Monday, July 18, 2011

Who might be wrongfully accusing ISI of killing journalist?

Writing in The National Interest, John R. Schmidt expresses some much-needed scepticism regarding the allegations that Pakistan’s military intelligence service was responsible for the murder of Pakistani journalist Saleem Shahzad:
If ISI was responsible for murdering Shahzad, it may well have been a first. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that fifteen journalists have lost their lives in intentionally targeted killings in Pakistan since the murder of Daniel Pearl in early 2002, all of them Pakistani. Almost all were killed by radical Islamists affiliated with al-Qaeda or the Pakistani Taliban. The remainder were murdered for investigating regional ethnic conflicts or local corruption. None of the fifteen fit a plausible ISI scenario. But why would ISI choose Shahzad as its first victim? He was not a big-name journalist, nor was he among those who raised embarrassing questions about ISI and the army over the Abbottabad raid on bin Laden. His Karachi-naval-base story did not accuse ISI of improper conduct, and it is not clear why it would have killed him over a story that, if it embarrassed anyone, would have embarrassed the Pakistani Navy, a relatively minor player in the nation’s military firmament. ISI was well aware that some of its senior officers had recently “had a word” with Shahzad and should have realized that if he suddenly turned up murdered ISI might be blamed for it, further sullying its already battered reputation. And that, of course, is exactly what happened.
It probably deserves mentioning that others might have had a motive for killing Shahzad, including officers of the Pakistani Navy and members of al-Qaeda and its various Pakistani affiliates, although none have claimed responsibility. But the fact remains that senior U.S. officials told the New York Times they had “reliable and conclusive” intelligence that ISI was responsible.
Schmidt might have asked who those “senior U.S. officials” are, and whether they might also have a motive for discrediting the ISI. As Justin Raimondo pointed out in a recent piece,
While keeping the heat on for a direct attack on Iran, the powerful pro-Israel lobby — the driving force behind the anti-Iran crowd — is biding its time, confident they’ll win in the end. In the meantime, they are carefully building up momentum for the final push toward war, and a key part of that is agitating for a complete break in US-Pakistan relations.
The Lobby’s fingerprints are all over the latest anti-Pakistani agitprop. It was one Simon Henderson, described as the resident “expert” on Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), who recently released an alleged letter from a top official of the North Korean regime “proving” Pakistan supplied Pyongyang with nuclear technology. WINEP was founded by Martin Indyk, former research director of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), as an “academic” adjunct to AIPAC, the primary conduit of pro-Israel propaganda in the US.
Considering such efforts by the Israel lobby to undermine US-Pakistan relations, isn’t it highly probable that the senior U.S. officials attempting to discredit the ISI also have close ties to Israel? It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that the New York Times has served as a conduit for “reliable and conclusive” intelligence from American officials with questionable loyalties that turned out to be false. If Pakistan is to avoid the fate of Iraq, it had better identify clearly the source of its rapidly deteriorating relationship with a United States that has proven itself prone to self-destructive deception from that same source — and take action accordingly.


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