The Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad (ISSI), organised a public talk and launch of the book “88 Days to Kandahar: A CIA Diary” by Robert L. Grenier on March 11, 2016. The guest speaker was Mr. Robert Grenier, former CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) station chief in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Other speakers included; Ambassador Mohammad Sadiq, Secretary National Assembly Division, PM Secretariat; Lt. Gen. Javed Alam (Retd.), and Mr. Zahid Hussain, senior journalist.
In his welcome remarks, Ambassador Masood Khan, Director General, ISSI, highlighted the various issues and challenges Pakistan was confronted with. Speaking about Afghanistan, he said that initially Islamabad was reluctant to get involved in the Afghan peace process. This was primarily because it did not want to instigate an Afghan civil war. However, the Pakistani government was persuaded to play a more instrumental role by the Afghan leadership – both present and their predecessors. He opined that Pakistan has always remained very steadfast and very committed to the peace process in Afghanistan. In this regard, a formula now known as the ‘Quadrilateral Coordination Group’ is being pursued by Afghanistan, Pakistan, the US and China. Ambassador Masood Khan was of the view that the Quadrilateral was a good initiative and was hopeful that as long as all principle stakeholders remained committed, headway could be made with the Afghan Taliban in the peace process. However, he emphasised that patience and resilience was the need of the hour. He also briefly touched on the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA’s relations with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and was of the view that both are indispensable arms of their respective governments. They have been partners for a long time and even though there have been sporadic difficulties these are simple ‘quarrels in the family’. He also talked about the current US administration’s policy towards Pakistan, and whether the there would be a change in US policy towards Pakistan post the upcoming presidential elections. Speaking about the implementation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Ambassador Masood stated that this mega-project will be transformative for the whole region. Therefore, Pakistan’s main focus is on economic connectivity and finding security through economic prosperity and connectivity.