Kevin Drum calls “the ISI the scariest group in the world”:http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2008_08/014211.php:
bq. I’m not absolutely certain who my choice for scariest group in the world is, but if push came to shove it probably wouldn’t be al-Qaeda. It would be the ISI, Pakistan’s main intelligence service.
He’s probably right. The “New York Times reporting on the latest to surface about the ISI”:http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/01/world/asia/01pstan.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin:
American intelligence agencies have concluded that members of Pakistan’s powerful spy service helped plan the deadly July 7 bombing of India’s embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, according to United States government officials.
The conclusion was based on intercepted communications between Pakistani intelligence officers and militants who carried out the attack, the officials said, providing the clearest evidence to date that Pakistani intelligence officers are actively undermining American efforts to combat militants in the region.
…The government officials were guarded in describing the new evidence and would not say specifically what kind of assistance the ISI officers provided to the militants. They said that the ISI officers had not been renegades, indicating that their actions might have been authorized by superiors.
p. All this is something “Ahmed Rashid has been saying for years”:http://harpers.org/archive/2008/07/hbc-90003347, most notably in his last book, “Descent into Chaos”:http://ko.offroadpakistan.com/2008/07/ahmed_rashid_descent_into_chaos.html.
The only interesting part about this whole issue is the Americans making it public, for they (and just about everyone else who cared to know) knew already that their “favorite dictator”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musharraf was up to no good. Ever since 9/11, America has been shoveling money to the Pakistan Army and the ISI, ignoring all the many evils on the ground.
Anyone in Pakistan can point out militant training camps, which were set up all over the country during the Soviet-Afghan, mainly by the CIA and the ISI – many of which still exist. Heck, I remember seeing billboards on the Karakorum highway back in 1995, with competing militants advertising free training, food and lodging, along with a AK-47 if you just signed up for one of their many courses on offer. After 9/11 the billboards came down, but the camps are still there, just offering even more money to compete with all the schools offering… wait a minute, there are no schools in Pakistan offering free food, lodging and even a stipend! A lot of the camps function like orphanages, taking in the poor or destitute and providing them with a living for years.
Every year some Pakistani magazine does “a feature story on terrorist training camps”:http://www.dawn.com/herald/jul05.htm, generally right after the government announces that they’ve banned them, and they don’t exist. How do they find all these camps? It’s easy enough – just start driving on any main road in Pakistan, and ask for directions.
It is interesting to note, that the CIA is the godfather to the ISI, providing them billions of dollars during the Afghan war, and lots of training and equipment to boot. The book, “Charlie Wilsons War”:http://ko.offroadpakistan.com/2006/08/charlie_wilsons_war.html details how the CIA poured billion of dollars into the ISI, then forgot about them for decade or so, while the ISI continued carrying out the American’s forgotten war in Afghanistan.
Moving on to the present century, even the “CIA is jealous of the ISI”:http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/20/weekinreview/20mazzetti.html?sq=cia%20isi&st=cse&scp=3&pagewanted=all:
bq. The grumbling at the C.I.A. about dealing with Pakistan’s I.S.I. comes with a certain grudging reverence for the spy service’s Machiavellian qualities. Some former spies even talk about the Pakistani agency with a mix of awe and professional jealousy.
The one obvious thing in the whole matter is, that giving the level of resources the ISI and the Pakistan Military have, they could do a lot – so just the mere fact that they let terrorists run amok in the country is enough to damn both of them.
Geo News reported a few days ago that in the last year alone around 150 schools have been blown up by militants in Swat. That’s just one region of Pakistan – according to some reports every single girls school in the entire Northern area of Pakistan is shut (or blown up if not shut). That’s a heck lot of schools to blow up or threaten to blow up – and takes a lot of resources and a dedicated organization. Not a single person has ever come to trial for blowing up a school in the last year. The most damning indictment of the entire Pakistani military establishment is that some of these schools blown up were right next to military checkposts.