Tag Archive | "RAW"

India Supporting Terrorism in FATA and Balochistan: Qureshi

PKonweb Monitor

Less than a day after Indian PM’s statement that his country did not want terrorism to paralyze Pakistan, Foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has blamed the neighbor for igniting terrorism in tribal areas and in Balochistan.

Peace is impossible to be attained in the region unless India stop its support to terrorism in Pakistan, Pakistan’s foreign minister said.

In an interview to German news agency (DPA) Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said, “India is supporting the terrorists in the tribal areas and Balochistan.”

“Pakistan is collecting concrete evidence against the Indian intervention in the Pakistani tribal areas and Balochistan,” said Qureshi.

He also said that peace and security is impossible to be attained in South Asia unless India changes its hostile behaviour towards Pakistan.

“Only those who do not want peace in the region will benefit from the delay in talks,” said Qureshi. “New Delhi has no option but to begin negotiations.

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No Plan for Pakistan - by Rafia Zakaria

By Rafia Zakaria

Since the release of Gen Stanley McChrystal’s report on the US effort in Afghanistan a few weeks ago, pundits and policymakers in Washington D.C. have been waiting with bated breath for the outcome of the war room briefings that have been taking place in the White House.

It was rumoured that the much-awaited decision regarding the provision of an additional 40,000 troops requested by Gen McChrystal, who is the top US commander in Afghanistan, would come in the footsteps of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s acquiescence to holding run-off elections in early November. Yet even as Mr Karzai announced his support for the run-off elections, there was no sign of a decision from President Barack Obama’s camp regarding an increase in troop levels in Afghanistan.

Yet while administration officials ponder the onerous decision of whether to commit thousands of more troops to Afghanistan, there is little sign that anyone in the Obama administration has even been charged with the task of coming up with a strategy for Pakistan. While there has been applause in Washington for the Pakistani military following its recent offensive in Waziristan, there seems to be scant consensus as to what sort of national security dividends the United States expects to reap from the offensive.

One central source of confusion and division in Washington pivots on whether security objectives in the region must be directed towards the Taliban or Al Qaeda. The confusion between the two and the consequent paralysis it has instigated among those constructing Obama’s policy harks back to the fateful campaign slogans that painted Al Qaeda and not the militants among the Iraqis or the Afghans as America’s ‘real’ enemy.

As the Pakistan Army continues its offensive against the Taliban, it is thus this lingering question that once again haunts both the White House and Congress. The perplexity of their dilemma was highlighted at a congressional hearing held last week where military analyst Frederick Kagan insisted that the war against Al Qaeda also meant a war against its allies and proxies (the Taliban) while across town White House press secretary Robert Gibbs played down the threat posed by the Taliban saying: “Their capability is somewhat different (from that of Al Qaeda) on the continuum of transnational threats.”

The uncertainty of how to proceed on Pakistan is compounded by the inability of US analysts to distinguish between its nation-building efforts in Afghanistan — a relatively desolate land that has been ravaged by 30 years of war — and Pakistan, an increasingly urban nation of nearly 170 million, which has elements openly scoffing at US aid. The theme of ‘inter-connection’ of ‘AfPak’ has often misled officials with little geographical or socio-cultural understanding of the difference between the two countries into believing that they are crude extensions of each other.

Hence the assumption that throwing aid towards Pakistan would accomplish similar nation-building goals as has been pursued in Afghanistan and simultaneously buy the goodwill of the people. The vacuity of this superficial recipe was exposed by the public outcry in Pakistan following the Kerry-Lugar bill, when the intractability of buying hearts and minds with aid disbursements came into sharp focus.

Strategic complexities in arriving at a plan for Pakistan are compounded by political complications that arise from President Obama’s core constituency: the American left. Traditionally anti-war, they spent the campaign revelling in the fact that Obama — their dream candidate — had never supported the Iraq war. They thus remain ambivalent regarding the troop build-up in Afghanistan and utterly confounded as to where they should stand on Pakistan.

While some have admittedly come out against the drone attacks in Pakistan that have killed civilians, others are vexed at the possibility that their anti-war president may be dragged to a third front. Their current paralysis and the possibility that they may vehemently oppose an increased troop presence in the region suggest untold political costs for the Obama administration in the upcoming mid-term elections and could lead to further indecision on Pakistan.

In essence, the ongoing military operation launched by the Pakistan Army against the Taliban has effectively exposed a gaping chasm in US policy towards the region. In the months leading up to the recent offensive US officials such as Defence Secretary Robert Gates and even Centcom chief Gen David Petraeus presented a series of cataclysmic pronouncements urging the Pakistan military to take the Taliban threat seriously.

Yet now that the Pakistan Army has done exactly that it seems unclear what the US expects as the end-game of this battle. Its dithering on the issue of whether or not it will choose to have a stronger troop presence in Afghanistan and the confusion regarding whether its efforts will be directed against the Taliban or Al Qaeda represent deepening divisions and unclear objectives.

The conundrum is exacerbated further by the diminishing influence of Obama’s special envoys to the region on policy discussions regarding Afghanistan and Pakistan. The sidelining of special envoy Richard Holbrooke from discussions with President Karzai on the issue of run-off elections is yet another example of the fact that those actually negotiating with players in the region are losing crucial ground.

Ultimately, the absence of a cohesive US strategy towards Pakistan beyond urgings

to take the threat of the Taliban seriously is reflective of an omission that is likely to impose both political and strategic costs on the United States. For Pakistan, the war against the Taliban is territorial and directed specifically at gaining back control of specific regions. For the US, the connections drawn between its national security concerns and fighting territorial wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan are far more complex.

The evasive logic of these connections has become especially problematic when US policy towards Pakistan is exposed as a lurid hodgepodge of drone attacks, aid packages and diplomatic urgings to fight the Taliban. Given the already fragile relationship between the US and Pakistan, the absence of a comprehensive and clear plan towards the region does little to reassure Pakistanis that their status as American allies will continue in the years to come.

- The writer is an attorney and director at Amnesty International, USA. [email protected]

{Source: Dawn}

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Shiv Sena Activists Burn Pakistan Flag in Amritsar

PKonweb Monitor

Outraged over the rocket firing incident on Friday night in Attari Sector of Punjab’s Amritsar district, a group of Shiv Sena (Hindustan) activists on Sunday burnt Pakistan’s national flag in Amritsar, eastern Punjab.here.

A number of activists assembled at the Hathi Gate Chowk of Amritsar and burnt Pakistan’s national flag.

The protestors said that they burnt the Pakistan’s national flag to express their anguish and register protest against the rockets allegedly lobbed from the Pakistani soil into Indian territory.

Islamabad has denied being behind the incident and followed it up with a flag meeting with India to resolve the issue.

Carrying a banner in their hands, the Shiv Sena activists shouted anti-Pakistan slogans also.

Protestors demanded that the Government of India should force Pakistan to stop anti-India activities immediately.

Ajay Seth, President of the Shiv Sena (H), said that it is Pakistan’s nefarious designs always have an affect on the peace initiatives that it urges time and again to take with India.

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Political Islam and ISI

By Andre Gerolymatos

The crisis in the Middle East has inadvertently overshadowed the greater crisis in South Asia where the conflict between Pakistan and India can easily accelerate into a nuclear confrontation. Underlying the tensions that have plagued the relations of these two countries is religious zealotry and the ongoing territorial dispute over Kashmir.

In the case of Pakistan, religious militancy (as manifested by political Islam) will certainly aggravate the precarious truce between Pakistan and India. Currently, Pakistan is a thinly veiled democracy and for most of its existence it has been ruled by the military. However, unlike Turkey, in which the military has been the bulwark of secularism, in Pakistan the army is the medium by which political Islam is rapidly taking over the country.

The roots of this state of affairs reach back into the British Raj and are the byproduct of divide-and-rule policies of colonialism. It was British policy beginning in the late 19th century to enlist Indian soldiers from the so-called “martial races” of the Northwestern Frontier.

The British believed that the northern regions of India were populated by “warlike and hardy races,” while the south was composed of “effeminate peoples.” The British colonial authorities in India deliberately kept the northern areas un-industrialized and under-educated to protect their recruiting base and keep the “martial races” from engaging in other pursuits and occupations.

As a result of the ‘martial races’ recruitment policy, a disproportionate number of South Asian soldiers and officers were recruited from Muslim and Sikh tribes. After Pakistan’s creation in 1947, successive Pakistani governments continued to recruit from the same geographical regions, following the British policy of cultivating the “martial races.”

During the 1980s three-quarters of the Pakistan Army was recruited from three districts in the Punjab and two from the Northwest Frontier Province; areas that collectively represent only nine per cent of the population. These recruits also served in Pakistan’s intelligence service (the ISI) and the fact that they have family and tribal ties in the troubled northwest region of Pakistan has created a unique relationship for Pakistan’s intelligence establishment with the northwest frontier. In the early 1980s, for example, general Akhtar Abdur Rahman, the director of ISI was, like many Pakistani officers, a Pashtun from Peshawar on the Afghan frontier. In 1987, Gen. Hamid Gul, a devout Muslim from the Punjab with close ties to the Saudis, replaced him as head of the ISI. Both men owed their appointments to Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s dictator after 1977, who also came from the Punjab.

Zia’s regime was given legitimacy by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. The ensuing jihad against the Soviets created the ideal environment for Pakistan to intervene directly in Afghanistan — with the connivance of the United States.

When the Americans decided to take on the Soviets in the region they also opted to work through Pakistan’s intelligence community. Under this arrange-ment, funding was channeled through the ISI to the mujahedeen. The ISI, in turn, used Pakistani Islamic organizations and parties to build up militant Islamist movements in Afghanistan.

The power and influence of the ISI within Pakistan has continued to grow after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan as well as its contacts with radical Islamic organizations. The triangular link between the Pakistan government, the ISI, and fundamentalist mujahedeen continued under Benazir Bhutto. Bhutto’s government was directly involved in infiltrating Taliban recruits into Afghanistan in the 1990s, while Bhutto claimed that Pakistan was merely returning Afghan refugees to their homeland.

The direct links between Pakistan’s government and the ISI continued after Bhutto. Several key members of Musharraf’s military regime, which came to power in 1999, including Musharraf himself, were also officers in the ISI.

The ISI has been directly involved with the formation and ongoing support of the Taliban. By 1993 the Taliban had become a formidable force with direct ties to the ISI and through it access to recruits from Pakistan’s religious schools.

The ISI’s deliberate entanglement with the Taliban and other extreme groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba has made political Islam a major factor in Pakistan. The ISI — created by the British, nurtured by the Americans and the Saudis — has become a serious impediment to Pakistan’s social and political evolution. The events in Mumbai in 2008 have demonstrated that parts of the ISI are now almost interchangeable with extreme Islamic organizations. (The Vancouver Sun)

Andre Gerolymatos is professor of Hellenic Studies at Simon Fraser University and blogs on The Vancouver Sun’s Community of Interest.

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DO TOK With Mazhar Abbas on ARY: SEP 12

Gen (R) Asad Durrani gives a no-holds-barred and candid interview to Mazhar Abbas on the latest episode of Do Tok on ARY. Durrani said there never exisited in ISI any political wing nor was its involvement in politics or influencing country politics was ever part of its charter but it still did on the theory of managing and controlling or influencing “internal stability” issues by removing “difficulties” he said.

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Najam Sethi and Moeed Pirzada discuss President Zardari’s one year of performance including his political highs and lows, mistakes and achievements.

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ISI Chief Breaks Fast at Iftar by Indian High Commissioner

PKonweb Monitor

SEP 11 - In a rare gesture of goodwill, ISI Director General Lt Gen Shuja Pasha attended an Iftar-dinner hosted by Indian High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal on Thursday in Islamabad.

Pasha was the highest-ranking Pakistani official in attendance at the dinner and is the first serving ISI chief to have attended such an event hosted by the Indian High Commission, reported Daily Times today.

The Iftar dinner was hosted for a large number of people from different walks of life including politicians, writers, journalists and intellectuals.

The Indian high commissioner received Pasha on arrival, saying, “I am glad to see you here.”

Responding to the high commissioner’s remarks, the ISI chief said, “I always accept invitations, and I like to have more interactions.”

Diplomatic sources said the presence of the ISI chief at the dinner could lead to hope intelligence officials of the two neighbouring countries might review “the policy of sworn hostility” towards each other.

The de ja vu happened in the backdrop of India and Pakistan’s failure to arrive at any joint agreements on terrorism since the Mumbai attacks and India has called for global pressure on Pakistan for better co-operation on terror.

Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram is on a four-day visit to USA where he intends to seek Washington’s intervention in making Pakistan take action against the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks.

Washington says Pakistan should not consider its eastern neighbor its enemy and should in rather concentrate on mitigating “existential threats” it faces on its western border where the Taliban on both sides of the Pak-Afghan swathe continue to fight the US, Nato and their key ally Pakistan.

An aspect of the Indian visit to US not being publicised is to build on institutional exchanges between intelligence and law-enforcement agencies of the two countries.

Chidambaram is scheduled to meet several top officials from the Obama administration, including his counterpart Janet Napolitano; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Attorney General Eric H Holder. The Indian home minister is also scheduled to meet top US intelligence and security officials, including FBI Director Robert Mueller, Director of National Intelligence Dennis C Blair and National Security Adviser Gen (r) James Jones at the White House.

A tour of the National Counter-Terrorism Center in Virginia is also part of his schedule, agencies reports said.

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€˜Raw’ Hands in Balochistan

By Imran Jamali

On July 20, a private TV channel in its programme showed a suicide bomber confessing working for the Indian RAW to create unrest in Pakistan. The bomber was arrested from Dera Bugti after he got injured as a result of explosion in a house. He disclosed that “Brahamdag Bugti is the actual ring leader of the terrorists; Indian officials meet Brahamdag regularly; the terrorists are being trained in the Afghan training camps; Karazai had been provided protection and stay in Balochistan during his years of exile, and now in return he is providing Brahamdag Bugti the status of state guest in Afghanistan; innocent people are being forcibly transported to Kabul; a large sum is being provided to the commanders who launch terrorists and suicide bombers; and the innocent youth have been brainwashed for suicide bombing in Pakistan, particularly against the security forces. Indian RAW is operating in Balochistan and FATA in collaboration with newly established Afghan intelligence agency RAAM (earlier name KHAD). For this purpose Afghanistan has made two detachments in Riasat 25 and 33. Both the establishments are being fed by RAW for spreading violence and creating internal security threat inside Pakistan. The Afghan government has provided shelter to Brahamdag Bugti. Indian RAW and Afghan RAAM have developed their deep relationship with each other. RAW has recently restructured KHAD giving it a name of Hindu god RAAM. It is imparting training to RAAM for breeding terrorists. Ahmad Wali Karzai, the brother of Hamid Karzai, has been accused of drug trafficking and RAW is covertly supporting him. Ever since the US NATO presence in Afghanistan, the drugs trade has soared all time high. The annual UN drugs report says the US-driven anti-narcotics policies had failed to make any significant dent in the trade, forcing a rethink. The reasons behind were that some of the Taliban elements, CIA, RAW and RAAM were generating money by exporting drugs. The funds generated by Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies are being used for storming terrorism in Pakistan. Reliable resources said Baitullah Mehsud was being funded by RAW for carrying out sabotage activities in Pakistan. The chiefs of Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies - V M Sharma and Amarullah Saleh - held a number of meetings in Kabul and New Delhi in order to implement their nefarious agendas. Few meetings had also been attended by top bosses of Mossad and CIA too. In a recent meeting they showed satisfaction over their covert operations in the region and decided to expand their loop-up up to China and Russia. Targeting Pakistan, China and Russia is obvious since these nuclear powers can challenge and create hurdle in the trail of their master’s great game. Some weeks ago Barahamdag reportedly met Amarullah Saleh and asked for additional money to undertake sabotage activities in Pakistan. He was promised a handsome amount and Commander Raziq Achakzai of Spin Boldak was made instrumental. Funds and explosives have been supplied by a man namely Abdul Sattar. A number of Afghan officials are facilitating Indian agents in crossing the border. Earlier this year, two border police personnel and one political figure were arrested while crossing the border without documents. Spin Boldak is said to be the main hub of anti-Pakistan activities and the town is being used as a launching pad. RAW-RAAM used to providing weapons via Bajaur, Dir, Pewchar (ex-headquarters for Fazlullah). Premier Gillani handed over these proofs to his Indian counterpart in Sharm el-Sheikh and provided pictures of Brahamdag and other terrorists showing them meeting with Indian agents in Afghanistan as well as in India. This was the proof of India’s involvement in recruiting, training, financing and arming terrorists being infiltrated into Pakistan. The links have been established through investigations that have proved the involvement of Indians in the attacks like that of on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, attack on Manawan police centre, etc, which jolted even the Indian lobby in Washington. Pakistan should also ask Afghanistan to stop interfering in our internal affairs. Kabul should be pursued to hand over criminals like Brahamdag back to Pakistan. The world community needs to be mobilized for putting pressure on Karzai to immediately close down the Indian consulates and training camps in Afghanistan. Secondly there is a need for the federal government to look into the Balochistan matters not the RAW way but also see the other side of the picture. The people’s dismay and dissatisfaction over the successive governments’ performance in Quetta as well as in Islamabad is because of the bigwigs’ ignorance about the ground realities. Unless they solve the issues like social disparity, educational, health, economic, literacy, employment, equal distribution of resources, equitable treatment to the people of this province, discriminatory attitude on the part of Centre, royalty and NFC Awards etc the problems cannot be solved. Indian involvement comes through our own inefficiency and insincerity.

([email protected])

{Source: The Frontier Post}

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Gen Hamid Gul: Dangerous to Whom?

By Jeremy R. Hammond
Foreign Policy Journal

Ex-ISI Chief Says Purpose of New Afghan Intelligence Agency RAMA is to destabilize Pakistan

In an exclusive interview with Foreign Policy Journal, retired Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul responds to charges that he supports terrorism, discusses 9/11 and ulterior motives for the war on Afghanistan, claims that the U.S., Israel, and India are behind efforts to destabilize Pakistan, and charges the U.S. and its allies with responsibility for the lucrative Afghan drug trade.

Retired Lieutenant General Hamid Gul was the Director General of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) from 1987 to 1989, during which time he worked closely with the CIA to provide support for the mujahedeen fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Though once deemed a close ally of the United States, in more recent years his name has been the subject of considerable controversy. He has been outspoken with the claim that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 were an “inside job”. He has been called “the most dangerous man in Pakistan”, and the U.S. government has accused him of supporting the Taliban, even recommending him to the United Nations Security Council for inclusion on the list of international terrorists.

In an exclusive interview with Foreign Policy Journal, I asked the former ISI chief what his response was to these allegations. He replied, “Well, it’s laughable I would say, because I’ve worked with the CIA and I know they were never so bad as they are now.” He said this was “a pity for the American people” since the CIA is supposed to act “as the eyes and ears” of the country. As for the charge of him supporting the Taliban, “it is utterly baseless. I have no contact with the Taliban, nor with Osama bin Laden and his colleagues.” He added, “I have no means, I have no way that I could support them, that I could help them.”

Then Maj. Gen. Hamid Gul, Director General of the ISI (far left), with William Webster, Director of Central Intelligence, Clair George, Deputy Director for Operations, and Milt Bearden, CIA station chief, at a training camp for the mujahedeen in Pakistans North-West Frontier Province in 1987. (RAWA)

Then Maj. Gen. Hamid Gul, Director General of the ISI (far left), with William Webster, Director of Central Intelligence, Clair George, Deputy Director for Operations, and Milt Bearden, CIA station chief, at a training camp for the mujahedeen in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province in 1987. (RAWA)

After the Clinton administration’s failed attempt to assassinate Osama bin Laden in 1998, some U.S. officials alleged that bin Laden had been tipped off by someone in Pakistan to the fact that the U.S. was able to track his movements through his satellite phone. Counter-terrorism advisor to the National Security Council Richard Clarke said, “I have reason to believe that a retired head of the ISI was able to pass information along to Al Qaeda that the attack was coming.” And some have speculated that this “retired head of the ISI” was none other than Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul.

When I put this charge to him, General Gul pointed out to me that he had retired from the ISI on June 1, 1989, and from the army in January, 1992. “Did you share this information with the ISI?” he asked. “And why haven’t you taken the ISI to task for parting this information to its ex-head?” The U.S. had not informed the Pakistan army chief, Jehangir Karamat, of its intentions, he said. So how could he have learned of the plan to be able to warn bin Laden? “Do I have a mole in the CIA? If that is the case, then they should look into the CIA to carry out a probe, find out the mole, rather than trying to charge me. I think these are all baseless charges, and there’s no truth in it…. And if they feel that their failures are to be rubbed off on somebody else, then I think they’re the ones who are guilty, not me.”

General Gul turned our conversation to the subject of 9/11 and the war on Afghanistan. “You know, my position is very clear,” he said. “It’s a moral position that I have taken. And I say that America has launched this aggression without sufficient reasons. They haven’t even proved the case that 9/11 was done by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.” He argued that “There are many unanswered questions about 9/11,” citing examples such as the failure to intercept any of the four planes after it had become clear that they had been hijacked. He questioned how Mohammed Atta, “who had had training on a light aircraft in Miami for six months” could have maneuvered a jumbo jet “so accurately” to hit his target (Atta was reportedly the hijacker in control of American Airlines Flight 11, which was the first plane to hit its target, striking the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 am). And he made reference to the flight that hit the Pentagon and the maneuver its pilot had performed, dropping thousands of feet while doing a near 360 degree turn before plowing into its target. “And then, above all,” he added, “why have no heads been rolled? The FBI, the CIA, the air traffic control — why have they not been put to question, put to task?” Describing the 9/11 Commission as a “cover up”, the general added,

“I think the American people have been made fools of. I have my sympathies with them. I like Americans. I like America. I appreciate them. I’ve gone there several times.”

At this point in our discussion, General Gul explained how both the U.S. and United Kingdom stopped granting him an entry visa. He said after he was banned from the U.K.,

I wrote a letter to the British government, through the High Commissioner here in Islamabad, asking ‘Why do you think that — if I’m a security risk, then it is paradoxical that you should exclude me from your jurisdiction. You should rather nab me, interrogate me, haul me up, take me to the court, whatever you like. I mean, why are you excluding me from the U.K., it’s not understandable.’ I did not receive a reply to that.”

He says he sent a second letter inviting the U.K. to send someone to question him in Pakistan, if they had questions about him they wanted to know. If the U.S. wants to include him on the list of international terrorists, Gul reasons, “I am still prepared to let them grant me the visa. And I will go…. If they think that there is something very seriously wrong with me, why don’t you give me the visa and catch me then?”

‘They lack character’

I turned to the war in Afghanistan, observing that the ostensible purpose for the war was to bring the accused mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden, to justice. And yet there were plans to overthrow the Taliban regime that predated 9/11. The FBI does not include the 9/11 attacks among the crimes for which bin Laden is wanted. After the war began, General Tommy Franks responded to a question about capturing him by saying, “We have not said that Osama bin Laden is a target of this effort.” The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Richard Myers, similarly said afterward, “Our goal has never been to get bin Laden.” And President George W. Bush himself said, “I truly am not that concerned about him.” These are self-serving statements, obviously, considering the failure to capture bin Laden. But what, I asked General Gul, in his view, were the true reasons for the invasion of Afghanistan, and why the U.S. is still there?

“A very good question,” he responded. “I think you have reached the point precisely.” It is a “principle of war,” he said, “that you never mix objectives. Because when you mix objectives then you end up with egg on your face. You face defeat. And here was a case where the objectives were mixed up. Ostensibly, it was to disperse al Qaeda, to get Osama bin Laden. But latently, the reasons for the offensive, for the attack on Afghanistan, were quite different.”

Major General Hamid Gul, Former Director General of the ISI

Major General Hamid Gul, Former Director General of the ISI

First, he says, the U.S. wanted to “reach out to the Central Asian oilfields” and “open the door there”, which “was a requirement of corporate America, because the Taliban had not complied with their desire to allow an oil and gas pipeline to pass through Afghanistan. UNOCAL is a case in point. They wanted to keep the Chinese out. They wanted to give a wider security shield to the state of Israel, and they wanted to include this region into that shield. And that’s why they were talking at that time very hotly about ‘greater Middle East’. They were redrawing the map.”

Second, the war “was to undo the Taliban regime because they had enforced Shariah”, or Islamic law, which, “in the spirit of that system, if it is implemented anywhere, would mean an alternative socio-monetary system. And that they would never approve.”

Third, it was “to go for Pakistan’s nuclear capability”, something that used to be talked about “under their lip”, “but now they are openly talking about”. This was the reason the U.S. “signed this strategic deal with India, and this was brokered by Israel. So there is a nexus now between Washington, Tel Aviv, and New Delhi.”

While achieving some of these aims, “there are many things which are still left undone,” he continued, “because they are not winning on the battlefield. And no matter what maps you draw in your mind, no matter what plans you make, if you cannot win on the battlefield, then it comes to naught. And that is what is happening to America.”

“Besides, the American generals, I have a professional cudgel with them,” Gul added. “They lack character. They know that a job cannot be done, because they know —I cannot believe that they didn’t realize that the objectives are being mixed up here — they could not stand up to men like Rumsfeld and to Dick Cheney. They could not tell them. I think they cheated the American nation, the American people. This is where I have a problem with the American generals, because a general must show character. He must say that his job cannot be done. He must stand up to the politicians. But these generals did not stand up to them.”

As a further example of the lack of character in the U.S. military leadership, the General Gul cited the “victory” in Iraq. “George Bush said that it was a victory. That means the generals must have told him ‘We have won!’ They had never won. This was all bunkum, this was all bullshit.”

Segueing back to Afghanistan, he continued: “And if they are now saying that with 17,000 more troops they can win in Afghanistan — or even double that figure if you like — they cannot. Now this is a professional opinion I am giving. And I will give this sound opinion for the good of the American people, because I am a friend of the American people and that is why I always say that your policies are flawed. This is not the way to go.” Furthermore, the war is “widely perceived as a war against Islam. And George Bush even used the word ‘Crusade.’” This is an incorrect view, he insisted. “You talk about clash of civilizations. We say the civilizations should meet.”

Alluding once more to the U.S. charges against him, he added, “And if they think that my criticism is tantamount to opposition to America, this is totally wrong, because there are lots of Americans themselves who are not in line with the American policies.” He had warned early on, he informed me, including in an interview with Rod Nordland in Newsweek immediately following the 9/11 attacks, that the U.S. would be making a mistake to go to war. “So, if you tell somebody, ‘Don’t jump into the well!’ and that somebody thinks you are his enemy, then what is it that you can say about him?”

‘This state of anger is being fueled’

I turned the conversation towards the consequences of the war in Afghanistan on Pakistan, and the increased extremist militant activities within his own country’s borders, where the Pakistani government has been at war with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP, or Pakistan Taliban). I observed that the TTP seemed well funded and supplied and asked Gul how the group obtains financing and arms.

He responded without hesitation. “Yeah, of course they are getting it from across the Durand line, from Afghanistan. And the Mossad is sitting there, RAW is sitting there — the Indian intelligence agency — they have the umbrella of the U.S. And now they have created another organization which is called RAMA. It may be news to you that very soon this intelligence agency — of course, they have decided to keep it covert — but it is Research and Analysis Milli Afghanistan. That’s the name. The Indians have helped create this organization, and its job is mainly to destabilize Pakistan.”

General Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, former Deputy Minister of Defense of the Northern Alliance under Ahmad Shah Massoud and the Chief of Staff of the Afghan National Army since 2002 — “whom I know very well”, General Gul told me — “had gone to India a few days back, and he has offered bases to India, five of them: three on the border, the eastern border with Pakistan, from Asadabad, Jalalabad, and Kandhar; one in Shindand, which is near Heart; and the fifth one is near Mazar-e Sharif. So these bases are being offered for a new game unfolding there.” This is why, he asserted, the Indians, despite a shrinking economy, have continued to raise their defense budget, by 20 percent last year and an additional 34 percent this year.

He also cited as evidence of these designs to destabilize Pakistan the U.S. Predator drone attacks in Waziristan, which have “angered the Pathan people of that tribal belt. And this state of anger is being fueled. It is that fire that has been lit, is being fueled, by the Indian intelligence from across the border. Of course, Mossad is right behind them. They have no reason to be sitting there, and there’s a lot of evidence. I hope the Pakistan government will soon be providing some of the evidence against the Indians.”

The killing of Baitullah Mehsud

Several days after I had first spoken with General Gul, the news hit the headlines that the leader of the TTP, Baitullah Mehsud, had been killed by a CIA drone strike. So I followed up with him and asked him to comment about this development. “When Baitullah Mehsud and his suicide bombers were attacking Pakistan armed forces and various institutions,” he said, “at that time, Pakistan intelligence were telling the Americans that Baitullah Mehsud was here, there. Three times, it has been written by the Western press, by the American press — three times the Pakistan intelligence tipped off America, but they did not attack him. Why have they now announced — they had money on him — and now attacked and killed him, supposedly? Because there were some secret talks going on between Baitullah Mehsud and the Pakistani military establishment. They wanted to reach a peace agreement, and if you recall there is a long history of our tribal areas, whenever a tribal militant has reached a peace agreement with the government of Pakistan, Americans have without any hesitation struck that target.” Among other examples, the former ISI chief said “an agreement in Bajaur was about to take place” when, on October 30, 2006, a drone struck a madrassa in the area, an attack “in which 82 children were killed”.

“So in my opinion,” General Gul continued, “there was some kind of a deal which was about to be arrived at — they may have already cut a deal. I don’t know. I don’t have enough information on that. But this is my hunch, that Baitullah was killed because now he was trying to reach an agreement with the Pakistan army. And that’s why there were no suicide attacks inside Pakistan for the past six or seven months.”

‘Very, very disturbing indeed’

Turning the focus of our discussion to the Afghan drug problem, I noted that the U.S. mainstream corporate media routinely suggest that the Taliban is in control of the opium trade. However, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Anti-Government Elements (or AGEs), which include but are not limited to the Taliban, account for a relatively small percentage of the profits from the drug trade. Two of the U.S.’s own intelligence agencies, the CIA and the DIA, estimate that the Taliban receives about $70 million a year from the drugs trade. That may seem at first glance like a significant amount of money, but it’s only about two percent of the total estimated profits from the drug trade, a figure placed at $3.4 billion by the UNODC last year.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has just announced its new strategy for combating the drug problem: placing drug traffickers with ties to insurgents —and only drug lords with ties to insurgents — on a list to be eliminated. The vast majority of drug lords, in other words, are explicitly excluded as targets under the new strategy. Or, to put it yet another way, the U.S. will be assisting to eliminate the competition for drug lords allied with occupying forces or the Afghan government and helping them to further corner the market.

I pointed out to the former ISI chief that Afghan opium finds its way into Europe via Pakistan, via Iran and Turkey, and via the former Soviet republics. According to the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, convoys under General Rashid Dostum — who was reappointed last month to his government position as Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Afghan National Army by President Hamid Karzai — would truck the drugs over the border. And President Karzai’s own brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, has been accused of being a major drug lord. So I asked General Gul who was really responsible for the Afghan drug trade.

“Now, let me give you the history of the drug trade in Afghanistan,” his answer began …

“Before the Taliban stepped into it, in 1994 — in fact, before they captured Kabul in September 1996 — the drugs, the opium production volume was 4,500 tons a year. Then gradually the Taliban came down hard upon the poppy growing. It was reduced to around 50 tons in the last year of the Taliban. That was the year 2001. Nearly 50 tons of opium produced. 50. Five-zero tons. Now last year the volume was at 6,200 tons. That means it has really gone one and a half times more than it used to be before the Taliban era.” He pointed out, correctly, that the U.S. had actually awarded the Taliban for its effective reduction of the drug trade. On top of $125 million the U.S. gave to the Taliban ostensibly as humanitarian aid, the State Department awarded the Taliban $43 million for its anti-drug efforts. “Of course, they made their mistakes,” General Gul continued. “But on the whole, they were doing fairly good. If they had been engaged in meaningful, fruitful, constructive talks, I think it would have been very good for Afghanistan.”

Referring to the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, General Gul told me in a later conversation that Taliban leader,

“Mullah Omar was all the time telling that, look, I am prepared to hand over Osama bin Laden to a third country for a trial under Shariah. Now that is where — he said [it] twice — and they rejected this. Because the Taliban ambassador here in Islamabad, he came to me, and I asked him,

‘Why don’t you study this issue, because America is threatening to attack you. So you should do something’.

“He said,

‘We have done everything possible …. I was summoned by the American ambassador in Islamabad’ — I think Milam was the ambassador at that time — and I said, ‘Look, produce the evidence’. But he did not show me anything other than cuttings from the newspapers. I said, ‘Look, we can’t accept this as evidence, because it has to stand in a court of law. You are prepared to put him on trial. You can try him in the United Nations compound in Kabul, but it has to be a Shariah court because he’s a citizen under Shariah law. Therefore, we will not accept that he should be immediately handed over to America, because George Bush has already said that he wants him ‘dead or alive’, so he’s passed the punishment, literally, against him’.”

(*Note: The quotes above have been edited by Axis of Logic for clarity. Compare wih the original below this article.)

Referring to the U.S. rejection of the Taliban offer to try bin Laden in Afghanistan or hand him over to a third country, General Gul added, “I think this is a great opportunity that they missed.”

Returning to the drug trade, General Gul named the brother of President Karzai, Abdul Wali Karzai. “Abdul Wali Karzai is the biggest drug baron of Afghanistan,” he stated bluntly. He added that the drug lords are also involved in arms trafficking, which is “a flourishing trade” in Afghanistan. “But what is most disturbing from my point of view is that the military aircraft, American military aircraft are also being used. You said very rightly that the drug routes are northward through the Central Asia republics and through some of the Russian territory, and then into Europe and beyond. But some of it is going directly. That is by the military aircraft. I have so many times in my interviews said, ‘Please listen to this information, because I am an aware person.’ We have Afghans still in Pakistan, and they sometimes contact and pass on the stories to me. And some of them are very authentic. I can judge that. So they are saying that the American military aircraft are being used for this purpose. So, if that is true, it is very, very disturbing indeed.”

Foreign Policy Journal

*Edited paragraph: Referring to the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, General Gul told me in a later conversation that Taliban leader “Mullah Omar was all the time telling that, look, I am prepared to hand over Osama bin Laden to a third country for a trial under Shariah. Now that is where — he said [it] twice — and they rejected this. Because the Taliban ambassador here in Islamabad, he came to me, and I asked him, ‘Why don’t you study this issue, because America is threatening to attack you. So you should do something.’ He said, ‘We have done everything possible.’ He said, ‘I was summoned by the American ambassador in Islamabad’ — I think Milam was the ambassador at that time — and he told me that ‘I said, “Look, produce the evidence.” But he did not show me anything other than cuttings from the newspapers.’ He said, ‘Look, we can’t accept this as evidence, because it has to stand in a court of law. You are prepared to put him on trial. You can try him in the United Nations compound in Kabul, but it has to be a Shariah court because he’s a citizen under Shariah law. Therefore, we will not accept that he should be immediately handed over to America, because George Bush has already said that he wants him “dead or alive”, so he’s passed the punishment, literally, against him.” Referring to the U.S. rejection of the Taliban offer to try bin Laden in Afghanistan or hand him over to a third country, General Gul added, “I think this is a great opportunity that they missed.”

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‘CIA Threats to Pakistan’ Part 7

7th episode of “Brass Tacks by Zaid Hamid”: Why America’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) is so active in Balochistan, Fata, Peshawar. Other ominous signs of covert US activities inside Pakistan. Seventh in a series of similar talkshows by Hamid. Interesting arguments, analyses and observations, whether you agree with them or not, but it is a must see!

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Jundullah a Wedge Between Iran, Pakistan

By Raja Karthikeya

Far from the headlines of the mainstream media, the border between Iran and Pakistan is heating up to epic proportions. In recent months, cross-border raids by a Balochistan-based terrorist group, Jundullah, targeting Iranian security personnel and civilians, has plunged bilateral relations to unprecedented depths.

But Jundullah isn’t just the prime mover for the internal security crisis in southeastern Iran. It also threatens to become the key to the survival of the Taliban on the border between Iran, Pakistan
and Afghanistan.

On May 28, a suicide bomber blew himself up inside the Ameer al-Momenin mosque in Zahedan, capital of Iran’s Sistan-Balochistan province, killing 25 people and injuring 130 others. Since the attack took place during a Shi’ite festival, it incensed Tehran. It was carried out by a member of Jundullah (which is a Baloch insurgent group, not to be confused with Jundallah, a pan-Pakistan offshoot of Baitullah Mehsud’s Taliban faction).

The Zahedan attack followed months of ever-bolder attacks by Jundullah inside Iran’s Sistan-Balochistan province, including the kidnap of 21 Iranian truck drivers in August 2007 into Pakistan (later freed by Pakistani forces), the kidnapping of Iranian border troops, 16 of whom were executed on camera in December 2008, some gruesomely through decapitation, and the first suicide bombing in Iran’s history in December 2008. In November 2008, Jundullah’s hand or collaboration was suspected in the kidnap of an Iranian diplomat in Peshawar. Occupied by the war against the Taliban, Islamabad at times seemed intransigent to Iranian appeals to crack down on Jundullah activities in the Makran highlands that straddle the 1,000 kilometer border between Pakistan and Iran.

The Zahedan attack therefore proved to be a watershed of sorts in bilateral relations. Tehran apparently had alerted Islamabad in advance about the possibility of the attack and requested the latter’s authorities crack down on Jundullah on Pakistani territory as a pre-emptive measure. Hence, when the Zahedan attack happened, Iran made unprecedented diplomatic maneuvers. It not only lodged a strong protest with Islamabad, but the Iranian ambassador to Pakistan called a press conference and lambasted the Pakistani authorities for inaction.

Within days, Iran closed its border with Pakistan. Bilateral relations plunged to unprecedented depths. For Pakistan, which has border disputes and hostile relations with two of its three neighbors - India and Afghanistan - the Iranian moves could not have come at a worse time.

Pakistan felt particularly misunderstood since, after the civilian government came to power in 2008, it had initiated some amount of internal action against Jundullah - although this action was largely confined to the urban areas in Pakistan rather than the border areas from where Jundullah operated.

The government of President Asif Ali Zardari had also handed over to Iran Abdel Hamid Rigi, the captured brother of Jundullah leader Abdel Malik Rigi. Some very deft diplomacy as well as the distraction of the Iranian elections arrested the crisis from deterioration. But it remains a fact that although there is some amount of understanding between Islamabad and Tehran in tackling the group, this cooperation is far from translating into effective intelligence-sharing or cross-border operational coordination.

On the other hand, Iran has been ruthless in cracking down on the group in Sistan-Balochistan, executing a number of Jundullah prisoners, including Abdel Hamid Rigi, this year, after a well-orchestrated confession by the latter. The Iranian state did not spare even relatives of the Rigi family living in the country. Yet, Jundullah only appears to have grown bolder and more reckless with every Iranian crackdown. In fact, a number of bold attacks and hostage-takings in Iran last year were expressly for the purpose of forcing Iran to free the group’s activists.

Jundullah, which at times calls itself the “People’s Resistance Movement of Iran”, came into prominence around 2003. It was allegedly founded by Nek Mohammed Wazir, a former Pakistani Taliban leader. Its current leader, Abdel Malik Rigi, was educated in southern Pakistani port city of Karachi in the same madrassa (seminary) as a majority of the Pakistani Taliban leadership and he claims to have fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan. The group says that it is fighting for the rights of Iran’s roughly 4 million Balochs, which it claims have been suppressed by the Shi’ite regime in Tehran.

The group started by targeting important elements of the Iranian state presence in Sistan-Balochistan province, particularly the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, but has since carried out suicide attacks against civilian targets. Critics say that Jundullah is a sectarian Sunni-chauvinist group that claims an ethnic agenda. They also say that even as a Baloch insurgency rages inside Pakistan itself, Jundullah has shown little enthusiasm to join it so far, and has focused on fighting for Balochs only in Iran.

For instance, the group said that the Zahedan attack was done to protest a Tehran-imposed festival which the group alleges falsely attributed martyrdom to Fatima, the prophet’s daughter - an ancient dispute in Islamic history. In contemporary Iran, where nationalism and sectarian loyalty have been conveniently entwined by Tehran, Jundullah’s statement amounted to treason and heresy at the same time.

But in reality, a closer analysis of Jundullah propaganda suggests the group actually masquerades its ethnic struggle in a sectarian guise, perhaps to win greater support within Pakistan. Abdel Malik Rigi also tries to not endanger his sanctuary by stressing that he is not engaged in any anti-Pakistan activity and is solely focused on Iran.

But for all practical purposes, Jundullah’s zeal has begun to translate into greater sectarian violence. The Shi’ite-Sunni sectarian divide between Pakistan and Iran, which was obvious during the Afghan civil war in which both sides ran/supported proxies (the Taliban by Pakistan and the Hazaras by Iran), persists to date and Jundullah is seen by Iran as an extension of it.

Tehran has alleged in recent years that Jundullah is being run by Pakistan on behalf of the US to destabilize the regime in Tehran. (In 2007, there were controversial reports in some Western media outlets that the George W Bush administration was funding Jundullah covertly to further the agenda of “regime change”. One report said that the Bush administration’s objective was to gain leverage over Tehran, given Iranian sponsorship of insurgent groups in Iraq. Yet another said that Jundullah had been helpful to the US in tracking movements of al-Qaeda in the notoriously dangerous Pakistan-Iran-Afghanistan border region)

But, Tehran has also alleged that Jundullah is allied with al-Qaeda. Tehran’s continuing confrontation with the international community has contributed to its failure in mustering international support against Jundullah. This in turn has allowed Jundullah to solicit funding from sympathetic Baloch emigres in Europe and the Gulf.

In any event, Tehran’s fears about a “Western conspiracy” against it have only gained ground in recent weeks, after Abdel Malik Rigi said in an interview that he received intelligence support from the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, an Iranian dissident group that has a history of terrorist acts against the Islamic republic (and was responsible for crippling Ayatollah Ruhollah Khamenei in a bombing in the early 1980s).

Apart from fomenting cross-border tensions with Iran, Jundullah has now become an active internal security threat for Pakistan. A raid mounted on a safe house by Pakistani police in January 2008 in their search for the Iranian diplomat who was kidnapped from Peshawar unexpectedly captured several cadres of the TTP and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a well-known anti-Shi’ite sectarian group. Jundullah has also been implicated in narcotics smuggling across the border.

Pakistani media recently quoted analysts who feel that given the Pakistani army’s ongoing offensive against Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan, his cadres may flee into Balochistan and join forces with Jundullah to mount a stand there against Pakistani troops. In fact, of all the groups in Pakistan’s border region, it is Jundullah which has the terrain knowledge, tactical capacity and ideological indoctrination that could even render true Pakistan’s fears that the US-led operation in Helmand province of Afghanistan could lead to a spillover of some of the Afghan Taliban into Balochistan.

Jundullah has to be fought and defeated in Pakistan to avert the nightmare scenario of a tie-up with the Taliban and Balochistan becoming a safe haven for al-Qaeda. Estimates of Jundullah’s cadre range from 700 to 1,000, with up to 200 cadres fighting in the border region. While the group is comparatively small by itself, its ability to infiltrate urban environments in Pakistan cannot be underestimated. Nor can its propensity to use suicide bombing be taken lightly. Jundullah has also openly threatened the gas pipelines being built from Iran into Pakistan, which would imperil Pakistan’s energy security.

Further, a repeat of the Zahedan attack inside Iran would almost certainly bring Iran and Pakistan to the brink of war. For the Iranian regime, which is still reeling from the post-election protests, such a causus belli (with all its sectarian connotations) would also help consolidate its control on the country. Hence, controlling Jundullah’s cross-border movements is an urgent necessity for Pakistan and for the US. Going after Jundullah would indeed pre-empt a clear and rising threat to security of the region.

(Raja Karthikeya is a freelance contributor)

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Pakistan Turns on Its Jihadi Assets


By Syed Saleem Shahzad

KARACHI - Intense United States efforts and assurances have put Pakistan and India on track to renew their dialogue process over key contentious issues, such as divided Kashmir.

An important upshot of this is that Islamabad has begun a crackdown on jihadi assets its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) raised in the 1990s for asymmetric warfare against India after losing three battles against its much bigger neighbor.

Asia Times Online has learned that a nascent crackdown on militants in Pakistan’s largest province, Punjab, will turn into a major operation and the remnants of all defunct jihadi organizations, no matter how peacefully they operate inside Pakistan, will be dismantled. A showcase of this exercise took place Monday in Anti-Terrorist Court II in Rawalpindi, the garrison city twinned with the capital Islamabad.

In front of a mass media presence, yesterday’s hero of the Pakistani military establishment, former Pakistani member of parliament Shah Abdul Aziz, appeared with a shaven head like any ordinary criminal and was ordered on judicial remand to be detained in Adyala Jail Rawalpindi in connection with the abduction and murder by the Taliban of a Polish engineer, Piotr Stanczak, in September 2008. He was beheaded by militants in February after talks with the government for the release of captured Taliban members failed.

Although Aziz was ordered to be jailed, Asia Times Online contacts say that he was bundled off to an intelligence safe house for further interrogation.

“This is the same Shah Abdul Aziz who delivered [Pakistan Taliban leader] Baitullah Mehsud’s letter written to the chief of army staff Ashfaq Parvez Kiani a few months ago as part of his job to get peace between the army and the militants,” retired squadron leader Khalid Khawaja told Asia Times Online. Khawaja is a former ISI official and now a human-rights activist for “disappeared” victims of the “war on terror”.

Military spokesperson Major General Athar Abbas, however, while confirming to the British Broadcasting Corporation that Aziz was in custody, denied the delivery of any letter to the army chief. Instead, he said the authorities had recovered a letter from Aziz written by Baitullah to retired Lieutenant General Hamid Gul, a former head of the ISI.

Nevertheless, Aziz was clearly on the military’s bandwagon. He was the Taliban’s commander in the Pul-e-Khomri region in Afghanistan during the Taliban regime in the late 1990s. After the US invasion in 2001 that toppled the Taliban, he hosted displaced Arab families in Pakistan and strongly advocated closer ties between the military and militants. He has been involved in numerous peace initiatives, ranging from the South Waziristan operations in 2004 to the crackdown on the radical Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad in 2007, as well as the moves to release an abducted Canadian journalist in North Waziristan.

In 2002, he won a seat in the National Assembly from Karak in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). His election meetings were attended by top Taliban leaders and he became know as the voice of the mujahideen in the assembly. (He lost his seat in 2008.)

Despite his involvement in peace talks, the military came to suspect that Aziz was more of a spin doctor for the militants and on May 27 this year he was apprehended at the residence of Lal Masjid prayer leader Maulana Abdul Aziz, along with one Fidaullah, the alleged mastermind of various acts of terror in Islamabad.

According to a police statement, Aziz was arrested after another terror suspect, Ataullah Khan, a Taliban militant, said that Aziz had ordered the killing of Stanczak.

“This is a ridiculous claim,” Khawaja commented to Asia Times Online. “Ataullah was picked up by security personnel a few months ago from Kohat [in NWFP].

His parents filed a case over his disappearance. But the police say he was arrested in Peshawar on July 16 and they came up with the statement that he had assassinated the Polish engineer on Shah Abdul Aziz’s instructions. Yet Aziz is on record as having already been picked up by the ISI on May 27. If he was arrested on the basis of a statement given to the police on July 16, why was he picked up on May 27?” Khawaja asked.

Aziz’s is a very high-profile case that has come as a surprise. Most people thought that after his apprehension on May 27 he would have been quickly released with a warning. However, the manner in which he was interrogated in an ISI safe house and publicly humiliated in court marks a clear change in the military’s mindset concerning its former Islamist allies - they are now believed to be a serious liability.

A commander of the banned militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (Army of Mohammad), Habibur Rahman, who was killed last week in the southern Punjab city of Laya, is another case in point.

Rahman fought against Indian forces in Indian-administered Kashmir, then, after the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, he battled foreign troops there before being arrested by Pakistani security agencies.

During interrogation it was found that he was not involved with al-Qaeda, but his connection with the Taliban put him into the category of dangerous suspects (Schedule 4). He was released, but picked up again by police a few weeks ago in what is known as an unregistered case. His family filed a petition in the Supreme Court, which last week requested the concerned authorities to produce him before the court. Instead, his body was delivered to his relatives - he had died during interrogation.

Commenting on these cases, former ISI official Khawaja told Asia Times Online, “The role of the Punjab government run by the Pakistan Muslim League led by Nawaz Sharif is pathetic. They took votes to avenge [the military raid] on Lal Masjid, but now the Punjab police are using the worst sort of tactics against religious people. I warn Nawaz Sharif and his chief minister brother, Shebaz Sharif, to learn the lesson of [former president general] Pervez Musharraf, who took steps to appease the Americans, and then faced a dire situation. We will not let anybody do such things without accountability.”

Whatever the backlash that might come from the militants, the point is Pakistan has made a significant shift and taken Washington’s desires to heart.

Another instance of this is that this month Pakistan finally handed over a dossier to the Indian government on the terror attack on Mumbai last November in which more than 150 people were killed. Pakistan admitted the involvement of the militant Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT) group and accepted that the entire operation had been planned and facilitated in Pakistan. Five LeT officials were named in the dossier.

This new mood of cooperation was reflected in a joint statement issued by Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Indian Premier Manmohan Singh in Egypt on July 16 in which they agreed to cooperate in the fight against terrorism as a part of a broader pledge to improve bilateral ties.

“The [ruling] Congress [party] is confident [that] when the [Indian] prime minister speaks in parliament on July 29, he will set at rest all questions, all apprehensions and speculation relating to the Indo-Pak joint statement at Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt,” Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi was reported as saying.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online’s Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at [email protected]

-Source: Asia Times Online-

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