Former ISI Director General Shares Handicaps on Winners & Losers from WikiLeaks War Diary


This is a guest note by General Asad Durrani, who previously served as the head of Pakistan’s ISI, or Inter-Services Intelligence. Durrani later served as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany and to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. As a side note, current Pakistan Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Kayani was a student of Durrani‘s.
durrani_web.jpgThe WikiLeaks “Coup
There is general consensus that these “tens of thousands of classified documents” procured by the Wikileaks are mostly raw battlefield reports from Afghanistan, and reveal little that was not already known.
All the same, it has created an impact and confirmed many fears: that the war in Afghanistan was not going too well for the US led forces; that it was largely because of Pakistan’s inter-services intelligence (the ISI) playing a “double game”; also that the Karzai led dispensation in Kabul did little to help; and that the indiscriminate use of force by the American military, a euphemism for war crimes, too has contributed to this failure.
If that was the intended message, the leak was obviously deliberate. The number and the nature of reports reinforce this inference. The following developments lead me to believe that it was done to win more support for the course correction that Obama’s administration has undertaken.
During the last two years, it has often been claimed, and may even be partly true, that under the new counterinsurgency strategy, “collateral damage” was generally avoided.
Again, during the same period, since Pakistan has been successfully persuaded/ coerced to undertake military operations against some of the groups allied with the Afghan resistance, its support to the latter (must have) considerably reduced.
Most importantly, as the ‘project Afghanistan’ has gone so hopelessly awry, Obama’s decision to start withdrawing the military next year was, at the very least, the least bad option.
Pakistan and its sympathisers will indeed now find their own arguments to control the damage.
The official spokespersons cannot do much better than reiterating that the “situation on ground” was different, that Pakistan has taken effective measures against the militants operating on its side of the AfPak borders, and that its policies have now won applause all around.
A number of regional experts have rationalized Pakistan’s (alleged) support to the Afghan Taliban because it needs a countervailing force against the growing Indian influence (some of them even believe that in due course Pakistan would employ them in the Indian held Kashmir). Since this perception also exists in Pakistan and provides us with a reasonable excuse to keep the Afghan Taliban in good shape, I have no intentions to contest it in the present scenario.
Not many would pick up the courage to suggest that some other countries in the region — Iran, Russia and China for example — too are genuinely concerned about the presence of the US-led alliance in Afghanistan. All of them would therefore take their own respective course to subvert the NATO’s “out of area” missions. While Pakistan and Iran would be the obvious suspects interested in a potent Afghan resistance, there are other players as well in this new Great Game.
An unintended consequence of these “leaks” may well be the ISI’s enhanced stature in the eyes of the ordinary Pakistanis. With the all pervasive “anti-Americanism” in the country, if the agency has had the gumption of supporting the Afghan resistance against the US occupation, it would be credited with “yet another” coup.
Hamid Gul may also reap similar benefits thought at a much reduced scale. People here have a fairly good idea that his overt support to the Taliban notwithstanding, he has no wherewithal to covertly contribute.
— Asad Durrani


5 comments on “Former ISI Director General Shares Handicaps on Winners & Losers from WikiLeaks War Diary

  1. Don Bacon says:

    The Pershing story never happened.


  2. Bilala Khan says:

    General Black Jack Pershing was born September 13th, 1860 near
    Laclede, MS, he died July 15th, 1948 in Washington. D.C. Highlights of his life include:
    1891 Prof. of Military Science and Tactics Univer. of Nebraska
    1898 Serves in the Spanish-American War
    1901 Awarded rank of Captain
    1906 Promoted to rank of Brigadier General
    1909 Military Governor of Moro Province, Philippines
    1916 Made Major General
    1919 Promoted to General of the Armies
    1921 Appointed Chief of Staff
    1924 Retires from active duty Education West Point.
    Just before World War I, there were a number of terrorist attacks on the United States forces in the Philippines by Muslim extremists
    So General Pershing captured 50 terrorists and had them tied to posts for execution. He then had his men bring in two pigs and slaughter them in front of the now horrified terrorists. Muslims detest pork because they believe pigs are filthy animals. Some of them simply refuse to eat it, while others won’t even touch pigs at all, nor any of their by-products. To them, eating or touching a pig, its meat, its blood, etc., is to be instantly barred from paradise (and those virgins) and doomed to hell. The soldiers then soaked their bullets in the pigs blood, and proceeded to execute 49 of the terrorists by firing squad. The soldiers then dug a big hole, dumped in the terrorist’s bodies and covered them in pig blood, entrails, etc. They let the 50th man go. And for the next forty-two years, there was not a single Muslim extremist attack anywhere in the world.


  3. Don Bacon says:

    Asad Durrani: “Since this perception [Pakistan’s (alleged) support to the Afghan Taliban] also exists in Pakistan and provides us with a reasonable excuse to keep the Afghan Taliban in good shape, I have no intentions to contest it in the present scenario. . .While Pakistan and Iran would be the obvious suspects interested in a potent Afghan resistance, there are other players as well . . .if the agency [ISI] has had the gumption of supporting the Afghan resistance against the US occupation, it would be credited with “yet another” coup.”
    This is more evidence that US and Pakistan objectives are diametrically opposed, and that Obama’s partrnership with a country that is backing the killing of Americans is treasonous, or at least impeachable.
    Obama, Dec 1 2009: “we will act with the full recognition that our success in Afghanistan is inextricably linked to our partnership with Pakistan.”


  4. Rajan says:

    Wikileak needs to be judged from all the perspectives rather than focusing on “failure to guard the information on war” however insignificant it might have been. At best it has exposed the failures and vulnerablities of the superpower to achieve its politico miltary objectives not due to lack of resorces and inadequate application of military instruments but due to active involvement of a “forign agency” in the form pf Pakistan which it could not nuetralise effectively. Rand studies on how Insurgencies end, though, have adequaetely highlighted the likelihood of failures of COIN operations under such a situation. The leak, if genuine, is an attempt by a soldier involved to point out lacunas in the stategies being followed. He is clearly hinting that till the time, Pakistan abondones its policy of achieving stategic depth in Pakistan riding on solely on Islam and Pashtoons, there can never be a convergance of the goals of USA and Pakistan. Both these countries are persuing goals which are fundamentally hostile to each other. Pakistan’ s aims at Islamic leadership, Islamic bomb, islamic implosion of the continent and finally acheiving supermacy of the ummah, are the ideas which the USA seeks to neutralise and eliminate. While USA seeks to nutralise Afghanistan to control fundamentalist threat, Pakistan aims to control Afghanistan to achieve depth for that fundamentalist threat to be used against the US, West and India.
    The leaks are pointer in that direction that soldiers on ground are doing harm to the population rather than tackling the root cause of Insurgency – Pakistan. The leaks are a protest against the strategists in Washinghton who somehow are unable to shed their fundamnetal apprehensions on India and thereby are mired with their inability to adopt other suitable means to tackle Pakistan. US govt’s fundamntal postulation on not aloowing India a role in the Great Game will lead it to face a defeat. There is no way to control Aghanistanistan without taking India, Iran and Russia on board. Collaboration of interests is better than defeat. The Roads leading to Kabul through Pakistan is strategic trap and long term liability for UAS. The roads to Kabul should commence from all directions including new Delhi-khyber -Kabul.
    Pakistan has unneccesarily been allowed to be a blackmailer and digger of US grave. All other countries around Afghanistanistan have a great stake in Pakistan emerging as the sole route to Aghanistan and hence US will never succeed riding piggy back the Pakistanies. The leaks say Pakistanies are getting the Americans killed, as it is they hate thems so much.
    What more can be so explicit in the leaks.


  5. John Waring says:

    Several observations, please.
    The most potent strand of DNA in the American military is firepower. The second most potent strand is force protection. Continuing collateral damage is almost inescapable.
    With or without Helmand Karzai, I am at a loss for what would constitute good governance in Afghanistan. Perhaps the best approach I should take is to let them figure it out themselves, should they ever grow less fond of internecine strife.
    As Steve Coll has written, the ISI birthed the Taliban, and Ms Bhutto severely misled the Clinton administration over the nature, extent, and intended duration of that support. Permit me to observe that parents often persist in their affinity to, if not affections for, their offspring, despite years of vicissitude. Let me also be so bold as to observe that it would not take much persuasion to get several brands of Islamic firebrands to perform varying acts of resistance in Kashmir and in India proper, up to and including the use of lethal force. If I were a young and ambitious junior officer in the ISI, and the recipient of a wink and a half nod, I just might have succumbed to the temptation to organize such resistance.
    Not having an official brief on Afghanistan, I would like to suggest the regional powers have their own national interests in Afghanistan, a few of which must necessarily conflict with those of the United Sates and with those of the other regional powers. In short, Afghanistan is the cockpit of South Asia, the epicenter of an ancient and much abridged Great Game in which the United States is an amateurish newcomer unskillfully playing a very bad hand. Should the regional powers manage to reduce their animosities from a roaring boil to a slow simmer, I should think I would welcome an offer to take Afghanistan off my hands, the necessary caveat being you keep a lid on your angry young men.
    As to the inestimable Hamid Gul, the only way a man of his talents could not contribute would be for him to be bound and gagged. I could almost welcome him as an enemy, his forcing me to reach the very top of my game. As a friend I should revere him.


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