he replied that he is staying on in his position for quite a while. He asked me if I needed any security assistance while I was in country and I respectfully declined the offer.

Our meeting Monday of last week was organized by the military’s pr wing (the 2-star heading the dept and his chief of staff) and the ISI’s pr people (in particular a certain Colonel Zaka). The last two times I met the ISI chief, it was at his residence inside Joint Staff Headquarters at Chaklala Garrison in Rawalpindi. This time around, the meeting took place in the super secure headquarters in Islamabad.

In recent years there have many a lot of new roads constructed in the capital, especially around the ISI headquarters and then the jihadist insurgency led to the closure of the main road that ran in front of the directorate. So, it was interesting to actually get into the facility. Was directed to take a side/rear road into the complex.

Had to go through five layers of security to get into the place. There were five check posts each with concrete as well as delta barriers and several armed men. The first two layers had guys with plain clothes with walkie talkies and guns while the inner three had uniformed men.

Once after the main barrier, which is an iron gate you enter the courtyard of the new main building adjacent to the old ones. A really fine structure recently completed when the current army chief was heading the ISI and Musharraf was in charge – from the inside it resembles a 5-star hotel in terms of the quality of the interior finishing.

I was told by the guard at the front door to park at the rear of the building. So I parked and walked back to the front. Once in the building and making my way through the metal detector I was greeted by a plainclothes official who said I didn’t need to take out my blackberries to pass through the machine and asked me to hand them over to the guys at the reception who were also plainclothes people.

The guys didn’t look tech savvy but I would be surprised if others didn’t go through my list of contacts and emails. The official who was wearing a tie and had two devices attached to his hip with a small earpiece escorted me to the fourth floor and seated me in a waiting room which could be accessed through two wooden doors and one made of glass. I was early and turned on the tv and waited for about 15 minutes before another person in a black suit and tie came in and took me to a meeting room where a minute later DG-ISI Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha came in and greeted me warmly remarking that I had come after a long time.

We had a 30 minute conversation, which began with him asking me what was happening in Libya saying that Tripoli had asked for Islamabad’s assistance – a request that was under consideration and wanted my thoughts on a) what was happening there; b) what I thought Pakistan could do to help. He also said that the U.S. seems to have made the wrong decision to intervene militarily. I briefly gave him our assessment of the situation and suggested that sending troops to Libya or Bahrain was very risky (which he agreed) but added that perhaps Pakistan could work with Turkey since Ankara is trying to take the lead in a diplomatic solution to the crisis there but I didn’t know what kind of leverage Pakistan had with the rebels or the govt. By this time an aide had brought in tea and cookies in a really nice set of chinaware.

I then asked him what was the status of U.S.-Pakistani relations specifically CIA-ISI post Raymond Davis. He said the relationship has not really changed. Of course it hasn’t improved but it hasn’t deteriorated further below the existing levels and told me he would be in DC to discuss the issue on the 11th. He then went into the details of what had happened with the Raymod Davis matter saying that this issue could have been solved if the Americans had kept it between the CIA and the ISI.

He said he called up Panetta (who said he had a really good personal friendship with the D-CIA saying he was the only U.S. official whom he had invited to his house and introduced to his wife and son) asking him that we should sort out the issues between our two agencies. Panetta told him that he couldn’t because State was taking the lead on it. Pasha said he was disappointed at this response and knew that this was about to turn into a diplomatic row and media ruckus.

At that point he said the ISI let Punjab police handle the investigation and no one on the Pakistani side taking responsibility. The government said the matter is in the hands of the courts and the courts looking at the foreign ministry for answers about the status of Davis’ immunity. All of this he said could have been avoided if it were not for State getting involved. Ultimately he said it came back to the ISI and we were able to work out an arrangement with the CIA. He also said once it became a media issue we were really worried that Davis might be killed by people from within the police service. (Another 2-star I met said there were concerns that the Americans could have him killed and we would be in deep shit). We wanted him gone and as soon as possible and thankfully we were able to pull it off.

But he said that there are still unresolved questions about the people who Davis killed. He said they were not ISI sleuths as some suspect. Rather, low level thugs who had a lot of cash on them and in different currencies, which is.

On the domestic insurgency he said you can see things are much better. He added that in fact the situation was really good. The attacks were down and limited to a certain area.

But it would take another 10-12 years to completely get rid of the issue and a lot depends on how the Americans settle Afghanistan. On North Waziristan he said, he has been saying that we need to do an operation there for several years now going back to the days when I was Director General Military Operations and was overseeing the early days of our counter-insurgency efforts in the northwest. But the issue is one of logistics.

The only way to mount an offensive in NW is through South Waziristan, which we are trying to stabilize with the building of roads and resettlement of locals. We also needed to stabilize the tribal agencies to the north of North Waziristan, which is also a work in progress. Once we have achieved our goals of stabilizing SW, we will move into NW.

At this point, the ISI chief picks up the phone and asks one his aides to connect him to a certain official within the directorate (he referred to him as Director something can’t quite remember). The guy comes in with a cell phone and the chief speaks with the guy asking him if the friends had given the coordinates for south waziristan. He then asks if it is south of a particular area or north. After that he says that is all I wanted to know and hangs up and apologizes for having to make the call.

On Afghanistan, he said the Americans are stuck with the old notion that Pakistan wants to see the Taliban come to power again in Afghanistan. Anti-Pakistan and pro-India analysts and advisers in the U.S. and elsewhere continue to feed that perception. This is an outdated view because Islamabad has long given up that goal given the threat to Pakistani security. We do not wish to see the Talibs dominate Afghanistan.

On the contrary, we want to see a broad-based government that can end the civil war in that country, which has had a disastrous fallout for us. Of course the Talibs will be a key player in a post-NATO Afghanistan, which we feel is necessary for true peace to take place. But that is just an acknowledgment of a reality than a desire on our part to see Talibs rule Kabul.

Even the U.S. realizes that there will be a deal with the Talibs so why the double standards when it comes to us (especially when we will have to deal with the situation once after the U.S. leaves)? Pakistan wants to see a friendly government – one that can maintain peace in the country. Such a govt can only come about when the Karzai government can reach a negotiated settlement with the insurgents, which is not going to happen by talking to the former Talibs like Zaeef, Mutawakkil, etc.

I asked him if the Obama admin had approached Pakistan to help with the negotiations. He said no such thing happening, which he said was the problem. He added that DC and Kabul need to involve us in the process because if anyone can deliver it is us and we have an interest in doing so. Look at what happened during that incident with the meeting with the man who they thought was Mullah Mansoor but in reality he was a shopkeeper who swindled them for money and made a mockery of everyone including Petraeus who actually met the guy (laughs and smirks at this point).

At this point the guy who brought me into the room comes and in and says it is time for your next meeting. The chief says give me a few more minutes and we continue talking and he says I really appreciate the work you are doing in terms of steering clear of taking any sides. I then thank him and we begin to walk out of the room.

At this point I asked him if there was any change to his email address and Pasha says I am sorry I have not been in regular touch over email because these people were reading my messages and I had to have my pc cleaned but I am still using the old email address. I asked who was reading his emails and he replied there is only one entity in Pakistan who can do that. (I take it he meant people from within the directorate were doing so).

He walked me to the elevator from where I was escorted by another young man in black down to the lobby from where I collected my blackberries and he then escorted outside and asked me where I was parked to which I replied at the rear of the building and he then walked me to my car during which I asked him how long he had been serving in the ISI and he said for quite some time (I had hoped he would tell me the number of years). He waited until I pulled out and then waved and left and I drove out of the complex passing the same set of security layers I had encountered on my way in.

Sean Noonan
Tactical Analyst
Office: +1 512-279-9479
Mobile: +1 512-758-5967
Strategic Forecasting, Inc.

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