After the most senior Taliban commander to be arrested since 2001 was apprehended in a joint CIA and Pakistan government operation, a recently retired Pakistan intelligence official reflects on expanding intelligence cooperation with the US.
Islamabad, Pakistan; and New Delhi
A recently retired senior Pakistani intelligence official told the Monitor that joint operations between the CIA and Pakistani intelligence officials like the one that arrested Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar are common now.
The US intelligence relationship with Pakistan has been a tangled one for decades. During the Soviet war with Afghanistan, CIA operatives worked with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to funnel money and weapons to the mujahideen fighting the Soviets -- as well as a group of Arabs fighting in the cause that later became Al Qaeda.
When the Soviets lost that war and departed, Pakistan maintained its intelligence and financial ties to many of the former anti-Soviet fighters, and developed a relationship with the newly emerged Taliban as US attention turned elsewhere. After the 9/11 attacks, there was a fair deal of suspicion between US and Pakistani intelligence officers, with the US disturbed by Pakistan's close ties to the Taliban.
Nevertheless, the ranks of CIA agents in Pakistan swelled quickly after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, and the former Pakistani intelligence agent says his country has developed a strong working relationship with the CIA in the years since.