The ISI chief Lt-General Ahmed Shuja Pasha. – File Photo
The ISI chief Lt-General Ahmed Shuja Pasha. – File Photo

WASHINGTON, July 18: Pakistan has issued all 87 visas to CIA personnel as required in an understanding to renew cooperation between the ISI and the CIA, official sources told Dawn.

The understanding, finalised during talks between the ISI and CIA chiefs in Washington on Thursday – has cleared the way for greater cooperation between the two agencies.

The Washington Post, however, reported that the CIA-ISI relations began to improve almost two months before the meeting last week between Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha and Michael Morell.

Post’s associate editor David Ignatius reported on Monday that Islamabad had approved visas for 87 CIA personnel for deployment in Pakistan. But official sources told Dawn that all visas had already been issued.

This brings CIA’s strength in Pakistan to what it was before January when relations between the two agencies nosedived after a CIA contractor Raymond Davis was arrested in Lahore for killing two Pakistani citizens. The Post reported that under new rules agreed between Gen Pasha and Mr Morell, “the CIA — in theory, at least — will share with the Pakistanis more information about what its operatives are doing in the country.”

The joint CIA-ISI counter-terrorism operations have also resumed, the Post added. Mr Ignatius, however, commented that this understanding would not end the double-game the CIA and ISI often played with each other.

“The double-game pattern for the CIA and ISI seems clear enough by now: Work together as if you are allies, but at the same time pursue independent operations as if you are enemies,” he wrote.

Both sides would also continue to “protest loudly in public when the other side does something you don’t like, but (will) keep working together in private because you have no choice — and because that’s what intelligence agencies do.”