The ISI's relations with the US and its Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have deteriorated since the killing of former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in a US operation in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad in 2011. Experts say that the US' decision to bypass the ISI and unilaterally go after bin Laden irked the Pakistani military and its intelligence service.
The two agencies worked closely during the Afghan War against the Soviet Union in the 1980s. The ISI also collaborated with the CIA in hunting down the Taliban and al Qaeda leaders after the 2001 terrorist attacks in the US. The ties, however, remained difficult throughout the past decade. The US repeatedly accused the Pakistani military and the ISI of backing some factions of the Taliban, a charge Pakistan has always denied.
The US needs the ISI in tackling the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan and beyond, say experts "It is not possible for the ISI to slavishly cooperate with the CIA as was largely the case in the 1980s," Farooq Sulehria, a London-based researcher, said in December 2016. But Sulehria also points out that the US and the CIA won't give up on the ISI. "The US needs the ISI in tackling the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan and beyond. The ISI needs the US support too because it depends on it financially."
The so-called "Islamic State" (IS) terror outfit has also made huge gains in Afghanistan and is increasing its presence in the country. The group has claimed responsibility for a number of terror attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the past few months.
"IS poses a big challenge to Afghanistan and Pakistan. It has to be seen how Pakistan's new military leadership will deal with it," Farhan Hanif Siddiqui, an international relations expert at the Islamabad-based Quaid-e-Azam University, told DW. "But the problem is that the Afghan-Pakistani ties are deteriorating. The Pakistani army has to find a way to work with Kabul," Siddiqui underlined.
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