US Senators, officials remain suspicious about ISI`s LeT links

Top US Senators and officials have indicated that they continue to remain suspicious about the real intentions of the Pakistani intelligence agency.

Updated: Feb 23, 2010, 13:58 PM IST

Washington: Notwithstanding the recent arrest
of high-value Taliban leaders in Pakistan in which ISI played
a key role, top US Senators and officials have indicated that
they continue to remain suspicious about the real intentions
of the Pakistani intelligence agency in view of its links to
LeT and other terror outfits.

Appearing before a powerful Congressional committee, top
officials of the Obama Administration refrained from giving a
clean chit to ISI when several Senators wanted to know if the
Pakistani intelligence agency had snapped its entire links
with terrorists and was no longer providing them any material
or strategic support.

"I would refer any details to the closed session, but what
I would say is that the ISI has, in many cases of
counter-terrorism operations, been a very important partner
for our intelligence agencies and actually contributed
substantially to the capture of a number of high-level people
from terrorist organisations, but I will reserve comment on
any specifics to the closed session," Defence Secretary for
Policy, Michele Flournoy, said.

Flournoy made the remarks when she was asked by Senator
Joe Lieberman about ISI in view of the arrest of Mullah Abdul
Ghani Baradar, the second-in-command to Afghan Taliban chief
Mullah Omar, in Karachi recently during a joint operation by
CIA and the Pakistani intelligence agency.

Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services
Committee, had convened the Congressional hearing on the
latest US operation in Southern Afghanistan and also the
recent developments in Pakistan.

"As we have learned as we`ve gone to Pakistan a lot and
talked to our people there, that this is a mixed picture with
the ISI, so it`s not all -- and that`s saying something
positive (is being done with regard to taking action against
militants). In other words, it`s not all negative," Senator
Lieberman said. "It`s not all negative."

"Yeah, the negative obviously is our concern that there
continue to be contacts between some elements of the ISI and
Lashkar-e-Taiba and other terrorist groups, but on the other
hand, it is reassuring to note that in this action (against
Mullah Baradar) and others, that they have contributed
significantly to counter-terrorist actions by our own
intelligence or military forces," Lieberman said.

Ranking Republican, Senator John McCain, said the recent
capture of Mullah Baradar and other high-value Afghan Taliban
leaders is obviously a good news story.

"The question is, what does this imply about Pakistan`s
strategic orientation? Are the Pakistani army and the ISI
taking a more aggressive stance towards the Afghan Taliban?
I`d be cautious about reading too much into these positive
recent developments, but am certainly pleased to hear it," he