Islamabad: Pakistan’s ISI spy agency is ready to split with the CIA because of frustration over what it calls heavy-handed pressure and its anger over what it believes is a covert US operation involving hundreds of contract spies, according to an internal document obtained by a news agency and interviews with US and Pakistani officials.
Such a move could seriously damage the US’ war effort in Afghanistan, limit a program targeting al Qaeda insurgents along the Pakistan frontier, and restrict Washington’s access to information in the nuclear-armed country.
According to a statement drafted by the ISI, supported by interviews with officials, an already-fragile relationship between the two agencies collapsed following the shooting death of two Pakistanis by Raymond Davis, a US contracted spy, who is in jail in Pakistan facing possible multiple murder charges.
“Post-incident conduct of the CIA has virtually put the partnership into question,” said a media statement prepared by the ISI, but never released.
The statement accused the CIA of using pressure tactics to free Davis.
The ISI fears there are hundreds of CIA contracted spies operating in Pakistan without the knowledge of either the Pakistan government or the intelligence agency, a senior Pakistani intelligence official said in an interview. He spoke only on condition he not be identified on grounds that exposure would compromise his security.
Pakistan intelligence had no idea who Davis was or what he was doing when he was arrested, the official said, adding that there are concerns about “how many more Raymond Davises are out there.”