THE BLOG
01/06/2015 12:30 pm ET Updated Mar 08, 2015

The Beam in One's Own Eye

This reported phrase from the Sermon on the Mount aimed at hypocrisy comes to mind as I contemplate the "furious" reaction of Pakistani officials at the portrayal of their country and their countrymen in the TV series Homeland, now having just completed its fourth season, which dealt primarily with CIA operations in Pakistan. According to the spokesperson of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, Nadeem Hotiana, "Maligning a country that has been a close partner and ally of the U.S... is a disservice to the security interests of the U.S. but also to the people of the U.S."

Pakistani critics have pointed out that the show was filmed in Cape Town and lacked the greenery of Pakistan's capital, Islamabad (how could it have been filmed in Pakistan?); the accents were off, etc. But apart from these peripheral quibbles, the fact remains, as the show points out, that Pakistan has played, and continues to play, a two-faced role with regard to terrorist organizations in the sub-continent. It was Pakistan, after all, that created the Afghan Taliban in the '90s.

Just recently, a key operative in the Lashkar-e-Taiba movement that carried out the attack on the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai was released from jail in Pakistan and is free to roam -- and operate -- at will.

In Homeland's fourth season, there is a sequence in which the Haqqani network, which carries out attacks from Pakistan against Americans and others in Afghanistan, is holding captive a former deputy director of the CIA. The Pakistan military intelligence service, the ISI, through its links to the Haqqani network, arranges a prisoner swap that frees the deputy director. The scene has all the aspects of verisimilitude and seems to be a metaphor for the duplicity of the Pakistani establishment.

Much of the ambiguity in Pakistani foreign policy stems from its inferiority complex vis-a-vis India. Though Pakistan is hardly a small country (pop. 188 million), it is dwarfed by is neighbor (pop. 1.22 billion) and has lost a series of wars with India since Partition, which in retrospect is regarded by many as having been a mistake. Pakistan lost Kashmir, whose Hindu maharajah turned the Muslim majority province over to India. The institutions of British India went to the Indians at Partition, and Pakistan had to seek out and build a new capital at Islamabad. Pakistan regards Afghanistan as its "strategic depth" and is paranoid about Indian attempts to establish influence there.

The CIA has had a close, if at times testy, relationship with the ISI going back to the '50s, when the two services had to coordinate the CIA's U-2 spy plane flights over the Soviet Union which originated from an airbase at Peshawar.

Despite its enhanced dramatic effects, which increase the attraction of any TV series, season four of Homeland has the ring of authenticity, as noted in an article by myself and a former CIA colleague, John MacGaffin (an advisor to season four), published in the "Daily Beast" on 14 December.