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“It is not possible to carry forward the cooperation without a formal agreement duly approved by parliament,” a lawmaker quoted the ISI director general as saying. – File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan military recently urged the US authorities to finalise a formal agreement on the relationship between the Central Intelligence Agency and the Inter-Services Intelligence.

Lt-Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha, the ISI chief, told the in camera joint sitting of the two houses of parliament on Friday that during a recent meeting with CIA chief Leon Panetta, he had stressed the need to formalise the relationship through an agreement.

“It is not possible to carry forward the cooperation without a formal agreement duly approved by parliament,” a lawmaker quoted the ISI director general as saying.

Gen Pasha said his agency had always cooperated with the CIA and its successes in the war against terrorism were made possible because of vital information passed on to it by the ISI.

He denied the ISI had concealed anything from the American agency. “In fact it is the other way round.”

Citing an example of the CIA’s withholding of information, he said the ISI had provided complete information about Abu Ahmad Al Kuwaiti, the courier in the Osama saga, but when the CIA, acting on the lead, arrested one of his friends in Kuwait, it did not share the development with the ISI.

Al Kuwaiti was said to be the key to maintaining Osama Bin Laden’s secrecy and safety for almost 10 years as one of his most trusted couriers.

A Western news agency recently quoted a US official as saying that it was a phone call from Al Kuwaiti that led the US directly to the walled compound in Abbottabad where Osama eventually met his end.

Gen Pasha said Pakistan would have taken appropriate measures to kill or arrest Taliban leaders who entered Pakistan from the porous border with Afghanistan after the massive bombing of Tora Bora mountains had advance information been provided about the CIA operation.

He said CIA’s successes would not have been possible had the ISI withheld any lead.

Rejecting the allegation that Osama was brought to Abbottabad by the ISI, the ISI chief wondered: “Why would the ISI keep him at a place without escape route and proper security cover.”

Gen Pasha pointed out that there were no security guards at the building where Osama bin Laden lived.

“The fear that we cannot live without America has taken away our self respect. Are we to live in humiliation out of the US fear forever,” he said amid applause and thumping of desks.

He said the US had carried out 247 drone attacks inside Pakistan’s territory since 2004, but added that no record was available about any agreement in this regard.

THREAT FROM INDIA: Responding to statements emanating from New Delhi that India can also carry out strikes inside Pakistan, Gen Pasha said any attack from the east would invite a befitting response.

He said a contingency plan was in place and targets inside India had already been identified. “We have also carried out rehearsal for it,” he told the joint session.

Gen Pasha bemoaned that 78 ISI personnel had lost their lives during the war on terror, but no lawmaker, except for the prime minister, had expressed sympathy with him.