‘ISI aids and abets terrorist sanctuaries in Pak’

Washington, July 01: Pakistan spy agency ISI not only aids and abets terrorist sanctuaries in the country, but also provides training and intelligence inputs to extremist outfits, a former top Pentagon General said.

Gen (rtd) Jack Keane also charged that Pakistan Army headed by General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, who once headed ISI, has been repeatedly lying to the United States on the matter.

But still, the retired American General argued that the US has no other option but to have strategic partnership with Pakistan, given its significance in the war against terrorism.

“The truth is, the ISI aids and abets the sanctuaries in Pakistan that the Afghan operate out of. They provide training for them, they provide resources for them and they provide intelligence for them. From those sanctuaries, every single day Afghan fighters come into Afghanistan and kill and maim us,” Keane, said at a discussion on Afghanistan organized by the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think-tank.

“There’s a direct relationship of ISI’s complicity and the deaths of American soldiers and the catastrophic wounding of those soldiers. The chief of staff of the Pakistani military is complicit. He used to be the director of ISI. He put the guy in there who is in charge now and he has full knowledge of what I’m just describing,” Keane alleged.

He said, “This partnership has got to be based on that harsh reality. There are two ammonium nitrate factories in Pakistan. 80 per cent of the explosive devices that are used to kill our soldiers, kill Afghan security forces and kill Afghan people come from Pakistan.”

“All of what I just said to you, when we confront them with this, they lie to us. They lie to us just like the Soviet Union used to lie to us. But we have to have a relationship, in my judgment, that is based on the harsh reality and the truth and we go from there in developing this relationship,” Keane said.

The retired US general said Pakistan is a country of strategic consequence – much more so than Afghanistan is – given the size of that population and the growing nuclear arsenal and the fact that there is a raging insurgency inside the country to destabilize it. “This is radical Islam who wants to take over that country, would have that nuclear arsenal. None of that could we permit to have happen.”

“So we have to have a strategic partnership of some sort with Pakistan. But I think it got to be grounded, once and for all, on the truth. That s got to be the basis for this relationship. And sometimes, I’m not sure it is,” he added.