Indian intelligence agencies, who are closely coordinating with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), in laying their hands on Dawood Ibrahim are facing a major hurdle in Pakistan. Sources in the agencies said they were stunned to know that Dawood regularly uses the private helicopter of a top politician of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML) to fly to his hideout in the Swat Valley.
“This is the level of connivance of the ruling establishment in Pakistan with Dawood. The Nawaz Sharif government is aware of this development, but is keeping quiet for obvious reasons,’’ an intelligence official told dna. Dawood, wanted in several bomb blast cases and other crimes in India, is believed to be holed up in the Swat Valley, where the Taliban is active.
According to an intelligence analyst, it makes no difference to Dawood whether Pakistan is ruled by the army, the Pakistan Peoples Party or the PML led by Nawaz Sharif as he continues to enjoy protection from the all-powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Dawood is prized as a major “asset” of the ISI, which has launched an all-out effort to keep him away from the prying eyes of Indian and US intelligence personnel. He is also being given secure lines of communication so that no one is able to tap his phones. The ISI and the rest of the Pakistani establishment has learnt a big lesson from the US Navy Seals’ covert operation in Abbottabad, which resulted in the killing of Osama bin Laden, the world’s most-wanted terrorist.
The ISI is making sure that there are no chinks in the armour when it comes to Dawood. The ISI fears that the fine details of several of its covert operations, including many bombings in India, would be revealed if Dawood is kidnapped in a joint Indo-US counter-terrorist operation. “The ISI would rather itself eliminate Dawood than let him be pilfered away by Indian or American personnel,’’ a senior intelligence official said.
Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde recently revealed that after netting in Yasin Bhatkal, the top operative of the Indian Mujahideen, Dawood is next on the hit-list. Shinde even disclosed that the help of US intelligence was being taken to bring Dawood - designated as one of the top 10 terrorists of the world by the US - to justice.
For Dawood, it does not matter whether the army, Pakistan Muslim League or the Pakistan Peoples Party is in power. He enjoys the ISI’s backing
The ISI does not want Dawood to get caught by US and Indian intelligence agencies in a covert operation.