Washington, Aug.1 : An expert on South Asian affairs has said that Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and his government may find it difficult to do business with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the country's premier intelligence outfit in the immdeaite future, in the wake of recent moves to bring it under civilian control.
Frederic Grare, a visiting scholar with the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP), said it appeared as if the Gilani-led Government had tried its level best to bring the ISI under the control of the Interior Ministry, but failed.
"It is now trying to mitigate the damage. This (move by the Government) reflects the reality, the need to control the intelligence agencies in Pakistan, the need to say that the policies of Pakistan are made by the civilian government, and not decided anywhere in the GHQ (General Headquarters in Rawalpindi) or in the ISI headquarters." Grare said. Dwelling on the controversy in greater detail, he said that a growing consensus was emerging within the international community that the ISI is a bigger problem than was earlier imagined.
Insisting that the latest statement coming out of Washington on the ISI i.e. that it helped plan the deadly July 7 bombing of India's embassy in Kabul clearly indicated a change in US view.
Till some months ago, he said that it was anathema in the corridors of power in the United States to think or say that Pakistan was still colluding in terror hits in the South Asian region given its significant cooperative role with the US in the global war on terror. Now, Grare claims Washington is increasingly of the view that Pakistani intelligence officers are actively undermining American efforts to combat militants in the region, basing its conclusions on intercepted communications between Pakistani intelligence officers and militants who carried out the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul.
Referring to this element as the positive outcome, Grare, however, says that there is also a negative aspect to the ISI control fiasco. He says that the Gilani Government's decision to reverse its earlier order of placing the ISI under the control of the Interior Ministry makes the Pakistan Prime Minister "look weak".
"The fact that there is a reversal sends the message that nothing can be done without the consent of the military, without the consent of the ISI itself, and this message doesn't help Gilani. In one sense, he (Gilani) reinforces the perception that these forces (the Pakistan Army and the ISI) act independently, and that the political government is not necessarily responsible for it," Grare said.
"They (the government) are powerless against it and no one wants to cooperate with someone who is powerless," he added.
As far as the future is concerned, Grare said tensions within the Pakistan system of governance would continue to exist both in the short and long term, and that will leave Washington quite frustrated.
"We all know that it is going to take time to do something meaningful. I think that what has been understood now is the fact that in the long term, there is no real solution without the predominance of the civilians over the military. The past eight years have proved that a military government is a disaster ultimately. Pakistan is much worse off today with all these issues, and in the security situation as well," said Grare, adding that no one was to blame but the Pakistani military, which played a "double game".
"It's going to be frustrating, it's going to be exasperating. At some point, they'll be a lot of disillusion of mistrust. I mean something needs to be done at some point. But patience is part of the equation as well," he concludes.