Adding India to the Five Eyes Would Cause a New Cold War, Pakistani Official Says
Proposal in the U.S. Senate draws harsh words as Islamabad works up a new anti-terrorist effort.
Adding India to the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing club would hurt U.S.-Pakistan relations as Islamabad tries to coordinate a regional response to a growing Afghanistan terror threat, a senior Pakistani official said Friday.
“It’s a recipe for a new Cold War, a recipe for a new divide, and if you are going to have that, the lines will be drawn,” Sen. Mushahid Hussain Sayed, who leads the Senate Defence Committee, told reporters at a private event hosted by the Pakistani embassy.
Sayed was responding to a question about proposed legislation in the U.S. Senate that would order the Pentagon to look at adding India and several other Asia-Pacific countries to the decades-old intel-sharing agreement between Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States.
He stopped short of saying that if India ultimately joined the Five Eyes group, Pakistan would place new limits on what it shares with the United States. But he said the move would hurt U.S.-Pakistan ties, which could affect coordination on Afghanistan policy.
The United States has asked Pakistan not to recognize the Taliban, Sayad said, and so Pakistan is taking its time and looking for a regional consensus on the issue of legitimizing the new government in Kabul, bringing in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, China, Russia, Iran, and possibly others.
“Also, we are waiting to see what the [United States] does,” he said.
Sayed said U.S. officials should view the Taliban of today as different from the one that U.S. forces overthrew two decades ago.
“I feel they are chastened, more pragmatic. They know this is not the Afghanistan of the 1990s. They do not have a pan-Islamic perspective,” he said, meaning that the group no longer wants to export the harsh brand of Islam it has restored to power in Afghanistan.
He added that Islamabad was surprised by the Taliban’s swift victory, and denied reports that the Pakistan intelligence service, which reportedly has excellent ties to the group, knew about its rapid progress over the summer.
“We didn’t expect what was happening” in August, he said.
Soon after the Taliban takeover, Sayed said, Pakistan began trying to coordinate a regional response to ISIS-K and other terror groups. On Sept. 9, he said, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency hosted “an unprecedented meeting” of the intelligence chiefs of neighboring countries plus Russia.
“We all agreed on a common counter-terror strategy in concert with the new administration in Kabul. So it’s a work in progress, but the [United States] should be on board,” he said.
He said ISIS-K militants threaten to cross the border into Pakistan, mount terror attacks, and retreat to Afghanistan.
“That’s our main concern. It’s a nightmare for us,” he said.
It is also a reversal of the way Al Qaeda once used hard-to-reach places in Pakistan as safe havens to launch cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.