The Nation

US wants to break up Pakistan, says minister

The Nation

April 07, 2009

ISLAMABAD – “American policies are not of a friend but of a foe and Richard Holbrooke and Mike Mullen are in Pakistan to put a price on our loyalty to our religion and the Islamic State of Pakistan but we are not a saleable commodity.”
Federal Minister for Science & Technology Azam Khan Swati while commenting on the recent visit of the American military and political leadership to Pakistan said this on Tuesday.

According to a press release issued here, Swati said that Nato’s presence in the region was a great threat to the very existence of Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and Iran as well. “American policies aim to dismantle Pakistan, neutralise Iran and contain China to make India a regional superpower to achieve her objectives,” he added.

He said Obama’s administration was following the conspiracy hatched by George W Bush, Cheney and Rumsfield and would lead America towards destruction. He added the US policy aimed to destroy Pak Armed Forces, marginalise state-of-the-art security agency, ISI, and ruin Pakistan.

“To achieve its objectives, Americans are spreading hatred in the mind and heart of the people of world by portraying Islamists as cruel, inhuman and threat to humanity, and are trying to divide Pakistani nation on religious basis,” the Minister said. He added that the people of Pakistan would foil their nefarious designs, as the people of NWFP and Fata were peace-loving and practical Muslims and would never succumb to the pressure of foreign forces.

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US drone strikes kill 4 in South Waziristan

US drone strikes kill 4 in South Waziristan

WANA: At least four people were killed when a US drone fired two missiles at their vehicle in the South Waziristan region on the Afghan border on Wednesday.

“Drones initially flew over mountains around Gangi Khel area. There was some ground fire towards one of the drones and they left the area,” said one security official, on condition of anonymity.

Gangi Khel is a village around five kilometres (three miles) west of Wana, the main town in the semi-autonomous South Waziristan district.

“Drones returned after some time and targeted a vehicle, which was parked near some shops. Four people were killed in the attack. Four others were wounded they were either shopkeepers or local residents,” the official said.

It was not immediately clear whether any high-value targets were killed.

Another security official had earlier said it was not known whether the target was a vehicle or a house.

Pakistan To America: Back Off

Pakistan To America: Back Off

Why did Richard Halbrooke, always arrogant and calm, appear shaken today in Islamabad? Read on.

Holbrooke And Qureshi: A Diplomatic SparringBy AHMED QURAISHI

Wednesday, 8 April 2009.

WWW.AHMEDQURAISHI.COM

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—For the first time in a long time, the Pakistani government managed to turn heads in Washington by saying all things America doesn’t want to hear: Islamabad will not allow the United States to expand its war inside Pakistan, won’t allow U.S. boots on the ground, and CIA better stop its drone attacks ASAP. If this was not enough, the ISI chief reportedly refused to meet top U.S. officials and a former air force chief announced that the Pakistani Air Force is just a green signal away from shooting down CIA’s drones and that it only awaited orders from the President and the Prime Minister.

Holbrooke confused?

The week certainly did not start auspiciously for Mr. Richard Holbrooke, Washington’s arrogant special envoy who appeared visibly shaken yesterday in Islamabad. Apparently after getting used to apologetic Pakistani government officials, the sudden change of mood in the Pakistani capital was not something the seasoned diplomat anticipated. He was either too self-assured or was fed wrong reports by U.S. diplomats based in Pakistan.

All of this coincided with another major news story: the former Chief of the Pakistani Air Force, Air Chief Marshal (retired) Kaleem Saadat, came out on television yesterday night to decisively settle all speculation about what Pakistan can do to stop repeated U.S. violations of Pakistani airspace through the CIA-operated drones.

‘Yes, we can shoot them down,’ Saadat told Express News, throwing to the dustbin repeated statements by the defense minister and other ministers in the pro-U.S. elected government over the past months where these officials claimed Pakistan did not have the technology required to shoot down U.S. spy planes that violate Pakistani airspace. Those statements disappointed a majority of Pakistanis who look up to their military, one of the best in the world, to stand up for Pakistan.

Saadat gave an example: Pakistani Air Force jets shot down a sophisticated, Israeli-manufactured drone that India sent deep inside Pakistan on Jan. 7, 2002. The Indo-Israeli spy plane was supposed to be undetectable and beyond the reach and the capabilities of Pakistan Air Force. The Indian military was stunned. It initially tried to feign ignorance but then had to grudgingly half-accept the truth. And even then it was surprising for Pakistanis how Britain and the United States failed to censure India for a confirmed act of war.

‘The U.S. drones are much bigger in size [in comparison to the Indo-Israeli plane],’ said Air Marshal Saadat, and hence easier to target.

Saadat

The former air chief left no doubt about who was failing in protecting Pakistani sovereignty. ‘The issue,’ said the former Chief of Air Staff, ‘is not military but a political one.’

This statement throws the ball in the court of the elected politicians who have long been suspected of quietly permitting Washington to mount missile attacks inside Pakistan.

Saadat’s statement came a few hours after a joint press briefing in Islamabad where visiting U.S. officials appeared shaken and confused. Richard Holbrooke, America’s envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appeared surprised at the friendly but firm and straightforward talk by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

Qureshi was blunt, something new for a member of the Zardari-Gilani government. Mr. Qureshi went as far as snubbing President Obama, who had earlier said Pakistan would get “no blank checks” and the release of more U.S. aid would depend on how it dealt with terrorism.

In response, Qureshi turned to both Holbrooke and Mullen who shared the stage with him and firmly said: “It works both ways. We’ll neither accept one nor will we give one”.

Mr. Qureshi also said a “gap” existed between Islamabad and Washington on the problem of CIA-operated drones.

IS SOMETHING CHANGING

IN ISLAMABAD?

The mood is changing in Pakistan and the United States is increasingly seen as a dishonest friend.

One day before the arrival of Holbrooke and Mullen, the leader of the main opposition party in the country, Chaudhry Pervez Elahi of PML, told a press conference that his party favored rejecting U.S. aid if the trade off is to give up Pakistan’s national interest. This was the first call by any major Pakistani political party head to turn down the much needed U.S. financial assistance.

During the talk show where the former Chief of Air Staff Kaleem Saadat spoke, the other two panelists, a retired Army General and a retired Foreign Secretary, shared similar misgivings regarding the U.S. policy toward Pakistan.

Although not stated openly, but Pakistani officials are seriously concerned about mounting circumstantial evidence indicating the U.S. is actually using Afghanistan which it occupies since late 2001 as a base for spreading terrorism and mayhem inside neighboring Pakistan. The suspicions are especially centered on evidence that someone in Afghanistan is pumping trained operatives and saboteurs in the garb of Islamic militants inside Pakistan. These operatives and agents then go about spreading death and destruction in the name of ‘Pakistani Taliban’. There are also serious questions about why the CIA drones fail to attack shadowy militant leaders inside Pakistani tribal zone whose main mission is to attack and kill Pakistanis. In comparison, the Afghan Taliban in Afghanistan focus on fighting the occupation forces and have never advocated attacking Pakistani interests despite Islamabad having ditched them seven years ago.

Exploiting religious terrorism is one dimension of the problem. There is even more evidence that Afghan soil is also being used to spread ethnic and sectarian tensions inside Pakistan and recruit, train and sponsor separatists for this purpose. The sudden rise since 2005 of well armed and funded insurgent groups and death squads along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, where they never existed before, and their continued finances and arms supplies despite a blockade by Pakistani security, all of this has poisoned Pakistani perception toward the U.S. role in Afghanistan.

Most of the evidence regarding anti-Pakistani activities in Afghanistan is linked to the huge presence of Indian intelligence in that country disguised as diplomats and social workers. This, many Pakistanis believe, cannot happen without U.S. consent at some level. Some Pakistanis gave the U.S. the benefit of doubt on this point, arguing that the Indians were exploiting Afghan mess to drive a wedge between Washington and Islamabad. One way to do this, they argued, was to indirectly arm and finance terrorists posing as Taliban to carry out attacks inside Pakistan. But after repeatedly bringing this to the attention of the highest levels of government in Washington without any result, it is quite clear that someone in the U.S. capital is condoning or maybe even permitting what the Indians and their Karzai puppets are doing there.

It is quite obvious that Washington, or ‘non-state actors’ in the U.S. capital, are pursuing an agenda that exceeds what is stated publicly by U.S. officials with regards to Afghanistan. In fact, former Chief of Army Staff Gen. Mirza Aslam Baig wrote a paper as far back as 2007 that listed locations inside Afghanistan where U.S. or some of its allies have established intelligence outposts focused on penetrating four nations that share borders with or are close to Afghanistan. These four nations are Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan.

In mid 2007, both Ahmed Quraishi and Zaid Hamid, two Pakistani policy commentators, raised eyebrows when the state-run PTV News aired shows featuring the two criticizing what they said were early signs that someone was using Afghanistan to destabilize Pakistan and that the U.S. was either involved or was turning a blind eye as India and pro-Indian former Afghan communist officials who sit in key positions in Kabul exported terrorism to Pakistan. The television shows led to queries from within different parts of the Pakistani government on whether there has been some subtle change in the policy that was being pursued then by President Musharraf.

In November 2007, Quraishi authored a report that said that the next logical step for the severe destabilization seen in Pakistan that year would be a high-value assassination of either President Musharraf or Benazir Bhutto, the two key leaders in Pakistan at the time, which would spin Pakistan out of control. That would be the natural next move for interested to terminally cripple the country. Truly enough, Ms. Bhutto was assassinated a month later and her violent murder almost led to a revolt in one of the four federating provinces of Pakistan. It was a miracle that Pakistan was not sent into a tailspin, a testament to the strength and endurance of this nation despite heavy odds.

All of this serves to highlight that Pakistani grievances against the United States, which the British and American media deliberately hide from their people, run back in time and are not the result of recent events in the Pakistani tribal zone.

IS ZARDARI-GILANI GOVT.

SERIOUS IN CONFRONTING

MR. HOLBROOKE & ADM. MULLEN?

The performance of Foreign Minister Qureshi certainly was a welcome surprise for many skeptics who had all but given up on the Zardari-Gilani government taking any stand on Pakistan’s legitimate interests when it came to American policy in Afghanistan. And the reason is simple. This government owes its existence and power to direct U.S. support. U.S. is using Pakistani democracy as a Trojan horse, playing off one set of politicians against the other and then using all of them against the military. There have been reports for some time now that certain departments within the U.S. government have been conducting ‘private foreign policies’ directly with the families that control Pakistani political parties. Some of the leaders of these families were invited to secret visits to Washington as part of this confidential dialogue.

Mr. Holbrooke and Adm. Mullen are good examples of this American manipulation of key Pakistani political players. Both of them, and especially Mr. Holbrooke, would come to Pakistan and separately meet senior Pakistani politicians alone, each one separately, and often inside the fortified U.S. embassy compound to avoid the preying eyes of Pakistani media and also Pakistani intelligence. He would also make sure to meet the Pakistani President, Prime Minister, Army chief, ISI chief, and whoever else mattered, and all of them separately, and then play one party against the other, a sort of an improvement on the old British method of divide and rule.

Another sign of manipulation is the Zardari-Nawaz rivalry. When President Zardari began to appear weak, the Americans leaked a story – through the usual mouthpieces NYT and WSJ quoting no names – that “U.S. officials” were considering getting closer to Nawaz Sharif. The story was obviously meant to throw fuel on the fire of the cutthroat internal Pakistani politics and increase domestic instability by playing on the insecurities of the two key players.

While Mr. Zardari’s closeness to the Americans is indisputable [last week Dubai’s Gulf News reported Mr. Zardari met secretly with Mr. Holbrooke in the emirate without the knowledge of any Pakistani official or diplomat, except the organizer of the meeting Mr. Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s envoy to Washington, who is sarcastically referred to in Islamabad’s drawing rooms as ‘Washington’s envoy to Pakistan’], Mr. Nawaz Sharif is the new surprise. While he disagrees with President Obama’s policies in public, Mr. Sharif hurried to Islamabad on Tuesday to meet Mr. Holbrooke at the U.S. embassy compound. Why would Mr. Sharif present himself to the Americans privately as an alternative partner while keeping a nationalistic posture in public is something that only Mr. Sharif can explain.

This American manipulation of Pakistani politicians, in and out of government, means there is little chance most of these politicians would really want to get tough with Washington.

Foreign Minister Qureshi’s newfound assertive tone has probably more to do with restlessness within the Pakistani strategic community, which consists of civilian and military policy analysts, that is apparently beginning to prevail upon both the Pakistani Foreign Office and the Pakistani military to do something when the government appears incapable or unwilling to stand up for Pakistani interests. That’s one way of explaining the reports of how ISI chief refused to meet Mr. Holbrooke and Adm. Mullen despite the duo’s request. [The ISI chief did not meet Mr. Holbrooke alone but did meet the U.S. official along with the Army chief.]

But there is another reason for this. Some Pakistani officials were determined this time not to allow Mr. Holbrooke to meet senior Pakistani officials separately. An intra-agency meeting, bringing top officials from several federal departments was scheduled for Monday, before Mr. Holbrooke’s arrival. The brainstorming session was supposed to bring minds together from the Foreign Office, the Interior, the military and others in order to present a unified Pakistani response to American policies.

But the meeting failed to materialize because Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, tired from a range of foreign trips throughout last week, was resting in his hometown in Multan and failed to show up for the meeting, which then was called off.

But Mr. Qureshi surprised the observers with his performance in the press conference with Mr. Holbrooke and Adm. Mullen. The Pakistani Foreign Minister was poised and assertive.

It was a good show for one day. The best way to achieve something for the long run, however, is to match the rhetoric with some actions. If the ISI chief did indeed refuse meeting U.S. officials [he did attend Holbrook’s meeting with the Army chief] then this is the first of a series of steps that Pakistan needs to take to ensure that Washington understands it cannot pursue a selfish policy of achieving its own goals in the region while Pakistan’s interests get trampled in the process.

© 2007-2009. All rights reserved. AhmedQuraishi.com & PakNationalists

CIA & FBI Network in Pakistan: Myth vs. Reality? (February 24, 2008)

CIA & FBI Network in Pakistan: Myth vs. Reality?

Is cooperation with CIA-FBI posing a threat to Pak strategic interests?
By By Ansar Abbasi, The News, 2/25/2008

ISLAMABAD: While Pakistan might have benefited from hardcore actionable intelligence provided by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the FBI in countering terrorism, one possible negative aspect has been the creation of a vast network of CIA and FBI agents – mostly Pakistanis.

Though intelligence cooperation between Pakistan and the US multiplied extensively after 9/11 and was aimed at the Taliban and al-Qaeda, many in Pakistan fear the network for these foreign agencies within Pakistan was also being used for other tasks, some probably falling into the definition of interference in our internal affairs.

Top authorities in Pakistan are said to be in knowledge of this phenomenal spread in the American spy agencies’ network as the country’s intelligence agencies have already reported this matter and even identified a number of those on the payroll of the US agencies.

Besides others, a large number of retired Army officers, including ex-brigadiers, are presently working here as American spies. An official of an intelligence agency, however, explained that spy agencies of different countries had their worldwide networks and they handled spy matters according to their resources and needs because importance of spying had increased tremendously after 9/11.

Because of the alleged presence of al-Qaeda-Taliban in Pakistan, the interest of the foreign intelligence agencies here has gone up. The official added that the US had the largest intelligence network in the world and Pakistan was also benefiting from this because through this network the CIA and FBI shared intelligence with Pakistan and gave important information to nab terrorists.

Pakistan allowed concessions to the US as part of intelligence cooperation in the controversial war on terror but some official sources are of the view that these concessions and their parameters were not being adhered to within the agreed limits.

Foreign Office spokesman Muhammad Sadiq, when contacted, said he had no information of this sort. He said intelligence cooperation between Islamabad and Washington was a fact but doubted that the local agents could be hired. He, however, said if there was any interference in our matters by any foreign spying agencies, it was illegal and not allowed. Sadiq said the ISPR would be in a better position to respond to such questions.

Director General ISPR and military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas, when asked about the feared massive expansion of local CIA and FBI agents in Pakistan after 9/11, said, “I don’t think so.” He added that the government would never allow the CIA or FBI to expand their network in Pakistan. “I deny this,” the military spokesman said.

A defence source, however, recently told this correspondent it was a routine operation of all agencies around the world to recruit agents for espionage in every country. He said CIA and FBI did not need to come to Pakistan and start recruiting their local agents here because they could do the same while sitting in Washington. “These things are neither cut and dried nor done in black and white but this always happens and cannot be denied,” the source said

Caretaker Interior Minister Lt Gen (retd) Hamid Nawaz, when approached said the US influence was not only in Pakistan but also in almost every other country. He acknowledged that there was a feeling that the network of US intelligence agents had spread here but he had no proof with him to substantiate this. He, however, admitted that the US influence was there in all areas.

The retired general, who has also been secretary defence for some years and left the job much after 9/11, said there was a standard rule that no foreign intelligence agent could subvert against the state.

Elizabeth Colton, the Press Attache of the US embassy in Islamabad, told this correspondent, in response to a set of questions sent to her, that the Embassy could not discuss intelligence issues with the media.

She said the Embassy had no comment on the questions sent to her which included one asking whether the Embassy or its legal section had any role in recruiting Pakistanis for CIA and FBI.

The Embassy was also asked whether they shared the concerns of some Pakistani authorities that the US intelligence agencies, which were given some concessions in the tribal belt of Pakistan, were crossing their limits and hurting the strategic interests of Pakistan.

US National Intelligence Director Mike McConnel was quoted to have admitted recently that the US administration had already spent $50 billion during the current year on spying. A considerable chunk of this budget for spying is believed to have been spent on the US war on terror. Part of this money would have also travelled to Pakistan to pay off the CIA/FBI local agents, who are said to be paid well.

Parts of the US media have been reporting on this subject and the most significant report was in The Washington Post in 2002 when the influential newspaper claimed that the United States had organised its own espionage network in Pakistan due to lack of cooperation from the ISI in locating the al-Qaeda and Taliban fugitives.

“The FBI decided to set up a Spider Group, a band of former Pakistani Army officers and others, after it concluded that lack of cooperation from the ISI made it impossible to hunt down Taliban and al-Qaeda fugitives in the tribal areas of the country.”

Quoting a federal law-enforcement official in Washington, the newspaper reported that the US move marked an attempt by the FBI to develop “free flow of information” to US agents who previously had worked under some restriction with Pakistan’s official Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

The Spider Group, the report said, was also asked to recruit locals in Pakistan’s tribal areas, where hundreds of wanted “terrorists” are allegedly holed up under the patronage of tribal chiefs. Members of the Spider Group include a mix of Muslim and Christian retired Army and intelligence officers and have been trained and equipped by the FBI.

Background interviews reveal that today the CIA’s intelligence local network is far more extensive than that of the FBI. The sources said that during the initial years of War on Terror, the Americans were not satisfied with the intelligence gathering of local agencies in the tribal areas of Pakistan, so they launched their own agencies that had now developed a vast network in the country.

A source quoted an incident in which the CIA officials once distributed awards amongst Pakistani intelligence people in the headquarters of the agency in Langley, Virginia. “This is perhaps unprecedented,” the source said.

A spymaster of one of the country’s intelligence agency reported to the Interior Ministry that a provincial head of a private security agency, besides others, was spying for the CIA. The security agency was contacted and the said official was removed. It was also reported that a large number of private security agencies personnel were doing espionage work.

A retired lieutenant general confided to this correspondent on condition of not being named that during his career he had gone to the US twice for military related training, where he was openly offered to work for the US. “I was praised and offered that why don’t I join them,” he said, adding that once an official encouraged him to inform the US about the problems of Pakistan’s defence without even talking to his seniors.

He said the same intelligence officials asked him to settle his children in the US for better life and education. “I was openly told that I should not be worried about their expenses,” the retired general said.

Meanwhile, a local journalist Azaz Syed told this correspondent that quite a few years back, he approached the legal section of the US embassy in Islamabad, after reading an advertisement in an international publication for recruitment of FBI agents for South Asia. For the purpose of doing an investigative story, he offered his services for FBI. He said he offered his services to spy on Taliban in exchange for information from the US embassy but the diplomat interviewing him was not interested in Taliban but wanted info about civil bureaucracy. He was not ready to give any information either.

“I was told that I would get assignments relating to civil bureaucracy and in return would be paid well,” Syed said, adding that later he did a story for an Urdu newspaper with which he was associated at that point of time.

The US Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) – the spy military plane – are yet another source of concern for many here. The UAVs were allowed to do espionage in tribal areas of Pakistan for “specific jobs” only but since the UAVs were not caught by radars, these spy planes crossed their limits a number of times.

Initially, the Pakistan Air Force objected to such US surveillance but the government decided otherwise because of US insistence that it was inevitable to track down the so-called al-Qaeda targets.

The sources revealed that the murdered top tribal leader resisting the US war on terror, Nek Muhammad, became the target of a UAV despite the peace deal he had signed with the then corps commander Lt Gen Safdar Hussain.

Getting uncomfortable with the UAV activities, some Pakistani officials have expressed their concerns at the highest level. The Pakistan Army is trying to develop its own UAV but so far these planes are not up to the required international standards.

Pakistan has also been trying to buy these UAVs but some international forces are creating impediments in such deals. Once Pakistan contacted South Africa to purchase these small aircraft but the price demanded was $10 million, which was far higher than the price of the equipment.

The UAV intelligence capacity and its advantage of not being traced by radars, some believe, could pose serious threats to Pakistan’s strategic interests.

Pakistan: FBI rules the roost (Oct 4, 2003)

Pakistan: FBI rules the roost (Oct 4, 2003)
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

KARACHI – Pakistani forces have killed at least 12 and arrested 12 suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters over the past two days in a major operation at Angoor Adda, a small town on the border with Afghanistan.

The operation is being widely hailed in Pakistan as a demonstration of the country’s commitment to the US-led “war on terrorism”.

However, this is only a part of the story. The clash was orchestrated by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as a direct result of its deep penetration – and even control – of the Pakistani intelligence establishment.

The roots of this involvement can be directly traced to the fallout from the events of September 11, 2001, which saw Pakistan throw in its lot with the US. This entailed Islamabad withdrawing its long-standing support for the Taliban in Afghanistan, which it had helped propel into power in 1996, and opening its air bases to the US military for operations in Afghanistan.

It also allowed US intelligence to establish a finger-hold in the country, which the FBI has now turned into a vice-like grip through an ever-expanding network that has infiltrated, to various degrees, Pakistan’s armed forces, the police and intelligence agencies.

The FBI varies its presence according to requirements in its hunt for al-Qaeda suspects, with the total number deployed anywhere between 50 and 100. It has at least three active cells, in Peshawar, on the border of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), where many al-Qaeda are known to hide, in the volatile port city of Karachi and in the capital Islamabad.

The FBI initially kept a low profile, working mostly at the direction of the all-powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s premier intelligence outfit and effectively the architect and orchestrator of Pakistan’s strategic policies.

Now, however, the FBI works autonomously, with its own separate organizational setup. This includes communications to track both mobile and land telephone calls, as well as sophisticated bugging devices. Each cell has these capabilities. In Karachi, the FBI cell operates in the Defense Housing Authority Phase VIII complex. Only two or three army officers are attached to this cell, purely for coordination purposes.

Not all are happy with this state of affairs. According to one ISI person posted in Karachi, who requested not to be named when talking to Asia Times Online, “After September 11, 2001, we were given instructions to work along with FBI operators. Initially they were given a room in the ISI’s operations office. They used to give commands to us, and we had to obey them. For instance, once they asked us to send a packet somewhere. We packed it and informed them that the parcel was ready. They unpacked the parcel and asked an ISI employee to repack it in front of them. This is the way the FBI operators showed their domination over the ISI staff. At first they asked us to coordinate in operations. Later on they were given a separate place of work, then they cultivated local police officers, and several times they did not bother to inform the ISI about their operations.”

The FBI cells have established direct control over the law enforcing agencies, such as the police, who take orders from FBI agents. In return, they are believed to be handsomely rewarded financially. The ISI is aware of who is on the FBI’s payroll, but can do little about it.

“There is no precedent,” says a retired army brigadier who was in charge of ISI operations in Afghanistan during the Soviet war of the 1980s. “Pakistan was a frontline state against the former USSR during the Afghan war. The CIA was thickly involved in operations, but the CIA was not allowed to go beyond Islamabad. Their planes, loaded with missiles and ammunition, used to land at Islamabad airport, but these consignments were just handed over to an ISI cell, which used then to pass them on to the mujahideen in Afghanistan,” the brigadier said. “Even on a strategic level, the ISI used to plan operations single-handedly. The CIA only looked after the financial aspects of operations.”

Now, the FBI has virtually unlimited access and control, including airports, and now it has emerged that it has recently been given access to the bank accounts of Pakistani citizens.

According to well-placed sources in the Pakistani intelligence community, some the country’s former clandestine operations have now been curtailed, such as one involving the national carrier, Pakistan International Airline (PIA). PIA was once extensively used for “back-channel diplomatic activities”, such as shifting missiles under the cover of routine cargo. But under heavy US pressure, PIA’s reservation system is now hosted in Texas through the Sabre Group, and the movement of each and every passenger is carefully monitored, as is the cargo.

According to the Pakistani English daily, The News International, Pakistan has allowed information about foreign currency bank accounts in Pakistani banks to be shared with government authorities in the US. The FBI, according to the paper, is “seeking, and getting, the private account details of remittances being sent into banks in Pakistan from anywhere in the world”.

The paper continued, “Under an agreement between the authorities of the United States and Pakistan, banks in Pakistan will be giving details of remittances flowing in or out of foreign currency accounts, which will be handed to the FBI,” the paper quoted a Wall Street banker as saying. “The agreement has come into effect and the Pakistani banks are collecting details on deposits and withdrawals into and from their foreign currency accounts.”

The American official, who also works as a consultant for a think tank that is collating information on remittance flows from Islamic states to the US and vice versa, said that the idea was to track the pattern of the flow of funds for possible dubious uses. “The [United States] government wants to make sure that the funds are not being used to finance terrorist activities … and Pakistan is one of the countries under observation [for the flow of remittances].”

According to the newspaper report, when approached, an official at a branch of a Pakistani bank, after some hesitation, confirmed that details of all remittance flows from the US to foreign currency accounts in banks in Pakistan and vice versa were being given to US authorities. He refused to disclose which “authorities” he was referring to.

The Pakistani official also conceded that it was “basically illegal” to share private details of account holders with any authority, especially those not falling into the jurisdiction of the banking realm.
“It’s basically a political decision,” the official said. “We are living in strange times. We have to sacrifice some private rights and freedoms for larger collective interest.”

He added, “The current Pakistani laws don’t even allow for banks to share private account details with the Pakistan government, let alone American or other foreign authorities, but then that is the price we have to pay for ensuring that a useful channel like remittances is not abused by people bent on creating upheavals.”

The FBI in action
In the latest action against al-Qaeda this week, Pakistan forces are reported to have killed 12 suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters and arrested 12 more in an operation at Angoor Adda near the Afghan border. While in Afghanistan, officials reported, there were 17 deaths, including 10 government soldiers and two children.

Angoor Adda lies about 65 kilometers from Wana, the district headquarters of the South Waziristan Agency of the FATA, in the west of Pakistan. South Waziristan is the most sensitive agency of Pakistan; it is not under the direct administration of the government of Pakistan, but indirectly governed by a political agent – a system that was enforced by the British rulers.

Asia Times Online sources say that most of the suspected casualties and detainees were Central Asians and Afghans. The operation was conducted after a fire-fight in Paktika in Afghanistan in which US forces and gunship helicopters chased the fighters into Pakistani territory.

The FBI’s network in this territory(which is explained in a January 10 article – A bloody destiny for South Waziristan
– sprang into action and notified the FBI cell in Peshawar, which then called in the Peshawar Corps to launch the raid.

US boot camp
The FBI’s operations in Pakistan apart, Islamabad has accepted an offer from the US for a number of the country’s army officers to be trained in the US.

In the past few weeks, about 100 officers have been sent to the US for various short courses ranging from one to two weeks on the “war on terror”. The officers include those belonging to army field units, as well as those involved in strategic and ISI services.

The FBI has also held several training sessions in Karachi in which Pakistan armed forces officials interacted with FBI operators.

Some military experts take a dim view of this. One told Asia Times Online that having army units trained by a foreign intelligence apparatus was like handing over the keys of the country to another nation as it allowed them undue influence in the armed forces.

Muttering in the ranks
Meanwhile, all is not well in the armed forces, which contain elements who are not exactly in step with the country’s president, General Pervez Musharraf, who is also head of the armed forces. Many resent his siding with the US, and the country’s strategic losses as a result in Afghanistan. Many also resent him wearing the two hats that he does – military and civilian – assumed after taking over the country in a bloodless coup in 1999.

The following are translated excerpts from a letter doing the rounds in military circles. It was printed on an army general headquarters letterhead.

For our national leader: We on behalf of the Pakistan army assure the nation that it is your army. This is the army of Islam and Pakistan, and we expect every member of parliament, from whichever party he belongs to, to work for the autonomy of parliament. Pervez Musharraf and his handpicked gang are imposed at the head of this nation. They are the national criminals who have not only the army but have the entire nation hostage. This is the gang of thieves and looters which has plundered the whole nation, mercilessly. At the same time, they helped the American Jews and Christians to kill our Afghan brothers. Pervez Musharraf has turned Pakistan from the fort of Islam into a slaughterhouse of the Muslims. Had this parliament not been in place, our armed forces would have been sent to kill our Iraqi brothers side-by-side with US soldiers. We request our national leadership and officials of the armed forces to bring the following matters in front of parliament.

  • An inquiry should be initiated into what happened on October 12, 1999 [when Musharraf seized power].
  • Before the US invasion of Afghanistan, all Pakistan army brigadiers and generals were allotted expensive plots in Lahore near LUMS [Lahore University of Management Sciences]. The worth of these plots ranges between Rs 7 million [US$121,000] to Rs 10 million. These officers had already received their commercial and residential land quotas.
  • Parliament should constitute a judicial inquiry into the chief justices of the Supreme Court and all four provincial high courts who were in office on October 12, 1999. Our aim – a free army and an independent Pakistan.From full colonels.
  • The ‘Kid’ In Kabul

    The ‘Kid’ In Kabul


    Amrullah Saleh, the thirty-six-year-old director of Karzai’s spy agency, known as NDS, became the world’s youngest intelligence chief in 2004, at age 32. Since 2005, NDS has emerged as a major source of strategic instability in the region.

    By AHMED QURAISHI

    Thursday, 25 September 2008.

    WWW.AHMEDQURAISHI.COM

    ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—He is young, bold, and methodical, often delivering his arguments in bullet-form even in an informal chat. According to one account, he went from earning $400 a month working for an NGO in Pakistan to making $6,000 working as a liaison officer for CIA with Northern Alliance. This is not the official version of course. His American patrons describe this assignment in a less dramatic way as “an informal ambassador and coordinator of non-governmental organizations with Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance.” This is how U.S. Congressman Mike Rogers introduced him during a reception three years ago.

    This is Amrullah Saleh, the thirty-six-year-old director of Karzai’s spy agency, known as NDS, who probably became the world’s youngest intelligence chief in 2004, at age 32.

    Mr. Saleh is also a central figure in the undeclared, low-intensity war against Pakistan, although he is more of a good executioner than an original thinker. Since 2005, NDS has emerged as a major source of strategic instability in the region. Armed with what appears to be an American nod that goes as far back as 2002, and with direct help from fourteen Indian intelligence outposts on Afghan soil, the NDS has facilitated the launch of a covert operation that has successfully created multiple insurgencies across Pakistan’s western belt – from Gwadar to Swat – in less than three years.

    Pakistan stands accused of attacks in both Afghanistan and India. The Americans have gone as far as blaming Pakistan, in advance, for all future attacks against United States. In fact, in a calculated leak, The New York Times on Sept. 11 accused Pakistani army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani of complicity in the July 7 bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul, something that even the Indians didn’t dare do. And on Sept. 7, President Bush delivered a speech at the National Defense University in Washington where he almost called Pakistan a terrorist state.

    The ground reality, however, is a little different. The frequency and intensity of attacks inside Pakistan over the past two years have exceeded the number of attacks the U.S. military faces in Afghanistan. This is strange because if the U.S. accusations that Islamabad is behind Afghan Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan are correct, then why is the ‘Pakistani Taliban’ attacking the Pakistani State and people? The so-called ‘Pakistani Taliban’ should be happy that Pakistan is supporting the Afghan Taliban? But what is happening is the opposite. It is more like the ‘Pakistani Taliban’ is punishing Pakistan. The question is: Who benefits?

    According to one Pakistani official source, close to 8,000 foreigners have infiltrated Pakistani territories over the past two to three years. The figure was under 1,000 before 9/11, and most of them were peaceful leftovers from the anti-Soviet war in the 1980s, grownup, aging, with local wives and children. Yes, Pakistan did have a domestic religious extremism problem but it consisted of small groups and not armies with endless supply of money and sophisticated weapons and, apparently, advance knowledge of Pakistani military movements.

    There is a pile of evidence with Pakistani security officials that leaves no doubt that many of these 8,000 foreigners are operatives of foreign intelligence agencies who have infiltrated the Pakistani tribal belt from Afghanistan. This is not a Hollywood script. During the 2001 war against the Taliban government in Kabul, U.S. military used special ops teams made up of Pashtun look-alikes complete with perfect Pashtun accents, assisted by bought local help in the areas of their deployment.

    In Pakistani tribal belt, the numbers of foreigners dramatically increased in the years 2002 to 2004. These foreigners used the natural local anger at Pakistan’s alliance with U.S. to work up the locals against Islamabad. The area remained quiet for most of the time after the 2001 war until it finally erupted in insurgency led by a series of shady ‘rebel Mullahs’ who caught the Pakistani government and military by surprise.

    Karzai’s security and intelligence network is populated with viciously anti-Pakistan officers. Under U.S. patronage, the Indians are suspected of having raised the strength of their soldiers in Afghanistan to around ten thousand, mostly under the guise of security for Indian construction projects. Indians and Karzai’s men are directly involved in training, arming and financing rebels and insurgents and sending them into Pakistan. There is a full backing for an ethnic insurgency in southwestern Pakistan where China is building a strategic seaport.

    Pakistanis don’t have evidence that shows direct U.S. involvement in this anti-Pakistan campaign. But the circumstantial evidence is more than overwhelming. Afghanistan could not have turned into a staging ground for anti-Pakistan covert operations involving several players without Washington’s nod. U.S. military has also been deliberately attacking those militant tribals inside Pakistan who are pro-Islamabad and sparing those who exclusively fight Pakistani military. Also, U.S. government has refused to designate the ethnic insurgency in southwestern Pakistan as terrorism. One very interesting piece of information that points the fingers to both India and U.S. is that these shady ‘Pakistani Taliban’ have focused their efforts in the past four years on attacking Chinese citizens and Chinese interests inside Pakistan. No U.S. or NATO citizens have ever been attacked.

    The Afghan Taliban –who are the real Taliban before this foreign-orchestrated insurgency in Pakistani border areas hijacked the word ‘Taliban’ – have never attacked Pakistan despite Islamabad’s policy change after 9/11. In fact, senior Taliban officials, like its ambassador to Islamabad Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, never said anything against Pakistan despite having been captured and handed over to the Americans by Islamabad.

    The only way out for Islamabad now is to leave the U.S.-led coalition that occupied Afghanistan in 2001.

    Pakistan will continue to face instability as long as it continues to be part of the war on terror on Washington’s terms. Pakistan’s legitimate security interests have been so damaged and ignored by Washington that it is time to tell the Americans to go and deal with Afghanistan on their own. Pakistan can say that it will help Washington where possible but that it can no longer remain part of the coalition, a coalition that only includes three nations now: U.S., U.K., and Pakistan. In this regard, Pakistanis can renegotiate the terms of letting U.S. use Pakistani soil and airspace for the transport of supplies. Pakistan can ask U.S. military to vacate the remaining Pakistani airbase under American use. Also, Islamabad can revoke the permission that former President Musharraf granted CIA to establish outposts in Pakistan’s tribal belt and the permission to recruit local assets. Meanwhile, Pakistan can continue eliminating the shady foreign and local criminals who call themselves ‘Pakistani Taliban’. This is what the Pakistani military has been doing recently, wiping off all these foreign assets. Which probably explains some of the recent American panic.

    ‘Insurgency,’ Mr. Saleh, the Afghan spymaster, told American journalists in 2006, ‘is like grass. Two ways to destroy it: You cut the upper part, and after four months, you have it back. You poison the soil where that grass is, then you eliminate it forever.’

    What Mr. Saleh got wrong is the soil. It is not Pakistan. The Afghan insurgency is sustained by Afghans. It is an Afghan problem. Please leave Pakistan alone.

    © 2007-2008. All rights reserved. The News International & AhmedQuraishi.com.

    “Two Choices”

    “Two Choices”

    ANONYMOUS

    What would you do?……you make the choice. Don’t look for a punch line,
    there isn’t one. Read it anyway. My question is: Would you have made the
    same choice?

    At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves children with learning
    disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that
    would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and
    its dedicated staff, he offered a question:

    ‘When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does, is
    done with perfection.

    Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot
    understand things as other children do.  Where is the natural order of
    things in my son?’

    The audience was stilled by the query.

    The father continued. ‘I believe that when a child like Shay, who was
    mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to
    realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other
    people treat that child.’

    Then he told the following story:  Shay and I had walked past a park where
    some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, ‘Do you think they’ll
    let me play?’ I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay
    on their team, but as a father I also understood that if my son were allowed
    to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some
    confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.

    I approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if
    Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, ‘We’re losing
    by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our
    team and we’ll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.’

    Shay struggled over to the team’s bench and, with a broad smile, put on a
    team shirt. I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart.
    The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted.

    In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay’s team scored a few runs but was
    still behind by three.

    In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right
    field… Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to
    be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him
    from the stands.

    In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay’s team scored again.  Now, with two
    outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay
    was scheduled to be next at bat.

    At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the
    game?  Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was
    all but impossible because Shay didn’t even know how to hold the bat
    properly, much less connect with the ball.

    However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing the other
    team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay’s life, moved in a
    few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact.

    The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again
    took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay.

    As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball
    right back to the pitcher.

    The game would now be over.  The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and
    could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman.

    Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.
    Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman’s head, out
    of reach of all team mates.

    Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, ‘Shay, run to
    first!
    Run to first!’   Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made
    it to first base.

    He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.  Everyone yelled,
    ‘Run to second, run to second!’

    Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and
    struggling to make it to the base.

    By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball
    .. the smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to be the hero
    for his team.

    He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he
    understood the pitcher’s intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball
    high and far over the third-baseman’s head.

    Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled
    the bases toward home.  All were screaming, ‘Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way
    Shay’

    Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by
    turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, ‘Run to third!
    Shay, run to third!’

    As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on
    their feet screaming, ‘Shay, run home! Run home!’

    Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit
    the grand slam and won the game for his team

    ‘That day’, said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face,
    ‘the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity
    into this world’.

    Shay didn’t make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never
    forgotten being the hero and making me so happy, and coming home and seeing
    his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!

    AND NOW A LITTLE FOOT NOTE TO THIS STORY:
    We all send thousands of jokes
    through the e-mail without a second thought, but when it comes to sending
    messages about life choices, people hesitate.  The crude, vulgar, and often
    obscene pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion about decency
    is too often suppressed in our schools and workplaces.

    If you’re thinking about forwarding this message, chances are that you’re
    probably sorting out the people in your address book who aren’t the
    ‘appropriate’ ones to receive this type of message Well, the person who sent
    you this believes that we all can make a difference.  We all have thousands
    of opportunities every single day to help realize the ‘natural order of
    things.’

    So many seemingly trivial interactions between two people present us with a
    choice:
    Do we pass along a little spark of love and humanity or do we pass up those
    opportunities and leave the world a little bit colder in the process? A wise
    man once said every society is judged by how it treats it’s least fortunate
    amongst them.

    You now have two choices:
    1. Delete 2. Forward

    Let your day be a Shay Day