Pak could face 'a lot of trouble' if ISI blew CIA's station chief's cover: Editorial

Islamabad, Dec 20(ANI): Pakistan could be in for a lot of trouble in coming days, if the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is indeed responsible for blowing Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)'s station chief Jonathan Banks' cover, according to an editorial in a leading Pakistan newspaper.

The editorial in the Daily Times emphasized that blowing the cover of the CIA chief and his subsequent departure from Pakistan is not a small matter.

"The Americans will not take it kindly and this would be seen as an unfriendly act by the US's frontline ally in the war against terror if the ISI did out Banks' name. Even though the ISI has vehemently denied this allegation by calling it 'a slur' that "can create differences between the two organizations [the ISI and CIA]", it is not unnatural that the finger of suspicion is pointing towards Pakistan's top spy agency," the editorial said.

"Banks was reportedly here on a business visa, meaning thereby that he was operating undercover. To find out his identity is no mean task and could not have been done without the help of our intelligence agencies, who are the only ones to have access to such sensitive information."

"If indeed the ISI exposed the CIA chief in retaliation for the lawsuit filed against the ISI chief in the US, it could have grave repercussions for our country," it added.

It further warned that after the debacle, the US might be forced to take some drastic action.

"Given our military establishment's track record, the possibility of the ISI's role in this incident cannot be overlooked," the editorial said.

"If this is true, did the ISI not realize the implications of angering the Americans to an extent that could lead to a stand-off between the superpower and Pakistan? If the ISI is indeed responsible for blowing Banks' cover, we could be in for a lot of trouble in coming days," it added.

The CIA had pulled out Banks earlier this month amid an escalating war of recriminations between American and Pakistani spies.

Several US officials said that they strongly suspected that ISI operatives had a hand in revealing the CIA officer's identity- possibly in retaliation against a civil lawsuit filed in Brooklyn last month implicating the ISI chief in the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks.

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, did not immediately provide details to support their suspicions, but said that the CIA station chief had received a number of death threats since being publicly identified in a legal complaint sent to the Pakistani police by the family of victims of earlier drone campaigns.

The top CIA spy's hurried departure was the latest evidence of mounting tensions between the two uneasy allies, which could intensify in the coming months with the prospect of more American pressure on Pakistan to hunt for militants in its tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

The job of the CIA station chief in Islamabad is perhaps the spy agency's most important overseas post, one that requires helping oversee the agency's covert war and massaging its often testy relationship with the ISI. (ANI)

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