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Pakistan Intelligence - Background

Pakistan's foreign policy stance shifted significantly in 1953 when it accepted the United States offer of military and economic assistance in return for membership in an alliance system designed to contain international communism. When the administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower sought a series of alliances in the "Northern Tier"--Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey--and in East Asia, Pakistan became a candidate for membership in each. In 1954, Pakistan signed a Mutual Defense Agreement with the United States and became a member of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). The following year, Pakistan joined Iran, Iraq, and Turkey in the Baghdad Pact, later converted into the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) after Iraq's withdrawal in 1959. Pakistan also leased bases to the United States for intelligence-gathering and communications facilities. Pakistan saw these agreements not as bulwarks against Soviet or Chinese aggression, but as a means to bolster itself against India.

When he seized power illegally, Zia badly needed some source of legitimacy for his regime. It was under General Zia that narrow and bigoted religiosity became state policy. The General sought the political support of the mullahs for his illegal regime, for he had no other political base.

During the regime of General Ziaul Haq, CIA provided ISI with a large quantity of espionage equipment along with training and other information. Initially, Pakistani intelligence was trained along British lines, but subsequently, CIA trained 200 ISI officers in improved intelligence methods.

Throughout the years of Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, relations between the United States and Pakistan were best characterized by close cooperation. Still, United States policy makers became increasingly concerned that Zia and his associates -- most notably, General Akhtar Abdur Rahman, then head of the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence -- appeared to give preferential treatment to the Islamic fundamentalists, especially mujahidin leader Gulbaddin Hikmatyar.

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Page last modified: 28-07-2011 00:54:03 ZULU