Suo motu notice found to be fake

September 17, 2010

Qaiser Zulfiqar

ISLAMABAD: A suo motu notice issued last month to a senior police official in Rawalpindi that sought action against two men has been discovered to be a fake. The entire official machinery in Rawalpindi swung into action following the notice and this led to the victimisation of at least a dozen people.


Notice was forwarded to SHO without verifying authenticity

On August 20, the Superintendent of Police in Rawal Town Zarat Kayani received a notice from two apex court judges Justice Nasirul Mulk and Justice Tariq Pervez, recommending action against Syed Qamar Shah and Qaiser Kayani under the maintenance of public order. Without verifying the notice, Kayani forwarded it to the station house officer (SHO) in Sadiqabad Malik Yousaf for immediate compliance. However, the notice turned out to be fake.

Interestingly, the name of Justice Nasir was incorrectly written as Justice Naseerul Mulk and though the suo motu action was purportedly taken by these two judges on March 22 it was received by the Rawal Town SP five months later through an unidentified dispatcher.

When the SHO received directions from the SP along with the fake notice, he registered an FIR against Qamar Shah, Qaiser Kayani and ten other suspects under 341 PPC.

They decided to first verify the suo motu notice from the Supreme Court because they had doubts about its legitimacy. For this purpose they approached the deputy registrar office and the director general HR cell’s office and submitted an application for the attestation of the copy of the notice. The Supreme Court staff refused to attest the document and deemed it was fake, because it had not been issued by the court at all.

Both Qamar and Qaiser also checked the online status of the case (number 009/2010 suo motu) but found no record of it. However, one case of similar number 9/2010 is of Bushra Bibi regarding non-payment of benevolent grant to her which was last heard in the court of the CJ two months ago.

When the police took them into custody, Qamar and Qaiser through their counsel Asad Abbasi went to the court of sessions judge Rawalpindi, Raja Pervez Akhtar, for bail but the judge denied them. “I am sorry it’s a matter of the Supreme Court and I will have to face the music if I grant bail,” the judge was quoted as saying.

When contacted by The Express Tribune, SP Zarat Kayani denied being aware of any such notice even though his signatures are on the document. Both the copies of the fake suo motu notice and the FIR are available with The Express Tribune.

Former chief justice of Pakistan, Justice (Rtd) Saeeduz Zaman Siddiqui, when contacted said that no other judge of the apex court except for the chief justice could take suo motu action. However, he pointed out that the chief justice could assign a case to other Supreme Court judges for hearing.

According to Justice (retd) Siddiqui, the said FIR has no legal effect and can immediately be quashed since the notice was fake.


Kayani urges rapid uplift in Waziristan

February 16, 2010

Meets Mehsud elders at Tank camp

RAWALPINDI: Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani visited South Waziristan Agency to see the progress of rehabilitation process and implementation of Quick Impact Projects.

These projects are being undertaken by the Pakistan Army in consultation with local tribes and in coordination with the civil administration for social uplift of the affected areas. The COAS performed ground-breaking ceremonies of two main roads of the area – Tank-Jandola-Sararogha-Makeen and Tank-Khajuri-Tanai-Wana.

He emphasised the need for rapid development of the area to consolidate gains made through military operations. He also reiterated the resolve that the Army will not abandon the tribal people and will continue to play its role in the rehabilitation of the displaced people and development of the area.

Earlier on his arrival in the area, the COAS was received by Corps Commander Lieutenant General Muhammad Masood Aslam. Online adds: During his visit, the COAS met Army officers and Jawans participating in the operation Rah-e-Nijat and praised their morale and professionalism. He also expressed satisfaction over the outcome of the operation.

Kayani said the officers and Jawans of the Pakistan Army made the operation successful by sacrificing their lives, adding the Army has complete support of the nation and the operation will be completed soon.

Our correspondent adds from Tank: Life remained crippled in Tank after curfew was imposed by local authorities to ensure peaceful holding of Mehsud tribal Jirga at forces’ Maanzai camp on Monday. Circles close to security forces said the event was kept secret because of participation by Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and other senior military and civil officials.

Sources said that Army chief in his address to Mehsud elders assured that concrete steps were being taken for the rehabilitation and development of the militancy-plagued area. An elder who participated in the Jirga said the Army chief announced Rs500 million for the construction of Kundi Wam Dam in South Waziristan and Tank-Makin Road via Servikai subdivision.

However, the Army chief described peace as an essential factor for the sustainable development in the area and urged tribal elders to help authorities in ensuring writ of the government as well as purge the area of extremist elements. He called upon the elders to play their role. Earlier, Malik Masood Khan, an elder of Mahsud tribe, in his speech assured cooperation to government on behalf of local tribesmen in maintaining peace and tranquillity in the region.


In Pakistan, anguish and questions

December 7, 2009

In Pakistan, anguish and questions
MOSQUE ATTACK SHAKES NATION


Residents, officials decry assault in garrison city
Relatives surround a casket of retired army officer Mohammad Shoaib, a victim of the attack in Rawalpindi, before his funeral in Lahore.
Relatives surround a casket of retired army officer Mohammad Shoaib, a victim of the attack in Rawalpindi, before his funeral in Lahore.(K.m.chaudary/associated Press)
By Pamela Constable and Shaiq Hussain
Sunday, December 6, 2009

RAWALPINDI, PAKISTAN — Pine coffins were ceremonially placed on an army soccer field Saturday as Pakistan’s prime minister, army chief and other officials gathered to mourn three victims of a suicide attack at a military mosque Friday that killed at least 40 people and injured 80.

Although Pakistanis have become somewhat numbed by a wave of terrorist bombings and other attacks in recent months, including a day-long siege of the army headquarters in the city last month, Friday’s assault on two pillars of Pakistani society — the army and the Islamic faith — triggered an avalanche of public and official condemnation.

The attack, which killed army officers, wives and children, touched hundreds of families in the close-knit military community of this sprawling garrison city. Nasim Riaz, a retired general in his 70s, tried to find meaning in the death of his son Bilal, who had just returned home from studying in Britain and was to be married next week.

“I feel pride in his martyrdom. He died like a soldier to save his nephew,” Riaz said, explaining that the two had been praying side by side. “These terrorists want to weaken the country and the resolve of the armed forces, but they will never succeed,” vowed the distraught father, as visitors streamed through his modest brick bungalow to offer condolences.

The assault began after a small group of men slipped into the crowded mosque just before the weekly prayer service. Witnesses and officials said that one or two of the men blew themselves up, and that the others began hurling grenades and spraying the worshipers with gunfire, causing a stampede. Several of the assailants also fled but were eventually shot and killed.

The attack appeared to be part of an escalating urban terrorism campaign aimed at undermining an army operation against Taliban militants in the northwest tribal belt. It occurred just two days after President Obama announced a new strategy for Afghanistan, which involves sending 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan and demanding more cooperation from Pakistan in wiping out safe havens for Islamist extremists.

Some analysts questioned the lax security in a sensitive military area that had been previously attacked. There was speculation that the assailants may have received help from inside the garrison, possibly from lower-ranking army personnel.
Army leaders, however, sought to convey a sense of newly strengthened determination to defeat extremist groups once fostered by the state to fight in India and Afghanistan — even though the officials have reportedly expressed concerns that the conflict will intensify if a troop buildup next door sends a surge of Afghan Taliban fighters into Pakistan.

“Our faith, resolve and pride in our religion and our country is further reinforced by each terrorist incident,” Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani, the army chief, said in a statement. He thanked the public for its “overwhelming solidarity” and said the army is “committed to defend, protect and preserve the nation at all costs.”

On the soccer field, officers wept and hugged after saying prayers at the mourning ceremony for a general and two sons of other active-duty officials. The general’s coffin was draped in a Pakistani flag, and his officer’s cap rested on top. A handful of civilians also were there.

“These extremists are not Muslims. They are butchers,” said Asim Waris, 21, an engineering student and friend of one victim, a general’s son. “We fought for America in Afghanistan, and now we are paying the price,” he added, referring to the U.S. sponsorship of Pakistan-based Islamic militias in the 1980s. “We need to give these people proper educations, to turn them into human beings.”

Some participants noted critically that President Asif Ali Zardari, who is commander in chief of the armed forces, did not attend. Zardari’s relations with the military leadership have become tense, largely because he has sought close civilian ties with Washington and improved relations with India, Pakistan’s longtime rival.

The assault also brought fresh signs of the conflict among Pakistani religious groups over where to place the blame for such attacks. Some have accused India and the United States of orchestrating the assaults as part of a wider campaign against Muslims, and responded to Friday’s attack in that vein.

“This is the work of big powers. It is not a war against terror, it is a war against Islam, and America is leading it,” said Qazi Hussain Ahmed, leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami religious party. He warned that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is not safe from U.S. clutches. “We must be careful because Obama said they can target any area of Pakistan,” he said.

But a moderate Islamic scholar in the city of Lahore, responding to a demand by civilian officials that Muslim clerics speak out after the attack, announced that he planned to issue a fatwa, or Islamic edict, against terrorism.

“Suicide attacks are not allowed in Islam,” the scholar, Tahir ul-Qadri, declared via videoconference. “These actions are un-Islamic. . . . The slaughter of human beings in any religion or country, and terrorism in all its manifestations, are totally in contradiction with the teachings of Islam.”


FATA: The Troubles and the Solution

December 3, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE PRESS RELEASE:

CONTACT:
Col. Bakhtiar Hakeem (Retd)
Secretary General (TFP)
http://www.thinkersforumpakistan.org
bak116ster@gmail.com

Ref: PR-1002

Rawalpindi/Pakistan – November 25, 2009

Sun, 22nd November Thinkers Forum Pakistan met for its regular monthly meeting. The topic was. ” Troubles in FATA and their solution. Learned speaker, Air Marshall Syed Qaiser Hussain (Retd) belonging to Parachinar focused mostly on Kurram and Orakzai agencies. He enumerated the corner stones of life in FATA. It was Islam and Pakhtoon Wali. He explained at length the five pillars of Pakhtoon Wali. Then unfolded the critical areas where malice had crept in. First on the list was Mulla, an ignorant leader of Islam but wielding great influence over the naïve tribesmen. The Maliks, were next; the custodians of Pakhtoon Wali, who seem to have lost the veneration they held once. Next were the Political Agents some inept and lacking the acumenship required for dealing with the tribesmen. Frontier Constabulary was the next weakening link, and finally the abolition of the FCR. He praised FCR, and wished it could be followed and practiced.

Suggesting the solutions the learned speaker emphasized that the Mulla had to be effectively countered by more learned clerics disseminating true Islam and its teachings to the simpletons. The PAs’ lot had to be improved and the way they govern should follow the old traditions of British time with the carrot and stick philosphy. Quality of officers in FC be improved and the deployment of the troops should remain restricted to the areas to which they belonged. He emphasized on how locals should be empowered through enrichment of Maliks. It was to enable Maliks to maintain their Lashkars and Chigga. Overall revival of Pakhtoon Wali was the solution.

He covered in detail the various tribes and the way they populated various agencies. Their restriction to some agencies and sprinkling and spread across the Durand Line was intriguing. By and large the tribal code of ethics was hospitable, peaceful and Islamic in nature. Though of late the magnitude of Sunni-Shia divide – particularly after the North-South polarization in Afghanistan – and its effects was quite disturbing. Similarly, the existence and role of millions of cash changing hands and the existence and role of Taliban, could not get an in-depth treatment.

The discussion was enriched by high quality input from analysts like Gen Asad Durrani.


Pakistanis back assault on Taliban

November 10, 2009

By Syed Shoaib Hasan
BBC News, Islamabad

Pakistani troop morale is high three weeks into the army’s assault against the Taliban.


This is the biggest anti-Taliban offensive ever seen in Pakistan

The military has made significant gains in its campaign in South Waziristan so far – and across the country there seems consensus that the operation is the right option at the moment.

“Yes, we feel very confident and sure. Whatever is being done is right,” says Maj Faizan Ali, an army officer involved in anti-Taliban operations.

“I think the operation was long overdue.”

The military’s confidence is not without basis – despite a wave of militant attacks that has killed hundreds in recent weeks, most Pakistanis remain firmly behind the operation in South Waziristan.

But opinion remains divided over its timing and consequences.

‘Too much blood’

“The government is absolutely right to launch the operation,” says Ahmed Khan, a shopkeeper in Rawalpindi.

“Those people have too much blood on their hands. Our lives have been taken hostage – enough is enough.”


Just killing the militants is not going to help – the militancy will now spread to towns and cities, Sohaib Mateen, Karachi

But not everybody is as confident about the way the authorities are handling the situation.

“The operation in South Waziristan is only going to exacerbate the problem,” says Sohaib Mateen, a business analyst in Karachi.

Mr Mateen closely follows the situation on the ground and believes the solution is not just a military one.

“Jihad [holy war] is not a tangible thing. It is an idea and needs to be dealt with on an ideological level as well,” he says.

“Just killing the militants is not going to help. The militancy was confined to the tribal regions, but now it will spread to towns and cities.”

But he is in the minority, as most Pakistanis remain firmly behind military action.

Their main issue remains the disruption of everyday lives due to the rising level of violence.

“I don’t have a problem with the operation,” says Nazish Mohsin, a young mother of three in Lahore.

“The operation appeared to have been inevitable. If the army had not done it the Americans would have.

“My issue is with the authorities not being prepared to defend ordinary citizens. Most of all it’s my children’s education I am worried about.

“Every day my children ask whether they are going to school or not. Every second day the school shuts down.”


The military says it has captured towns and weapons from the Taliban

Mrs Mohsin’s concerns are shared by most parents and students, not just in Lahore but across the country.

“Nobody is coming to school these days,” says Zainab Azhar, 16, who studies at a military-run college in the capital, Islamabad.

“There is a lot of security. Only official cars are allowed inside. We have to walk a long way and metal detectors have been installed at the entrances.

“We are told not to talk to strangers or take anything from them.”

She says studies are greatly affected by school closures.

“Our teachers send us assignments on e-mail, but nobody takes them seriously. Nothing can replace school.”

US and India blamed

What is surprising is that Ms Azhar, like many others, says it is not just the Taliban who are to blame for the violence.

Everyone is taking advantage – India and America all have a hand in the violence, Nazish Mohsin, Lahore

“There are many different people involved,” Ms Azhar says. “Mainly the Americans are responsible for these blasts. They are brainwashing young boys who carry out the attacks.

Maj Ali says: “Anyone who has a big bag of money can hire the services of the militants. They are so naive that they accept the responsibility outright.

“Everybody is using them for their agenda.”

Mrs Mohsin from Lahore also has similar views.

“It’s not just one party,” she says. “Everyone is taking advantage – India and America all have a hand in the violence.”

Even Sohaib Mateen agrees.

“Political and international pressure are killing our people. Local elements are involved, but foreign forces, especially India and the US, are taking advantage.

“Where is the money coming from? The Taliban need millions of rupees to run their operation.”

There is no evidence to support the widely held view in Pakistan that the US and India are directly involved in the violence.

But many people seem to have been persuaded by a series of recent reports in the local media.

These reports clearly suggest that both countries are working to destabilise Pakistan through their agents in the country. Most of the reports are based on conjecture and quote “anonymous” sources.

Pakistan’s government has largely remained silent on the issue, until recently.

A few days ago, the authorities said the army had discovered “clear evidence” of Indian involvement with the Taliban in Waziristan. India swiftly denied the claims.


202 Blackwater Personnel Arrive In Islamabad?

November 5, 2009

More US military personnel arrive in Islamabad. Is the PPP government seeking US support against a possible Pakistani military action against the unpopular pro-US government in Pakistan?

By NISAR MEHDI
Wednesday, 4 November 2009.
The Nation
WWW.AHMEDQURAISHI.COM

KARACHI, Pakistan-Foreigners affiliated with the notorious private military contractor Blackwater, later renamed as Xe Services LLC, arrived in Islamabad on Tuesday through a PIA flight, sources told TheNation.

“Of the 274 passengers, who boarded Pakistan’s national flag carrier-PIA, flight PK-786 from Heathrow Airport UK, 202 were foreigners but they were fluently speaking Urdu language,” disclosed the sources.

The officials on duty at Shaheed Benazir International Airport Islamabad said, “We had instructions to allow the foreigners entry without custom procedure.”

The sources said that the plane reached Islamabad airport at 4:08am PST, and they had received official instructions from the authorities not to inspect any of them and clear them immediately from the airport.

An official of PIA confirmed that the PIA flight PK-786 from Heathrow reached Islamabad at its destination at 04:08 am and said that the plane had the capacity of 358 passengers but total 274 passengers travelled on the flight.

He declined to comment the presence of large number of foreigners in the flight saying that they had no information in this regard.

Former Chief of Army Staff Mirza Aslam Baig has accused former President Pervez Musharraf of giving Blackwater a green signal to carry out its terrorist operations in the cities of Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Quetta.

According to a August 20, 2009 report in the New York Times by Mark Mazzetti, the Central Intelligence Agency in 2004 hired contractors from the private security contractor Blackwater USA as part of a secret programme to locate and assassinate top operatives of Al-Qaeda.

“Blackwater employees hired to guard American diplomats in Iraq were accused of using excessive force on several occasions, including shootings in Baghdad in 2007 in which 17 civilians were killed. Iraqi officials have since refused to give the company an operating licence,” wrote Mazzetti.

“Several current and former government officials interviewed for this article spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they were discussing details of a still classified programme,” the NYT reported.

The newspaper report said that despite publicly breaking with it, the State Department continued to award the company, formerly known as Blackwater, more than $400 million in contracts to fly its diplomats around Iraq, guard them in Afghanistan, and train security forces in anti-terrorism tactics at its remote camp in North Carolina.

Every indication suggests that the US Embassy in Islamabad, which is being expanded into the world’s largest US embassy, has brought in Blackwater without clearance from Pakistani security authorities and with direct help from the unpopular pro-US government in Islamabad.

This report was originally published by The Nation.


Triple III Agency Targeting Pakistan

November 4, 2009

Zaheerul Hassan

On November 2, 2009 Suicidal bomber entered in National Bank building in Rawalpindi and blasted him. According to the media reports 35 individuals died and many injured. Reportedly, most of the individuals present in the banks to draw their monthly salaries .It may be mentioned here that during last few weeks suspected foreign sponsored militants have struck Pakistan several times , killing about 250 people. In the evening again near Babu Saboo Interchange two suicidal bombers came in the car and blasted them once they were stopped by the police personals on duty located In this blast 15 police personals have sustained injuries. The current blasts reveal that foreign hand have hijacked the Pakistani Taliban militant movement and speeded up their intrigues against Pakistan. An army offensive in a Taliban stronghold area is progressing well and determined security forces under the government direction have decided to continue with the operation to defeat foreign sponsored terrorism. The recent terrorists’ attacks in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, and Islamabad and on GHQ are the continuation of series of planned commandos’ actions against security forces and innocent people. These commandos are also known as Indian Black Cats and American Black Water terrorists’ organization.

The Taliban fighting in Afghanistan have already refused to help militants operating in Pakistan. It is worth mentioning here that nation is fully supporting army in elimination of terrorism. Anti Pakistan forces are not digesting security forces success, since win over militants would bring stability in the country which is against their set design. There are reports that recently established “Indio Israeli Intelligence Agency “(Triple IIIA) has infiltrated their agents through RAAM (Afghan Intelligence Organization) in Pakistan, Iran and China. The agency has hired Afghan citizen and local criminal elements for launching sabotage acts in the said countries.

There is a general perception here in Pakistan that USA is not serious in elimination of terrorism in the region. Pakistan time and again asked American to pressurize Indian for storming terrorism but unfortunately Washington’s government deliberately closing her eyes over Indian interference. According to media reports, on October 31, 2009 Sectary of State Hillary Clinton has said that USA does not have any evidence of Indian involvement in Balochistan. Mrs. Clinton without going into details said that she has not seen any evidence from Pakistan about India’s involvement in Balochistan. She has probably forgotten her General McChrystal argues. The General said that growing Indian political and economic influence in Afghanistan is likely to “exacerbate regional tensions”, and accuses Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, and Iran of helping the Taliban. His view would appear to be that Pakistan and Iran can counter India’s growing influence in Afghanistan only by assisting those Afghans who are not favourably inclined towards India, and this potpourri is making his job difficult. Gen Stanley McChrystal suggests that Indian influence is “jeopardising US efforts to defeat the Taliban and al Qa’eda extremists.

In fact India is funding and providing support to so called Baloch leaders to foment terrorism in Balochistan and rest of the country. Some Baloch leaders on their master’s directive are asking government to stop operation and are against the establishment of cantonments in the province. Actually there is no military operation is going on. The purpose of opposing the presence of own army in establishing the posts in own country could be, (1) to carry out sabotage activities in the country with our adversary help freely (2) stopping government in developing Gawadar Port (3) leveling grounds for USA and Indian interference in the region (4) obstructing in development programmes in Balochistan since progress might lose sardars’ hold over the general public.

The fact of Indian involvement in Balochistan and Pakistan’s tribal areas is no longer a covert plot. The prevailing security environment has provided a chance to our adversary to carry out clandestine operations covertly and openly with a view to create instability our country. Pakistan Army has deployed over 50,000 troops to South Waziristan to take on an estimated 12,000 militants, including up to 1,500 foreign fighters, among them Uzbeks and Arabs. The soldiers captured the hometown of the country’s Taliban chief on November 01, 2009. Pakistan Air Chief is also ensuring determined air support to the ground forces too. Pakistan army Spokes man Major General Athar Abbas also very rightly claimed that Taliban are in disarray due to their continue depletion in the current operation. He also said that our enemy country is directly involved in spreading terrorism and ongoing blasts wave. Pakistan Information also mentioned in a joint press conference that Nation will keep on supporting her forces in elimination of terrorism form the country. On November 2, 2009 Major General Athar Abbas also said huge quantity of Indian made ammunition and medical equipment has been recovered during on going operation. At this moment Pakistan Information minister stated that matter would be taken with India on diplomatic front too.

Moreover it is also a known fact that India has a desire to keep world community away from her Maoist’s movement and prevailing communal violence in so called secular country. The investigations of Mumbai Drama and Samjhota Express and blasts at Margao in Gao has reveled that wife of state transport minister has a link with Sanatan Sanstha, a right -wing Hindu Group is involved in the blast. Reportedly Lt col Prohit nominated accused of Samhjota Express has also illicit relations with wife of the minister too. The relationship forced wife of the minister to join Hindu terrorist organization.


Blackwater involved in Bhutto and Hariri hits: former Pakistani army chief

October 26, 2009

Tehran Times Political Desk

TEHRAN – Pakistan’s former chief of army staff, General Mirza Aslam Beg (ret.), has said the U.S. private security company Blackwater was directly involved in the assassinations of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto and former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

Blackwater later changed its name and is now known as Xe.

General Beg recently told the Saudi Arabian daily Al Watan that former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf had given Blackwater the green light to carry out terrorist operations in the cities of Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, and Quetta.

General Beg, who was chief of army staff during Benazir Bhutto’s first administration, said U.S. officials always kept the presence of Blackwater in Pakistan secret because they were afraid of possible attacks on the U.S. Embassy and its consulates in Pakistan.

During an interview with a Pakistani TV network last Sunday, Beg claimed that the United States killed Benazir Bhutto.

Beg stated that the former Pakistani prime minister was killed in an international conspiracy because she had decided to back out of the deal through which she had returned to the country after nine years in exile.

Beg also said he believes that the former director general of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence was not an accomplice in the conspiracy against Benazir Bhutto, although she did not trust him.

The retired Pakistani general also stated that Benazir Bhutto was a sharp politician but was not as prudent as her father.

On September 2, the U.S. ambassador to Islamabad, Anne W. Patterson, intervened with one of the largest newspaper groups in Pakistan, The News International, to force it to block a decade-old weekly column by Dr. Shireen Mazari scheduled for publication on September 3 in which Mazari, the former director of the Islamabad Institute of Strategic Studies, broke the story of Blackwater/Xe’s presence in Pakistan.

The management of The News International dismissed one of the country’s most prominent academics and journalists due to U.S. pressure. She joined the more independent daily The Nation last week as an editor.

On September 9, in her first column in The Nation, Dr. Mazari wrote:

“Now, even if one were to ignore the massive purchases of land by the U.S., the questionable manner in which the expansion of the U.S. Embassy is taking place and the threatening covert activities of the U.S. and its ‘partner in crime’ Blackwater; the unregistered comings and goings of U.S. personnel on chartered flights; we would still find it difficult to see the whole aid disbursement issue as anything other than a sign of U.S. gradual occupation. It is no wonder we have the term Af-Pak: Afghanistan they control through direct occupation loosely premised on a UN resolution; Pakistan they are occupying as a result of willingly ceded sovereignty by the past and present leadership.”

According to Al Watan, Washington even used Blackwater forces to protect its consulate in the city of Peshawar.

In addition, U.S. journalist Seymour Hersh has accused former U.S vice president Dick Cheney of being involved in the Hariri assassination.

He said Cheney was in charge of a secret team that was tasked with assassinating prominent political figures.

After the assassination of Rafik Hariri in 2005, the U.S. and a number of other countries pointed the finger at Syria, although conclusive evidence has never been presented proving Syrian involvement in the murder.


Pak-Afghan border must be sealed: CJCSC

October 21, 2009

* British Chief of Defence Staff calls on Gen Tariq Majid, Gen Ashfaq Kayani

Daily Times

RAWALPINDI: The Pak-Afghan border must be sealed on the Afghan side to prevent the cross-border movement of terrorists and the flow of weapons into Pakistan, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) General Tariq Majid said on Tuesday.

He was talking to United Kingdom Chief of Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup at the Joint Staff Headquarters.

The two leaders discussed a host of security-related issues, bilateral defence cooperation and the regional security situation, with a special emphasis on the situation in Afghanistan, as well as the ongoing operation in South Waziristan Agency, the ISPR said.

Gen Tariq appreciated the contributions of British troops in Afghanistan, urging the synchronisation of effort on both sides of the border and sharing of real time intelligence.

Stirrup expressed “solidarity and full support” to Pakistan, but warned against fallout in Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran.

He later met Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Kayani as well.

The COAS briefed Stirrup on the ongoing operation in South Waziristan and the successful operation against the Taliban in Swat.


Pakistan’s fight is only just beginning

October 20, 2009

As the army launches its major offensive in Waziristan, the population must decide where it stands on the country’s militants

Farzana Shaikh

Will Pakistan finally buckle? After a week that has witnessed some of the boldest and deadliest militant attacks against the Pakistani state and the headquarters of its most potent institution, the army, the question is asked increasingly widely. The short answer is no. But the country must brace itself for many more months, if not years, of traumatic conflict, especially as the army launches a major offensive in South Waziristan. This will deepen the conditions of chronic insecurity and political dysfunctionality to which its people have long been accustomed.

This is not to minimise the impact of the latest strikes that have convulsed Lahore, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Kohat, or to play down the appalling loss of lives resulting from the attacks. Both have left the country in a state of shock not dissimilar to that which followed the terrorist attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad in September 2008. Many had hoped that the Marriott attack would finally bring the country together and help to forge a real national consensus to tackle militancy. Those expectations have long since disappeared.

Yet there were initially some grounds for optimism. The newly elected government with cross-party support that took power in February 2008 boldly declared that it would “take ownership” of the controversial “war on terror” to defend Pakistan. A climate of political reconciliation between President Asif Ali Zardari and his erstwhile foe, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, reinforced the mood of optimism when both sides also agreed to form a coalition government.

The military, too, seemed to have turned a page. The new army chief, General Ashfaq Kiyani, sent out strong signals that he intended to refrain from politics and keep his men focused squarely on military matters. Although tensions between the military and ministers were never far from the surface, they were judged to be mere teething problems.

By the time the army launched its ferocious military operation against militant strongholds in Swat in May this year – with endorsement from the government, political parties and the public at large – many assumed Pakistan had turned the corner and that state and society were finally in synch. And with the US ever ready to oblige with drone strikes, military success against the Taliban appeared to be a foregone conclusion. Confidence was further boosted after a US missile in August successfully targeted Pakistan’s most wanted militant leader, Baitullah Mehsud.

His death was claimed as heralding the emergence of a real national consensus against militancy and the imminent demise of the Taliban. Neither, as recent events have demonstrated, was at all warranted. Signs of disarray were already in evidence. The first warnings were sounded in August 2008 after Sharif’s party, the Pakistan Muslim League, withdrew from the ruling coalition headed by President Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party. At issue was not only the reinstatement of the former chief justice, but also important constitutional amendments that would restrict the extraordinary powers of the president – a measure Zardari is as yet unwilling seriously to countenance. The mistrust generated by this issue, many now fear, has irreversibly damaged the prospects of co-operation between the two parties.

More ominously still have been signs of growing disaffection in the army over Zardari’s leadership. While it is no secret that the military has always harboured a deep dislike of the People’s Party, it has now taken umbrage at Zardari’s attempts in recent months to encourage dialogue with India – an area over which the army is used to exercising its prerogative.

But it is Zardari’s efforts to call on externally borrowed power from the US to rein in the military that has most infuriated the army’s high command. In the months leading up to the enactment of the enhanced partnership with Pakistan (the so-called Kerry-Lugar bill), the government had worked closely with US lawmakers to ensure that the interests of Pakistan’s civil society were not made subservient to those of the military.

By early September it was clear that the military was set to challenge these moves and step into the political fray. In a meeting last week, senior corps commanders expressed “serious concerns” over the bill. Reports indicated, however, that the army had taken grave exception to provisions of the bill calling for civilian oversight of the military and the defence budget. Differences have since been papered over by an “explanatory note” attached to the bill designed to reassure the military. But expectations of a smooth working relationship between the two sides are in question.

Though the militants were dealt a severe blow by the loss of Baitullah Mehsud, they have regrouped under his successor, Hakeemullah Mehsud. They have also shown themselves to be adept at extending their reach and forging a nexus that now involves Islamic militants from Punjab with close links to al-Qa’ida.

While larger numbers of Pakistanis may well stand opposed to militancy, popular ambivalence over the state’s relation to Islam continues to thwart the prospects of translating this opposition into a coherent strategy to fight the militants. And with the militants in no doubt about what they stand for, it is now more urgent than ever for government and society to open up an honest debate about what precisely Pakistan stands for.

Farzana Shaikh is an associate fellow of Chatham House and author of Making Sense of Pakistan


Time for joint Indo-Pak action against terrorism

October 19, 2009

New Delhi should realise that the road to Beijing goes through Islamabad. This is what a Pakistan foreign minister told me many years ago.

By Kuldip Nayar, Special to Gulf News


Illustration by Adrienne Harebottle/Gulf News

There is some truth in this even today. Likewise, Islamabad would have known by now that its route to Kabul lies through New Delhi.

This is not to suggest that India is helping Afghanistan in its armed struggle against the Taliban and their supporters in Pakistan.

What it means is that New Delhi can wield influence over Kabul. The hospital it has built in Kabul and the roads and power transmission lines it has laid there, despite the killings of Indian engineers and workers, have earned the Manmohan Singh government the trust of an average Afghan who sees in India a friend. This goodwill can benefit Islamabad if it can have even a workable relationship with New Delhi.

Another attack on India’s embassy at Kabul last week is nothing new from the point of view of the Taliban who regard India as their enemy and economic development an anti-war measure. But the role of the ISI in such attacks is difficult to comprehend. An average Indian believes that it must be the handiwork of the ISI. It is the same old mistrust between the two countries that clouds the judgment.

Yet, both have known to their cost that the Taliban consider them their enemy. The attack on the Army headquarters at Rawalpindi last week reconfirms the fact that when it comes to causing harm, the Taliban make no distinction between Islamic Pakistan and secular India.

Why have not New Delhi and Islamabad sat together to plan a common strategy? Kashmir does not have to be sorted out before solving other problems.

Just as the stability of Pakistan is essential for the stability of India, Afghanistan’s viability is necessary for Pakistan’s viability. Essentially, the fight against the Taliban is the fight for the free world. But the most important step for India and Pakistan is a joint, concerted action against the Taliban.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at a press conference in Mumbai recently: “If we work together to deal with this menace [terrorism], a larger good can come out of it.” Patronisation of militants by Pakistan, he has said, “has done a great harm to South Asia.”

Not helpful

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rahman Malek’s allegation that India was trying to export terrorism does not help the situation. When Manmohan Singh charactersies it “a false accusation”, that should set the doubts in Pakistan to rest. Manmohan Singh has seldom personally rubbished a statement. The release of Hafeez Saeed may further delay the composite dialogue.

The real problem is General Stanley A. McChrystal’s assessment. He is America’s new commander of operations in Afghanistan. He has said India was “exacerbating regional tensions” and encouraging “Pakistan’s countermeasures” by increasing political and economic influence in Afghanistan. At the same time, he has said, Indian activities “largely benefit the Afghan people.”

The economic measures which New Delhi has undertaken in Afghanistan are bound to endear India in the eyes of the Afghans. Even otherwise, the latter has been at loggerheads with Pakistan for ages.

The American commander’s assessment can be a talking point between New Delhi and Islamabad. When both agree that the Taliban are the biggest menace they can surely find a common strategy for joint action. They can adopt different ways, economic or military, but they should have one policy to tackle the Taliban.

Pakistan’s reluctance to move troops from the Indian border to Afghanistan is understandable. Islamabad is making the same point which New Delhi was making when it was in the midst of a war with China in 1962. In 1962, both US president John F. Kennedy and British prime minister Maurice Harold Macmillan had told Gen eral Ayoub Khan, then heading Pakistan, not to take such steps as would in any way distract New Delhi’s attention from fighting against China. Jawaharlal Nehru’s fear was that Ayoub would march into Kashmir once India was to withdraw its forces from the border with Pakistan. Washington and London talked to Islamabad and assured New Delhi on Pakistan’s behalf that it would not attack India. Only then did India withdraw one division from the Pakistan border.

President Asif Ali Zardari, like Nehru, has conveyed more or less the same fears in similar words to President Barack Obama and other visiting senior US officials. He has asked them to give a guarantee that New Delhi would do nothing if Pak-istan were to withdraw troops from the border with India. Islamabad is far from satisfied by mere statements that there was no question of India attacking Pakistan. Still, with all the assurances given by America, Islamabad has withdrawn only a brigade and has kept back all the forces on the border with India intact.

The inevitable conclusion is that there is no alternative to rapprochement between India and Pakistan. Obama once talked about a regional solution to Afghanistan and other problems between the countries. There is still no go from it.

Kuldip Nayar is a former Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and a former Rajya Sabha member.


Pakistan: The South Waziristan Migration

October 15, 2009

By Scott Stewart

Pakistan has been a busy place over the past few weeks. The Pakistani armed forces have been conducting raids and airstrikes against the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other foreign Islamist fighters in Bajaur Agency, a district inside Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), while wrapping up their preparations for a major military offensive into South Waziristan. The United States has conducted several successful missile attacks targeting militants hiding in areas along the Afghan-Pakistani border using unmanned aerial vehicles.

Threatened by these developments – especially the actions of the Pakistani military – the TTP and its allies have struck back. They have used larger, vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) in attacks close to their bases in the Pakistani badlands to conduct mass-casualty attacks against soft targets in Peshawar and the Swat Valley. They have also used small arms and small suicide devices farther from their bases to attack targets in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, the respective seats of Pakistan’s military and civilian power.

Initially, we considered devoting this week’s Security and Intelligence Report to discussing the tactical details of the Oct. 10 attack against the Pakistani army headquarters. But after taking a closer look at that attack, and the bigger mosaic it occurred within, we decided to focus instead on something that has not received much attention in the media – namely, how the coming Pakistani offensive in South Waziristan is going to have a heavy impact on the militants currently living and training there. In fact, we can expect the Pakistani offensive to cause a large displacement of militants. Of course, many of the militants who are forced to flee from South Waziristan, the epicenter of Pakistan’s insurgency, will likely land in areas not too far away – like Balochistan – but at least some of the militants who will be flushed out of South Waziristan will land in places far from Pakistan’s FATA and North-West Frontier Province.

The Coming Offensive

The Pakistani military has been preparing for the coming offensive into South Waziristan for months. They have positioned two divisions with some 28,000 troops for the attack, and this force will be augmented by paramilitary forces and local tribal militias loyal to Islamabad. As seen by the Pakistani offensives in Swat and Bajaur earlier this year, the TTP and its foreign allies are no match for the Pakistani military when it turns its full resources to address the problem.

The Pakistanis previously attempted a halfhearted offensive in South Waziristan in March of 2004 that only lasted 12 days before they fell back and reached a “negotiated peace settlement” with the militant leaders in the area. A negotiated peace settlement is a diplomatic way of saying that the Pakistanis attempted to pay off Pakistani Taliban leaders like Nek Mohammed to hand over the foreign militants in South Waziristan and stop behaving badly. The large cash settlements given to the militants did little to ensure peace and instead allowed the Taliban leaders to buy more weapons, pay their troops and essentially solidify their control in their areas of operation. The Taliban resumed their militant activities shortly after receiving their payments (though the most prominent leader, Nek Mohammed, was killed in a U.S. missile strike in June 2004).

This time, the South Waziristan offensive will be far different than it was in 2004. Not only do the Pakistanis have more than four times as many army troops committed to it, but the Pakistani military has learned that if it uses its huge airpower advantage and massed artillery, it can quickly rout any serious TTP resistance. In Bajaur, the Pakistanis used airstrikes and artillery to literally level positions (and even some towns) where the Taliban had tried to dig in and make a stand. Additionally, in January 2008, the Pakistani army conducted a successful offensive in South Waziristan called “Operation Zal Zala” (Earthquake) that made excellent progress and resulted in the loss of only eight soldiers in four days of intense fighting. This offensive was stopped only because Baitullah Mehsud and his confederates sued for peace – a truce that they quickly violated.

The lessons of past military operations and broken truces in South Waziristan, when combined with the recent TTP strikes against targets like the army headquarters, have served to steel the will of the government (and particularly the military). Pakistani government sources tell STRATFOR that they have the intent and the ability to “close the case for good.” This means that there should be no negotiated settlement with the TTP this time.

Of course, we are not the only people who can anticipate this happening. The TTP and others like the al Qaeda core leadership know all too well what happened in Bajaur and Swat. They have also been watching the Pakistani military prepare for the South Waziristan offensive for months now. The TTP leadership realizes that if they attempt to stand and fight the Pakistani military toe-to-toe they will be cut to shreds. Because of this, we believe that the TTP will adopt a strategy similar to that used by the Taliban in the face of overwhelming U.S. airpower following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, or that of the Iraqi military following the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Rather than fight in set-piece conventional battles to the bitter end and be destroyed, after some initial resistance the TTP’s fighters will seek to melt away into the population and then conduct insurgent and terrorist strikes against the Pakistani military, both in the tribal regions and in Pakistan’s core regions. This is also the approach the TTP leadership took to the Pakistani offensive in Swat and Bajaur. They made noises about standing and fighting in places like Mingora. In the end, however, they melted away in the face of the military’s offensive and most of the militants escaped.

Contrary to popular perception, the area along the Afghan-Pakistani border is fairly heavily populated. The terrain is extremely rugged, but there are millions of Pakistanis living in the FATA, and many of them are extremely conservative and hostile toward the Pakistani government. This hostile human terrain poses perhaps a more significant obstacle to the Pakistani military’s operations to root out jihadists than the physical terrain. Accurate and current population numbers are hard to obtain, but the government of Pakistan estimated the population of South Waziristan to be nearly 500,000 in 1998, although it is believed to be much larger than that today. There are also an estimated 1.7 million Afghan refugees living on the Pakistani side of the border. This human terrain should enable many of the TTP’s Pashtun fighters to melt into the landscape and live to fight another day. Indeed, the militants are already heavily embedded in the population of South Waziristan, and the TTP and its rivals have controlled much of the area for several years now.

We have seen reports that up to 200,000 people have already fled areas of South Waziristan in anticipation of the coming military operation, and it is highly likely that some TTP fighters and foreign militants have used this flow of displaced people as camouflage to leave the region just as they did in Swat and Bajaur. Whether the coming offensive is as successful in destroying the TTP as our sources assure us it will be, the military action will undoubtedly force even more militants to leave South Waziristan.

The Camps

In the wake of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the many militant training camps run by al Qaeda and other organizations in Afghanistan were destroyed. Many of the foreign jihadists who were at these camps fled to Pakistan with the Taliban, though others fled to Iran, Iraq or elsewhere. This migration shifted the focus of jihadist training efforts to Pakistan, and South Waziristan in particular. Quite simply, there are thousands of foreign jihadists who have traveled to Pakistan to receive paramilitary training at these camps to fight in Afghanistan. A smaller number of the trainees have received advanced training in terrorist tradecraft, such as bombmaking, in the camps.

Due to the presence of these transplanted training installations, South Waziristan is “jihadist central,” with jihadists of all stripes based in the area. This confluence will complicate Islamabad’s attempts to distinguish between “good” and “bad” Taliban elements. Both the good Taliban aligned with Islamabad that carry out their operations in Afghanistan and the bad Taliban fighting against Islamabad are based in South Waziristan, and telling the difference between the two factions on the battlefield will be difficult – though undoubtedly elements of Pakistani intelligence will attempt to help their Taliban friends (like the Haqqani network and Mullah Omar’s network) avoid being caught up in the coming confrontation.

There are literally thousands of Arab, Uzbek, Uighur, Chechen, African and European militants currently located in the Pakistani badlands, and a good number of them are in South Waziristan. Many of these foreigners are either teaching at or enrolled in the jihadist training camps. These foreigners are going to find it far harder to hide from the Pakistani military by seeking refuge in Afghan refugee camps or small tribal villages than their Pashtun brethren.

Some of these foreigners will attempt to find shelter in North Waziristan, or perhaps in more heavily – and more heterogeneously – populated areas like Quetta (Mullah Omar’s refuge) or Peshawar. Others may try to duck into the Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan, but there is a good chance that many of these foreign militants will be forced to leave the Pakistan-Afghanistan area to return home or seek refuge elsewhere.

This exodus will have mixed results. On one hand it will serve to weaken the international jihadist movement by retarding its ability to train new jihadists until replacement camps can be established elsewhere, perhaps by expanding existing facilities in Yemen or Africa. On the other hand, it will force hundreds of people trained in terrorist tradecraft to find a new place to live – and operate. In some ways, this migration could mirror what happened after the number of foreign jihadist began to be dramatically reduced in Iraq – except then, many of the foreigners could be redirected to Pakistan for training and Afghanistan to fight. There is no comparable second theater now to attract these foreign fighters. This means that many of them may end up returning home to join insurgent movements in smaller theaters, such as Chechnya, Somalia, Algeria and Central Asia.

Those with the ability and means could travel to other countries where they can use their training to organize militant cells for terrorist attacks in much the same way the foreign fighters who fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s and left after the fall of the Soviet-backed government there went on to fight in places like Bosnia and Chechnya and formed the nucleus of al Qaeda and the current international jihadist movement.

The Next Generation

There is a big qualitative difference between the current crop of international fighters in South Waziristan and those who fought with the mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s. During the earlier conflict, the foreigners were tolerated, but in general they were not seen by their Afghan counterparts as being particularly valiant or effective (though the Afghans did appreciate the cash and logistical help they provided). In many engagements the foreigners were kept out of harm’s way and saw very little intense combat, while in some cases the foreign fighters were essentially used as cannon fodder.

The perception of the foreigners began to change during the 1990s, and units of foreigners acquitted themselves well as they fought alongside Taliban units against the Northern Alliance. Also, following the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the foreign jihadists have proved themselves to be very effective at conducting terrorist attacks and operating in hostile territory.

In fact, over the past several years, we have witnessed a marked change in the ways the Afghan Taliban fight. They have abandoned some of their traditional armed assault tactics and have begun to employ al Qaeda-influenced roadside IED attacks and suicide bombings – attacks the Afghan fighters had previously considered “unmanly.” It is no mere coincidence that the number of suicide attacks and roadside IED attacks in Afghanistan increased dramatically after al Qaeda began to withdraw its forces from Iraq. There is also a direct correlation between the IED technology developed and used in Iraq and that now being employed by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

All this experience in designing and manufacturing IEDs in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan means that the jihadist bombmakers of today are more highly skilled than ever, and they have been sharing their experience with foreign students at training camps in places like South Waziristan. Furthermore, the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan has provided a great laboratory in which jihadists can perfect their terrorist tradecraft. A form of “tactical Darwinism” has occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan as coalition firepower has weeded out most of the inept jihadist operatives. Only the strong and cunning have survived, leaving a core of hardened, competent militants. These survivors have created new tactics and have learned to manufacture new types of highly effective IEDs – technology that has already shown up in places like Algeria and Somalia. They have been permitted to impart the knowledge they have gained to another generation of young aspiring militants through training camps in places like South Waziristan.

As these foreign militants scatter to the four winds, they will be taking their skills with them. Judging from past waves of jihadist fighters, they will probably be found participating in future plots in many different parts of the world. And also judging from past cases, they will likely not participate in these plots alone.

As we have discussed in the past, the obvious weakness of the many grassroots jihadist cells that have been uncovered is their lack of terrorist tradecraft. They have the intent to do harm but not the ability, and many times the grassroots cells end up finding a government informant as they seek help acquiring weapons or constructing IEDs. When these inept “Kramer terrorists” manage to get linked up with a trained terrorist operative, they can cause considerable damage.

The possibility of these militants conducting attacks or bringing much-needed capability to grassroots cells means that the South Waziristan migration, which has almost certainly already begun, will give counterterrorism officials from Boston to Beijing something to worry about for the foreseeable future.


GHQ siege over, 39 hostages rescued

October 13, 2009

* 4 terrorists killed, ‘ringleader’ Aqeel alias Dr Osman captured alive in commando operation
* Two security personnel, three civilians killed
* ISPR chief says terrorists had suicide jackets, improvised explosive devices, grenades
* Operation was ‘highly successful’
* Zardari orders high-level investigation as police register FIR
* US condemns attack

By Aamir Yasin

RAWALPINDI: In a successful 18-hour operation, the armed forces – in collaboration with Special Services Group commandos – killed four terrorists, arrested one and rescued 39 hostages at a security office outside General Headquarters (GHQ) on Sunday, ending a siege that began on Saturday.

Six soldiers and five terrorists had already been killed in the siege.

Three civilians and two security personnel were killed on Sunday, while seven security personnel and three civilians were also injured during the 18-hour operation – which culminated in the arrest of the ringleader, Aqeel alias Dr Osman. Although Aqeel was injured, sources say his condition is stable.

ISPR Director General Maj Gen Athar Abbas told Daily Times that two army officials were killed and seven others injured in the commando operation. Three civilian hostages also lost their lives in the operation, he said.

The ISPR chief said a total of eight security personnel, including a brigadier and a lieutenant colonel, nine terrorists and three civilians were killed on Saturday and Sunday, while the total number of injured stands at 15 – 12 army personnel and three civilians. The injured have been shifted to Combined Military Hospital (CMH).

He said the operation to rescue the hostages began around 6am, and continued for 45 minutes in the first phase – during which commandos rescued 30 hostages and killed four terrorists. He said the five terrorists killed in the first phase were armed with suicide vests and tried to resist troops.

“The terrorists had suicide jackets, improvised explosive devices, grenades…. they wanted to blow up all the hostages and cause maximum damage,” the AFP news agency quoted him as saying.

“Terrorist Aqeel alias Dr Osman was overpowered at around 9am in an injured condition when he tried to blow himself up and the rest of the hostages … triggering a blast in adjacent offices of the security building … five security personnel were injured in the final phase of the operation,” he said. “The operation is over. It was highly successful,” he added.

Abbas said the entire area and the security office were thoroughly combed at the end of the operation. He said there was no senior officer among the hostages, and most of them were army and civilian personnel.

The siege began just before midday on Saturday, when gunmen in military uniform and armed with automatic weapons and grenades drove up to the Rawalpindi compound and shot their way through a checkpoint.

AFP quoted a security official as saying that Aqeel was also wanted in connection with a rocket attack on former president Pervez Musharraf in 2007 and the killing of the military’s surgeon general in February 2008.

“He is a known terrorist. His name is mentioned in several cases,” the official was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari has ordered a high-level investigation into the attack on GHQ.

Also, the Royal Artillery Bazaar Police Station on Sunday registered a first information report (FIR) against the attack on GHQ.

Police sources told Daily Times that Aqeel was nominated as the mastermind of the attack, and the case had been registered under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).

The US condemned the latest attack, and expressed confidence in the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.


No threat to Pakistan’s N-arsenal: US

October 12, 2009

By Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON: The United States took the lead on Sunday in assuring the world that the militant attack on the GHQ in Rawalpindi posed no threat to the Pakistani state which was not only capable of defending its nuclear weapons but also of defeating the terrorists.


Both Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Miliband (L) and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued statements saying there was no threat of Pakistan nukes being seized by terrorists.Photo by Reuters

The assurance, given first by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a joint news briefing with her British counterpart in London, was echoed by other prominent US politicians, lawmakers and military commanders.

Secretary Clinton said the extremists were ‘increasingly threatening the authority of the state, but we see no evidence that they are going to take over the state.’

She added: ‘We have confidence in the Pakistani government and military’s control over nuclear weapons.’

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband endorsed her, saying that Pakistan faced a ‘mortal threat,’ but there was no danger of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons being seized by terrorists.

‘I think it’s very important that alarmist talk is not allowed to gather pace,’ he said.

Yet, as the news of the attack on the GHQ reached Washington, it did cause an alarm, with experts urging the US government to look closely at Pakistan’s capability to protect its nuclear weapons.

But soon a retired US general, Tom McInerney, appeared on Fox News to assure the Americans that ‘the Pakistani army … is a very capable army.’ He, however, urged the Obama administration to encourage Pakistan to launch an attack on North and South Waziristan where, he said, Al Qaeda was hiding and using those areas for attacking other places in Pakistan.

Another retired US general, Jack Keane, emphasised the need to work with Pakistan to defeat the extremists. ‘We have to convince them that we’re there, that Pakistan’s stability is in our national interest. And we have to prove that, as well, by stabilising Afghanistan,’ he told ABC News.

The general conceded that ‘given our track record in Afghanistan and also in Pakistan, there’s reason for that scepticism’ and that’s why the previous and current Pakistani governments had ‘a hedging strategy with the Taliban.’

In CBS ‘Face the Nation,’ Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Saturday’s attack underscored the danger of the Taliban, not only in Afghanistan but in Pakistan as well.

‘We also know that Pakistan has nuclear weapons. The Taliban taking over a country like Pakistan would be completely and totally unacceptable, destabilising not only in that area of the world but all around,’ he warned.

Senator Diane Feinstein, another prominent Democrat, said the US could not allow the Taliban to take over Afghanistan because their next step would be in Pakistan ‘and that’s very serious.’

The Pakistanis, she noted, were beginning to ‘show their mettle … they seemed to have much more get-up-and-go, to really be able to work with us in securing Fata and other areas.’

Senator Saxby Chambliss, a Republican, warned that ‘if Afghanistan falls … the neighbouring country has the opportunity to be really invaded or encroached upon by bad guys.’

The programme’s coordinator, George Stephanopoulos, questioned the wisdom of putting Afghanistan before Pakistan, noting that ‘for every dollar we’re spending in Pakistan, we’re spending $30 in Afghanistan.’

In CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ show, Senator John McCain, a former Republican presidential candidate, noted the progress that the Pakistani military was making against the militants.

‘We, the Pakistani military, go in, we clear and we hold and we secure, and you Americans are using the wrong strategy,’ Mr McCain quoted Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi as telling a think-tank in Washington last week.

‘I’ll tell you, I didn’t think I’d hear that some time ago,’ said Senator McCain.

Senator Bob Casey, a Democrat, noted that Al Qaeda and related groups in Fata could threaten Islamabad and ‘we’ve got to make sure that that threat is dealt with.’

Senator Jack Reed, a senior Democratic lawmaker, warned that the situation in Pakistan was extremely complicated.

And because of the Bush administration’s preoccupation with Iraq, ‘Al Qaeda has significantly reconstituted itself in Pakistan over the last several years,’ he said.

The United States, he said, not only needed to continue drone attacks but should also deploy counter-terrorism forces on the ground in Afghanistan.

‘And we also have to begin to work together with the Pakistani forces. And that’s a very delicate issue because they’re very sensitive of their sovereignty. They’re very sensitive of our presence in Pakistan,’ he added.

‘But lately they’ve shown because they’re, I think, generally fearful of their own situation, a willingness to cooperate more, to conduct operations in South Waziristan, to attack or allow drone operations in their airspace,’ he said.

‘That has to be continued. And so when the president (Obama) is making a judgment on Afghanistan, he literally has to understand its complications and its effects in Pakistan.’


Pakistan and the US media…

July 10, 2009

By Fatima Rizvi

It is surprising how paranoid or maybe anti-Pakistan the US media, especially the NYT, has become. Not that other media displays much professionalism or understanding of the issues when it comes to reporting incidents. The electronic media is even worse. Let me explain a few facts here:

A bus with green (government) license plates was recently attacked and six employees of a nuclear facility killed. The bus was attacked at least 30-35 kilometres away from Kahuta on a busy main road in Rawalpindi. Although it turned out to be carrying KRL (Khan Research Laboratories) employees there were no markings on the bus to suggest as to which organization it belonged to. The standard recognition for buses or other vans or cars used for transportation of Government Employees/Semi Govt organization employees in Pakistan is the GREEN number plates these carry as opposed to the white/black number plates for private vehicles.

Read Complete Article : Pakistan and the US media…


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