ISI Chief's Parleys Continue in Washington
by Amir Mateen
The News [Pakistan newspaper]
September 10, 2001
ISI Chief Lt-Gen Mahmood's week-long presence in Washington has triggered speculation about the agenda of his mysterious meetings at the Pentagon and National Security Council. Officially, State Department sources say he is on a routine visit in return to CIA Director George Tenet's earlier visit to Islamabad. Official sources confirm that he met Tenet this week. He also held long parleys with unspecified officials at the White House and the Pentagon. But the most important meeting was with Mark Grossman, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. US sources would not furnish any details beyond saying that the two discussed 'matters of mutual interests.'
What those matters could be is a matter of pure conjecture. One can safely guess that the discussions must have centred around Afghanistan, relations with India and China, disarmament of civilian outfits, country's nuclear and missiles programme and, of course, Osama Bin Laden.
What added interest to his visit is the history of such visits. Last time Ziauddin Butt, Mahmood's predecessor, was here during Nawaz Sharif's government the domestic politics turned topsy-turvy within days. That this is not the first visit by Mahmood in the last three months shows the urgency of the ongoing parleys.
Mahmood's visit comes close to General Musharraf's scheduled meeting with Vajpayee in New York. It is not clear what role the US would play in bringing about any breakthrough. What does it expect from Pakistan to do in the countdown to the historic meeting? It is obvious that the US officials would like to discuss these issues with somebody they know is 'in the know' and being a trusted colleague of Musharraf, capable of 'delivering'. He is not like the foreign minister who did not know whether he was pleading the case of his president or chief executive.
Interestingly, his visit also saw two CIA reports expressing concern on issues related to Pakistan this week. One of them was about the effects of demographic explosion and Pakistan's continued build up in its nuclear and missiles programme. General Mahmood must have been the right person to shed light on such things.
© Copyright 2001
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