Thursday, March 17, 2011

Raymond Davis Released, But The Round Ended 'Advantage ISI'

Foreign Policy's AF/PAK blog goes behind the scenes of Raymond Davis's release today:

Retired General Talat Masood, a defence analyst, told me that that Davis's release is a consequence of the smoothing over of relations between the CIA's and the ISI. "It's a good development, it demonstrates that both have come to an understanding about how they will operate with each other, and co-operate in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The ISI has also determined certain boundaries about how the CIA will operate in the country." Masood says that this was a difficult decision for Pakistan for many reasons, which include changing the Pakistan-U.S. relationship from co-operative to confrontational, and then dealing with the right-wing and religious parties' aggressive stance on Raymond Davis.

A senior security official in Pakistan, speaking under condition of anonymity, told me that, "The Americans had been working on this, they thought that this (the diyat law) was the only way out." And ISI and CIA relations? "The ISI has laid down their terms for reengagement of certain areas where they felt they'd been bypassed, and the other side realized that they needed them. Both agencies need each other."

While rumours and more conspiracy theories continue to swirl in the air, it is evident that Pakistan has emerged as the biggest winner from Davis's strange and sordid case. While the religious parties may cry themselves hoarse over sovereignty of the country and rule of law, the ISI in particular has the upper hand here, and has impressed upon the CIA to make it clear that they cannot run a network under the noses of the powerful spy agency. To use tennis lingo: Advantage: ISI. What happens in the next round is anyone's guess.

The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad has issued an updated Warden Message annoucing a precautionary shut-down of all embassy and consulate routine business throughout Pakistan for tomorrow, Friday.

This Warden Notice is to update the notice sent earlier today. The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and the U.S. Consulates General in Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar will be closed on Friday, March 18, 2011. The Embassy will issue an updated Warden Message when the Embassy and the Consulates General reopen for routine business.

The Embassy reiterates its advice to all U.S. citizens to take measures for their safety and security at all times. These measures include maintaining good situational awareness, avoiding crowds and demonstrations, and keeping a low profile. U.S. citizens should avoid setting patterns by varying times and routes for all required travel. U.S. citizens should ensure that their travel documents and visas are valid at all times. In addition, over the next several days, we advise U.S. citizens to avoid areas where foreigners are known to congregate.

Notice that "the Embassy will issue an updated Warden Message when the Embassy and the Consulates General reopen for routine business." It sounds as if they aren't taking it for granted that civil unrest over Davis's release will have quieted down enough to allow reopening on the next business day.


Anonymous said...

Which leads me to think that the two men were ISI agents.

TSB said...

Given what we know about the two, and what we know about ISI agents (our people there are no strangers to ISI agents), I don't think so. If anything, they might have been low-level police informants.

I think the ISI wasn't all that concerned about the shooting anyway. The problem for them was that we had a group working on Lashkar-i-Taiba without the ISI's knowledge.

Who cares if someone shoots a couple muggers? But the ISI cares a lot if we go behind their back to work against their interests.