US seeks ISI role in talks with Haqqanis
KABUL (PAN): Despite their stringent criticism of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for aiding Haqqani militants, Americans are seeking help from Pakistan's spy service in ending the Afghan war and promoting reconciliation, a leading US newspaper reported on Monday.
During her visit to Kabul and Islamabad earlier in the month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explained the revamped approach -- "Fight, Talk, Build -- which combines US air and ground strikes against Haqqanis and Taliban with an insistence that ISI get them to the negotiating table.
Such overtures were happening a month after the Obama administration blasted the Pakistani intelligence agency for supporting the Haqqani network, blamed for attacks on Americans, the New York Times said, adding that some ISI elements saw little advantage in arranging the talks.
According to the report, the Pakistani intelligence officials saw the militants as "their best bet" for keeping intact their influence in Afghanistan. "It is the latest effort at brokering a deal with militants before the last of 33,000 American surge troops prepare to pull out of Afghanistan by September."
The newspaper quoted unnamed Pakistani officials as saying they were confused by a lack of clarity in America's long-term goals in Afghanistan, and were working with Americans to work out specific plans. Despite offering Pakistan a key role in reconciliation talks, Americans have warned they will take unilateral action if the process collapses.
The Obama administration was pressing Pakistanis to share intelligence on the Haqqanis, arrest some of the group’s operatives and shrink links to the network, the Times said, referring to a meeting in August in the UAE between a US diplomat and Ibrahim Haqqani. ISI chief Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha brokered the meeting.