The ISI in Pakistan is considered to be one of the most dangerous and efficient spy agencies in the world. Loyalty to the land and the cause are some of the traits of this agency which has made it one of the most lethal in the world.
There are several aspects that go into the making of the ISI and one such aspect is how they nurture their former officers to carry out a dirty task. Be it the 26/11 attack, the killing of Osama Bin Laden or the handling of the Kashmir desk to fight a proxy war- all these have seen former officials pitching in their might to ensure that the job is done. [Osama case: CIA consultant in Pakistan is a hardline Kashmir pundit hater]
It would be important to note here that the former officers of the ISI command a great deal of respect and today they are far more dangerous than the ones who are in service.
The loose cannon called Hamid Gul
Hamid Gul is a former Chief of the ISI. He is by and large the most lethal in the business and even today the kind of clout he enjoys and the respect he commands from the proxies will make a serving officer envious.
Not too long back during one of the durbars that was held in Kabul, it was Hamid Gul who dazzled an auditorium filled with Taliban fighters. As Gul sat on the luxurious couch several Taliban fighters sat on the ground like obedient school children and heard him out.
Gul is one of the most important former officers of the ISI. He enjoys a great deal of privilege in Pakistan and till date all the men of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba or the Taliban (Good!) are subservient to him.
The attacks of 26/11
The 26/11 attack was probably one of the worst India had seen. While Hamid Gul screamed his guts out on every possible television channel defending Pakistan, it is important to point out that a former officer, Major Iqbal had overseen the maritime wing of the Lashkar.
Major Iqbal and another former officer Sameer Ali were the ones who oversaw the entire training programme of the ten gunmen. From day one they were present at the Markaz-e-Dawa giving minute by minute details to Kasab and his friends.
The Osama Bin Laden files
Now the issue of former officers of the ISI has cropped up yet again. When Osama was shifted into his safe home at Abottabad, it was General Pervez Musharaff who took very keen interest. Musharaff had appointed a former ISI officer, Brigadier Ejaz Shah to ensure the well being of Bin Laden.
Shah was tasked with ensuring a safe passage for Osama into Pakistan and also making sure that none got up to him. He was the man who was running the Osama Bin Laden desk which ensured that the leader of the Al-Qaeda stayed safe in Abottabad.
However when Ashfaq Kayani took over as the Chief of the Army in Pakistan, he roped in another former ISI officer, Khalid Usman to ensure the well being of Osama.
Usman a known India hater and propaganda artist on the Kashmir issue was in charge of the Osama desk for several years before he finally sold the information on the hide out to the CIA for 25 million US dollars-ofcourse with the permission of the ISI. Also what is interesting to note is here is that he was also working as a CIA consultant.
The deniability factor
What does the ISI gain by appointing former officers? For one the heat on the former officers is very less. Moreover in case any trail leads up to Pakistan, the deniability factor can be brought into play. Denial is always a defence.
It would become extremely difficult for Pakistan to justify an act of terror when its serving officers are involved. They would never want any attack to seem as though it has the blessings of the establishment. If the trail leads up to a former officer, they can easily get away by denying his existence of just term him as a man turned rogue.