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Re: [alpha] INSIGHT - AFGHANISTAN/PAKISTAN - ISI Chief ***Not for sharing beyond list***

Released on 2012-03-16 21:00 GMT

Email-ID 1664671
Date 2011-04-12 21:16:14
Great insight. The bit about the Pasha-Panetta discussion that is then
hijacked by DoS' involvement in the Davis case is very interesting.

On 4/12/11 1:34 PM, Kamran Bokhari wrote:

I think the details of the entire interaction (in addition to the actual
conversation) provides value. Hence the context. Also, I don't want to
upset my delicate relationship with the directorate and the wider
military establishment so let us not share this beyond the list.

Spoke to him over the phone on the 11th of last month. At the time he
was very busy (the Raymond Davis issue hadn't been settled and intense
talks were taking place). I'm actually surprised he took my call. But
then I was using my DC cell phone, which may explain him personally
picking up the phone.

Given his preoccupation and my own trips to Kabul and Cairo he said let
us try to meet and play it by ear. In the brief conversation I asked him
what was up with him getting another extension (he hadn't gotten it at
the time) to which he replied that he is staying on in his position for
quite a while. He asked me if I needed any security assistance while I
was in country and I respectfully declined the offer.

Our meeting Monday of last week was organized by the military's pr wing
(the 2-star heading the dept and his chief of staff) and the ISI's pr
people (in particular a certain Colonel Zaka). The last two times I met
the ISI chief, it was at his residence inside Joint Staff Headquarters
at Chaklala Garrison in Rawalpindi. This time around, the meeting took
place in the super secure headquarters in Islamabad.

In recent years there have many a lot of new roads constructed in the
capital, especially around the ISI headquarters and then the jihadist
insurgency led to the closure of the main road that ran in front of the
directorate. So, it was interesting to actually get into the facility.
Was directed to take a side/rear road into the complex.

Had to go through five layers of security to get into the place. There
were five check posts each with concrete as well as delta barriers and
several armed men. The first two layers had guys with plain clothes with
walkie talkies and guns while the inner three had uniformed men.

Once after the main barrier, which is an iron gate you enter the
courtyard of the new main building adjacent to the old ones. A really
fine structure recently completed when the current army chief was
heading the ISI and Musharraf was in charge - from the inside it
resembles a 5-star hotel in terms of the quality of the interior

I was told by the guard at the front door to park at the rear of the
building. So I parked and walked back to the front. Once in the building
and making my way through the metal detector I was greeted by a
plainclothes official who said I didn't need to take out my blackberries
to pass through the machine and asked me to hand them over to the guys
at the reception who were also plainclothes people.

The guys didn't look tech savvy but I would be surprised if others
didn't go through my list of contacts and emails. The official who was
wearing a tie and had two devices attached to his hip with a small
earpiece escorted me to the fourth floor and seated me in a waiting room
which could be accessed through two wooden doors and one made of glass.
I was early and turned on the tv and waited for about 15 minutes before
another person in a black suit and tie came in and took me to a meeting
room where a minute later DG-ISI Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha came in and
greeted me warmly remarking that I had come after a long time.

We had a 30 minute conversation, which began with him asking me what was
happening in Libya saying that Tripoli had asked for Islamabad's
assistance - a request that was under consideration and wanted my
thoughts on a) what was happening there; b) what I thought Pakistan
could do to help. He also said that the U.S. seems to have made the
wrong decision to intervene militarily. I briefly gave him our
assessment of the situation and suggested that sending troops to Libya
or Bahrain was very risky (which he agreed) but added that perhaps
Pakistan could work with Turkey since Ankara is trying to take the lead
in a diplomatic solution to the crisis there but I didn't know what kind
of leverage Pakistan had with the rebels or the govt. By this time an
aide had brought in tea and cookies in a really nice set of chinaware.

I then asked him what was the status of U.S.-Pakistani relations
specifically CIA-ISI post Raymond Davis. He said the relationship has
not really changed. Of course it hasn't improved but it hasn't
deteriorated further below the existing levels and told me he would be
in DC to discuss the issue on the 11th. He then went into the details of
what had happened with the Raymod Davis matter saying that this issue
could have been solved if the Americans had kept it between the CIA and
the ISI.

He said he called up Panetta (who said he had a really good personal
friendship with the D-CIA saying he was the only U.S. official whom he
had invited to his house and introduced to his wife and son) asking him
that we should sort out the issues between our two agencies. Panetta
told him that he couldn't because State was taking the lead on it. Pasha
said he was disappointed at this response and knew that this was about
to turn into a diplomatic row and media ruckus.

At that point he said the ISI let Punjab police handle the investigation
and no one on the Pakistani side taking responsibility. The government
said the matter is in the hands of the courts and the courts looking at
the foreign ministry for answers about the status of Davis' immunity.
All of this he said could have been avoided if it were not for State
getting involved. Ultimately he said it came back to the ISI and we were
able to work out an arrangement with the CIA. He also said once it
became a media issue we were really worried that Davis might be killed
by people from within the police service. (Another 2-star I met said
there were concerns that the Americans could have him killed and we
would be in deep shit). We wanted him gone and as soon as possible and
thankfully we were able to pull it off.

But he said that there are still unresolved questions about the people
who Davis killed. He said they were not ISI sleuths as some suspect.
Rather, low level thugs who had a lot of cash on them and in different
currencies, which is

On the domestic insurgency he said you can see things are much better.
He added that in fact the situation was really good. The attacks were
down and limited to a certain area.

But it would take another 10-12 years to completely get rid of the issue
and a lot depends on how the Americans settle Afghanistan. On North
Waziristan he said, he has been saying that we need to do an operation
there for several years now going back to the days when I was Director
General Military Operations and was overseeing the early days of our
counter-insurgency efforts in the northwest. But the issue is one of

The only way to mount an offensive in NW is through South Waziristan,
which we are trying to stabilize with the building of roads and
resettlement of locals. We also needed to stabilize the tribal agencies
to the north of North Waziristan, which is also a work in progress. Once
we have achieved our goals of stabilizing SW, we will move into NW.

At this point, the ISI chief picks up the phone and asks one his aides
to connect him to a certain official within the directorate (he referred
to him as Director something can't quite remember). The guy comes in
with a cell phone and the chief speaks with the guy asking him if the
friends had given the coordinates for south waziristan. He then asks if
it is south of a particular area or north. After that he says that is
all I wanted to know and hangs up and apologizes for having to make the

On Afghanistan, he said the Americans are stuck with the old notion that
Pakistan wants to see the Taliban come to power again in Afghanistan.
Anti-Pakistan and pro-India analysts and advisers in the U.S. and
elsewhere continue to feed that perception. This is an outdated view
because Islamabad has long given up that goal given the threat to
Pakistani security. We do not wish to see the Talibs dominate

On the contrary, we want to see a broad-based government that can end
the civil war in that country, which has had a disastrous fallout for
us. Of course the Talibs will be a key player in a post-NATO
Afghanistan, which we feel is necessary for true peace to take place.
But that is just an acknowledgment of a reality than a desire on our
part to see Talibs rule Kabul.

Even the U.S. realizes that there will be a deal with the Talibs so why
the double standards when it comes to us (especially when we will have
to deal with the situation once after the U.S. leaves)? Pakistan wants
to see a friendly government - one that can maintain peace in the
country. Such a govt can only come about when the Karzai government can
reach a negotiated settlement with the insurgents, which is not going to
happen by talking to the former Talibs like Zaeef, Mutawakkil, etc.

I asked him if the Obama admin had approached Pakistan to help with the
negotiations. He said no such thing happening, which he said was the
problem. He added that DC and Kabul need to involve us in the process
because if anyone can deliver it is us and we have an interest in doing
so. Look at what happened during that incident with the meeting with the
man who they thought was Mullah Mansoor but in reality he was a
shopkeeper who swindled them for money and made a mockery of everyone
including Petraeus who actually met the guy (laughs and smirks at this

At this point the guy who brought me into the room comes and in and says
it is time for your next meeting. The chief says give me a few more
minutes and we continue talking and he says I really appreciate the work
you are doing in terms of steering clear of taking any sides. I then
thank him and we begin to walk out of the room.

At this point I asked him if there was any change to his email address
and Pasha says I am sorry I have not been in regular touch over email
because these people were reading my messages and I had to have my pc
cleaned but I am still using the old email address. I asked who was
reading his emails and he replied there is only one entity in Pakistan
who can do that. (I take it he meant people from within the directorate
were doing so).

He walked me to the elevator from where I was escorted by another young
man in black down to the lobby from where I collected my blackberries
and he then escorted outside and asked me where I was parked to which I
replied at the rear of the building and he then walked me to my car
during which I asked him how long he had been serving in the ISI and he
said for quite some time (I had hoped he would tell me the number of
years). He waited until I pulled out and then waved and left and I drove
out of the complex passing the same set of security layers I had
encountered on my way in.


Sean Noonan

Tactical Analyst

Office: +1 512-279-9479

Mobile: +1 512-758-5967

Strategic Forecasting, Inc.