Alpesh Patel’s Political Sketchbook: Enemy of the State

Wednesday 24th May 2023 08:01 EDT

As Pakistan self-destructs there are telling tales relevant for the UK.

Imran Khan, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, has recently accused the country's military, specifically the army chief General Syed Asim Munir, of orchestrating his arrest on corruption charges.

Khan believes this act was personal and does not align with the national interest. The animosity between Khan and Munir stems back to when Khan was prime minister and Munir was the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan's spy agency.

Khan reportedly shortened Munir's stint as the ISI head, leading to a perceived bias against Khan's party, PTI​.

The ISI has been subject to international scrutiny, particularly regarding its alleged knowledge or involvement in harbouring Osama Bin Laden, an enemy of multiple states. In the aftermath of the U.S. raid that led to Bin Laden's death in Pakistan in 2011, Pakistani intelligence officials claimed they were unaware of his presence until the operation was underway.

They also argued against the idea that Bin Laden would have chosen to hide in an urban area like Abbottabad, given his known preference for staying in rural communities near the Afghan border. The officials suggested that if the ISI had been harbouring Bin Laden, he would have been kept in a more discreet and protected safe house. They also proposed that the U.S. must have had an inside informant in the compound where Bin Laden was found.

Pakistani ISI spies operating in the UK are well documented. The Telegraph reported “Pakistani spies have been operating a front organisation in London to exert political pressure on the government.” The Guardian noted “Dissident Pakistani exiles in UK ‘on hit list’; Critics of country’s military told by Met police of plots against them as security forces fear there may be an attack in Britain.”

In the same article, the Guardian noted, “Lyall Grant, also the UK’s former national security adviser, added that any evidence that officers from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the security arm of the military, were intimidating people in the UK would not be ignored. “

And we know the ISI do not have friendly relations with the UK. David Cameron as PM upset the ISI that their top man cancelled a planned UK trip, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The Scottish Herald reported more UK-ISI problems when it noted a story about a disgraced British defence attaché in Islamabad “army officer has been sent home from Islamabad in disgrace after being caught by MI6 in an "inappropriate relationship" with a Pakistani female intelligence agent.”

The honeytrap to catfish military men is not used by ISI on British alone. This past month the story came out of how they used the same trick on an Indian DRDO scientist (not the first time).

As the UK Government’s Prevent Strategy report notes, “Recent open source research provides insight into the background of people convicted of Islamist terrorism-related offences over the past ten years. The data indicates that most offences have been committed by men under the age of 30. Most were British. Almost 25% had links to Pakistan.”

ISI’s connection to terrorism are well known. President Bush stated so in 2008 when specifically naming the ISI in helping Taliban bomb the Indian Embassy in Kabul.

I mentioned these factors because when the issue of Leicester riots comes up or Khalistanis supported by Jihadis outside the Indian High Commission, there is a connection. ISI is not just an enemy of the State (and People) of Pakistan, but also of the United Kingdom. More recently ISI spies were arrested in the United States.

One would be naïve to think ISI spies do not operate in the UK without disclosing their official designation. Given the above track record it would also be naïve to think they are not involved in setting traps with British Indians to sow communal disharmony such as through Khalistanis and in Leicester.

British Indians and India itself mustn’t fall into the trap of taking the bait. ISI wants to disrupt UK India relations and clip the influence of British Indians in the UK. Provoking communal dischord is one way. Entrap Indian officials will always remain their modus operandi.

And for British Indians, the best way to avoid this trap remain harmonious even in the face of provocation, knowing what the bigger picture is.

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