US advised to work with China, Saudi Arabia to purge ISI

An expert advises US to convert post-bin Laden crisis into an opportunity.

Last Updated: May 21, 2011, 12:39 PM IST

Washington: The US should work with China and Saudi Arabia to purge Pakistani spy agency ISI`s officers or sections suspected of providing support to extremists, a noted American expert has said.

Noting that the US-Pakistan relations are on the brink of collapse after Osama bin Laden was killed by US forces in a military garrison town near Islamabad, Daniel Markey from the Council on Foreign Relations in a policy memorandum said Washington should move quickly to convert the post-bin Laden crisis into an opportunity to create a more effective working partnership with Islamabad that will serve its interests over the short and long run.

"Washington should focus its efforts on securing reforms that purge Pakistan`s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI) of officers or sections suspected of providing support to extremists," Markey said.

To do so effectively, the US should adopt an indirect approach that leverages the power of influential Pakistanis, the credible threat of curtailed US assistance to Pakistan and US sanctions, pressure from Pakistan`s closest allies - China and Saudi Arabia -- and the hard edge of US military force in
Afghanistan.

In his policy memorandum, Markey said since 9/11, Washington has lacked a credible "stick" to go along with the "carrots" of billions of dollars in assistance to Pakistan.

The war in Afghanistan and the presence of top al Qaeda leaders inside Pakistan made Washington dependent on Pakistan`s supply routes and intelligence sharing.

The unilateral killing of bin Laden was an important demonstration that Washington is less dependent on Pakistani intelligence than it once was, he said, adding that to further enhance its leverage with Islamabad, Washington should begin diverting Afghanistan war supplies away from Pakistan`s ports and roads and into routes running through Russia and Central Asia.

"By demonstrating this independence, the US can credibly threaten assistance cut-offs and other sanctions. Rather than issuing such threats directly, the Obama administration should coordinate its efforts with the `bad cop` of the US Congress," he said.

"This process should start with congressional hearings on US military , not civilian, assistance to Pakistan. This will signal that Congress is unsatisfied with Islamabad`s security strategy, not eager to punish its people. Moreover, cutting US non-military assistance will not change the strategic calculations of Pakistani generals," Markey wrote.

As the Obama administration pursues other diplomatic efforts with Pakistan, Congress should draft and debate legislation conditioning military assistance on improvements in Pakistan`s counter-terror and intelligence cooperation.

"Given Pakistan`s past experience of US sanctions, congressional threats are credible. But the Obama administration will need to coordinate its routine with congressional leaders to make sure threats do not unleash irreversible sanctions and to keep the focus firmly on the issue at hand- reforming the ISI - and not on other matters that could easily spur a counterproductive response from Pakistan, such as nuclear proliferation or a democratic transition,"
Markey wrote.

PTI

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