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The Killid Group
Amrullah Saleh: "I am not Pakistan's Victim"Written by
Saturday, 12 June 2010 12:58
By: Ahmad Zia Intezar
Killid interview with the former chief of National Directorate of Security -or Afghanistan's chief of Intelligence- took place few hours after his resignation. Known as one of the country's more skilled public officials, Amrullah Saleh is also seen as linked to the CIA, U.S. intelligence agency since he was fighting with Ahmad Massoud against Soviets first and Taleban afterwards. He then spent three years studying in the U.S. His position against Pakistan's role in Afghanistan has not been hidden by him. However, the powerful Pakistani intelligence service, ISI, could has not be determinant in his fall.
Question: You have just resigned from your position as chief of the National Security Directorate after six and a half years. Did you face any problems in your work?
Answer: Problems related to work are natural. Afghanistan moved suddenly from isolation to centre stage in the attention of the world. We had to establish the intelligence system, establish international links, and counter our enemies. Afghanistan was so isolated that it had no links with the international community and in the current situation where terrorists networks operate on an international level it was important to establish these links. It was a challenge.
Q: Could you elaborate on this?
A: Our security institutions had to be built from scratch. People in this country were bound by their tribal, group and political loyalties. It was necessary to break these boundaries and ensure the loyalty of people to the nation and to defending national interest. Has it been achieved completely? No. It is a continuous process.
I have brought reforms to the national security institution. Are the reforms enough? No. They must be continued by my successor. Change is a permanent feature of any intelligence organization and it must adapt continuously to new situations.
Earlier the Intelligence Agency was viewed as the repressive arm of the State. But it should be an organization that treats everyone equally without discrimination on the basis of personal, tribal, group or political links. All political organizations should have access to us and we must have links to civil society. We need to be professional and also responsive to the Afghan parliament. We have managed to achieve this, though not completely. The task of building public trust has to be continued.
Q: Did you face any problems of external interference?
A: Every intelligence agency seeks inroads into the intelligence agency of the other country. This is true of both rival countries as well as friendly countries. Our job was to ensure that the agency prioritized Afghan national interest by keeping both positive and negative influences at bay. We were able to do this. But struggling against external influences is a continuous process.
Q: Pakistan and its intelligence agency ISI is sometimes mentioned as a source of negative influence. Do you agree with this?
A: Pakistan's ISI is not the enemy of just one person in Afghanistan; it is inimical to our feeling of nationhood. My stand against Pakistan is not an emotional stand based on sentiment and personal history. When I discovered that Pakistan was related directly and indirectly to all the insecurity in our country I showed the proof of this involvement to the people and to the president. With proof we were able to formally express our feelings about this. Pakistan has not allowed Afghanistan to get strong. It is supporting the Taliban and other terrorist groups. It is not just in terms of security. Pakistan also prevents Afghanistan from becoming strong economically.
Q: It is being said that you were a victim of Pakistan's intelligence agency or the Taliban.
A: I have not been victimized. I was born in Afghanistan, I have worked in Afghanistan. I filled a respected position. I am in Afghanistan. This is my country and no one prevented me from working. I don't know what the meaning of victim is. If by that you mean the job of the intelligence chief, then yes. But I have resigned to do other work. I am not in a jail, I can talk. I have not been prohibited from carrying out any activity. The Chief of the Intelligence service is not the only way to serve the country. There are thousands of other ways to serve. I live among my people. I don't have relations abroad. My family is here, my children go to school here, my fatherland is here and I hope to be buried here with respect.
Q: By victim we mean that you are an active person and would have liked to continue your job.
A: I have mentioned that differences between a manager and his subordinate are natural. When a person reaches the stage where the hopes he has are different from his manager, morality requires that he resign from the position.
Q: Were there some differences between you and the President during your work?
A: I worked nine years in the area if intelligence. . There were no personal, regional, linguistic or party problems with the president.
Q: There are suggestions that Karzai's promise of releasing Taliban was behind your resignation?
A: According to the Constitution the President of Afghanistan has the right to make free all prisoners. In the Presidential order setting up a commission to review cases and distinguish between who should be freed or not there was no role for the security institutions. I said the security agencies must have a role as they are the only ones who can make this assessment. But since the President determined they should not have a role and the law gives him that right, I resigned.
Q: What will be the impact on security if those you arrested are released?
A: First we should wait to see which names are suggested by the Commission for release. I don't want to comment on this now.
Q: If the President requests you to work with him in another capacity, will you accept?
A: My answer, as before, is that I am not commenting on this issue.