Thursday, July 31, 2008
The United States has accused members of Pakistan’s main spy agency of tipping off al Qaeda-linked militants before U.S. missile attacks on targets in Pakistani tribal lands, Pakistan’s defense minister said.
defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar openly acknowledged American mistrust of Pakistan’s main military spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), in remarks aired on Thursday on Pakistani television.
“They think that there are some elements in the ISI at some level that when the government of Pakistan is informed of targets, then leak it to them (militants) at some level,” Mukhtar told Geo in Washington, having accompanied Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on a maiden visit to the United States.
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“This is an issue on which they were a bit annoyed.”
The disclosure of American displeasure by a minister in the four-month-old civilian government of American could embarrass President Pervez Musharraf and the Pakistani military, and reawaken concern about the stability of the nuclear armed state.
The U.S. no longer gives Pakistan advance notice when it targets militants in tribal areas.
The News, a Pakistani daily from the same media group as Geo, reported that Bush had asked who was controlling the ISI.
The ISI is the main intelligence arm of the military, which directs its operations, though under the law it reports to the prime minister.
Pakistan’s security apparatus consists of the ISI, and Military Intelligence, which deals solely with military matters, and their civilian cousins, the Intelligence Bureau, Federal Investigation Agency, and the police Special Branch.