A Faustian Bargain

May 21, 2012

Tacstrat Analysis

Pakistan’s attempt to exact token reprisal for the Salala Attacks did not culminate in the sought after apology from the US nor did it halt drone strikes past a month. It might have been perceived by our top echelons as an opportunity to re-draw our lines of engagement, and the political claptrap surrounding the Parliamentary Committee for National Security (PCNS) debates must have bolstered this stance. Difai Pakistan took to the streets clad in martial-rightwing chainmail issuing dire warnings in case of resumption of the supply route, and Khar went on to declare the two countries as strategic partners not allies.

But all good things come to an end; the ephemeral excuse of national interest could not hold ground for long in this case. So when the DCC (Defense Committee of the Cabinet) got on board the G-LOCS (Ground Lines of Communication), the early dissenters quietly returned to their camps. With promises of commission ‘up to’ a million dollars a day, the government began selling the newly negotiated terms as a strategic win to save face.

The US has asked Pakistan to provide security for trucks en route to Afghanistan. Security for NATO supplies had hitherto been provided by private contractors; the trucks would still get looted, providing Taliban with a steady supply of weapons and ammunition. A thriving black market selling items from computers to American flags was in the process of shutting down since supplies in the last six months had dwindled. So now Pakistan has been asked to deal with this issue of targeted pilfering.

If the Pakistani government agrees to this demand, then the small increase in price negotiated with the US comes to naught. Firstly the logistical costs of fuel, setting up bases and transferring say, the FC or Army troops there would cancel out any gains to be made from this newly drafted deal. If this doesn’t involve chalking out a completely different assignment for the Army or FC, then it would materialize in the form of costs involving training a national guard for the supply route.

Secondly, Pakistani forces, or paramilitary posted along the Pak-Afghan border automatically become easy targets for Taliban and exercises for terrorists. To arm them to the teeth would require massive funds and even then the beauty of asymmetric warfare favors the Taliban. Pakistan is looking at bleak possibilities of immense loss of life, livelihood and reparations if it agrees to provide security along the border.

This Faustian bargain was inevitable, even warranted. However the new terms of engagement must be drawn with extreme caution. Pakistan shouldn’t have to be the one apologizing for the Salala Attack by signing a regressive deal.


Bishop flays Holy Quran desecration

March 25, 2011

The Rt Revd Dr Alexander John Malik, Bishop of Lahore, while condemning the desecration of Holy Quran in Florida, USA by Terry Jones said that the pastor committed an ugly and abhorrent act which only promoted hatred in the fabric of the society.

He said that such acts were in flagrant contradiction to the teaching of Christianity. He said that we believed in respecting each other religion and interfaith harmony to exercise love and peace.

Furthermore, he said that such acts like that of Terry Jones were the manifestations of sick minds busy in spreading hatred, bigotry and unease in the society.

Shahbaz condemns: Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has expressed deep shock and anguish over the burning of Holy Quran in the American state, Florida.

In a statement issued here on Wednesday, the CM strongly condemned this shameful act.

He said this tragic incident had posed a big question for the international community propagating tolerance.

Shahbaz Sharif said this incident was the worst kind of religious prejudice, and the international community should take immediate notice of it.

The CM demanded that the Pakistan government should immediately contact the international organisations for taking action against those responsible of this incident.


An American goes to Pakistan: The Raymond Davis Case

February 7, 2011

By Shemrez

The Government of Pakistan, its electronic media and its people, have been captivated by the case of one Raymond Allen Davis, an ‘American’ allegedly using a pseudonym and a ‘diplomatic passport’ to come to Pakistan and shoot two Pakistanis in Lahore in broad daylight. The incident happened apparently in self-defense, and in addition to conspiracy-prone Pakistani society, a few questions remained unanswered which led to more and more sensationalism, and concealment of important facts.

First, there should be no doubt by now that ‘Davis’ is a US DoD contractor. His name seems more of a pseudonym because of General Raymond Gilbert Davis, a US Marines General who fought in World War II and retired from the post of Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps on March 31, 1972, after more than 33 years with the Marines. There is also Raymond Davis Jr., a chemist and physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2002. This only rings a bell if one remembers the CIA Station Chief in Islamabad who got ratted out; Jonathan Banks, apparently another pseudonym, because web searches for the name yield websites related only to an American TV/film actor.

Read Complete Article Here: http://shemrez.newsvine.com/_news/2011/02/07/6004187-an-american-goes-to-pakistan-the-raymond-davis-case


Death of the ‘Imam’

January 25, 2011

By Shemrez Nauman Afzal
ZoneAsia-Pk

Amir Sultan Tarar AKA Colonel Imam

Brigadier Retired Amir Sultan Tarar is suspected to have died in Taliban captivity, presumably because of cardiac arrest, but suspicions and conspiracy theories indicate that his captors, the Taliban, may have murdered him because of non-payment of ransom by his family. However, the official quarters including Military sources as well as the Frontier Corps are finding it hard to verify the reports saying they have no confirmed information in this regard.

“We have been told that his dead body has been seen near Danday Darpa Khel area in North Waziristan Agency, but the news could not be confirmed nor could we get any picture of the dead body of Colonel Imam”, a senior Army official told this scribe when contacted. Similar remarks were offered by the FC sources.

Read Complete Article Here: Death of the ‘Imam’


Intelligence Wars

December 24, 2010

By Ahsan Waheed
ZoneAsia-Pk

All of a sudden, Pakistan’s much maligned but powerful and professional intelligence agency, the ISI, is the flavor of the month. The reason is a law suit in the US against the agency for its ‘involvement’ in the Mumbai terrorist attack in which US citizens of the Jewish faith lost their lives. The government, the media and public opinion have come together like never before against this ‘outrage’; the ISI is being defended, protected and declared off limits for US courts. The US court – probably as a routine procedure – has issued a summons for the head of ISI to appear in the US court, though it would have been better if the law suit had been examined for viability – that is, unless a more sinister game is afoot.

Read Complete Article Here: http://www.zoneasia-pk.com/ZoneAsia-Pk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2966:intelligence-wars&catid=70:free-talk&Itemid=84


Mr. Musharraf’s Reusability

October 1, 2010

He came. He chose to escape. He can’t be trusted again.

By A. KHOKAR
Wednesday, 22 September 2010.
WWW.PAKNATIONALISTS.COM

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - All the proxies carry a sell-by date. Mr. Pervez Musharraf, who used to fancy himself as a wizard and a maestro in Pakistan, was eventually deposed under a chalked US plan – to replace him and install yet another proxy: Benazir Bhutto.

Sadly, BB was eliminated before she could even take charge from Musharraf. And even sadder – to comply fast with the orders given by his US masters- Musharraf hastily handed over the rein of government to a known band of goons of BB’s party.

Mr. Musharraf left the Pakistanis high and dry and this country is now caught up in the clutches of savages like Mr. Zardari who have been imposed upon Pakistanis, while, on the other hand, natural and man-made calamities like the devastating floods, inflation and power shortages are unleashing havoc. Pakistanis are expected to remain stuck in a state of turmoil for a long time to come.

Musharraf might be trying to capitalize on some goodwill he left behind in some areas like the economy. But realistically speaking, he is a spent cartridge and may not carry any reusable value. His case fits the saying, No spark may ignite the ashes and No charity may bring back the dead to life.

His one-million-sterling-pounds apartment near London’s Edgware Road is surely a good resting place, almost a resort, that he has selected for himself to spend the rest of his life. It’s close to residence of another US poodle, Mr. Tony Blare.

Reportedly, Mr. Musharraf is being looked after there, very well.

To some readers, this analysis may look flawed but this is the matter of truth which even Mr. Musharraf may not be fully refute or contradict.

These days the media is full of rumors of his return to Pakistan but, if at all he does return, may only do so riding the wings of USA. Pakistani democratic life may not accept him. For the US to bet on him again is also farfetched. As said earlier, all the proxies carry a sell-by date and he has already spent his time.

But if at all he is sent back, just imagine that what damage the US might inflict on this battered nation before someone like Mr. Musharraf could be reinstalled, if he is reinstalled.

Reach Mr. Khokar at aaykhokar@yahoo.co.uk


American World Order: The Beginning Of The End

June 30, 2010

Engr. Mansoor A Malik

The American Euphoria after the surrender of the Japanese on the US Naval Ship in the Pacific soon after the capitulation of the Germans was at its peak in the late 1940s’.The largesse of the American people and their government to re-build Europe and Asia as an aftermath of the Second World War was breathtaking and never again would the world at large ever witness such large heartedness and love for humanity. The US became the unchallenged leader of the Free World with the Dullesian (Secretary of State, Mr. Dulles) aid package flowing all over the world with or without their asking. This was America’s finest hour. Under these favorable conditions the Europeans pushed America for the creation of Israel in Palestine to appease the Zionists and putting the USA on the spot in Vietnam and Korea in the Pacific.


The Death of Jumbo

Pakistan ventured to the USA under these circumstances to re-invigorate itself and get out of the log jam of the Partition of India. This first trip to the USA of our first Prime Minister, Mr. Liaqat Ali Khan, soon after Pakistan came into being, however, turned out to be a fiasco. The US administration wanted our Armed Forces involved in the Korean War (1950-1953) after getting the relevant support from the Turkish Armed Forces for this war. Liaqat Ali Khan disappointed them as he referred this decision to the newly established first Democratic Parliament of Pakistan. President Eisenhower rushed his Vice-President Mr. Richard Nixon to India as an affront to Pakistan’s political leadership. Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India refused to entertain him and no hand shaking took place, even for the cameras, as India sought out its leadership role in the Non-Aligned Movement. For face saving, Mr. Nixon flew into Pakistan for a golden hand shake with its leaders and the rest is history. Pakistan was turned into the most allied ally of the USA.

The Nuclear strikes by USAF in Japan at the closing stages of the Second World War was not only a show of strength to the Soviet Union but also heralded the United States as a champion of the Western World in the global political perspective in the times to come. From the world isolation of USA in the 1920s’ and 1930s’, it thrusted itself, un-prepared, on the World Scene and stretched itself in Asia, Africa and Latin America apart from consolidating its Trans-Atlantic relationship with its distant European cousins. This half cooked policy backfired in Korea in 1950s’ and had a tragic ending in Vietnam as far as Asia was concerned in 1970s’. In the European theatre, France and Germany started to take an independent posture and the onus fell on UK to deliver Europe to its WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) cousins in Washington. Mr. Macmillan may have been an outstanding Prime Minister of UK in his time but he was no match for Addenauer and Willy Brandt of Germany and the good old fox of France, General Charles de Gaulle. These stalwarts were instrumental in pushing the dream of One Europe to be realized thru the European Union in our lifetime. This has made possible for Europe to be counted now at the global level regardless of the Spoilers role of the UK.

The whiz kids in Washington at the turn of this century, the new millennium, wanted to re-fix their Asian Imbroglio as a counter weight to the growing influence of the European Union and China. In the Middle-East, Israel, its proxy, had to be pepped up and left to it to control the region with least opposition. Therefore, after the neutralization of Egypt, Iraq had to be dealt with and Syria isolated from this new political gamble in the making. The de-stabilization of Iraq could not be intelligently simulated in the War Gaming Simulators of the USA with the result that the Asymmetrical Forces were un-leashed around Israel increasing the paranoia of this tinny witty state in the Palestinian lands. Then it was our turn in South- West Asia. Instead of sending a few American commandos to pick up handful of miscreants in Afghanistan and produce them at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for a fair trial, the sovereignty of that country along with that of Pakistan was abused by first firing more than fifty Tomahawk Cruise Missiles by US Navy from our waters in Baluchistan to the Afghan camps at Khost across our border and then came the Daisy Cutters and B-52 Bombers to level off whatever was left of Afghanistan. My generation would now be left with only nostalgic memories of Nirvana about the annual Jashne-Kabul festivities that we attended in out teens in Kabul that was in the 1960s’.

The Israeli spread over from East of the Suez Canal was checked in its stride by the emerging Iranian reality and therefore, a new strategic dimension had to be added to the Middle-Eastern leg. This was achieved thru a two pronged approach by the USA. The first one involved the US-Israeli collusion in the exploitation of Economic Zones in Central Asia and the second, more intriguing one involving US-NATO-Israel-India was un-leashed in Afghanistan. This poor country which was already a melting pot of Central Asian Peoples’ became a hot bed of intrigues and counter intrigues due to varied approaches of these four entities, with each having their own axe to grind. The Afghan Resistance grew due to this lack of coherence and self centered policies of all these powerful players. The major contribution of this military campaign fell on the shoulders of USA, whereas, the political benefits were envisaged to be reaped by India as the regional power. The Indo-Israeli nexus was again playing its cards close to its chest and putting the donkey’s work on the shoulders of USA similar the one in the Iraqi campaign. If the Iraq War would cost the American tax payers one and a half trillion US dollar by the time all American soldiers go home from this theatre, it would cost half that much in the Afghan campaign. What is the Cost-Benefit Ratio of both these campaigns to the average American?

The economics of it can take its own toll, but the signs of the long term political and diplomatic ramifications to the USA as a global player, has already become visible. Israel is now openly defying the Two State Solution Policy of the USA for Palestine and the body language of America’s interlocutor in the Middle-East, Mr. John Mitchell says it all. In Afghanistan, the poorest country in Asia, the existing US policy has miserably failed. While Iraq had its historical reputation of getting its rivers turned red out of martyr’s blood after every few centuries including this one, the Afghans being ferociously independent, have never allowed the Czars of Russia, the British Empire and the Soviet Union an easy passage to their rugged country. They have stood their grounds while empires of the past have perished around them. How will America fare differently? Only time will tell.

In brief, Mansoor Malik has been Director General with over 33 year of experience in planning, establishing and managing national level, strategic, high-tech organizations. Director General, Marketing & Industrial Relations Organization (MIRO). Commandant, College of Aeronautical Engineering, Risalpur, Pakistan.

Senior Engineering Manager, PAF Project where he was responsible for the smooth induction of F-16 Aircraft Weapons System in the PAF and making them fully operational.


Changing demeanor of USA towards Pakistan

March 29, 2010

END OF TUNNEL IN SIGHT

Brig Asif Haroon Raja

9/11 stunned and terrorized American public while the whole world watched the clips on television sets of airplanes hitting twin towers with shock and bewilderment. George W. Bush and others in corridors of power huffed and puffed in anger and hastily finalized plans to teach a lesson of life to the perpetrators who dared to commit most heinous crime on US soil. Terror attacks against twin towers in New York and on the Pentagon building in Washington were described as an attack on USA and the whole blame was pasted on al-Qaeda without having a shred of evidence. Gen Musharraf was haughtily asked on telephone from Washington by Colin Powel; “speak out whether you are with us or against us”. Immediate answer was sought from him in affirmative or otherwise in the middle of the night, leaving no scope of remaining neutral.

It meant if the answer was “we are with you’, it implied Pakistan would be bound to comply with all the US dictates blindly without caring for own national concerns. Had he expressed his inability to follow US policies running counter to Pakistan’s interests, it would have pushed Pakistan into the camp of enemies of US, thus providing justification to the US to convert Afghanistan and Pakistan into a single battleground, as was done in March 2009 through Af-Pak policy, and to proceed against the two countries simultaneously or in phases. India had strongly advocated for such a course of action and had offered full support, but because of Pakistan’s nuclear capability the US decided to first use Pakistan against Taliban ruled Afghanistan and subsequently at an opportune time proceed against Pakistan with the assistance of India.

Read the rest of this entry »


Pak-US Talks Anger India

March 29, 2010

If there was ever any question about whether or not Pak-US relations are good for Pakistan, the correct answer has come from India. While the talks are going on in Washington, India is getting nervous about the relationship building between Pakistan and America.

Indian strategic community believes Pakistan and the US may have come up with a hush-hush understanding on Afghanistan in the ongoing strategic dialogue, aimed at marginalising Indian role in Afghanistan.


American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Meets With FM Qureshi

Read the rest of this entry »


Muslim or Brown…

March 19, 2010

With time comes tolerance, understanding and acceptance… or so we were told. One would think that in today’s age of fast travel, global communication and rapid information exchange, we should have a world which is less racist and more tolerant. But this does not seem to be the case.

As the world is becoming more accessible to all, it is also becoming more and more small. The more we are learning about other cultures the less we want to share our world with others. Is this the case? I think for the last century or so, there has been immense migration from east to west and very minute movement from west to east.

This has caused an imbalance in global immigration pattern. Immigrants are always willing to accept less and work for less because for them its a new start and probably a big leap forward just reaching the new land. This in turn upsets the local job markets.

View full version of this article here: http://my.nowpublic.com/world/muslim-or-brown

by Greg Mathews

on NowPublic.com


The war against Pashtuns

March 18, 2010

Ali Sukhanver

It is not the gun but the gunner that hits the target. A very sophisticated weapon becomes useless when it comes to unskilled and inexperienced hands. Skill and experience joined together with wisdom can do miracles. Wisdom is the only element which is always important from beginning till the end, in all problematic matters of life. In spite of having a lot of strength and a lot of resources, the USA is still not even near the brink of success in Afghanistan; the only reason behind is the lack of wisdom. The situation is going to get more confusing, more entangling if the US authorities don’t stop preferring the use of force to the application of wisdom. They will have to come out of the dilemma of their misunderstandings first if they want their efforts in Afghanistan bear fruit.

The first and the most grievous misunderstanding of USA is about the Pashtuns. It is almost a criminal point of view that all Pashtuns are Taliban. It might be true to some extent that some of the Taliban have their hide-outs in the frontier area surrounding Pakistan-Afghanistan borders, they have their sympathizers and well wishers there but it does not mean that all people who belong to the Pashtun origin, living in that particular belt, are the supporters of Taliban and they must be crushed brutally with the help of drones.

It has been clearly mentioned in different books on the history of Afghanistan that the tribes living in southern Afghanistan, particularly between Herat and Qandhar and who speak Persian are called Afghans while others living in the rest of Afghanistan, NWFP and Balochistan speaking Pashtu language are called Pashtuns. These Pashtuns are in a clear majority in Afghanistan. According to a recent calculation provided by the CIA, the total population of Afghanistan is 28,396,000. This population is a mixture of different ethnic and linguistic groups. Pashto is spoken most widely in the south, east and south west as well as in western Pakistan. The Pashtuns are the largest ethnic group. The Pashtuns and the Afghans have altogether different cultural and traditional values but the US authorities are mistakenly mixing up these two entirely different identities. At present there is a very clear cut division between the Pashtuns and the Afghans. The Pashtuns are aggrieved that in spite of being in majority, they are not given their due share and authority. The US hi-ups and the Indian conspirators are providing full support to the Afghans whereas the Pashtuns are being crushed and maltreated simply because the Taliban belong to the Pashtun origin according to their analysis. More pathetic is the fact that President Karzai is intentionally ignoring them and favouring the Afghans. He has very successfully proved himself a dummy and a rubber stamp. He has ever been trying to stabilize his government by using money to buy loyalties of the Afghan war lords. He is ignoring the fact that this ‘purchase’ of loyalties is a costly affair with limited outcome. As per their tradition, the Afghans may remain loyal to the fund-providers till the time money keeps flowing up to them. When the flow of cash stops the loyalties will shift automatically and the effort will go futile. The Pashtuns are in majority in Afghanistan but the US led Afghan government is never ready to let them play the leading role. The situation can be easily tackled with if the Pashtuns are given a chance of forming a legitimate government in Afghanistan. Such type of government would surely succeed in playing a vital role for a long-term and deep rooted peace in the country.

Taliban are neither a generation nor a race; they are a philosophy. Philosophies are never limited to material boundaries. The US authorities must get rid of this misunderstanding that all Pashtuns are the Taliban. According to a recent survey, the Taliban are losing their popularity in all those areas where just a few years back they were very much popular and lovingly admired. The reason behind this loss of public support is nothing but the cruel terrorist activities going on in the name of Taliban. Suicidal attacks on innocent Pakistanis and Afghanis, the bomb blasts in the mosques and a whole sale massacre of the innocent Namaziz particularly during the Friday prayers have caused a grave loss to the Taliban mission. Moreover as a result of terrorist activities hundreds of Pashtuns living in Peshawar and adjoining areas have lost their lives. If the Taliban were Pashtuns, how could they deprive their own people of their lives in such a painful manner?

MTT - Afghanistan - An Afghan National Policeman (ANP) fires a rocket-propelled grenade during a live-fire exercise near Beshud, Nangarhar Province.In fact the situation is very much confusing and ambiguous. Afghanistan has become a battlefield for various groups of fighters; some of them are striving for the safety of their motherland; some are doing jihad and so many others are taking care of foreign interests. No one is clear what is going to happen next. That is the reason that there are still countless people in Pakistan and Afghanistan who are not ready to accept that Taliban can be involved in such heinous kind of brutalities .They think that all this blood-shed is the artistic work of CIA and Raw and the motive behind is simply to defame the Taliban movement. It is also a fact that the supporters of Taliban are not willing to embrace the Tehreek-e- Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as the representative of the original and actual Taliban movement. Be it the Afghan Taliban or the TTP, the USA is measuring all of them with the same yard stick, taking them as Pashtuns. Sometimes US war on terror seems the war against the Pashtuns. USA could have been successful in its war against terror if this war were not ‘the war against Pashtuns’. This prejudice approach of the US policy makers towards the Pashtuns is giving birth to a reactionary disliking and unending anger in their hearts .It is the result of this anger and disliking that most of the Pashtuns go with the Taliban in spite of their ideological differences with them. Moreover the drone attacks are adding fuel to fire.

In such a horrid situation all policies of the USA and the Afghanistan government need to be revised. America is still following the old policy of spending money on warlords and old Mujahideens of eighties. All such efforts will once again go waste unless the Pashtuns are given their legitimate right to form government in Afghanistan. Hence change of present government and change in US policy is imperative to succeed in Afghanistan. Pakistan can play a positive role in Afghanistan but unfortunately the authorities that matter have created an environment of distrust between US and Pakistani leadership to manage affairs in Afghanistan. There is a need to overcome such misunderstandings by attending to Pakistan’s concerns and interests if USA is serious and sincere with reference to its objectives in Afghanistan.

The writer is a Pakistan based bilingual analyst on national and international strategic and defense affairs.


Lahore Bombings: Indians Are Suspects, So Are Americans

March 16, 2010

US Ambassador complains to Pakistani Government that media reports have exposed the location of American residences inside Lahore’s military zone, but fails to mention why US personnel with diplomatic cover have been found at wrong places, sometimes carrying weapons that diplomats are not supposed to…

Lahore’s military zone is not only exposed to covert Indian operatives but also to undercover US agents with their suspicious heavy-duty equipment placed in several houses inside a gated community right in the heart of the city’s military area. This has been going on since 2007.

Ahmed Quraishi | Special Report

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan-The eastern city of Lahore is exposed not only to the Indians who have been sending terrorists to plant bombs in public places for the past quarter of a century, but also to the Americans who expanded their covert presence inside Pakistan in the last three years of President Musharraf’s rule. After the return to democracy in 2008, the US presence [beyond diplomatic requirements or disguised under diplomatic cover] is reported to have increased manifold.

Last year, Pakistanis were stunned to watch several incidents where US citizens were caught by the Military Police at checkpoints leading up to the city’s military zone known as Cantt. Most of the time, these US individuals refused to say what business took them to the military area. The US Consulate in Lahore is located far away from this zone, which compounded the mystery. These US nationals also refused to allow the police to check their vehicles, which is a standard procedure that all Pakistanis undergo considering the terrorist attacks. On a couple of occasions, US vehicles whose drivers refused to cooperate with MP caused long queues at checkpoints. Military Police officers impounded these vehicles. This led to US officials complaining to their media that Pakistan was ‘harassing’ US diplomats.

But the truth is that the Americans have covertly maintained an outpost of several houses in a gated community right in the heart of the city’s military zone. This zone is so sensitive that a half-constructed Sheraton Hotel lies abandoned on one of Cantt’s main streets because the Pakistani military complained that the new hotel’s upper floors provided an easy view of the residence of the commander of the Pakistan Army Corp that guards Pakistan’s northeastern border with India.

This makes the covert US presence in this area intriguing to say the least. The exact location of these houses, in the elite Sarwar Colony, is shown in the pictures that accompany this report. Most of the residents of this colony are senior retired Pakistani military officers. A handful of them have apparently leased out their homes to the Americans at exorbitant rates that far exceed the normal level of leased property rates in the Colony, according to a fascinating expose published by TheNation and is reproduced below in full.

Why are we talking about a few houses rented out by Americans linked to US government in a sensitive part of the eastern city?

The reason is a wave of terror targeting Lahore over the past two years. This is not to suggest that the US government has something to do with this. The suspicion centers on local terrorists indirectly or directly aided by intelligence operatives from multiple countries based in Afghanistan. The point here is that the city of Lahore is exposed not only to local terrorists working with foreign handlers, but also to Indians and possibly to private American security contractors. These contractors expanded their presence in Pakistan in the past two years, mostly using diplomatic cover. The US Embassy in Islamabad under the incumbent Ambassador has been instrumental in pushing for an expanded role for private US defense contractors in Pakistan over the past two years.

Many Pakistanis feel that such penetration of Pakistan by foreign countries is detrimental to our national security and has unnecessarily exposed us to outsiders pursuing interests that may not overlap with our own.

Today, the US Embassy in Islamabad leaked key points of a letter that US Ambassador Anne W. Patterson has sent to Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. In the letter, Ambassador Patterson complained about The Nation report on the American presence in Cantt, Lahore. More interestingly, she made a veiled threat that Pak-US relations would suffer if those Americans became targets for a terror attack. The letter was leaked to the Dawn newspaper.

The most interesting part of her letter was an acknowledgment on her part that the security of US diplomats in Pakistan is the responsibility of the Government of Pakistan. This is important because it was Ms Patterson who only a year ago was lobbying the Pakistani government to allow US private defense contractors into Pakistan and was running from one government office to another to ensure that these private US contractors are allowed to carry banned weapons anywhere in the country.

When Ms. Patterson was asked why she needed these private security contractors, she said it was to protect US diplomats. Critics said that was the responsibility of the Government of Pakistan and that the Ambassador should not cross a line. Her acknowledgment of this indicates a shift. Probably it has to do with recent understandings between Army Chief Gen. Kayani and US military officials where the army chief reportedly asked US to stop indirect methods of coercion, including media leaks, the role of private contractors in Pakistan and Afghanistan and the role of CIA in the region.

So how did the Pakistani military allow such a breach to occur in a sensitive area of Lahore?

One explanation is that the Americans moved with their gadgetry and equipment to this place sometime in late 2006 and early 2007. This means that the arrangement had the blessings of former President Musharraf. This is significant because it means the US presence in this sensitive location is part of the sovereign understandings that Pakistan entered with the United States during that time. And no matter how damaging this is for Pakistani security interests, Islamabad and the Pakistani military are forced to put up with this foreign presence for as long as those understandings are effective.

Another explanation is that Mr. Musharraf’s regime allowed the Americans to setup shop here without the full knowledge of all the relevant branches of the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies. If this is the case, then it is alarming indeed.

This story becomes relevant in the aftermath of a series of attacks in Lahore over the past two years, including one that targeted a visiting Sri Lankan cricket team. The strange part is that all of these attacks either target Pakistan’s allies [Sri Lankans, Chinese] or attack ordinary Pakistanis to kill the largest numbers of them. Americans or American and British interests have never been attacked in this manner throughout this so-called war on terror that Pakistan has been executing on America’s behalf. If anything, much of this terror is linked to a proxy militia in South Waziristan that claims to be a Pakistani Taliban but receives all its arms and funding from US-controlled Afghanistan where the Indians also maintain a vast intelligence network aimed at Pakistan.

For a list of recorded incidents in Pakistan where private US mercenaries or defense contractors were caught at places where they should not be, see this story, What Robert Gates Didn’t Say – And US Media Hides – About Blackwater In Pakistan.

The question is: What are the Americans doing in Cantt’s Sarwar Colony?

The easiest answer is taking up residence. But there is something more to this than homemaking. The location indicates that the Americans want to keep an eye on movements and chatter in Cantt, which could indicate where Pakistan’s relations with India are headed. Washington is keen to convince Pakistan that India is trustworthy enough for Pakistan to move its army units away from India’s border and get busy in fighting America’s war in Afghanistan.

The Americans could also be interested in keeping an eye on some of the nearby military installations, including one of the largest Pakistan Air Force bases, and also a couple of nuclear installations. There are indications that the US is also interested in seeing the war on terror extended to the heartland of Punjab province in the mistaken belief that this would hurt the base of Pakistani military [Indian intelligence analysts have convinced their American counterparts that Pakistan's military is all about Punjab province and hitting this province can help subdue Pakistan's military and ensure its full alignment with US objectives.]

Here is the report published by TheNation on Feb. 21 on the covert US presence in Sarwar Colony in Cantt, Lahore, since 2007 and how scores of Pakistani families have become unwilling neighbors of foreigners they don’t want to see around:

“The mystery of why US personnel were being constantly caught entering into the sensitive area of Lahore Cantonment and thereby getting caught by the Military Police, has finally been resolved. However, in the process some serious questions have arisen.

In 2007, under the Musharraf regime, Americans moved into Sarwar Colony, located behind CSD Cantt just off Aziz Bhatti Shaheed Road. This gated colony contains around 200-250 houses and they are owned by retired or serving generals of Pakistan Army. The Americans have been comfortable ensconced here in a few rented houses since 2007 in what is a highly sensitive location. So question number one: Why were the Americans given permission to locate themselves in this area and who gave the permission?

Their activities really caught on only recently when they acquired Houses 87 and 88 (see pictures), ostensibly for the US embassy staff relocated from Peshawar to Lahore! The rents paid for these houses are also far higher than the average for the Colony which is around Rs 150,000 maximum. The Americans are paying around Rs 320,000 for each house per month.

Towards the end of the last year and the start of this year, the Americans intercepted at the Cantt bridge several times were all those coming to this location. However, these Americans refused to tell Military Police officials what their destination was inside Lahore Cantt. So question number two is: Why, if the Americans had rented these houses genuinely for residential accommodation? Linked to this is question three: How come the Military Police were not in on this vital piece of information? Why were they being kept in the dark?

When these houses were rented, in the first three months high security measures were taken for them -grilling, the glass was all changed probably to bullet proof, and infrared security devices were installed with a lighting system. Then, four months ago, big container trailers entered the colony (which is restricted) about seven or eight in number, and they were off loaded into the houses in the predawn hours. After the offloading, the security of the premises was given to Elite Force Punjab and Wackenhut private security guards. The covert usage of these buildings became apparent because anyone seen coming too close to the properties was mistreated and threatened.

Children playing in the park right in front of these two houses often threw balls inside the porches of these two houses. Usually Americans come out swearing. Once, children reported that a growling and angry American came out and flattened the ball before returning it to them.

Some of the Pakistani guards outside the two houses told residents in the neighbourhood that the Americans were transporting and installing hi-tech equipment in the houses. At least one resident in the neighbourhood reports that some of the guards took photographs of some of this equipment and showed them to the residents. One of the residents who saw the pictures reports that a US citizen was watching the guard from inside the house and came out, snatched the mobile phone and threatened the resident not to contact the guards again or come near the house.

But the real issue and core question is: Why the Americans are being allowed to use houses in this sensitive area of Lahore cantonment when there now exists a decision of the Government that foreigners cannot even enter the cantonment areas without prior permission?

To find out how the local residents are taking to their American neighbours, The Nation sent its reporter to the Colony and discovered a terrorised Pakistani community right in the heart of their own country. His account speaks for itself since of some unidentified private American security guards equipped with M4s. The offloaded stuff was professionally packed in layers of plastic and wood.”


FO comes under scanner at PAC meeting today

March 12, 2010

By Rauf Klasra

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Ministry officials who will appear before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) here on Friday have claimed in official documents that Benazir Bhutto’s assassination saved Rs150 million, which would have been spent by the then President Pervez Musharraf on his foreign trips but he had to cancel those trips after she was killed.

But one thing is missing from the auditor general’s report: how General Pervez Musharraf spent Rs1.4 billion on his 80 foreign trips during two years (2005-2007). His foreign trip to USA to launch his book “In the Line of Fire” in 2006 cost Rs270 million alone. But, ironically, the AGP report is silent over the spending of such a heavy amount by the then president on the publicity of his autobiography in the US. But the assassination of Benazir Bhutto has been cited as reason for non-utilisation of these millions.

The PAC is meeting here on Friday with Ch Nisar Ali Khan in the chair to take up audit reports of foreign ministry for 2007-2008. It has also been disclosed that a sum of Rs60.7 million was also paid in September 2007 to an unknown extra lobbyist hired to project Pakistan. But, the FO has not mentioned the name or the background of the lobbyist who was given million of rupees as special grant and on whose orders. Interestingly, the non-utilisation of Rs16 million has been justified on account of military operation against militants of Lal Masjid.

Apart from Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, the bombing in the rally of Benazir Bhutto on October 18, 2007 in which 150 workers had died has also been cited to justify the saving of Rs16 million meant for civil works.

Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir has been directed to appear before the committee and explain all these objections against his ministry and officials. This is the only ministry, which has claimed that millions were saved because of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination otherwise some ministries and departments like Railways, National Highway Authority etc, had claimed soon after her assassination that they had suffered heavy losses after violence broke out in Sindh and other parts of the country following her assassination on December 27, 2007.

A foreign ministry official confirmed that the replies of the audit objections were sent to the PAC and these were the valid reasons behind savings these millions now given to the PAC members.

The PAC would also take up the inquiry report into the sale of Pakistani building in Tokyo by the Foreign Office authorities along with the amounts, which were not surrendered on time to the ministry of finance and remained unutilised with the ministry of foreign affairs. The inquiry report to be tabled before the PAC has given a clean chit to the foreign ministry officials, as the inquiry was conducted by its own officials.

Meanwhile, according to available official documents to be laid down before the PAC members, an amount of Rs90 million in the name of operating expenses was given to the ministry of foreign affairs. This money was to be given to the foreign missions to meet the expenses of President Musharraf’s visit to those foreign countries in 2007-2008. But, at the end of the financial year, the ministry of foreign affairs returned this money to the finance ministry, saying it could not use these millions.

The AGP pointed out that the ministry of foreign affairs had violated the rules. Under the rules, if the money was not spent, the concerned department is supposed to return the amount on time so it could be diverted to some other department.

Now, the FO has disclosed in its official papers that actually this saving was mainly due to the internal political situation of the country during 2007-2008. The ministry said because of the volatile situation, Pervez Musharraf could not go abroad as scheduled earlier. It said appointment of caretaker set-up, the judicial crisis, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and the 2008 elections prevented Musharraf from going abroad.

Likewise, while justifying saving of Rs42 million under the same head, the ministry of foreign affairs said these millions were meant for the foreign trips of the prime minister. But, again because of the fast changing situation at home, particularly the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the PM could not go abroad as per earlier schedule.

Meanwhile, the official papers showed that massive amounts were spent on foreign trips of Pakistani rulers in 2007-2008. So much so that the foreign ministry was given a supplementary grant of Rs15 million to meet the expenses of delegation, which had gone abroad. The ministry, however, did not tell the PAC who was heading this delegation and who were its members for whom Rs15 million were released on an emergency basis. It gave just one clue that the money was released for this VIP after a message was received from the Pakistani mission that the amount was not enough to meet the expenditures so Rs15 million were sent on an emergency basis.

A supplementary grant of Rs2.8 million was also given to meet the shortfall in the heads of medical charges and foreign allowance (Washington: Rs26 million supplementary grant was given on account of travel allowance to the ministry of foreign affairs, which were paid to its staff etc).


Incessant Targeting Of Pakistan

February 25, 2010

Dr. Shireen M. Mazari

No sooner did Pakistan arrest leading Afghan Taliban figures, conspiracy theories surfaced in the US media in an attempt to malign Pakistan. Indians and their apologists in US were at the forefront of this campaign. Far from appreciating Pakistani stand, strong signs exist that CIA continues its double game against Pakistan. Despite statements to the contrary, Washington continues to bet on the puppet regime of President Asif Ali Zardari.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan-The US duplicity in its dealings with Pakistan continues unabated and I have always maintained that the scale of their enterprise in destabilizing Pakistan can only be understood by finding linkages in seemingly unconnected events and publications.

Just when the Pakistan military has taken a strong position on its military operations in FATA and the pull towards dialogue with the tribals is becoming evident, the US subversive activities against Pakistan are becoming more overt, and old CIA connections are taking centre stage again including so-called “experts” on Pakistan! Let us look at some recent developments and see the linkages.

First, after incessant cries from ignorant US officials and even more ignorant but imperialist minded media, of Pakistan not doing enough against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, when the Pakistanis captured a leading Taliban commander, suddenly the Americans – and their media and officialdom do have close connections – through their media led forth a new chant of why Pakistan had arrested this man! There were conspiracy theories that immediately began floating that somehow Pakistan arrested this Taliban commander to disrupt the dialogue that Karzai is seeking with the Taliban because Pakistan wants to remain in control of any such dialogue. Talk about bizarre assumptions! So, as some of us have always maintained, in the eyes of the US, Pakistanis will always find themselves in a position of “damned if we do and damned if we don’t.” It is time therefore to wash our hands off this whole US-led misguided “war on terror” and evolve our own strategies to deal with our own problem of violence and extremism which is multidimensional and cannot be straitjacketed into merely a Taliban framework.

Nor is this all. A new campaign has begun in the US, published first in the Wall Street Journal where two American lawyers, David Rivkin and Lee Casey – both of whom served in the Justice Department during the Reagan and George Bush administrations – have accused Pakistan’s Chief Justice Chaudhry of being “the leading culprit in an unfolding constitutional drama.” Supporting Zardari, the lawyers make all manner of unsubstantiated accusations against Pakistan’s chief justice. What seems to have upset these Americans is the CJ’s popularity being far greater than Zardari’s in the eyes of the Pakistani people – by their own admission! But then the American anger at the CJ is understandable because he has fought the cause of the Pakistani people especially through the Missing Persons issue – many sold to the US – while President Zardari and his loyalists have continued to plead the US cause. But it should be unacceptable to any self-respecting Pakistani to have their CJ referred to in such a derogatory fashion. Look how Holbrooke reacted when Pakistanis protested at the miscarriage of justice in New York in the Dr Aafia case, despite the fact that the US has a record of such miscarriages of justice against African Americans and minorities, especially Muslims post 9/11.

A third line of attack is the revival of the Baloch separatist issue with that old Pakistan basher Selig Harrison reviving his fortunes again and taking the lead in targeting the Pakistani state. He first took up this passion when the Soviets went into Afghanistan and led the chorus of how Pakistan was not doing enough of the US bidding in Afghanistan. He was an “Afghan” expert at the time but once Afghanistan receded into the background he became a “Balochistan” expert and now he is deeply involved in aiding Baloch separatists in Iran and Pakistan. Various platforms have been used by him and the latest is the ongoing conference in Bangkok, Thailand, supposedly sponsored by an unknown group calling themselves the Baloch Voice Foundation (BVF) and supported by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) based in The Hague and, of course, Selig Harrison! The BVF interestingly is funded by the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation which, according to information available on the internet, is controlled by Freedom House which in turn is linked to the CIA.

The venue of the conference also raises suspicions about CIA involvement since the US government has used Thailand for many conferences dealing with South Asian issues. Also, the fact that Iranian Baloch separatists have been included shows the US connection even more glaringly. In any case, despite our government’s usual mysterious silence on this issue, some Pakistanis have been protesting about the conference in Bangkok. After all, why should Thailand allow its territory to be used for a Baloch separatist conference? Would Thailand like Pakistan to allow a similar exercise in relation to its internal matters, in Islamabad?

More to the point, as happens when different agencies’ sponsor different groups, infighting has broken out amongst the Balochs. Munir Mengal, founder of Baloch Voice TV, is supposedly the organizer of this conference. He is also the man who claimed that a host of Pakistani Baloch women had been jailed in Balochistan but when Nawab Raisani had the jails checked during his efforts to free the abducted UN official last year, this claim proved incorrect. As a result of this conference, internal battles have come to the fore between the Washington-based American Friends of Balochistan, the Dubai, London and Moscow (no doubt remnants from the Soviet days) based activists and the so-called Government of Balochistan in Exile which claims it is based in Tel Aviv, Israel. This is not surprising, given the different sponsors of the different groups! A further blow to the conference has come from the fact that supporters of Khair Bux Marri have boycotted the event.

This is not the first conference of its type but it is interesting to see how the Blood Borders US agenda of creating a state of Balochistan from Iranian and Pakistani territories is now being given shape and separatists from both countries are being brought together. As always, Selig Harrison is playing his questionable role!

Nor is this the only targeting of Pakistan and Iran together. In the coming days we should gear up for a new nuclear related hype building up in the US media. Unfortunately, Dr Khan’s “letters” have been purchased by a leading US newspaper and will be used to target Iran. In the process Pakistan will also be targeted – killing two birds with one stone, so to speak. Would that our government undertake some proactive measures with the Iranians to deflect this new campaign but it hardly seems likely. So we need to brace ourselves once again for an onslaught against our nuclear capability and accusations of proliferation at a time when the US continues to proliferate to Israel and, post the 123 Agreement with India, to this South Asian aspiring hegemon.

Now who says there are no linkages targeting Pakistan and Iran?


The Austin terrorist

February 23, 2010

THE Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has pointed to a flaw in how government officials are looking at Thursday’s crashing of a small plane into an Internal Revenue Service building in Austin, Texas. CAIR, through its spokesman, Executive Director Nihad Awad, has demanded that the perpetrator of the attack, Andrew Joseph Stack, who killed himself and one IRS employee when he flew a lightweight plane into the building, be declared a terrorist. American officialdom is looking on the act as a ‘criminal act by a lone individual’, according to the head of the local police, or rather ‘an assault’ on a federal officer’ according to the FBI’s San Antonio office, which has also joined the investigation. Local Congressmen also have difficulty calling the act terrorism, including those who are ranking Republicans on the House’s Homeland Security Committee. The Obama White House is showing a similar reluctance. This contrasts with how Timothy McVeigh, who also blew up a federal office building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in April 1995, killing 168, was labelled a terrorist. Mr Awad has claimed that if the Austin perpetrator had been Muslim, the labelling as a terrorist would have been done by now. He is most probably right.

The incident once again highlights the USA’s anti-Muslim prejudice, not just at the people’s level, but at the very highest level. The lawmakers have no hesitation in not just blaming Muslims, but also invading Muslim countries, on the basis of suspicion of involvement in terrorism, but where US non-Muslim citizens are involved, the reluctance is noticeable; it is almost as if the word ‘terrorism” has now been reserved for criminals who happen to be Muslim. CAIR has been asking the US to end its anti-Muslim bias. Being a Muslim, even if not necessarily a very believing or practising one, means being labelled a terrorist in the USA.


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