CIA recruits agents and mercenaries, it bribes and blackmails foreign officials to carry out its most unsavoury tasks. It does whatever is required to achieve its goals without any consideration of the ethics involved or the moral consequences of its actions. Excerpt from The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence by Victor Marchetti The exposure of Raymond Davis as a CIA agent, who killed two Pakistanis in cold blood, followed by Operation Geronimo that yielded the prized catch of Osama bin Laden (OBL) in Abbottabad on May 2, has left no doubt in public perception about the extent to which the CIA has penetrated into Pakistans troubled landscape. The realisation that the agency has sunk its tentacles deep inside the county, to a degree, whereby it has become capable of circumventing the agencies who own the turf, has generated shockwaves that are reverberating the public opinion in Pakistan. To make matters worse, the brouhaha raised in Washington over the detention of five Pakistani collaborators of the CIA by local agencies has further exacerbated the feeling that that the American agency is not only running amok in Pakistan, but has also the arrogance (or naivet) to assume that its stepping on our toes will continue to go unchallenged. The US media fusillade, launched in the wake of CIA Director Leon E. Panettas unsuccessful visit, undertaken to secure the release of five CIA collaborators, who provided the ground information that facilitated the Navy SEALs raid on Osamas compound in Abbottabad is quite instructive to understand USAs policy framework in which the agency clandestinely operates in foreign countries. It is evident that the CIA enjoys a full and multidimensional support of the US establishment. To build up pressure on Pakistan and to make it relent in the case of the detention of its collaborators, the US legislators provided ample ammunition to its media organs to launch broadsides at Pakistan with telling effect. The Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers, after expressing the standard Washington fare of claiming that 'elements from the Pakistani military and the ISI provided some level of assistance to OBL before he was killed, subsequently laid out what was expected of Pakistan in the context of detention of the informers. They [Pakistan] could have said 'we are going to redouble our efforts with the US, we are going to fight extremism, we are going to fight terrorism, we are going to join with you as partners to try to remove the extremists and dangerous elements in Pakistan that we know have targeted the US in the past, he said. Rogers, in his fit of oratory, had made it sound like as if detention of the CIAs Pakistani informers had washed out the countrys entire effort of bagging the maximum number of Al-Qaeda big fish, as a partner of the US. His lament; when the American sailors, who ditched Osamas body in sea and returned to a heroic welcome in the US; the five Pakistanis, who had collaborated with the CIA had been left out in the cold to undergo interrogation about their role in the operation. Emotional outbursts aside, the exposure of CIAs asset in Pakistan has implications that are substantive enough to have triggered such an impassioned outcry from the intelligence and political establishment in Washington. First, despite claiming partnership with Pakistan, the USA has provided no details about the Abbottabad raid that violated the national sovereignty of Pakistan with a devil may care abandon. Given the sensitivity of the issue, Pakistan is fully justified in initiating action to reconstruct the sequence of events that would point to the lapses in the system that enabled the US Special Forces to violate Pakistans air and ground vigil. The CIA collaborators make the best available sources to help fill in the missing pieces in the jigsaw puzzle, and also help comprehend the circumstances in which OBL was able to remain hidden in his craftily laid hideout for five years without attracting attention. These are vital questions and the US collaborators are legitimate sources of intelligence - a fact that should not be grudged by the US legislators nor the CIA bosses. Second, much like the Davis affair, there may be consternation among the CIA agents operating within Pakistan that the questioning of the five detainees may lay bare the clandestine network that the CIA has painstakingly laid out in Pakistan. This may necessitate reconfiguring the intricately laid web of espionage leading to wastage of assets and slowing down or even temporarily shutting off certain vital operations. There will also be fears that despite placing necessary cut-outs to save the entire network from exposure, the questioning may lead on to more local agents serving the US interests in Pakistan. Third, it is a question of morale of the locals working for the US intelligence, who are assured that in case of compromise of their cover they would not be left alone to face the music. The resettlement abroad as a reward for their work and services rendered to the CIA is always dangled by the recruiters as an inducement. That they could be exposed and interrogated in Pakistan, despite assurances, must have sent chills down the spine of many other local agents, who are willing to sell their loyalties for money or other elusive attractions. Netting of the CIA collaborators will certainly dampen the spirit of their cohorts, who may realise that behind fake promises and polished exteriors of the CIA recruiters are cynical, brutal characters whose word, invariably, is absolutely worthless. Fourth, with tangible evidence in hand, Pakistan is in a position to question the presence of a large CIA footprint in Pakistan, where the turf is exclusively claimed by the local agencies. Being a partner in the war on terror does not imply that it has a franchise to operate at will in Pakistan. There is no reason as to why CIAs untrammeled liberty of action in Pakistan should not be curtailed and calibrated in deference to Pakistans priorities and sensitivities. The US legislators and the CIA should not arrogate to themselves the prerogatives to tell Pakistan how to safeguard its vital security interests within the confines of its own borders. n The writer is a freelance columnist.