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CIA, ISI strike up an uneasy alliance against Taliban

February 25, 2010 15:58 IST

America's Central Intelligence Agency has taken its war against Taliban and the Al Qaeda from the mountainous Af-Pak border region to the bases in Pakistan's Peshawar and Quetta cities, a media report said on Thursday.

The report by the New York Times said that the agencies that have previously shared a 'tormented relationship', are now working on the several reconnaissance missions together, but their long-term strategies when it comes to the Taliban and Pakistan's role in Afghanistan's future are different.

"Successful missions sometimes end with American and Pakistani spies toasting one another with Johnnie Walker Blue Label whisky, a gift from the CIA," the report said.

The Pakistani government, however, has downplayed the relationship between the Inter Services Intelligence and the CIA, to avoid a backlash from the public, which disapproves of the strong American presence in their country.

Officials confirmed that the relationship has been improving since the summer of 2008, when the CIA's deputy director traveled to Pakistan to confront ISI officials about intercepts that indicated that the ISI was complicit in the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul.

"The spy agencies have built trust in part through age-old tactics of espionage: killing or capturing each other's enemies," according to the NYT.

The cozy relationship, however, is limited to the fulfilling the mutual interest of carrying out successful operations in Pakistan's lawless areas, it said.

The different long-term plans that each party foresees in Afghanistan is a source of friction with Pakistan hoping to extend more influence on its neighbour.

Officials in Washington, Kabul and Islamabad suggest that Pakistan wants "to weaken the Taliban just enough to bring them to the negotiating table, but leaving them strong enough to represent Pakistani interests in a future Afghan government."

Officials surmise that that the ISI still may not be completely ready to abandon the Taliban. Now, the CIA depends on the ISI for information but is "wary of the ISI's longstanding ties to militants like the Taliban, which Pakistani spies have seen as a necessary ally to blunt arch-rival India's influence in Afghanistan," according to the report.

At the same time, the ISI, which gets millions of dollars from the US for the war on terror, is suspicious that Americans and Indians are up to their own 'double game' against Pakistan, NYT added.

Source: ANI