KARACHI: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, in an interview with Time Magazine, on Thursday revealed that cooperation between the CIA and its Pakistani counterpart, the ISI (Inter Services Intelligence), had broken down.
Gilani said that, continuing to work with the United States could imperil his government, unless Washington takes drastic steps to restore trust and win over 180 million Pakistanis.
Gilani warned that his government was accountable to an electorate increasingly hostile to the US. “I am not an army dictator, I’m a public figure,” “If public opinion is against you [referring to his US allies] then I cannot resist it to stand with you. I have to go with public opinion."
The Prime Minister said that he was first alerted to the Abbottabad raid through a 2 a.m. call from Pakistan’s Army Chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
Gilani then called his foreign secretary and asked him to demand an explanation from US Ambassador Cameron Munter. “I have not met or spoken to [US officials] since,” he complained.
“Naturally, we wondered why they went unilaterally. If we’re fighting a war together, we have to work together. Even if there was credible and actionable information, then we should have done it jointly,” said Gilani.
“Whatever information we are receiving is from the media. Today, we have said that we want them to talk to us directly,” Gilani further added.
Gilani acknowledges his abiding “difference of opinion” with Washington on how best to fight militancy. “From day one, my policy has been the three Ds: dialogue, development and deterrence,” Gilani said.
“Military solutions cannot be permanent solutions. There has to be a political solution, some kind of exit strategy.”
He said he didn’t believe Washington was really going to cut aid. If it did, he said, “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”
Gilani does, however, fear that a deteriorating relationship with Washington could hurt Pakistan’s fight against domestic militancy. “When there’s a trust deficit,” he said, “there will be problems in intelligence sharing.”
Asked about the reason for this trust deficit, Gilani replied tersely, “It’s not from our side. Ask them.” “Traditionally, the ISI worked with the CIA,” he said. Now, “what we’re seeing is that there’s no level of trust.”
Relations have deteriorated sharply since last November when the local CIA station chief was outed, allegedly by the ISI — a charge the agency denies. They hit a low point amid the standoff over Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor who killed two Pakistani men in a January incident and then claimed diplomatic immunity.
Further strain has been caused by the CIA’s covert drone strikes against suspected militants in the tribal areas along the Afghan border.
Gilani says the drone war weakens his efforts to rally public support for the fight against extremism.
Still, Gilani said — for the first time, publicly — that he was open to renegotiating the terms of the CIA’s program.
“A drone strategy can be worked out,” Gilani said. “If drone strikes are effective, then we should evolve a common strategy to win over public opinion. Our position is that the technology should be transferred to us.”
Still, he added, he would countenance a policy in which the CIA would continue to operate the drones “where they are used under our supervision.”