US: Pakistani intelligence behind attack on Indian embassy

This story should stir the pot between the Pakistanis and the Indians. According to American intelligence services, the July bombing of India’s embassy in Afghanistan was masterminded by the ISI, Pakistan’s own intel service which many suspect of aiding radical Islamist terrorists in the FATA. The attacks killed 54 people, and the news puts more pressure on the Gilani government to take action against its own spy service:

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 American officials also said there was new information showing that members of the Pakistani intelligence service were increasingly providing militants with details about the American campaign against them, in some cases allowing militants to avoid American missile strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Concerns about the role played by Pakistani intelligence not only has strained relations between the United States and Pakistan, a longtime ally, but also has fanned tensions between Pakistan and its archrival, India. Within days of the bombings, Indian officials accused the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, of helping to orchestrate the attack in Kabul, which killed 54, including an Indian defense attaché.

Earlier reports had acknowledged that the CIA went to Pakistan last month to complain about the ISI and its support of terrorists. The New York Times gets more detail now on exactly what the US delegation told Islamabad. Not only did they produce evidence of the ISI leadership in the Kabul attack, but they also informed Pakistan that the ISI was leaking details of planned American attacks to the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Moreover, these are apparently not the actions of a renegade group within the ISI.  The Islamist assistance comes from the top levels of the organization.  This development was taken seriously enough that President Bush chose to personally address it with Prime Minister Gilani during his visit to the US this week, demanding to know who is in charge at the ISI.

India has already enough reason to be unhappy with Pakistan without this information coming to light.  Renewed fighting this week in Kashmir stemmed from skirmishes with the same insurgents who attack Afghanistan on the other border.  India believes that the Islamists have grown strong enough in the region to fight a two-front guerilla war, and with ISI backing, that certainly makes sense.

If Pakistan cannot control the ISI, the US and India may have little choice but to fight a border war in areas where the Gilani government refuses to establish its sovereignty.  Islamabad may not like it, but the coordination between the US and Pakistan will likely have to end for these kinds of strikes in order to protect operational security.  Either the Gilani government has to start taking its responsibilities seriously and bring the FATA and the ISI under control, or they will have to suffer the consequences.