The killing of bin Laden in a US Special Forces raid on a house in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad unleashed a torrent of stories about the event. The accounts by various US officials (given in bits and pieces immediately after the raid) gave little information on the details of the operation, and none on the ‘back story’. This left the field open to a lot of speculative accounts about how the raid took place and the events leading up to it. A rash of conspiracy theories also sprang up, many of which flatly denied bin Laden was even present in the house, while others put forward various versions of the Pakistani role in these events.
Recently, two accounts have been published that claim to be based on information from sources ‘in the know’ or ones who actually participated in the planning (though perhaps not the execution) of the raid. The first was a detailed account by Nicholas Schmidle in The New Yorker, based on interviews with and information provided by senior White House staff and some of the planners of the raid. This was obviously the “official” version, what the US administration would like people to believe. The second is a post on her blog by RJ Hillhouse, in which she quotes her intelligence sources on certain aspects of the raid, especially the events leading up to it.
By studying these two accounts, separating the grain from the chaff, and judiciously filling in some of the blanks, it is possible to come up with what is likely to be fairly close to the real story.
It begins with the CIA station chief in one of the Gulf states receiving an unexpected visitor with a fascinating tale. He was a recently retired senior officer of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, and he wanted to talk about Osama bin Laden. Some years ago, he said, the Saudi intelligence chief approached the ISI with the request to provide sanctuary to bin Laden within Pakistan. The Saudis said that bin Laden was prepared to come down from the hills where he was hiding, provided sufficient assurances were available about his security. In return, he would ensure that al Qaeda would not target Pakistan, and he would also limit his own involvement in its operations.
The Saudi motive behind this request presumably had to do with their internal imperatives. The bin Ladens are a very rich and influential family in Saudi Arabia. Osama and al Qaeda, and their goals, are supported by a large number of religious Saudis (even though the royal family considers them enemies). If bin Laden were to be hunted down and killed by the Americans in the tribal badlands of Pakistan, it would give the regime a black eye in the view of many of its people as well as being a serious blow to the bin Laden clan. It made sense to the Saudis to get Osama bin Laden into a safe hideout while at the same time neutralizing him as a functioning jihadi.
Whatever the Saudi motivation, their request placed the Pakistanis in a severe dilemma. The Saudis were their helpers and supporters, in fact the kingdom was their backer of last resort; they could not afford to alienate them. On the other side, bin Laden was the principal enemy and target of their current backer and ally, the United States; they could not take the risk of being caught harbouring him. The matter went right up to President Musharraf, and was the subject of much anxious debate. Finally, it was decided that the affair would be handled through one of the client jihadi outfits of the ISI, with no official involvement, thus ensuring plausible deniability in case something went wrong.
This, said the former ISI official, was how bin Laden was moved into Pakistan some years ago, and was safely harboured there. He was prepared to divulge his current location to the CIA provided he was given the reward on offer, and he and his family (accompanying him on this holiday) were securely relocated to the USA. The CIA station chief set up another meeting with the informant, and promptly relayed the information to Washington. The background check on the ISI officer having proved satisfactory, at this second meeting the station chief accepted his offer on the condition that the reward would only be paid if his information proved accurate.
When the location of bin Laden reached Langley, the CIA commenced a sophisticated, but secret, operation to verify that bin Laden did indeed live in the house in Abbottabad that their ISI informant had betrayed to them. Even before the results of this activity became available, the top security officials in the US administration began to consider actions that could be taken if his presence there was confirmed. This process quickly narrowed down the options to essentially two: a drone strike on the house, or a Special Forces raid (of the type being regularly carried out in Afghanistan against suspected insurgent leaders). When the CIA established that there was a high probability that Osama bin Laden did indeed live in the Abbottabad house, detailed planning began for both options. Their pros and cons differed so radically, however, that choosing between them was not easy.
A drone strike would involve no risk to US personnel while also reducing the loss of face for the Pakistanis and, hence, their reaction after the event. An SF raid, on the other hand, would be a risky affair. Apart from the danger of various mishaps there was a possibility of Pakistani interference, both in the air and on the ground, which would endanger not only the success of the operation but also the US personnel involved. Such an intrusion of American ‘boots on the ground’ would likely cause serious problems in relations between the two countries. The biggest difference, however, lay in the degree to which the success of the operation could be established by the administration, and generally accepted by the world when announced. A successful drone strike would show that the house was destroyed, but not whether bin Laden had been killed (the Pakistanis would never admit that he had even been there). A successful SF raid, on the other hand, would provide definitive proof.
The two options were presented to President Obama for a decision. His military advisers generally favoured the drone option, though the JSOC command was quite happy to do the raid. The ‘political’ advisers did not want to pass up this great opportunity to claim a notable success for the administration, but that would only be possible with an SF raid. Obama mulled over the choice for a few days and decided to carry out the raid ─ but with its risks minimized by getting the Pakistan military to cooperate. This set off another hectic debate among the advisers; it was finally decided that a very hard line be taken with the Pakistanis, giving them, in effect, neither the option to refuse nor any wiggle room in compliance. Leon Panetta was chosen to deliver the ultimatum: in essence, to do another ‘Armitage’ on them.
Panetta enjoyed playing the heavy with the Pakistanis (especially after their successful false emissary caper and their exploitation of the Raymond Davis affair). He told the ISI chief how the US had found out, and then confirmed, that bin Laden was being sheltered by them. The US was going to take him out; Pakistan could either help, or it would be considered an enemy of the US and treated accordingly. Backed into a corner, with their ‘plausible deniability’ in shreds, the Pakistani generals folded: they were prepared to help, but they needed a good cover story, especially for the Saudis. The US agreed to work with them on this, but demanded that knowledge of the raid be confined to a very few people at the top of the command chain, no more than necessary to ensure that any attempt by someone in the security forces to interfere with the operation would be immediately detected and quashed.
The cover story finally agreed upon was that the US had carried out a drone strike on the house (though none would in fact take place). This would account for the night-time explosions at the house, and, more importantly, provide an explanation to give to the Saudis for bin Laden’s sudden and unfortunate demise (his body having been almost obliterated by the bombs!). The US’s agreement was simply a ruse, however, in order to keep the Pakistanis cooperating; having rejected the drone option because it did not allow a definitive claim of the operation’s success, the US administration had no intention of going through with this cover story. Instead, it intended to announce the carrying out of the raid, and its momentous result, as soon as it was completed, though it is likely they planned to shift its venue to some undefined place under insurgent control so as to allow the Pakistani military some face-saving, and thus limit their adverse reaction. In the event, the helicopter crash put paid to this.
With the Pakistani military on board, the raid was launched on May 1st. Two Black Hawk helicopters with the Navy SEALs team on board took off from Jalalabad late evening and landed at the Ghazi airbase, Tarbela. This base is used by Pakistani SF (the Special Services Group), and has a US SF helicopter-training contingent stationed there. Helicopter flights into the US base area from Afghanistan are routine, and the flight of these two helicopters was cleared on the same basis. The attack on the Abbottabad target was launched from here later that night. The flying distance from Ghazi to the target is approximately 60 km (40 miles).
Even though the Pakistan army chief had agreed to allow the raid to go through without any interference, the US was not taking any chances. Schmidle describes a backup force of four Chinook helicopters, two with a backup SEALs team (which remained on the Afghan side of the border), and two as helicopter backups for the assault Black Hawks. He says that these latter two “landed at a predetermined point on a dry riverbed in a wide, unpopulated valley”. This is probably correct since, in case of a Pakistani double-cross, they would be grounded if they were to wait at the Ghazi airbase instead. One of these Chinooks was later used as the replacement for the Black Hawk that crashed at the Abbottabad house.
Schmidle’s account (and critiques of it published afterwards) dwell mostly on the details of the action inside the bin Laden compound. It doesn’t really matter how that action unfolded, though controversy over it does shift attention away from those aspects of the operation that are being kept concealed by both the US and Pakistan. The important point of these actions is that they resulted in Osama bin Laden being killed. Many conspiracy theorists refuse to accept this, but al Qaeda does, and so do the Pakistanis, who have in their custody bin Laden’s wives who witnessed the event. It may be worth commenting on a couple of the items of controversy. It doesn’t matter whether bin Laden had a weapon or not; the orders were for him to be killed. The reason why Amal al-Fatah, bin Laden’s wife who tried to protect him, was shot in the leg (DEVGRU normally just kills) was probably because the plan was to bring the wives and surviving sons back as prisoners (the loss of one of the Black Hawks forced a change there).
As for the fallout from the operation, it was, as expected, mainly on US-Pakistan relations. If the US had the intention of making it easier for the Pakistanis by fudging the site of the raid, the crashed helicopter’s tail sticking up from bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound ended that option. This stark evidence of the US incursion left the US with no option but to (in Hillhouse’s apt phrase) throw the Pakistanis under the bus. Panetta couldn’t let the opportunity pass without adding an extra kick of his own (“ they were either complicit or incompetent”). The Pakistan military lost a lot of ‘face’ internally, but had a tolerable alibi for the Saudis. Most importantly, the raid and its aftermath ended all chances of them working as allies with the US in the future; the relationship became once again purely transactional, with no trust on either side.
The United States certainly got their man but, in the process, lost Pakistan. Time will tell whether that was a good deal.
The Americans intend to end active combat operations in Afghanistan after 2014, and the Pakistanis have started pondering over what life would be like after that. Optimists, particularly from the military and jihadi groups, believe that American withdrawal will lead to the fulfilment of General Zia-ul-Haq's dream of a Pakistan blessed with “strategic depth”' extending beyond the Amu Darya and into Central Asia.
Others fear that with Taliban extremism already having spread from across the Durand Line into Punjab and even Karachi, the country is headed for what author Ahmed Rashid once described as a Descent into Chaos. The CIA report, Global Trends 2015, noted even in December 2001: “Pakistan will not recover easily from decades of economic mismanagement, divisive politics and ethnic feuds. In a climate of continuing domestic turmoil, the Central Government's control will probably be reduced to the Punjab heartland and the economic hub of Karachi.”
Pakistan's military still believes that the Americans will meet the same fate as the Soviets did when confronted with the forces of “militant Islam” from across the Durand Line. There is nothing to indicate that Rawalpindi has any intention of ending its support for either the Taliban or the Haqqani network.
Both Mullah Omar and Sirajuddin Haqqani remain implacably opposed to American proposals on political “reconciliation” in Afghanistan. Neither of them has shown any sign of ending links with the Al Zawahiri-led Al Qaeda and its Chechen and Central Asian affiliates. Moreover, the Haqqani network unabashedly supports the Islamic Movement of East Turkestan, infuriating Pakistan's “all-weather friend,” China.
Pakistan's military has believed over the past few years that with the American economy in tatters and domestic opinion becoming increasingly hostile to growing casualties overseas, the Obama Administration will quit Afghanistan, paving the way for a Taliban takeover.
Another Pakistani calculation was that given their dependence on Pakistan's logistical support for supplies to their military in Afghanistan, the Americans were in no position to take coercive measures against Pakistan. These calculations have gone awry. It was the combined costs of war in Iraq (estimated at $806 billion) and the relatively less expensive war in Afghanistan ($444 billion over a decade) that were proving unaffordable to the US taxpayer.
While Americans have lost 1,760 soldiers in Afghanistan over a decade, their high casualties in Iraq, which included 4,474 killed in action, made the war in Iraq highly unpopular. Showing some intent to thwart Pakistani blackmail and threats of blocking supply routes, the Americans now move less than 35 per cent of their supplies through Pakistan, with the rest coming across their Northern Distribution Network, assisted by Russia and the Central Asian Republics. Two years ago, over 70 per cent of American supplies were routed through Pakistan.
Whether it is on the question of the secret approval it gave to American drone attacks on Pakistan territory, even as it raised a public hue and cry on the issue, or in its policy of providing shelter to Osama bin laden in Abbottabad, while claiming to be a loyal ally on America's “War on Terror”, the duplicity of the Pakistani military stands exposed. The Pakistan army is finding it difficult to defeat its erstwhile Pashtun protégés in the Tehriq-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan. There is, therefore, little prospect of its meeting American demands to act decisively against the followers of Mullah Omar and Sirajuddin Haqqani.
With Pakistan's Generals hell bent on retaining their jihadi assets in Afghanistan, on the one hand, and the US determined to ensure that the Afpak badlands straddling the Durand Line are not infested with anti-American Jihadis, on the other, the two “major non-NATO allies” appear set on a collision course, though with pretensions of seeking mutual understanding.
ANTI-TALIBAN CONSENSUS The Russians have made it clear that their air-space and territory are available for American operations in Afghanistan against the Taliban, as long as they can jointly crackdown on production and smuggling of opium.
Unless there is a total meltdown in their economy, the Americans will retain a small, but significant military presence in Afghanistan, primarily for counter-terrorism, against groups operating across the Durand Line.
There are hints that their military presence in Afghanistan will also be geared to deal with any possible takeover of Pakistan's nuclear weapons by jihadi extremists, including such elements within Pakistan's much-vaunted military.
India should have no illusions that it can change the jihadi mindset of Pakistan's armed forces and should learn the right lessons from the heavy price the Americans have paid for their naiveté on the military mindset in Pakistan. The end-game in Afghanistan has only just begun.
Global Jihad Inc. and even the Local Mullah are proving very resistant to GWoT, to COIN, to the modern state's security measures.
It is a many-headed Hydra. You cut one head and another one would grow instead. The Mujahids feel they are doing Allah's work, so any opportunity to take greater responsibility in Jihad is considered a normal promotion. If the predecessor was mowed down by security agencies of a modern state, that in itself does not seem to act as an impediment. As long as they live in their new positions as commanders, they will enjoy the respect of their colleagues, other Mujahids, they will enjoy being able to put fear into the hearts of the infidel, they will enjoy their exalted position in society, which honors Mujahids who "do Allah's work"! When these Mujahids die, there are prospects of getting 72 virgins along with the virility of a 100 men to satisfy them and to relish the experience. Plus, the organization, the dawa, would ensure that their families would be looked after and would receive a monthly stipend.
There is as such from their PoV, no reason to not opt for a lifetime of service in the cause of Jihad and to become a martyr in the same cause. Considering that there is no other work, is all the more reason.
So just killing off Jihadis one by one is a never-ending task. Americans are finding that out in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Yemen, and elsewhere.
Israelis tried breaking out of this dynamic. It was considered as insufficient to simply kill off the Palestinian fighters. What the Israelis did in Gaza, was to use collective punishment on Palestinians to relent - the blockades, sanctions, withholding of tax revenues, counter-bombardment, etc. That just increased the resolve of Palestinians. The whole community felt bound by a collective destiny and so they pulled themselves together and their determination to fight and die together increased as well.
Some would use that example to prove that collective punishment does not pay.
So if killing mujahids does not pay and collective punishment does not pay, then how does one go about fighting Jihadism?
Any social dynamic is based on understandings and contracts. When these understandings and contracts are not heeded or adhered to, then the society starts falling apart - any society, even a deeply conservative society. One has to see what these understandings and contracts are. One would however notice that an outsider does not really have the ability to intervene to such a high degree, so as to ensure that social compacts are violated.
There are basically two ways: 1) Corrupt society: A community works like one big block sharing resources, sharing space and sharing secrets valuable to the security of the whole community, sharing trust. It is often not possible to change the behavior of the majority in the community in a way that the previous social compacts are not honored, but certain individuals can always be turned around. The poorer a society becomes, the more vulnerable the individuals are to being bought off by giving them some rewards. As such one can buy people's loyalty, and make them work for you against the interests and wishes of the wider society. Similarly if somebody has much to lose, in terms of wealth, then again the other one would be willing to cooperate with outside forces, and may sell out the mujahids.
The avenues of corruption need to be explored to the maximum. The challenge is of course gaining access to those individuals who would be willing to break the social compact, and be willing to trade the community's secrets and trust for some favors and rewards. Normally a community would be very alert against such turncoats and anybody acting funny would be investigated. Also punishments are always severe and quick against traitors, in Jihadized communities.
As such increased trade and interaction with the outside world, even aid organizations working in the area, all provide a better backdrop for infiltration and recruitment of possible 'traitors', a standard operating procedure for gather HUMINT.
2) Care for the Family: The choice to wage jihad comes easily as the mujahids know that after them their families would be respected and looked after properly, they will not be allowed to starve. Moreover their families would receive funds and protection from the dawa, from the tanzeems.
That is the basis of the social compact a mujahid enters into with the community, before he swears his allegiance to jihad. So the question arises, would a mujahid willingly go for Jihad if the safety of his family was not guaranteed! Now the outside world does not have any say over whether the mujahids tanzeem would make that promise, but the outside world very well has the capacity to decide whether mujahid's tanzeem would be able to keep that promise. Outside forces can ensure a dynamic, where the potential mujahid needs to be afraid of the consequences of his decision on his faith and on the rest of his family. If there are consequences, then they should be of a nature which would really give the potential mujahid some cause for rethinking, something shocking enough for him to rethink his decision, a decision he has been told, is sanctioned by Allah himself.
Something shocking enough on the faith front for him would be say after his death his body is not turned over to his family or community but is in fact defiled in a way completely contrary to his beliefs - say fed to the pigs, or cremated.
Something shocking enough on the family front for him would be say the death of all his male offspring regardless of age, and if he doesn't have any, than those of his next of kin - his parents, his male siblings. Something shocking would be say, if his female offspring, or his female siblings were to be kidnapped and taken as women, forcibly or otherwise, by men belonging to a different faith as Islam.
Should this happen to each and every mujahid, that is either caught fighting or dies in the battlefield, or is simply identified as a fighter, then it would establish not a probability but an almost certainty in the minds of potential mujahids, about the consequences. Moreover he should also be angry at those who suggest to him that he should become a mujahid. The argument should go something on the lines that he would be the only one making the sacrifice, while others would be sacrificing nothing.
This anger would come only only he is being asked to make this sacrifice, while the others suffer no consequences at all. That is why the above punishment should be very discriminatory. There should be no collateral damage if it can be avoided, so that the recruiters cannot claim on behalf of the community, that the war is being waged on the whole community, and they should pick the gun and do likewise. The punishment should be so surgical and discriminatory, that it is difficulty to make this argument.
The "traitors" as such can then help in ensuring that the punishment is very surgical and precise. Thirdly, there should be people around him, who should be making the argument to him, that he should decide against becoming a mujahid, and their argument should carry more weight than those who want to push him into Jihad citing the interests of religion and community.
Here the talk is of grown up adults, possibly the brothers of a potential mujahid who talk him out of becoming a mujahid. They would make the argument only if they also share in some of the consequences spoken of earlier, should he become a mujahid. Only then would they have the motivation to speak up. They should be able to make the argument that only their family would suffer, while the others would not.
As a civilized society, we tend to think of punishments which would only dissuade one belonging to such a civilized society who prizes his freedoms and desire to be with his family, to whom prison can be insulting to his dignity, etc. etc. If however we are waging a war, then we have to think of punishments which can act as discouragement for the enemy community, and not the same laws apply.
The implementation of consequences on the dead body of a mujahid can be justified on the basis of a declaration that, "he was a terrorist, and we do not consider him a Muslim, for terrorists have no religion!"
The implementation of consequences on his family would have to be carried out extra-judiciously, using some organization which specializes only in the above, and uses HUMINT from within the community to aid them in carrying out their missions.
So if we want to wage a successful war against Jihad, we would have to rethink the basics again.
On the Indian defense forum...its an article of faith that this was an ISI operation. This is not based on evidence but tons of prior experience with the MO of the ISI. Seal Team 6 caused a loss of H&D in pak, so they had a target on their back. Also of interest, in the US media no one is even discussing this as a possibility. Would be interesting to know where the weapon to hit the heli came from, and who supplied the intelligence. I find it difficult to believe the taliban got off a luck shot.
While there is general jubilation on the pak defense forum (about the downed chinook), pakis being masters at spinning conspiracies..have come up with this gem.
"Oh! looks like they killed their own Navy Seals who were witnesses of the OBL raid ......so they killed them cuz the US dont want the actual story comes out anyway that there was no OBL in Abbottabad operation.....and it was the CIA drama......looks like they wanted to wipe out the evidence........umm...... "
Comment: The Islamabad government has exhausted its options and ideas for halting politically-motivated violence in Karachi.
Pakistan is heading for a military takeover of government, based on precedent and barring a surprise improvement in economic, law and order and social conditions. In other words, the economic and social conditions that are necessary but not sufficient conditions for a military takeover are present. The instrumental and sufficient conditions -- security force dissatisfaction with the civilian leadership and refusal to carry out lawful orders - do not yet seem present, but can appear in a short time without additional warning.
US special forces Afghan helicopter downed 'by Taliban'
Thirty US troops, said to be mostly special forces, have been killed, reportedly when a Taliban rocket downed their helicopter in east Afghanistan.
Seven Afghan commandos and a civilian interpreter were also on the Chinook, officials say.
US sources say the special forces were from the Navy Seal unit which killed Osama Bin Laden, but are "unlikely" to be the same personnel.
This is the largest single US loss of life in the Afghan conflict.
The numbers of those killed have now been confirmed by the Nato-led mission in Afghanistan.
The Chinook went down in the early hours of Saturday in Wardak province, said a statement from President Hamid Karzai's office.
It was returning from an operation against the Taliban in which eight insurgents are believed to have been killed.
A senior official of President Barack Obama's administration said the helicopter was apparently shot down, Associated Press news agency reports.
An official with the Nato-led coalition in Afghanistan told the New York Times the helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.
The BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Kabul says it is rare for the Taliban to shoot down aircraft.
The Taliban say they have modified their rocket-propelled grenades to improve their accuracy but that may not be true, our correspondent says.
Nato's worst Afghan moments 6 April 2005 - Chinook crash in Ghazni province kills 15 US soldiers and three civilian contractors 28 June 2005 - 16 US troops killed when Taliban bring down Chinook in Kunar province 16 August 2005 - 17 Spanish soldiers die when Cougar helicopter crashes near Herat 5 May 2006 - 10 US soldiers die after Chinook crashes east of Kabul 2 Sept 2006 - 14 UK personnel killed when RAF Nimrod explodes following mid-air refuelling 18 August 2008 - 10 French soldiers killed in Taliban ambush east of Kabul 6 August 2011 - 31 US special forces and seven Afghan soldiers killed in Chinook crash Source: BBC and news agencies
"The president of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan expresses his sympathy and deep condolences to US President Barack Obama and the family of the victims," the statement from President Karzai said.
President Obama, too, issued a statement paying tribute to the Americans and Afghans who died in the crash.
"We will draw inspiration from their lives, and continue the work of securing our country and standing up for the values that they embodied. We also mourn the Afghans who died alongside our troops in pursuit of a more peaceful and hopeful future for their country," the statement said.
Reports say more than 20 of the US dead were Navy Seals.
A US military source has confirmed to the BBC that they were from Seal Team Six - the same unit which killed Bin Laden in Pakistan in May.
Continue reading the main story Who are the Navy Seals? 2,500 US Navy special forces They carry out Sea, Air and Land operations, hence their name Origins lie in World War II Involved in Vietnam, Panama, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen Team Six is elite group officially known as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group Team Six based near Virginia Beach, members usually have five years of experience, part of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC ) The team that killed Bin Laden However, US officials have told both they BBC and AP they do not believe that any of those who took part in the Bin Laden operation were on the downed helicopter.
The size of Team Six, an elite unit within the Seals, which is officially called the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, is not known.
Several air force personnel, a dog and his handler, a civilian interpreter, and the helicopter crew were also on board, AP reports.
The Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said it was mounting an operation to recover the helicopter and find out why it crashed. It said there had been "enemy activity in the area" where it went down.
A Taliban spokesman said insurgents had brought down the helicopter with a rocket after US and Afghan troops attacked a house in the Sayd Abad district of Wardak where insurgents were meeting late on Friday, Associated Press said.
Sayd Abad, near the province of Kabul, is known to have a strong Taliban presence.
A Wardak government spokesman quoted by AFP news agency agreed with this, saying the helicopter had been hit as it was taking off.
A local resident told the BBC Pashto service a rocket had hit the helicopter.
"What we saw was that when we were having our pre-dawn [Ramadan] meal, Americans landed some soldiers for an early raid," said Mohammad Wali Wardag.
"This other helicopter also came for the raid. We were outside our rooms on a veranda and saw this helicopter flying very low, it was hit by a rocket and it was on fire."
There are currently about 140,000 foreign troops - about 100,000 of them American - in Afghanistan, fighting the Taliban insurgency and training local troops to take over security.
All foreign combat forces are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and some troop withdrawals have already taken place.
Nato has begun the process of handing over control of security in some areas to local forces, with Bamiyan becoming the first province to pass to Afghan control in mid-July.
An increase in US troop numbers last year has had some success combating the Taliban in the south of Afghanistan, but attacks in the north, which was previously relatively quiet, have picked up in recent months.
I have not followed the ETM story very much. Two possibilities come to mind. 1. Its an independent jihadi movement based in Pak, ie Pak has lost control of them. This is what the Pak govt wants you to believe. 2. Another possibility is that with the US trying to arm twist Pak, Pak desperately needs China's support. The Chinese however have not been very enthusuiastic to replace Uncle sam, atleast interms of free $$. This is the ISI reminding the Chinese, what could be if the renmibis dont flow through. This is a standard operating procedure for the pakis, to seek protection money. The US pays protection money, the Indians do, so no reason the Chinese will be given a free pass. 3. As GM points out below...the shooting of the heli might be an ISI op...fits a pattern. ie payback for the OBL operation..especially since these were navy seals..
The door creaked open as the therapist led Pakistan into the room, his clothes drenched, his hair wild, his shirt unbuttoned, his hands covered in mud. “This is the last time I see you without an appointment, Pakistan.” The therapist tried not to reward Pakistan by obliging to his unannounced visits and subsequent tantrums, but this time, she knew that there was something terribly wrong.
Pakistan lay on the couch, with the therapist sitting behind him close to the door. She dimmed the lights, giving the weathered wood paneling a bronze glow. She hadn’t known Pakistan for long, but long enough to detect a disturbing pattern. Having changed several therapists, Pakistan followed a predictable course with all of his previous shrinks — starting off in a blaze of intimacy, slowly withdrawing, reaching a point of violent confrontation and then starting over with someone else. She knew that he badly needed her to understand him, even as he erected every possible obstacle in her endeavours to do so. Every session with Pakistan was a struggle — both for the therapist, as she tried to decipher his thoughts and motivations beneath the white noise of his obscurantist denial and obsessive paranoia — and for him, as he resolutely prevented her (and himself) from reaching his innermost chambers. The therapist had no idea just how old Pakistan was, for even by his own accounts, his birth was a matter of great dispute. Pakistan was born either in the Bronze Age when the Indus Valley Civilisation was established in Mohenjodaro. Or, in the 8th century with the arrival of Muhammad bin Qasim, the 17-year-old Arab general, who became the first man to plant the flag of Islam in the Indian Subcontinent. Along the way, he also planted seeds in the collective Jungian psyche, the shoots from which continue to surface to this day. Sometimes he claimed to be born as a reactionary ideal in 1857. His real genesis, in 1947, was corroborated by an official birth certificate. Though that might simply be the day he was separated from his Siamese twin in a rather bloody operation.
The therapist took out her file to review her notes. From session to session, Pakistan varied from bouts of extreme pride and grandiosity– touting the mark on his forehead from excessive prostration during prayer, picking fights with the toughest boys in the neighbourhood, showing off the missile tattoos on his biceps — to states of despicable self-loathing — slitting his wrists to atone for his ‘sins’, claiming to have disavowed his religion and his brethren, shooting up heroin to disassociate himself from self-reflection. It was difficult to pin a diagnosis on him. Her initial hunch was that he had manic depression, swinging from grandiosity to doom and gloom. But she couldn’t pick that diagnosis, since these personality traits had persisted since about as long as the therapist could note. She relied on what she knew of Pakistan’s life thus far to inch closer towards a diagnosis. Pakistan’s childhood remained of great interest to the therapist. While it was a topic that Pakistan refused to confront directly, drawing from his nightmares, his rambling digressions, and notes she had received from his previous therapists, a vague picture had come together. Born on the stroke of midnight, Pakistan and his twin brother, India, had had a tumultuous childhood, resulting in frequent fights, bleeding noses and cut lips. Orphaned in his infancy with the premature death of his father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, frequently beaten by his estranged brother (who also took away Pakistan’s favourite cashmere sweater), deeply insecure due to his short stature, and lacking any sort of guiding hand, Pakistan had a tormented upbringing. Once he attacked his brother to take back his sweater but failed (though he still claims it was his brother who started that particular round of fisticuffs). To this day, Pakistan refused to acknowledge any blood relationship with his brother, claiming to be a separate entity from him.
After his companion and childhood friend, Bangla, abandoned him in the early ‘70s, instead of reflecting on the many years of neglect and abuse he had inflicted on her, Pakistan transitioned into another high of energy. His charisma won him many friends and he formed a relationship with a mysterious sheikh, who would go on to have a deep impact on him. Sheikh Al-Wahab charmed Pakistan with his white robes and his shiny Rolexes (which he would jingle whenever he wanted Pakistan’s attention). The therapist could see that Pakistan believed that the sheikh, and his devout breed of Islam, offered him a chance to reconstruct his identity … but it was a dangerous façade. Armed with this new identity, Pakistan entered a phase of gradual psychological self-mutilation, wherein he began to erase all memories that contradicted his new self. He grew a beard, rode his pants high on his tummy and learnt Arabic, but forgot his own native tongue. In his attempt to be born anew, he began to loathe himself: his brown skin, the festivals he celebrated, and the culture he shared with his estranged brother.
Pakistan’s newly found religiosity didn’t go entirely unnoticed. In fact, Uncle Sam encouraged Pakistan’s violent streak in order to settle a score against its long time adversary by training Pakistan’s crazy cousin, Talib. With his AK-47 loaded with incendiary rounds and an even more incendiary faith, Talib, with the help of his Arab roommate, Qaeda, and Pakistan’s full backing, did for Uncle Sam what no one else could have. After the fight, when Pakistan and Talib turned around to celebrate their victory with a series of high-fives and ‘Allah-u-Akbar’ chants, Sam was nowhere to be found. All they had to show for their efforts was a crate full of Kalashnikovs, heads full of grandiose delusions and a stash of smack to ensure insight remained an unwanted guest.
Pakistan, far from smothering Talib’s zeal, channeled it to settle scores with India in his unending struggle to regain his cashmere sweater. But in his efforts to agitate Talib against India, it was Pakistan who was influenced by his oddly appealing cousin. Meanwhile, Qaeda ran out of his supply of Ritalin® and, no longer in the spotlight, grew increasingly bored in his suburban house-cave. Convinced that Sam, who no longer showered him with attention, was the root of all the evils in the neighborhood, Qaeda went to Sam’s house with his bamboo stick and poked it right into Sam’s eye. Sam, infuriated, attacked Qaeda, who had taken refuge in Talib’s house-cave next to Pakistan’s, and demanded of Pakistan that he too join him in fighting both Qaeda and Talib. Scared out of his wits by the heavily muscled and belligerent Sam, Pakistan shaved his beard and donned a suit to convince Sam that he was ‘with him, not against him’. But in his heart, Pakistan could not abandon Talib, and banking on Sam’s short attention span (possibly due to serious ADHD), hoped to be able to hold off any Public Displays of Affection with Talib until Sam’s interest fizzled out.
But Talib just didn’t get it. He began to attack Pakistan for supporting Sam. Talib and Qaeda dealt Pakistan blows the likes of which he had never received, tearing into him, ripping apart whatever was important to him. But for all the pain they inflicted on him, Pakistan blamed everyone else in the neighborhood. Unable to remove himself from his association with Talib and Qaeda, and yet fully aware of their actions, the therapist noted that Pakistan found himself more confused, more in pain, more depressed and more vulnerable, than ever before.
The therapist formulated Pakistan’s history into what she regarded as a pattern of unstable identity, unstable relationships and fearful attachments. She started crossing out all the different diagnoses she had written on her sheet including adjustment disorder, substance abuse, depression with psychotic features, dysthymia and anti-social personality disorder, until the only diagnosis un-maimed by her pen was borderline personality disorder. And yet, even armed with this knowledge, the therapist continued to have a difficult relationship with Pakistan. She knew that this was not just because Pakistan was, to put it mildly, un-normal, for she barely knew anyone in the entire neighbourhood who was. “What happened, Pakistan? You look terrible.”
Pakistan remained mum, looking blankly up at the ceiling. The therapist prodded on, “Why do you have mud on your hands?” “A great flood destroyed my house. I had to dig myself out of the rubble. My cow, Rani, my princess, I couldn’t find her. The waters took her away. My crops have all run a-waste.” Pakistan spoke in a monotone, staring blankly at the ceiling. The therapist didn’t know what to feel. A part of her believed he was pre-schizophrenic, his ability to process reality crumbling slowly. Another part felt that the heroin was like a virus, forever impairing his ability to test reality. She tried to feel sympathy for him, but found herself unable to do so. “Did anyone help you out?”
“Sam helped me out, not because he cared, but because he feared that if I lost my mind a bit more, I would blow up in his face.” The therapist carried on, without believing his entire flood story. Just a few years back he had come running to her, with an earthquake-story in which his house was leveled, and here he was again, carrying on what was now becoming a comically long list of tragedies, some real, some imagined. “Why do you think these catastrophes happen to you?” “It is a test of my faith, or a punishment for my transgressions, I can’t seem to understand.” The therapist’s attempts at objectivity began to fail, as Pakistan’s contradictions started to amuse her. His misery became a source of mirth, rather than solemn reflection. “What transgressions?” “I have failed my religion and no matter how much I pray for forgiveness, Allah continues to punish me. And I continue to be Sam’s slave. I have shaved my beard and started wearing suits just so that he does not suspect me of being with Talib. But inside, I know that I am in the wrong, and that is why Allah-Almighty punishes me.” “But haven’t these Muslim ‘brothers’, hurt you more than even those who you claim are your enemies, including your actual sibling? Look at how you’re bruised, scarred, hurt — isn’t that the work of your so-called brothers?” “They are angry, and justified in being so.” “So they have the right to spew hatred and commit violence, but no one else does? Why bend the rules for them? Your sheikh has taken more from you than even your worst enemies: he took away you.” “What is that supposed to mean? I have me.” “What me, Pakistan? What of you do you have left?” The therapist’s frail figure shook, her spectacles danced on the bridge of her nose, as she continued to unabashedly counter-transfer. “All of me is here in front of you. Me, born to live life governed by the laws of Islam, and to vanquish the apostates who tarnish its name.” “But how can that be! Don’t you remember that when you were born, not in the 8th Century, but in 1947, your first law minister was a Hindu, and your finance minister was an Ahmadi, a sect you now consider as worthy of murder!” “That cannot be true! Why wouldn’t I remember it if it were so? Wait, you are right, but how…?”
The blank look left Pakistan. Suddenly, he was awash with palpable emotion. The therapist knew what was going on, a rock had been upturned, and from beneath it had scampered out a thousand repressed memories. Memories of a father who never said his prayers, who swore by his suit and his whisky, of a time when festivals were marked with kites flying in the sky rather than blood from sacrificial animals running in the streets. Clearly in pain, Pakistan held his head. He tried to get up from the couch, before falling onto his knees, his hands covering his ears, ensuring that nothing but the voice within was heard. The therapist ran to the door, but stayed on to look at Pakistan writhe as alarmed guards ran in to pin him to the ground. Her unfinished case history was still lying next to her chair in the room. She was shaking. This would be her last session with Pakistan not so much because Pakistan’s malady awoke no empathy in her anymore, but because she knew she had stepped on the wrong side of Pakistan’s split monochromic psychological spectrum of blacks and whites.
Pakistan’s search for reflection began anew; a search that he ensured was always a never-ending spiral, where the journey itself is enacted only to avoid the destination. The therapist wondered who Pakistan would be if she were to meet him after some time; she wasn’t even sure if she would recognize him. She held the notebook tightly next to her chest and walked off determined to hold on to her diagnosis, if nothing else. And yet, she knew that in spite of all that he had endured (and inflicted) he had still lived to tell the tale. A survivor and stubborn to the core, she knew he’d be back. And while he wouldn’t be pretty for his pains, she knew, irrationally, that she might just like to see him again. Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, July 24th, 2011.
WASHINGTON: Federal authorities on Monday arrested a prominent US-based pro-Pakistan activist associated with the Kashmiri separatist movement, accusing him of funneling money from the Pakistani spy agency ISI to lobby US decision-makers.
In the process, the Obama administration's law enforcement brigade also blew open the Pakistan and its spy agency's two-decade long subversion of the so-called Kashmir cause.
The FBI swooped down on the Virginia residence of Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, a well-known representative of Kashmiri separatists in the US and detained him on charges of ''participating in a long-term conspiracy to act as agents of the Pakistani government in the United States without disclosing their affiliation with the Pakistani government as required by law.''
Or simply put, he served as a frontman for ISI's Kashmir agenda.
Another individual, Zaheer Ahmed, like Fai a US citizen, was also similarly charged, but he is at large and believed to be in Pakistan, according to US authorities.
Fai has been a familiar and prominent figure in Washington DC for nearly two decades, lobbying Kashmiri separatist cause as executive director of the Kashmiri-American Council (KAC) and dallying with senators and congressmen. US authorities now say the KAC was just an ISI front, funded by Pakistan's spy agency.
The FBI affidavit alleges that, although the KAC held itself out to be a Kashmiri organization run by Kashmiris and financed by Americans, ''it is one of three 'Kashmir Centers' that are actually run by elements of the Pakistani government, including ISI.'' The two other Kashmir Centers are in London, England, and Brussels, Belgium.
According to the affidavit, a confidential witness told investigators that he participated in a scheme to obscure the origin of money transferred by Pakistan's ISI to Fai to use as a lobbyist for the KAC in furtherance of Pakistani government interests. The witness explained that the money was transferred to Fai through Ahmad, an American living in Pakistan.
A second confidential witness told investigators that the ''ISI created the KAC to propagandize on behalf of the government of Pakistan with the goal of uniting Kashmir.'' This witness said ''ISI's sponsorship and control of KAC were secret and that ISI had been directing Fai's activities for the past 25 years.''
The FBI affidavit alleges that Fai has "acted at the direction of and with the financial support of the Pakistani government for more than 20 years." Four Pakistani government handlers have directed Fai's US. activities and Fai has been in touch with his handlers more than 4,000 times since June 2008, according to the FBI.
The affidavit also alleges that Fai repeatedly submitted annual KAC strategy reports and budgetary requirements to his Pakistani government handlers for approval. One document entitled "Plan of Action of KAC / Kashmir Center for Fiscal Year 2009" laid out Fai's intended strategy to secure US. Congressional support in order to encourage the Executive Branch to support self-determination in Kashmir; his strategy to build new alliances in the State Department, the National Security Council, the Congress and the Pentagon, and to expand KAC's media efforts.
According to the affidavit, Fai also set forth KAC's projected budgetary requirements from the Pakistani government for 2009, including $100,000 for contributions to members of Congress.
Fai and the KAC have received at least $4 million from the Pakistani government since the mid-1990s through Ahmad and his funding network, the FBI said. The money is allegedly routed to Fai through Ahmad and a network of other individuals connected to Ahmad. Ahmad allegedly arranges for his contacts in the United States to provide money to Fai in return for repayment of those amounts in Pakistan.
Not having any intelligence estimates or knowing the full capabilities of US intelligence, nor what the real US interests in the region might be...its kind of difficult. But assuming the US goal is to stop terrorism, these are the broad areas that i would push for.
Put pressure on pak to act against the jihadis in N.wazoostan. Pakis will not however do this (inspite of any amount of $$), because their army is itself jihadized. The next step would be to initiate the break up Pak. Two areas are ready to secede, Balochistan and Pashtoonistan. For the prsent lets focus only on Pashtoonistan. The US should support the aspirations of the pashtoon people, who have been artificially divided by the durrand line. If the US were to support the elimination of the Durrand line, and support the unification of the pashtoon people as a part of united Afghanistan, both the Afghans as well as the Taliban in FATA/NWFP region will support this initiative, and support the US. This could lead to real nation building and peace. If you come to think of it, this is what the afghan people want, and this is also Afghanistan's gripe with Pak. Why is the US not supporting this nation building. Make this offer to the Taliban, "Give up terrorism and we give you a united Afghanistan". This is in line with what Mullah Omar wants and what the haqqani group wants. There is a minor variant of the plan, whereby the southern areas of afghanistan/NWFP fuse to form pashtoonistan, whereas N.Afghanistan remains a separate country.
Paki interests are the opposite, they want to put a razor fence on the border with Afghanistan, and the way that they are controlling the pashtoon is with a radical version of Islam. Pak is financially broke, their bank contains only about 64 tonnes of gold!, they cannot wage a war against afghanistan or anybody else for that matter. Their frontier corps is mostly pashtoon, they are not going to fight against the formation of their homeland. The pak army's punjab based corps are not going to fight on the afghan border either, because that would leave the Indian border unguarded. India can make the appropriate saber rattling noises to keep the pak army at the indian border. Pak army cannot nuke the afghan people either, because it would be nuking the ummah, or worst case the nuclear winds blow down to the plains of pakistan. Furthermore, any use of the nukes should invite a massive response from the US.
Once they lose the "tribes" as proxy for use against India, a much chastened pak can be pressurized to give up nukes. The Balochistan card can be played at this stage, one can easily force a blockade of Karachi harbor if Pak does not give up nukes. At this stage the US must be willing to use overwhelming force if the pakis dont give up nukes.
The military strategists of America who want to "save" Afghanistan from their Al-Qaeda enemy and the military establishment of Pakistan which wants to "secure" Afghanistan for its Taliban "assets", have both got it tragically wrong. If they insist on having it their exclusive way, they will lose both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Consider.
America's strategy in the run-up to the Afghan end-game is inconsistent and contradictory. Ten years after 9/11, with $1 trillion down the drain, Afghan "nationhood" is out, counter-insurgency is being substituted with counter-terrorism, troop surges with troop draw downs, and not all good Taliban are dead ones. So key Taliban leaders have to be targeted by drones in order to soften up their resistance and make them amenable to a US-sponsored power-sharing arrangement in Kabul. But this strategic direction-change is tripping up for two reasons.
First, the post-2014 "Base-Afghanistan" envisioned by Washington is critically based on two factors which are eroding faster than they are being consolidated. The first is the failure to build a reliable Afghan National Army that can do America's bidding - Taliban infiltration has made it an unreliable future adjunct. The second is America's inability to create a viable puppet regime of strongmen that can capture space and sustain stability - as testified by the assassination of the police head of Northern Afghanistan, General Dawood Dawood, two months ago, and that of Hamid Karzai's powerful, alliance-building brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, this week, followed by the abortive attempt on the life of the Home Minister, Bismillah Mohammadi, the same day. America's man in Kabul, Hamid Karzai, has never been more vulnerable as he is now.
The second is a continuing failure to persuade Pakistan's defense establishment to help knock out the core Al-Qaeda-Taliban trouble-makers in FATA. A carrot-and-stick policy that is based on "peanuts-for-aid" ($800 million for Pakistan in the last two years out of $3 billion pledged, as compared to $200 billion spent in Afghanistan in the same period) and largely ignores or denies Pakistan's legitimate security concerns in post-America Afghanistan (the need for a stable if not fully "friendly" Afghanistan on its western border) has failed to deliver.They want more aid, $$..my comment American unaccountability and unilateralism has fueled anti-Americanism in Pakistan following the Raymond Davis affair, the OBL raid in Abbottabad and the surge in drone strikes in FATA, putting the Pakistani military on the spot in the public eye. Now American impatience and arrogance - the attack on the ISI (publicly blamed for journalist Saleem Shahzad's murder) and its chief General Pasha ("sack him", says the New York Times) - and the decision to formally "announce" a "suspension" in $800 million in overdue US aid and compensation for the Pakistan military's big effort against the Pakistani Taliban, has added insult to injury.
Pakistan's strategy of continuing to obsess about India and making it an element of the future Afghan matrix on the basis of its Taliban "assets" is also coming a cropper. These Taliban "assets" were problematic even during Mullah Umar's reign from 1996-2001 when they refused to recognize the Durand Line as the international border with Pakistan, refused to kick out radical Islamic sectarian elements belonging to the Sipah Sahaba and Lashkar Jhangvi, and refused to break relations with Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda even though they were plotting against both America and Pakistan. These same Afghan Taliban "assets" have since networked with Al-Qaeda in FATA to give birth to and sustain the Pakistani Tehreek-i-Taliban which has exacted a toll of 35,000 Pakistan civilians and over 3000 Pakistani soldiers in Swat and South Waziristan in the last two years. As the murdered journalist and insider, Saleem Shahzad, noted, the real aim of the Al-Qaeda-Taliban network is to infiltrate the Pakistani state, plunge it into conflict with India (new Mumbais), erode the army's fighting capacity by de-motivating its rank and file, seize control of its nuclear weapons and transform its territory as a base area for world Islamic revolution. On the basis of Mullah Umar's past record, the Haqqani network's current liaison with Al-Qaeda, and Al-Qaeda's future ambitions, the Pakistan military's rigid protection of such assets is souring its longer term "strategic" relationship with the international community in general and America in particular. This is something it can ill-afford, given its trade and aid dependency on the West.
Pakistan and America should put their interests and concerns squarely on the table and abstain from airing their political differences or applying countervailing pressures through the media. America's carrot-and-stick policy won't yield dividends with Pakistan just as Pakistan's "double-game" breaches the trust red-line and mocks its "strategic" relations with America. Washington's plans for Afghanistan must not exclude Mullah Umar and the Haqqani network just as Islamabad's plans must not be exclusively based on them. In fact, America and Pakistan must not stake their all on the end-game in Afghanistan because its final outcome holds no guarantees for either of them.
The thing is that the taliban are against vaccination any way, and Pak is one of the few countries in the world with a high polio rate. One can safely assume that vaccinations will reduce markedly in Pak...
CIA organised fake vaccination drive to get Osama bin Laden's family DNA Senior Pakistani doctor who organised vaccine programme in Abbottabad arrested by ISI for working with US agents
Saeed Shah in Abbottabad guardian.co.uk, Monday 11 July 2011 19.59 BST
CIA organised fake vaccination programme in Abbottabad to try and find Osama bin Laden. Photograph: Md Nadeem/EPA The CIA organised a fake vaccination programme in the town where it believed Osama bin Laden was hiding in an elaborate attempt to obtain DNA from the fugitive al-Qaida leader's family, a Guardian investigation has found.
As part of extensive preparations for the raid that killed Bin Laden in May, CIA agents recruited a senior Pakistani doctor to organise the vaccine drive in Abbottabad, even starting the "project" in a poorer part of town to make it look more authentic, according to Pakistani and US officials and local residents.
The doctor, Shakil Afridi, has since been arrested by the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) for co-operating with American intelligence agents.
Relations between Washington and Islamabad, already severely strained by the Bin Laden operation, have deteriorated considerably since then. The doctor's arrest has exacerbated these tensions. The US is understood to be concerned for the doctor's safety, and is thought to have intervened on his behalf.
The vaccination plan was conceived after American intelligence officers tracked an al-Qaida courier, known as Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti, to what turned out to be Bin Laden's Abbottabad compound last summer. The agency monitored the compound by satellite and surveillance from a local CIA safe house in Abbottabad, but wanted confirmation that Bin Laden was there before mounting a risky operation inside another country.
DNA from any of the Bin Laden children in the compound could be compared with a sample from his sister, who died in Boston in 2010, to provide evidence that the family was present.
So agents approached Afridi, the health official in charge of Khyber, part of the tribal area that runs along the Afghan border.
The doctor went to Abbottabad in March, saying he had procured funds to give free vaccinations for hepatitis B. Bypassing the management of the Abbottabad health services, he paid generous sums to low-ranking local government health workers, who took part in the operation without knowing about the connection to Bin Laden. Health visitors in the area were among the few people who had gained access to the Bin Laden compound in the past, administering polio drops to some of the children.
Afridi had posters for the vaccination programme put up around Abbottabad, featuring a vaccine made by Amson, a medicine manufacturer based on the outskirts of Islamabad.
In March health workers administered the vaccine in a poor neighbourhood on the edge of Abbottabad called Nawa Sher. The hepatitis B vaccine is usually given in three doses, the second a month after the first. But in April, instead of administering the second dose in Nawa Sher, the doctor returned to Abbottabad and moved the nurses on to Bilal Town, the suburb where Bin Laden lived.
It is not known exactly how the doctor hoped to get DNA from the vaccinations, although nurses could have been trained to withdraw some blood in the needle after administrating the drug.
"The whole thing was totally irregular," said one Pakistani official. "Bilal Town is a well-to-do area. Why would you choose that place to give free vaccines? And what is the official surgeon of Khyber doing working in Abbottabad?"
A nurse known as Bakhto, whose full name is Mukhtar Bibi, managed to gain entry to the Bin Laden compound to administer the vaccines. According to several sources, the doctor, who waited outside, told her to take in a handbag that was fitted with an electronic device. It is not clear what the device was, or whether she left it behind. It is also not known whether the CIA managed to obtain any Bin Laden DNA, although one source suggested the operation did not succeed.
Mukhtar Bibi, who was unaware of the real purpose of the vaccination campaign, would not comment on the programme.
Pakistani intelligence became aware of the doctor's activities during the investigation into the US raid in which Bin Laden was killed on the top floor of the Abbottabad house. Islamabad refused to comment officially on Afridi's arrest, but one senior official said: "Wouldn't any country detain people for working for a foreign spy service?"
The doctor is one of several people suspected of helping the CIA to have been arrested by the ISI, but he is thought to be the only one still in custody.
Pakistan is furious over being kept in the dark about the raid, and the US is angry that the Pakistani investigation appears more focused on finding out how the CIA was able to track down the al-Qaida leader than on how Bin Laden was able to live in Abbottabad for five years.
Over the weekend, relations were pummelled further when the US announced that it would cut $800m (£500m) worth of military aid as punishment for Pakistan's perceived lack of co-operation in the anti-terror fight. William Daley, the White House chief of staff, went on US television on Sunday to say: "Obviously, there's still a lot of pain that the political system in Pakistan is feeling by virtue of the raid that we did to get Osama bin Laden, something the president felt strongly about and we have no regrets over."
The CIA refused to comment on the vaccination plot.
Yes there will be consequences to a US withdrawl, but unless the US is willing to tackle Pak and focus on Pak....its not worthwhile to stay in Afghanistan, IMHO. The paki contribution to US body bags needs to be stopped, or we should come back. The other important development that is only briefly alluded to are the voices suggesting division of Afghanistan. The handling of the Pashtoon "problem", ie the artificial demarcation by the Durrand line, is key to controlling Pak. Its not Kashmir which many westerners and Pak keeps alluding to. Even the Kashmiris in Pak occupied Kashmir dont want to merge with Pak, leave alone those from India. I anticipate, in the coming year(s), this issue will gain more interest and comment in the media. Pakistan is scared $hit, as to what will happen if the pashtoons unite on both side of the Durrand line.
As the Americans flounder for an exit from the Afghan mess, India must be prepared for a precipitate and irresponsible US withdrawal.
The multiple suicide attack last week against Hotel Intercontinental perched on a hillock on the western edge of Kabul when Provincial Governors were meeting to chart out Afghanisation’s security reflects holes in capability of the Afghan National Security Forces. Not a single battalion of the Army can operate independently.
I stayed at the Intercontinental last year for a conference and wondered how the Taliban might storm the hotel. Of the three security checks along the road two were lightly held with armed guards. The third with X-ray machines was virtually in the hotel. But the rest of the area seemed uncovered, especially the slopes to the hill top. That’s where they came from and not along the road. The Taliban are both great improvisers and innovators, routinely springing new tricks and not afraid to die.
This setback will not derail the phased withdrawal beginning this month of the 33,000 US surge troops who will be out in 15 months. The remaining 70,000 troops are to deinduct by 2014. The politically choreographed drawdown is premised on preservation of gains of the surge. America’s Nato partners, except the UK, have earlier exit schedules which are to be finalised at the Chicago Nato summit next year.
US President Barack Obama’s 13-minute speech outlining the withdrawal marks the end of phase one of the war, a shift from counter-insurgency to counter-terrorism and from combat to combat support of the ANSF. The new US counter-terrorism strategy document released last week lays emphasis on raids and drone strikes.
The illusion of success has been buoyed by the dramatic elimination of Osama bin Laden and the annihilation of the Al Qaeda leadership, whereas opposition to foreign forces is from Al Qaeda’s affiliates, the Taliban. They too, have been degraded, some 2000 killed (700 middle-level commanders) and 4,000 captured, but nearly 80 per cent were civilians. Mr Obama characterised these ephemeral gains as “tide of war receding and drawdown from a position of strength”.
The core of Mr Obama’s assessment was embedded in two stark admissions: “We will not try to make Afghanistan a perfect place” and “nation-building has to be done at home facing rising debt and hard economic times”. The war cost of $12 billion annually and 30 to 40 body bags (in June there were 44) with nearly twice that number wounded monthly is politically unsustainable.
So how does Mr Obama hope to reduce American footprint, withdraw responsibly and leave behind a minimally stable Afghanistan? The key to transition — two small provinces and five urban centres, including Kabul, are to be handed over starting this month — is a capable and motivated ANSF. By October 2011, the Army will be 170,000-strong, to reach 240,000 by next year, optimally equipped with Nato class of weapons. Currently 70,000, the police force will increase to 130,000 but is terribly under-resourced. Too many countries are involved in their training and confusion obtains on whether it is to be CIS or policing. Interestingly, Pakistan’s hopes of a weak and sterile ANSF may turn out to be real.
A political settlement entailing power-sharing with the Taliban requires reintegration and reconciliation. Reintegration has proved more successful than reconciliation with nearly 2,000 rank and file Taliban reportedly brought overground. Response to reconciliation has been tardy despite claims of conversations with Mullah Omar’s aides, including some Taliban imposters. Here, too, many countries are involved: Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the US, the UK and Germany which is coordinating the talks.
Mullah Omar has posted in mosques in southern Afghanistan warnings of death to anyone who talks to the Government. And why will Pakistan, which wants to be part of the solution and not the problem, be left out of reconciliation, as it has been so far? In February 2010, Quetta Shura’s number two, Mullah Biradar, was arrested in Karachi by the ISI and Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha has ensured Mullah Omar’s relocation after the Osama bin Laden plucking. Both former US Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have said the Taliban will not engage in serious and fruitful talks. The Afghans feel that for serious reconciliation the surge has to continue — otherwise even if an agreement is reached its implementation is unlikely.
Against this background the recently established Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Commission on Reconciliation and Joint Task Force on Infiltration are as good as the India-Pakistan Joint Anti-Terror Mechanism: Good only for the joint statement. Similarly, at the counter-terrorism summit in Tehran last week, the Presidents of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan resolved to collectively fight militancy and oppose foreign interference — both aspirational goals.
The third element of the US exit strategy is turning the focus of operations from Afghanistan to Pakistan, reversing AfPak to PakAf, to neutralise Taliban sanctuaries inside Pakistan. In 2001, Pakistan was the base for the American war in Afghanistan; now it could be the opposite.
Cajoling and coercing Pakistan to act against its strategic assets will be the trickiest bit. Already the reverse is happening. Pakistan has asked the US to withdraw its trainers, close down drone bases, recall CIA operatives and the whole works. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is very angry the Army’s nose has been rubbed on the ground after the Osama bin Laden episode. He’s under extreme pressure from the conclave of Corps Commanders, political opposition and the public to punish the Americans.
As Pakistan is unlikely to cooperate easily, the frequency of drone attacks from Afghanistan will increase, prompting Islamabad to take up the legality of cross-border aerial attacks with Kabul and, who knows, the UN too. With US-Pakistan relations plummeting, training and capability of the ANSF under a cloud and good governance and a political settlement out of sight, Mr Obama’s exit strategy is as unworkable as Mr Henry Kissinger’s latest prescription in The International Herald Tribune: A ceasefire, withdrawal, coalition Government and an enforcing mechanism.
Already voices in the US suggest accelerated transition and division of Afghanistan if necessary. While the Americans are barking up the wrong tree, India must be prepared for a precipitate and irresponsible US withdrawal. Afghans want India to punch up to its weight without being inhibited by American and Pakistani sensitivities to a more proactive role. India must engage the Taliban and offer to equip and train the ANSF. But Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said last week in Washington, DC that India will not get involved in a security role. A rethink is required as was done on reintegration and reconciliation.
Why My Father Hated India Aatish Taseer, the son of an assassinated Pakistani leader, explains the history and hysteria behind a deadly relationship By AATISH TASEER
Ten days before he was assassinated in January, my father, Salman Taseer, sent out a tweet about an Indian rocket that had come down over the Bay of Bengal: "Why does India make fools of themselves messing in space technology? Stick 2 bollywood my advice."
My father was the governor of Punjab, Pakistan's largest province, and his tweet, with its taunt at India's misfortune, would have delighted his many thousands of followers. It fed straight into Pakistan's unhealthy obsession with India, the country from which it was carved in 1947.
Though my father's attitude went down well in Pakistan, it had caused considerable tension between us. I am half-Indian, raised in Delhi by my Indian mother: India is a country that I consider my own. When my father was killed by one of his own bodyguards for defending a Christian woman accused of blasphemy, we had not spoken for three years.
To understand the Pakistani obsession with India, to get a sense of its special edge—its hysteria—it is necessary to understand the rejection of India, its culture and past, that lies at the heart of the idea of Pakistan. This is not merely an academic question. Pakistan's animus toward India is the cause of both its unwillingness to fight Islamic extremism and its active complicity in undermining the aims of its ostensible ally, the United States.
The idea of Pakistan was first seriously formulated by neither a cleric nor a politician but by a poet. In 1930, Muhammad Iqbal, addressing the All-India Muslim league, made the case for a state in which India's Muslims would realize their "political and ethical essence." Though he was always vague about what the new state would be, he was quite clear about what it would not be: the old pluralistic society of India, with its composite culture.
Iqbal's vision took concrete shape in August 1947. Despite the partition of British India, it had seemed at first that there would be no transfer of populations. But violence erupted, and it quickly became clear that in the new homeland for India's Muslims, there would be no place for its non-Muslim communities. Pakistan and India came into being at the cost of a million lives and the largest migration in history.
This shared experience of carnage and loss is the foundation of the modern relationship between the two countries. In human terms, it meant that each of my parents, my father in Pakistan and my mother in India, grew up around symmetrically violent stories of uprooting and homelessness.
Rex USA Salman Taseer, governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, in May 2009. He was assassinated in January 2011.
But in Pakistan, the partition had another, deeper meaning. It raised big questions, in cultural and civilizational terms, about what its separation from India would mean.
In the absence of a true national identity, Pakistan defined itself by its opposition to India. It turned its back on all that had been common between Muslims and non-Muslims in the era before partition. Everything came under suspicion, from dress to customs to festivals, marriage rituals and literature. The new country set itself the task of erasing its association with the subcontinent, an association that many came to view as a contamination.
Had this assertion of national identity meant the casting out of something alien or foreign in favor of an organic or homegrown identity, it might have had an empowering effect. What made it self-wounding, even nihilistic, was that Pakistan, by asserting a new Arabized Islamic identity, rejected its own local and regional culture. In trying to turn its back on its shared past with India, Pakistan turned its back on itself.
But there was one problem: India was just across the border, and it was still its composite, pluralistic self, a place where nearly as many Muslims lived as in Pakistan. It was a daily reminder of the past that Pakistan had tried to erase.
Pakistan's existential confusion made itself apparent in the political turmoil of the decades after partition. The state failed to perform a single legal transfer of power; coups were commonplace. And yet, in 1980, my father would still have felt that the partition had not been a mistake, for one critical reason: India, for all its democracy and pluralism, was an economic disaster.
Pakistan had better roads, better cars; Pakistani businesses were thriving; its citizens could take foreign currency abroad. Compared with starving, socialist India, they were on much surer ground. So what if India had democracy? It had brought nothing but drought and famine.
But in the early 1990s, a reversal began to occur in the fortunes of the two countries. The advantage that Pakistan had seemed to enjoy in the years after independence evaporated, as it became clear that the quest to rid itself of its Indian identity had come at a price: the emergence of a new and dangerous brand of Islam.
As India rose, thanks to economic liberalization, Pakistan withered. The country that had begun as a poet's utopia was reduced to ruin and insolvency.
The primary agent of this decline has been the Pakistani army. The beneficiary of vast amounts of American assistance and money—$11 billion since 9/11—the military has diverted a significant amount of these resources to arming itself against India. In Afghanistan, it has sought neither security nor stability but rather a backyard, which—once the Americans leave—might provide Pakistan with "strategic depth" against India.
In order to realize these objectives, the Pakistani army has led the U.S. in a dance, in which it had to be seen to be fighting the war on terror, but never so much as to actually win it, for its extension meant the continuing flow of American money. All this time the army kept alive a double game, in which some terror was fought and some—such as Laskhar-e-Tayyba's 2008 attack on Mumbai—actively supported.
The army's duplicity was exposed decisively this May, with the killing of Osama bin Laden in the garrison town of Abbottabad. It was only the last and most incriminating charge against an institution whose activities over the years have included the creation of the Taliban, the financing of international terrorism and the running of a lucrative trade in nuclear secrets.
This army, whose might has always been justified by the imaginary threat from India, has been more harmful to Pakistan than to anybody else. It has consumed annually a quarter of the country's wealth, undermined one civilian government after another and enriched itself through a range of economic interests, from bakeries and shopping malls to huge property holdings.
The reversal in the fortunes of the two countries—India's sudden prosperity and cultural power, seen next to the calamity of Muhammad Iqbal's unrealized utopia—is what explains the bitterness of my father's tweet just days before he died. It captures the rage of being forced to reject a culture of which you feel effortlessly a part—a culture that Pakistanis, via Bollywood, experience daily in their homes.
This rage is what makes it impossible to reduce Pakistan's obsession with India to matters of security or a land dispute in Kashmir. It can heal only when the wounds of 1947 are healed. And it should provoke no triumphalism in India, for behind the bluster and the bravado, there is arid pain and sadness.
As predicted a few posts back, "In the next few days, the US will call India to exercise restraint, and the indians will fume in impotent rage for a while....pakis will say india may attack and they need to protect the Indian border as opposed to the Afghan border, unless ofcourse US pays the 800 million$...so predictable."
Posted 07/12/2011 06:35 PM ET War On Terror: Washington finally has done what it should have done years ago: deny aid to Islamabad unless it can show its cooperation is more than just a facade to milk the U.S. for more cash.
After Pakistan ordered U.S. military trainers out of the country — in retaliation for the clandestine raid on Osama bin Laden's compound — the administration held back $800 million in aid to the Pakistani military.
The cut amounts to only a third of promised aid this year. And it was measured. The lack of trainers means that planned U.S. equipment can't be put into service, reducing some of the needed aid.
The reaction from Islamabad was predictable. Its defense minister threatened to pull back troops from border areas where Islamist militants are active.
But Pakistan already has failed to deploy troops to the region as the U.S. has requested, which is another reason aid was withheld.
About $300 million from the trimmed aid was intended to reimburse Pakistan for the cost of deploying troops along the Afghan border.
Pakistan wasn't through huffing and bluffing. It said the financial snub would only push it into the arms of its "all-weather friend," China.
But it's already there. In fact, there is evidence U.S. aid has been fueling a dangerous nuclear pact between Pakistan and China.
At a cost of $2.4 billion, Islamabad is buying two 635-megawatt reactors from Beijing for its plutonium production complex at Chasma.
These are military reactors with the capability of adding 24 nuclear weapons a year to Pakistan's existing arsenal of some 90.
There's no explanation for how impoverished Pakistan is paying for these weapons-grade reactors except for the $20 billion in aid the U.S. has blank-checked Islamabad since 9/11. So it's fairly clear we are subsidizing the deal — against U.S. interests in the region, as well as the world.
Pakistan has led one of the most dangerous nuclear smuggling rings ever disclosed, stretching from North Korea to Iran and possibly to Saudi Arabia.
There is also evidence the Pakistani military is diverting U.S. aid to supply the Taliban with weapons and direct cash payments.
According to one report, Pakistani intelligence pays Taliban insurgents $2,000 for every IED bomb they plant, $2,000 for every Afghan army soldier they kill, $10,000 for every American soldier they kill, and $20,000 to the family of suicide bombers.
Still, a former Pakistani ambassador claims suspending aid will end up hurting Washington more than Islamabad.
"It will strengthen those elements in the armed forces that have always had grave misgivings of the relationship with the United States," Tariq Fatemi warned.
Sorry, that bluff is equally weak. Their armed forces are already seriously compromised.
A noted Pakistani journalist recently detailed a "sizable al-Qaida infiltration" within the Pakistani military.
"No one can separate Islam and Islamic sentiment from the armed forces of Pakistan," Syed Shahzad quoted a senior Pakistani military official saying in his investigative story for the Asia Times.
Days after he published his report in May, Shahzad's tortured body was discovered. Last week, U.S. Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Pakistani government "sanctioned" the killing of the reporter.
More than 180 recently leaked intelligence files detail allegations that Pakistani intelligence has been aiding the insurgency in Afghanistan.
Support includes plots to train suicide bombers, smuggle surface-to-air missiles across the border, bomb the Indian Embassy in Kabul, and assassinate President Hamid Karzai and members of his administration.
U.S. officials say Pakistan provides direct support to two major groups carrying out attacks in Afghanistan: the Taliban based in Quetta, Pakistan, and the Haqqani group operating out of Pakistan's tribal region.
It's plain that Islamabad is playing both sides of the war on terror. Hold back the other two-thirds in aid.
This (Mumbai bombing) was completely expected. So the game goes like this... Uncle Sam is tightening the screws on the purelanders to do more with respect to AQ, as well as to mount an operation in N.Wazoostan. Pakis wont do it, because its against their national interests vis a vis India. So Uncle sam decided to withold funds (800 mill$), in response pakis threaten to withdraw troops from their border with Afghanistan/FATA. Infact pakis have absolutely zero interest in doing uncle sam's bidding, because of the many jihadis who are members of the pak army. The problem is that the US does not want pakis to withdraw from the NWFP/FATA area, and if they withdraw, uncle sam will get even more pi$$ed off. So the only approach left for pak is to foment trouble in India via its proxies. They hope India will respond, or threaten to respond, which will allow pakis to withdraw from the afghan border to the border with India.
In the next few days, the US will call India to exercise restraint, and the indians will fume in impotent rage for a while....pakis will say india may attack and they need to protect the Indian border as opposed to the Afghan border, unless ofcourse US pays the 800 million$...so predictable.
This comes under the "`Commando` bodyguards against governors" category pf jihad.
All over the region, the bodyguards are becoming suspect. The elites are sweating...there has been talk of hiring foreign body guards, since the locals cant be trusted. Soon the elites may start to leave the country (Pak)...once that happens the jihadis have won.
If you are trying to understand the situation in Pak and having difficulty...and wondering why the US govt does not have a coherent policy..
Quotable from the web.. "The list of all who have declared Jihad in Pakistan against who all. Its not complete. Muslims against Jews, Christians and Hindus. Sunnis against Shias, Ahmedis and Sufis. Shias against Sunnis. Pashtoons against Mohajirs. Mohajirs against Pashtoons. `Commando` bodyguards against governors. Taliban against Pakistan Army. Pakistan Army against Taliban. Pakistan Army against Balochi insurgents. Pakistan army against terrorists. Pakistan against USA, India and Israel. Taliban against USA and India. LeT/Al/Qaeda/JeM against the rest of the world. Lashkar e Jhangvi against Shias........ ....Pakistan is the first muslim country to have achieved such a comprehensive list of Jihaad declarations ."
Obama puts the heat on Pakistan By Karamatullah K Ghori
When the head of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) directorate of the Pakistan military makes a clean breast, as he did on June 21, that a serving brigadier of the army at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi is in detention on charges of having links with an extremist religious organization, one has to believe that something very serious must be wrong in the military.
Another announcement from the ISPR, a day later, added four majors of the army to the brigadier's column. These four, however, are merely being questioned and not detained, at least not yet.
The Pakistan military is an exclusive club that doesn't let out much information about itself unless there's an overwhelming reason for it. And the current period in time is, no doubt, one such phase when a lot has happened that the denizens of this elitist club may never have wished to see.
The series of humiliations kicked off in early May with the embarrassment of Abbottabad and the macabre siege of the naval base Mehran, in Karachi, and shows little sign of abating.
As the sweltering heat in the plains of Pakistan is getting closer to making room for the annual monsoons - with the likelihood of another visitation of floods engulfing the country - dark clouds ominously dot the horizon for the army.
The open season that opposition politicians, led by two-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif, have declared on the military's bloated but unwelcome role in governance is enough to test its resilience. And now United States President Barack Obama, too, has waded in to make the challenge even more onerous for the generals at GHQ.
Obama's June 22 speech from the White House - in which he announced the commencement of his promised drawdown of US troops from Afghanistan in July this year and phased over the next three years - contains a list of veiled demands and warnings for Pakistan, particularly its military.
To Obama, the thinning of the American combat presence in Afghanistan doesn't mean any dilution of his firm resolve to keep up the pressure on al-Qaeda and its militant comrades. He complimented Pakistan's efforts that, together with the American punch, have led to more than half of al-Qaeda's top brass being eliminated. However, he left no room for doubt that as long as he was in command, there would be no sanctuary for terrorists, anywhere.
That's where Pakistan and the role of its military take on a pivotal position in Obama's estimation. He was quite categorical that there would be no "safe havens for al-Qaeda". That was a loud and clear message for Pakistan to ensure there are no hide-outs for al-Qaeda and its fellow-travellers in the "no man's land" of Pakistan's tribal belt straddling Afghanistan.
It's an old but persistent demand of the Americans for the Pakistan army to do in its North Waziristan tribal area what it did in South Waziristan. The Pakistan army - for a variety of reasons - has been stalling on that demand. But Obama sounded more insistent and resolute than ever before. Indeed, his confidence has climbed since US special forces killed al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in his hideout not far from a military compound in Abbottabad. So he hardly minced his words in articulating that "we will insist" that Pakistan keeps its commitments.
It's easy for Obama to pile pressure on Pakistan, coupled with barely disguised warnings that if Pakistan didn't, then he would go about it on his own, which in simple words means another Abbottabad-like solo operation.
However, the relentless demands from Obama for the Pakistan army to do still more - with himself holding a gun to its head, is a catch-22 dilemma for the generals. The price Obama could exact from them and the country is enormous.
The latest survey by the Washington-based Pew research in Pakistan in the wake of Bin Laden's demise finds that 67% of Pakistanis questioned, a solid majority, don't think the "war on terror" is Pakistan's war. A fresh incursion by the army into North Waziristan to oblige the Americans could only trigger wider public uproar, which would be hard to stomach for an army leadership already forced onto the back foot.
The Pakistan army's operation in South Waziristan has already brought a massive spike in acts of terrorism that has taken a heavy toll of public life. Another Quixotic venture would inevitably add fuel to a burning fire and push the country to the brink of anarchy.
In a nutshell, Pakistan could slide into civil war, given an already super-charged tension in its political culture, where tolerance of any kind is at a heavy premium.
On top of that, Pakistan is wary of the talks that Washington has been carrying on for some time with the Afghan Taliban behind its back. Keeping Pakistan out of the loop has only one meaning for Islamabad: the Obama administration doesn't trust it enough to make it a party to the parleys, which could have far-reaching consequences for Pakistan, more than any other neighbor of Afghanistan.
Islamabad is also feeling increasingly leery of the traction that the so-called Blackwill formula - to divide Afghanistan along ethnic lines into a Pashtun south and a non-Pashtun north - is apparently receiving in top echelons of the Obama administration.
There's near-consensus in Pakistan's intellectual community, and policymakers, that the author of this prescription, Robert Blackwill, has absorbed a lot of Indian input into his brain wave. Blackwill was George W Bush's ambassador to India from 2001 to 2003.
Pakistan's intellectual community also fears Obama's drawdown of forces, spread over three years, is calibrated to allow the Blackwill plan ample opportunity to take root in Afghanistan.
A divided Afghanistan would not only denude Pakistan of its strategic depth, vis-a-vis India, but may also become a cause for the Pashtuns on both sides of the Durand Line, the poorly marked border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, to unite. Such unity could only mean further dismemberment of Pakistan and open up a Pandora's box. Pakistan simply can't countenance such an outcome and will pull no punches to thwart it.
Karamatullah K Ghori is a former career ambassador of Pakistan whose diplomatic assignments took him to the United States, Argentina, Japan, China, The Philippines, Algeria, Kuwait, Iraq, Macedonia and Turkey.
NightWatch has continued to track data in detail for all 400 districts of Afghanistan every other month and spot checked fighting reports in between. Preliminary analysis of the data for May 2011 was completed today. The table below shows the data from three tracking measures since last November.
What do these data signify?
First the "media expert" thesis that the Taliban have a fighting season that ends in winter is a fantasy. During each of the past three winters Taliban and other anti-government fighters increased their level of activity, reducing their operations only briefing for weather, as in January 2009. Winter weather imposes no lasting impediment to anti-government operations in the core provinces of the insurgency.
The Taliban did begin an offensive in May 2011, as announced. The number of security incidents in May reached an all-time high despite a brief dip in activity in late May apparently because of rumors that Mullah Omar was missing or deceased.
The number of districts experiencing security incidents was at an all-time high, despite the increase in US forces. The mix of districts has changed, indicating the anti-government fighters moved, rather than confront overwhelming US force. This explains the multiple reports of successfully cleared districts that have returned to normality while the overall number of security incidents increased.
About 200 of the 400 Afghan districts have Pashtun majorities or significant Pashtun minority populations. Any monthly total number of districts experiencing security incidents that exceeds 200 means the Taliban have acquired support or tolerance from non-Pashtun populations.
The May 2011 number of districts experiencing security incidents represents two-thirds of all districts, and is the highest number since the Taliban resurgence began in 2006. Much of this increase in reach is in districts north of Kabul.
The number of incidents is partly a function of increased US operations during the surge, but the Taliban are almost always present to shoot back. There also has been a noticeable spike in the use of improvised explosive devices, the most effective Taliban weapons.
The anti-government fighters waste lots of ammunition and explosives, but never seem to lack for supplies for long. Afghanistan makes no ammunition and no explosives. Almost all come from Pakistan or from leakage from US and Afghan supplies. The increase in security incidents always is matched by an increase in logistics for NATO and anti-government fighters.
The analysis continues, but the reports since November show no significant Afghan army involvement in combat operations. The May reports contained a single operation that clearly was Afghan army initiated. Afghan soldiers accompany NATO forces on operations, but seldom take casualties except from careless driving.
The Afghan police continue to sustain more casualties than any other armed entity. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime estimates Afghanistan has more than 30,700 villages. NightWatch security incident data indicates up to two-thirds harbor or tolerate anti-government fighters in them.
The data show the Afghan government cannot survive without NATO support, especially logistics and tactical air support. More on casualties, later.
In the last few days, atleast two commentators have started talking about the balkanization of Af-Pak region, specifically southern afghanistan/northern afghanistan.
Here's from the Broadsword blog on the 25th of June "Critical to the American vision for Afghanistan is the reconciliation process with the Taliban. A long-term US presence is anathema to the Taliban; a US drawdown, alongside the failure of reconciliation, could well result in the effective Balkanisation of Afghanistan, with the Taliban controlling southern Afghanistan and the remaining US forces militarily propping up Karzai’s (or a successor’s) government in northern Afghanistan. At least one prominent American thinker, former US Ambassador to India, Robert Blackwill, has foreseen the de facto division of Afghanistan, with US drone and Special Forces strikes being conducted from northern Afghanistan into the south and into Pakistan.
For Pakistan, the US drawdown is ominous since Washington’s reduced dependence on Pakistan will allow more effective arm-twisting of Islamabad. As senior US officials have briefed New Delhi, the dependence on Pakistan for logistical routes has already come down thanks to Russia’s cooperation in expanding the Northern Distribution Network (NDN). This involves landing US supplies in Baltic Sea ports and then transporting them to Afghanistan through Russia and the Central Asian countries over a 3,200-mile railway. Even though the NDN is four times as expensive as the comparatively straightforward route through Pakistan, it already accounts for half of America’s logistical requirements in Afghanistan. Any reduction in the American presence will further decrease Pakistan’s leverage."
Here's Major Amin, a Pak army commentator on June 22 "The result will be an Afghanistan again divided in north and south regardless of Pakistan or USA liking it.".
A different take from the previous post from Stratfor-- any comments contrasting the two? ================ Obama's Announcement and the Future of the Afghan War
If military reality and military objectives are defined in terms of the Taliban insurgency, then Afghanistan is every bit as lost now as it was two years ago – if not more so. But if they are defined in terms of al Qaeda, then the United States has good cause to claim victory and reorient its posture in Afghanistan.
If Baraq implements his withdrawl, I think US policy in Af-Pak will result in Talib controlled south Afghanistan, and Northern alliance controlled N.Afghanistan. If the US can force Pak army to take action on the Haqqani group, then the fun begins, as pak unravels. Pak will unravel, only question is the pace. A stable Pak is not in anyone's interest..the US govt is coming around to this view. A weaker Pak is a manageable pak.
- The Pakistanis/ISI are not the masters of Afghanistan's destiny, although one may state that the Taliban in Afghanistan south of line Wardak-Shindand are Pakistan dependent as are near-Pakistani proxies. - Kunnar, Laghman, Nuristan is a different game. It is Al Qaeda plus a combination of anti Pakistan Taliban groups with a heavy mixture of Swat. Dir, Bajaur, and Mohmand Talibans. - The north is to a large extent pro Russian groups controlled with exception of pockets of Taliban in Baghlan and Kunduz. The Northern Alliance, Dostum and some other commanders will definitely look towards Russia, India and Iran rather than Pakistan. - A new Northern Alliance is already being created with possible aerial fire support at Kulyab, Dehdadi, Kunduz and Herat Airfields. Russia will not allow the Taliban to have a clean run north of Hindu Kush; neither would Iran and India In all probability the Taliban will have a clean run till line Kabul-Shindand but no further north. - US has already abandoned large parts of Kunnar, Laghman, and Nuristan where the anti Pakistan Taliban are based. - Note that 80 % of Taliban out of which 90 % are from Afghanistan regard Pakistan as a friend. There is no Pakistani regular army all along the 1500 Km stretch of Afghan border from Zhob to Taftan which is freely used for logistics by the 90 % of Taliban who are against USA and already pro Pakistan. - The result will be an Afghanistan again divided in north and south regardless of Pakistan or USA liking it. That Pakistan has been using Pashtuns as its pawns in its wars is now even very clear to the Pashtuns. The greatest beneficiary of money from Afghan wars has been the North Punjab.
- My fear is that Taliban backlash against Pakistan will be some kind of subconscious Pashtun backlash against Pakistan where Pashtuns will use religion to justify rebellion and even taking over Pakistan or some kind of secession. Here they would be aided by a simultaneous Baloch war of secession and a Punjab and Sindh paralyzed by inflation and unemployment. - Pakistan is a suicide bombers factory. India may not be ideal but at least a young man can hope something in India but not in Pakistan which is a bastion of corruption, nepotism and red tapism. Inflation, poverty and despondency makes Pakistanis kill themselves or aspiring to kill some one, if not physically then spiritually and morally. - A military coup in Pakistan can also not be ruled out. It has not succeeded before but it may next time. - A serious strategic imbalance of Pakistan is that all institutions have lost their coercive value. This includes the military, the ISI and everybody who once mattered. - The majority in Pakistan may be moderate but the extremists are the best organized and most ready to die. So Pakistan may be the worst nightmare of this world in next five to ten years. - The Pakistani military and intelligence and its security apparatus is just not capable of containing extremism. What can the omnipotent USA do about it if they cannot manage to make an Frontier Corps training centre worth 31 Million USD at Tank which was long planned, or bring 1000-MW electricity to Pakistan because of the closing down of the CASA 1000 project. - An Indo Pak showdown with nuclear weapons may become a reality within next five years. With water resources decreasing and population rising an Indo-Pak conflict is a matter of few years unless Pakistan breaks down from within, not into Balkanization, but into a constant civil war bordering near breakdown. - The militarization of the Indo-Pak has to see a showdown unless one party breaks down without a war. Pakistan seems more likely and the last resort may be a nuclear exchange or a cold start war with India which further weakens Pakistan. - The US would not be able to make a dent with India over Pakistan as Pakistan is a solid Chinese concubine although its US relationship is a more temporary and fluctuating Mutaah or Sigheh (Temporary Marriage).
I have been harping on the paki need for maintaining H&D (honor and dignity) for a while now. Unfortunately, H&D has been taking a beating as of late.. , what with the OBL raid, PNS Mehran attack etc..
Managing Afghanistan Backing Northern Alliance II is the only viable option for India when US troops withdraw, says N.V.Subramanian.
27 May 2011: Through back channels, the US is telling India that it is leaving Afghanistan. After the discovery of Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad, the United States no longer trusts Pakistan to "hand over" Afghanistan to it and its Taliban allies. America wants regional ownership of Afghanistan, meaning that India, Iran, Russia, the Central Asian republics, China and Pakistan must sit together to decide the best course for bringing peace and stability to the benighted country. The US has promised to remain involved. And it will not let its anti-Iran biases obstruct a regional peace solution for Afghanistan. So what should India do? Retired senior US CIA and military officials are keen to let India know that America is absolutely serious about withdrawing from Afghanistan. The withdrawal will by no means be sudden. But since president Barack Obama has decided to stand for re-election, the White House wants some troops' withdrawal. One estimate of that is sixty thousand troops and another thirty thousand. There is also the compulsion to cut defence spending, and so it is imperative to keep a manageable size of troops in Afghanistan. Even if a majority of US troops are withdrawn, a small number will be kept in non-Pashtun territories in the west but more likely in the north, roughly in the region of the former Northern Alliance. The trust with Pakistan is broken. The US national security establishment has evidence that Pakistan's ISI facilitated the Pakistani Taliban attack on a CIA base in eastern Afghanistan in December 2009 that killed eight American agents. The US is also convinced of an ISI hand in 26/11. Indeed, Pakistan hoped the US government would prevent the presentation of documentary evidence of the ISI role in 26/11 in the Tahawwur Rao trial in Chicago. And previous to the Abbottabad raid that killed Bin Laden, strains in Pak-US relations came on the Raymond Davis affair. Davis who was a contract CIA operative in Pakistan killed two threatening ISI gunmen. While blood money was paid to return him to the US, the Obama administration made two other pledges to Pakistan for Davis' release. One was that about four dozen CIA undercover officers deployed in FATA and elsewhere against the Al-Qaeda and Taliban would be removed. The second was that the US would hand over the drone campaign to the Pakistanis. Once Raymond Davis was back in the US, America signaled that the two deals were off. The CIA agents would not be pulled out. And the US would continue to manage drone warfare. Drone attacks significantly increased after Davis' return. And CIA undercover agents scored a big hit in tracing Osama Bin Laden to a secure compound in Abbottabad. When the ISI chief, Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, came to the US to press for the honouring of the Davis deal, he got a tongue-lashing from the CIA director, Leon Panetta, and left the meeting in a huff. The point the US wants to convey is that it no longer trusts Pakistan on Afghanistan. While it is leaving, it wants India, Russia, Iran, China and Pakistan to confabulate to return peace and stability to Afghanistan. What should India do? While the US position on Iran that it will not discourage its participation for an Afghan solution is welcome, trouble comes from China and Pakistan, and possibly, more from Pakistan than China. Following the Pakistan prime minister, Yousaf Reza Geelani's visit to China, it appears that China does not want to step into US shoes as a military aider of Pakistan. Nor it would seem is China keen to insert itself into Afghanistan in the present mess. Above all, it wants no damage in relations with the US. But even assuming China and Pakistan come together on Afghanistan, they will not accept an India role in deciding that country's future. While Russia would have no obvious issues with Pakistan and China on Afghanistan, Iran would be deterred from their camp by the Shia-Sunni angle. But in the natural course, Russia and Iran would prefer India because of their past common Northern Alliance dealings. And if Pakistan ascertains it will have a major role in Afghanistan if a regional solution involving India fails, it will work towards its destruction. What's the solution for Afghanistan in which India can play a role? There is no "solution" in sight and it is going to be messy. India's best bet is to remain engaged with Afghanistan's peaceful development till conditions worsen. Then, cutting its losses, India has to return to the pre-9/11 position of backing a previously created Northern Alliance II. This is familiar territory for our readers. In time, Pakistan will face the blowback of encouraging terrorism in Afghanistan (and India), and it would sink the Pakistan state. The only worry is Pakistani nukes. Opinion is already building worldwide for denuclearizing Pakistan. Once Pakistan disintegrates by itself, its state policy of terrorism will crumble, and consequently the region will gradually stabilize, including Afghanistan. N.V.Subramanian is Editor, www.NewsInsight.net, and writes internationally on strategic affairs. He has authored two novels, University of Love (Writers Workshop, Calcutta) and Courtesan of Storms (Har-Anand, Delhi). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comments by sanman in the Economist...explaining the history of the region.
In 1839, the British Empire sought to expand the borders of its colony of British India, by launching a war of conquest against the neighboring Pashtuns. The Pashtuns, as a fiercely independent tribal warrior people, resisted ferociously, so that the British conquest of them was not successful. The British were only able to conquer part of the Pashtun territory, and even that remained in constant rebellion against them. Meanwhile, the remaining unconquered portion of Pashtun territory became the nucleus for the formation of Afghanistan. In 1893, the British imposed a ceasefire line on the Afghans called the Durand Line, which separated British-controlled territory from Afghan territory. The local people on the ground however never recognized this line, which merely existed on a map, and not on the ground.
In 1947, when the colony of British India achieved independence and was simultaneously partitioned into Pakistan and India, the Pakistanis wanted the conquered Pashtun territory to go to them, since the Pashtuns were Muslims. Given that the Pashtuns never recognized British authority over them to begin with, the Pakistanis had tenuous relations with the Pashtuns and were consumed by fears of Pashtun secession.
When Pakistan applied to join the UN in 1947, there was only one country which voted against it. No, it wasn't India - it was Pashtun-ruled Afghanistan which voted against Pakistan's admission, on the grounds that Pakistan was in illegal occupation of Pashtun lands stolen by the British. Their vote was cast on September 30, 1947 and is a fact.
In 1948, in the nearby state of Kashmir, its Hindu princely ruler and Muslim political leader joined hands in deciding to make Kashmir an independent country rather than joining either Pakistan or India. Pakistan's leadership were immediately terrified of this precedent, fearing that the Pashtuns would soon follow suit and also declare their own ethnically independent state. In order to pre-empt that and prevent it from happening, Pakistan's founder and leader Mohammad Ali Jinnah quickly decided to raise the cry of "Hindu treachery against the Muslims" and despatched hordes of armed Pashtun tribesmen to attack Kashmir. This was his way of distracting the Pashtuns from their own ethnic nationalism by diverting them into war against Kashmir "to save Islam". These are the same Pashtun tribesman whose descendants are today's Taliban. Fleeing the unprovoked invasion of their homeland, Kashmir's Hindu prince and Muslim political leader went to India, pledging to merge with it if India would help repel the invasion. India agreed, and sent its army to repel the Pashtun invasion. Pakistan then sent its army to clash with Indian forces, and the result was Indo-Pakistani conflict, which has lasted for decades.
Pakistan's fear of Pashtun nationalism and separatism, which it fears can break up Pakistan, is thus the root of the Indo-Pakistani conflict over Kashmir and also the root of Pak conflict with Afghanistan, not any alleged Indian takeover of Kabul. This is all due to the legacy of 1839, which happened long before Pakistan was even created.
When a communist revolution happened in Kabul in the late 70s, Pakistan's fear of potential spillover effects on Pashtun nationalism caused Pakistan to embark on fomenting a guerrilla war against Kabul that led to Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Aligned with with the USA, Pakistan then proceeded to arm the Pashtuns while indoctrinating them with Islamic fanaticism. The USA was not allowed any ground role, and was told it could only supply arms and funds to Pakistan, which would take care of the rest. Pakistan then simultaneously embarked on destabilization of India by fomenting insurgency there.
After the Soviets withdrew, Pakistan again feared that the well-armed Pashtuns would turn on it and pursue secession. So Pakistan then created the Taliban as a new umbrella movement for the fractious factional guerrilla groups under an ultra-fundamentalist ideology. Bin Laden's AlQaeda then became cosy with Taliban, and the result was 9-11.
When the 9-11 attacks occurred, the cornered Pakistanis then did a 180 and promised to help the US defeat the Taliban and bring the terrorists to justice. Meanwhile they were racking their brains hoping to come up with a way to undermine the War on Terror from within. Now that they have succeeded in doing that, and in bleeding US/NATO forces, they hope to jump horses by kicking the US out and aligning with China.
Because of Pakistan's attempts to illegitimately hang onto Pashtun land, it has brought itself into conflicts with so many countries - first against its neighbors and then against more distant larger powers. This is the reason why Pakistan is an irredentist state and can never be an ally against Islamic extremism, because Pakistan depends on this very Islamism as a national glue to hold itself together, and keep nationalistic ethnic groups like the Pashtuns from breaking Pakistan apart.
At the same time, Pakistanis don't dare own upto the Pashtun national question at any level, nor its effect on their national policies, because any attempt to do so would open up the legitimacy of their claim to Pashtun land.
Sovereignty is a 2-way street, entailing not just rights but obligations. Pakistan only wishes to assert rights owing to it from sovereignty, and wishes to completely duck the issue of any sovereign obligations to apprehend terrorists on what it claims as its own territory. This is because the fundamental reality is that the Pashtun territory is not really theirs, is not really under their control, and the Pashtuns don't really recognize Pakistani central authority over them.
Pakistan uses Islamic fundamentalism to submerge traditional Pashtun ethnic identity in a desperate attempt to suppress Pashtun ethnic nationalism, and to stave off the disintegration of Pakistan. The Pashtuns are a numerically large enough ethnic group possessing the strength of arms to be able to secede from Pakistan at any moment, should they decide upon it.
The answer is to let the separatists have their way and achieve their independent ethnic states, breaking up Pakistan. It's better to allow Pakistan to naturally break up into 3 or 4 benign ethnic states, than for it to keep promoting Islamic fundamentalist extremism in a doomed attempt to hold itself together. Pakistan is a failing state, and it's better to let it fail and fall apart. This will help to end all conflict in the region and the trans-national terrorist problem. An independent ethnic Pashtun state will be dominated by Pashtun ethnic identity instead of fundamentalist Islam, and thus AlQaeda will no longer be able to find sanctuary there. Conventional ethnic identity is far more natural and benign than trans-nationalist Islamism with its inherent collectivist political bent. Supporting the re-emergence of 4 natural ethnic states - Pashtunistan, Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab - would be far better than continuing to support a dangerous and dysfunctional failed state like Pakistan which continues to spew toxic Islamist extremist ideology in a doomed attempt to hold itself together.
Following the failure of the Vietnam War, many Americans later recognized that war was really a war of ethnic reunification by the Vietnamese people. It wasn't a case of one foreign country attempting to conquer another foreign country - indeed, the north and south Vietnamese were not strangers or aliens to one another - they were 2 halves of a common whole. The question was whether they would reunify under communist socialism or under free democracy, but because a blinkered American leadership refused to recognize the Vietnamese grassroots affinity for one another and their desire to reunify, it pretty much ensured that Vietnamese reunification would take place under communist socialism.
Likewise, the Pashtun people live on both sides of an artificial Durand Line (Afghan-Pak "border") which they themselves have never accepted or recognized. It's a question of whether they will politically reunify under close-minded theocratic Islamism or under a more secular and tolerant society. Because today's blinkered American leadership is again blindly defending another artificial line on a map, and refusing to recognize the oneness of the people living on both sides of that artificial line, America is again shutting itself out of the reunification process, guaranteeing that Pashtun reunification will occur under fanatical fundamentalist Islamism as prescribed by Pakistan (much as Hanoi's Soviet backers prescribed reunification under communist socialism.) It's only later on, much after America's defeat, that some Americans will realize too late that they should have seen that the Pashtuns on both sides of the artificial line were actually one people. Pakistan knows it all too well, because they've been living with the guilt and fear of it ever since Pakistan's creation - but that's why they're hell-bent on herding the Pashtuns down the path of Islamist fanaticism, using Islamist glue to keep the Pashtuns as a whole hugged to Pakistan's bosom.
If only the preachers at the Economist could shed their blinkers and really understand what's going on, then they might have a chance to shape events more effectively, and to their favor. Pakistan is rapidly building up its nuclear arsenal, as it moves to surpass Britain to become the world's 5th-largest nuclear state.The Pakistanis are racing to build up as much hard-power as possible to back up the soft-power they feel Islamist hate-ideology gives them. The world needs to compel the Pakistanis to let the Pashtuns go, and allow them to have their own independent national existence, along with the Baluchis and Sindhis. Humoring Pakistan and allowing it to continue using Islamist hatred to rally the people towards unity to counter slow disintegration is not the way to achieve stability in the region, or security for the world.
Pakistan Poverty increased to an astonishing 43 Percent June 03, 2011
ISLAMABAD: For the third year in a row, the government of Pakistan refused to state how many people in the country live below the poverty line, although estimates based on data provided by the finance ministry in its economic survey suggest that the poverty rate may have increased to an astonishing 43%.
During much of the press conference, both Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh and the finance secretary refused to answer the question on poverty and unemployment rates, despite the fact that nearly every journalist present started off by asking about those two key metrics of the nation’s economic health.
Process of Compiling: The question was usually summarily ignored by both the minister and other officials present before the finance secretary finally gave a non-answer, saying that he had no new information on the matter. Since the last poverty survey in 2006, there are no new figures on poverty, said Finance Secretary Waqar Masood, during a press conference that marked the release of the 2011 Economic Survey. The government is in the process of compiling the results of its new poverty survey and will be able to release the data next year. In 2006, the government had determined that 22.3%, a figure that hid the fact that there was an increasingly wide gap between the poverty rates in urban and rural areas. Poverty rates in urban areas are lower by as much as 20% compared to rural areas. The government uses the World Bank’s definition of poverty, which is any person earning less than $1.25 per day. In Pakistan, that figure comes to any person living on less than Rs3,243 per month. The government has not given any reason as to why it does not produce even estimates of the poverty rates, even though this year’s economic survey seems to include suggestions on how much it might have increased by. By the ADB’s estimates, as cited by the ministry of finance, every 10% increase in food prices pushes 2.2% of Pakistan’s population below the poverty line.
Pakistan Officials Colluding With Militants? US Presents Evidence
By NICK SCHIFRIN (@nickschifrin) and MATTHEW COLE June 10, 2011 The United States' attempts to regain trust in Pakistan's intelligence service suffered a blow in the last few weeks when the CIA gathered evidence that U.S. officials believe shows collusion between militants and Pakistani security officials.
During a visit to Islamabad on Friday, CIA Director Leon Panetta confronted the head of Pakistan's intelligence service, showing him satellite and other intelligence that the CIA believes is evidence of Pakistani security's efforts to help Islamic militants based in Pakistan, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials.
According to the officials, Panetta revealed overhead imagery that showed two facilities where militants manufactured improvised explosive devices, known as IEDs, which are commonly used by militants fighting U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The "IED factories" were located in North and South Waziristan, where many militants are based.
The CIA passed intelligence in the past several weeks to their Pakistani counterparts, alerting them to the two facilities, but when Pakistani forces raided the facilities, the militants had disappeared.
In his meetings Friday, Panetta conveyed the CIA's belief that the militants had been warned by Pakistani security officials prior to the raids.
Panetta traveled to Islamabad just hours after his Congressional hearing to become secretary of defense, an unannounced trip that U.S. officials publicly described as a way to "discuss ways to improve cooperation." But behind the scenes, Panetta's visit -- expected to be his last as CIA chief -- underscored the lack of trust that U.S. officials continue to have in their Pakistani counterparts.
Since Osama bin Laden's death, senior U.S. officials have demanded that Pakistan prove that it intends to help crack down on terror networks within its own borders with concrete, specific steps.
Today, U.S. and Pakistani officials both admitted that the escape of militants making bombs for use against Americans in Afghanistan was a setback.
Pakistani officials made a rare admission that some kind of collusion was possible.
I would be very surprised if Kayani and Pasha can keep their jobs....the common abdul is most displeased with the duo...the rank and file of the army is not too impressed either. Infact, by sending troops into N.Waziristan, Kayani will lose all respect amongst the population and lower ranks of the army. If he does not, his american masters will be most displeased.
I also find it ironic that Pak talks about strategic depth in Afghanistan, but its actually the Taliban who enjoy strategic depth in Pakistan against the US forces in Afghanistan.
The woes of an ostrich republic
Ayaz Amir Friday, June 03, 2011
When the cover was blown from Osama bin Laden’s last gift to Pakistan – his choice of residence in Abbottabad, a favour we could have done without – it was only to be expected that the guardians of national ideology would be rendered speechless. There are some situations too embarrassing for words and this was one of them.
A frank admission of failure might have been more sensible. But this being no part of the Pakistani tradition, our guardians did the next best thing: climb the ramparts and blow the trumpets of national dignity and honour. For about 10-12 days it seemed as if Pakistan was trembling on the edge of a new declaration of independence. Politicians of all hues went wild with demands for an end to foreign aid.
It took only two brief visits – the first by Senator John Kerry, the second by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with Admiral Mike Mullen in tow – to puncture this euphoric post-Osama myth of born-again national sovereignty.
Pakistan’s leadership – president, prime minister and the chief guardian himself, Gen Ashfaq Kayani – dutifully lined up before Kerry (who, it bears noting, holds no official position in the US administration) to hear him say that Pakistan’s conduct henceforth would be judged not by words but deeds.
Any doubts persisting about whether the mood of the Pakistani leadership had sobered up were laid to rest by the second visit. Hillary Clinton offered a sop to her interlocutors, something they would have been keen to hear: “...I want to stress again that we have absolutely no reason to believe anyone at the highest level of the government knew (about Osama).” But this came with a sting: “...we have reached a turning point....we look to Pakistan to take decisive steps in the days ahead.”
What those steps were was made clear a few days later by Admiral Mullen who told American TV channels that an operation by the Pakistan army in North Waziristan was on the cards. “It’s a very important fight,” he said, “and a very important operation.”
One doesn’t have to be much of a war genius to figure out what’s going on. The Americans give the army leadership a sort of clean chit about Bin Laden but get the army to agree on a new, and potentially dangerous, operation, something Kayani and company were resisting for some time. So much for national honour and sovereignty.
And look at the ISI’s predicament. Since the Raymond Davis affair its leadership was getting hot under the collar wanting to reduce the American footprint in Pakistan. Now the same leadership has to go along with the opening of a new front in North Waziristan. In other words, taking a strong stand on a relatively small issue but helpless in the face of a larger decision.
The Peshawar corps commander has of course said that an operation in North Waziristan is not imminent and that it will be undertaken “...when we want to do it, when it is militarily and otherwise in the national interest.” While he should be applauded for his outspokenness, he forgets that we often leave it to our foreign friends to define our national interest.
The fight against terrorism should be taken forward but we should think long and hard before going into North Waziristan. This already looks like a compromised operation not because we are talking about it but because, given the present state of army morale, it is hard to imagine any unit of the Pakistan army having its heart in it when the fighting begins.
Swat and South Waziristan were different. There was hope in the air that we were about to turn a corner in our fight against extremism. There was also the feeling that military success would be complemented by something equally daring on the political front. But with no end in sight to what increasingly looks like an intractable struggle, and with the political leadership largely uninvolved (neither the president nor the prime minister having visited the troops even once) that mood has vanished, giving way to a feeling of resignation and despondency.
The effects of the Osama raid and the attack on the Mehran base should also be taken into account. With military morale not at its highest it will take a minor miracle of leadership to inject a gung-ho spirit into the units going into North Waziristan. If at all undertaken, this has to be our own operation, with our hearts and souls in it. If carried out under American pressure, there is a risk it will be a half-cocked affair.
We have to get one thing straight. That we are amenable to American pressure is not so much because of our economic vulnerability, although that too is a problem, but because of our strategic double games: fighting some militants while nurturing and supporting others because of their presumed usefulness against India. Or as future insurance policy for Afghanistan.
The foremost condition for the reclamation of sovereignty is an end to these games, a final farewell to the use of militancy as a tool of foreign policy. Support for such organisations as the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and a sovereign Pakistan are mutually contradictory aims. If we want to be masters in our own house we have to rid ourselves of the bitter legacy of ‘jihad’. It has caused Pakistan nothing but unmitigated harm and given a handle to others to use against us.
And can the godfathers of national security kindly get Afghanistan out of their system? Can’t we leave it to geography and cultural proximity to work their influences? Earlier on we propped up Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Then it was the Taliban. Now it is the Haqqanis. Can’t we get over this obsession of wanting to control things in Afghanistan? We never succeeded in the past, we won’t in the future. Afghan history has not been kind to would-be controllers.
The other half of our double games flows from our perceptions about India. The lashkar-this and the jaish-that have been pawns on our Indian chessboard. Without going into the details of our Indian obsession, suffice it to say that the world has changed, the sub-continent has changed, the dragons threatening us are no longer the same.
No one is saying bend the knee before India. Why should that even be a consideration? Larger neighbours can be a problem but we must learn to live with them. There’s no other choice. We have cultivated hostility towards India and all this has done is to drag us down, warping our thoughts and making them morbid, and crippling our ability to behave and function like a normal nation.
Pakistan has two problems – just two and no other: under-development and the curse of religious fundamentalism gone wild. Both are internal problems aggravated not by any international conspiracy – Zionist, Indian or American – but by our external obsessions. Unless the army, and here the key responsibility is the army’s, breaks free from its Indian bondage – and this is a bondage – there can be no peace for Pakistan.
Just think of it, clenching our mailed fist towards India but sucking up to the United States, acting upon American demands about necessary steps, what kind of sovereignty is this?
Islam is not the state religion of Pakistan, denial is. And our national emblem should be the ostrich, given our proclivity to bury our heads in the sand and not see the landscape around us as it is.
We need a drastic change of course, that’s for sure. The kind of civilian leaders we have, their quality we know. No hope for any miracles from that quarter. As for the military side, Kayani has begun to look too much like a dated product, a rep of the old order. He has outlived his usefulness. His extension may have been a Zardari political masterstroke, serving to protect his flanks, but otherwise it wasn’t a bright idea.
We need a change of guard, both political and military, the coming of some rebels to the fore. This is Pakistan’s foremost challenge...dependent, however, on divine grace because the political spectrum, from one end to the other, presents the aspect of a desert, the level and lonely sands (echoes of Shelley) stretching far away.
Re: the first article: I think we should stay in Afghanistan only if we plan to take on the jihadi sanctuaries in Pak ourselves, or have a means to get the pak army to do the work for us. Otherwise, the talibs will play hide and seek with American forces by running back to Pak. We have now started to apply pressure on Pak to take action in N.Waziristan, this is good (10 years late), but likely to be ineffective since the paki army has no interest in that proposition. So it is time to come back from Afghanistan...since we are unwilling to take the hard decision of expanding the war (boots on the ground) into Pak.
Re: the second...its part of the "great game" in central asia. Dont know what the US objectives and interests are. My instinct is to think that the US should support its interests through proxies and friendly countries and not have a permanent physical presence there. The US is seen as a foreign occupying power, that will not be acceptable to anyone longterm (Russians, Chinese, Purelanders, Afghanis, Iranians). Only India benefits from a US presence in Afghanistan, since the US is doing some of the work for the Indians and there is atleast partial convergence of interests.
"Again to quote myself from 2001, if Pakistan were a person, he (and it would have to be a he) would have to be completely humorless, paranoid, insecure, eager to take offense, and suffering from self-righteousness, self-pity, and self-hatred. That last triptych of vices is intimately connected. The self-righteousness comes from the claim to represent a religion: the very name “Pakistan” is an acronym of Punjab, Afghanistan, Kashmir, and so forth, the resulting word in the Urdu language meaning “Land of the Pure.” The self-pity derives from the sad fact that the country has almost nothing else to be proud of: virtually barren of achievements and historically based on the amputation and mutilation of India in 1947 and its own self-mutilation in Bangladesh. The self-hatred is the consequence of being pathetically, permanently mendicant: an abject begging-bowl country that is nonetheless run by a super-rich and hyper-corrupt Punjabi elite. As for paranoia: This not so hypothetical Pakistani would also be a hardened anti-Semite, moaning with pleasure at the butchery of Daniel Pearl and addicted to blaming his self-inflicted woes on the all-powerful Jews."
China cannot replace USA. India would object to Chinese presence/role in Pak. To curry favor with the Chinese, Pak donated a large portion of Pak Occupied Kashmir to the chinese. Furthermore, even the Chinese dont want to get too close to purelander issues, they have enough problems with their muslim minorities. They are happy selling their junk weapons, so the Chinese are a pain in the posterior, but nothing more.
If I was Kiyani, I would be thinking of the one thing that can take pressure off the military/ISI. A war with India will unite Pak, so it is very much on the general's interests to start one. Alternatively, a large terror attack in India will force a response from India.
Saleem SS the journalist who was tortured/killed after his coverage on the attack on PNS mehran had indicated that Ilyas kashmiri (ex-special forces of Pak) was involved. Within days, SSS and now Ilyas Kashmiri are dead. The ISI turned him in. IK a noted terrorist, his death is most appreciated in India where he has carried out many operations.
IK was high up in Al-Qaeda, I would expect more revenge attacks in Pak. Reading their blogs, looks like the country is ready to fall apart. I am surprised that both Kiyani and Pasha have managed to stay on to their positions. Only a war with India can save paki H &D (honor and dignity).
Pakistan Civil War Now ON! David Caploe | Jun. 1, 2011, 6:13 AM | 445 | A A A
On May 11, we predicted the US assassination of Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad would herald the start of a civil war in Pakistan. Not too many people took it seriously, but in the past two days that grim prophecy has been brutally confirmed. The headline event in the New York Times is the killing this past weekend of the courageous Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shehzad by members of the organization we identified as the key player in the Islamic country's politics, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, usually known as the ISI. But the real story isn't simply the death of another journalist in Pakistan, a grim category in which it is a world leader. Rather, it was the story Shehzad was working on -- the internal divisions within the ISI, which, again, we said would be the fault line out of which would erupt the Pakistan earthquake. Shehzad had been receiving threats from the ISI for about three years because of his reporting that often relied on sources inside the intelligence agencies and inside the Taliban and other militant groups. Which, of course, was exactly our point: That every major player in Pakistani politics -- including the Taliban -- is riven with significant internal conflicts, some about power and personalities, but most significantly about policy: namely, does Pakistan's future lie with the militants of Sunni political Islam -- or with the slavishly pro-Western lackeys -- or, even more potentially de-stabilizing, with genuinely democratic elements that reject both political Islam AND being the local agents of the US ? The key event about which Shehzad was writing, and which was the direct cause of his death after three years of direct threats by Islamist elements within the ISI ? A 16-hour battle that ensued at the navy's main base in Karachi when six -- please note, SIX -- attackers climbed over a wall and blew up two American-made naval surveillance planes. Now, do you think SIX attackers of the navy's main base could have set off a 16-hour battle WITHOUT the help of at least SOME people inside ? Not very likely, is it ? Coming soon after the American raid on May 2 that killed Osama bin Laden, which caught the Pakistani Army and Air Force flat-footed, the attack on the naval base has shocked the entire country. The armed forces chiefs have been deeply angered by the humiliation they have suffered from both episodes, and in particular the many questions raised about their competence by Pakistan’s increasingly rambunctious media. Like we said in the immediate aftermath of Osama's killing, Pakistan's civil war is now going to become THE main event in the Arab / Muslim / Indian world.
A few posts back, I posted an article by SSS, re: the recent attack on PNS Mehran. For his troubles the ISI took care of him.
Missing journalist Shahzad found dead Missing journalist Shahzad found dead By Munawer Azeem and Waseem Ashraf Butt | From the Newspaper (1 hour ago) Today
Saleem Shahzad, who was the bureau chief for the Hong Kong-based Asia Times, an online publication, and the Italian news agency Adnkronos (AKI) and had worked for the Dawn Media Group’s evening newspaper Star for over a decade, was known for his investigative reporting on militancy and Al Qaeda. He had moved to Islamabad after Star closed down in 2007. – File Photo by AP
ISLAMABAD / GUJRAT: Tuesday added another chapter to the bloody history of Pakistan’s press freedom record when the body of missing journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad was found.
It was confirmed by the capital police as well as its counterparts in Mandi Bahauddin that a body buried in a local graveyard at Mandi Bahauddin was suspected to be that of Shahzad, an Islamabad-based journalist who had gone missing from the capital on Sunday evening. He had disappeared en route to a news channel’s office in Sector F-6 from his house in F-8/4.
Shahzad, who was the bureau chief for the Hong Kong-based Asia Times, an online publication, and the Italian news agency Adnkronos (AKI) and had worked for the Dawn Media Group’s evening newspaper Star for over a decade, was known for his investigative reporting on militancy and Al Qaeda. He had moved to Islamabad after Star closed down in 2007.
His book, “Inside Al-Qaeda & the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11”, had recently been published.
After his disappearance, the Human Rights Watch alleged that Shahzad had been picked up by the ISI and that the intelligence agency had threatened him last year as well when he had reported on the quiet release of Mullah Baradar, an aide to Mullah Omar, who had been captured by Pakistan earlier.
Ali Dayan, Pakistan researcher for HRW, also made public an email that Shahzad had sent then with the instructions to make it public in case something happened to him. The email provided Shahzad’s account of a meeting he held with two ISI officials on October 17, 2010.
After he disappeared on Sunday, there were allegations that he had been picked up by the ISI because of his recent story on the PNS Mehran base attack. Shahzad had reported that the attack took place after the Navy identified and interrogated a few of its lower-level officers for their ties with Al Qaeda.
Reporters without Borders also released a statement after Shahzad’s death was confirmed which said: “Experienced journalists in Islamabad said they suspected that Shahzad was kidnapped and executed by the military intelligence agency known as the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)…
“Sources close to Shahzad said he had reported getting several warnings from the security agencies in the past… This would tend to support the theory that he was kidnapped and killed in connection with his coverage of the attack on the naval base.”
On Tuesday it came to light that the body found at Head Rasul a day earlier was of the missing journalist. He was identified from the photos taken of the corpse on Tuesday during the postmortem at District Headquarters Hospital Mandi Bahauddin.
The police force’s efficiency knew no bounds on Tuesday. First the police force of Sara-i-Alamgir found an abandoned Toyota Corolla, which belonged to Shahzad, near the Upper Jhelum Canal. The vehicle, which had gone missing along with the journalist, had a broken window and a damaged ignition switch, hinting at car theft.
The police also found two CNICs and press cards, as well as other documents pertaining to Shahzad. They then contacted the Margalla police in Islamabad.
Once the police from Islamabad examined the car and determined its owner’s identity, they were informed by their counterparts that the Mandi Bahauddin police had found a body a day earlier.
According to the details collected by Dawn, some passersby spotted a corpse in the water on Monday. The Head Rasul police shifted the body to the DHQ.
Unusually quickly for Pakistani police, all legal formalities were completed, the autopsy was conducted on the unidentified body and it was handed over to Edhi Centre for burial. It was interred at the local graveyard temporarily.
According to the police, the postmortem report said that Shahzad had been subjected to severe torture. The report said he had 15 major injuries including fractured ribs and deep wounds on the abdomen.
It was also evident that the journalist’s hands and feet had been tied as there were marks on his wrists and ankles. However, his hands and feet were not tied when he was found.
The police said that the victim had been killed in the early hours of Monday.
The Mandi Bahauddin police told the capital police that there was no mortuary at the DHQ and Edhi Centre to keep the body; hence the pace at which it was buried.
The family, which was contacted by the capital police, identified him from the photographs, clothes and cards. Shahzad leaves behind a widow and three children.
Since the reports were first aired about the car and the body, condemnations had been pouring in from far and wide.
Human rights organisations, journalists and government officials were quick to condemn the incident. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani also ordered an immediate inquiry into the kidnapping and murder.
The recently reported assassination was a propaganda ploy aimed at targeting Pakistan. To understand this, it is necessary to examine how America has, in recent years, altered its strategy in Pakistan in the direction of destabilization. In short, Pakistan is an American target. The reason: Pakistan’s growing military and strategic ties to China, America’s primary global strategic rival. In the ‘Great Game’ for global hegemony, any country that impedes America’s world primacy – even one as historically significant to America as Pakistan – may be sacrificed upon the altar of war.
Part 1 of ‘Pakistan in Pieces’ examines the changing views of the American strategic community – particularly the military and intelligence circles – towards Pakistan. In particular, there is a general acknowledgement that Pakistan will very likely continue to be destabilized and ultimately collapse. What is not mentioned in these assessments, however, is the role of the military and intelligence communities in making this a reality; a veritable self-fulfilling prophecy. This part also examines the active on the ground changes in American strategy in Pakistan, with increasing military incursions into the country.
Imperial Eye on Pakistan
In December of 2000, the CIA released a report of global trends to the year 2015, which stated that by 2015, “Pakistan will be more fractious, isolated, and dependent on international financial assistance.” Further, it was predicted, Pakistan:
Will not recover easily from decades of political and economic mismanagement, divisive politics, lawlessness, corruption and ethnic friction. Nascent democratic reforms will produce little change in the face of opposition from an entrenched political elite and radical Islamic parties. Further domestic decline would benefit Islamic political activists, who may significantly increase their role in national politics and alter the makeup and cohesion of the military – once Pakistan’s most capable institution. In a climate of continuing domestic turmoil, the central government’s control probably will be reduced to the Punjabi heartland and the economic hub of Karachi.
The report further analyzed the trends developing in relation to the Pakistan-India standoff in the region:
The threat of major conflict between India and Pakistan will overshadow all other regional issues during the next 15 years. Continued turmoil in Afghanistan and Pakistan will spill over into Kashmir and other areas of the subcontinent, prompting Indian leaders to take more aggressive preemptive and retaliatory actions. India’s conventional military advantage over Pakistan will widen as a result of New Delhi’s superior economic position.
In 2005, the Times of India reported on a US National Intelligence Council report, written in conjunction with the CIA, which predicted a “Yugoslavia-like fate” for Pakistan, saying that, “by year 2015 Pakistan would be a failed state, ripe with civil war, bloodshed, inter-provincial rivalries and a struggle for control of its nuclear weapons and complete Talibanisation.”
In November of 2008, the US National Intelligence Council released a report, “Global Trends 2025,” in which they outlined major trends in the world by the year 2025. When it came to Pakistan, the report stated that, “Ongoing low-intensity clashes between India and Pakistan continue to raise the specter that such events could escalate to a broader conflict between those nuclear powers.” It stated that Pakistan “will be at risk of state failure.” In examining potential failed states, the report stated that:
[Y]outh bulges, deeply rooted conflicts, and limited economic prospects are likely to keep Palestine, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and others in the high-risk category. Spillover from turmoil in these states and potentially others increases the chance that moves elsewhere in the region toward greater prosperity and political stability will be rocky.
The report referred to Pakistan as a “wildcard” and stated that if it is “unable to hold together until 2025, a broader coalescence of Pashtun tribes is likely to emerge and act together to erase the Durand Line [separating Pakistan from Afghanistan], maximizing Pashtun space at the expense of Punjabis in Pakistan and Tajiks and others in Afghanistan.”
In January of 2009, a Pentagon report analyzing geopolitical trends of significance to the US military over the next 25 years, reported that Pakistan could face a “rapid and sudden” collapse. It stated that, “Some forms of collapse in Pakistan would carry with it the likelihood of a sustained violent and bloody civil and sectarian war, an even bigger haven for violent extremists, and the question of what would happen to its nuclear weapons,” and as such, “that ‘perfect storm' of uncertainty alone might require the engagement of U.S. and coalition forces into a situation of immense complexity and danger.”
A top adviser to former President George Bush and current President Obama warned in April of 2009, that Pakistan could collapse within months, and that, “We have to face the fact that if Pakistan collapses it will dwarf anything we have seen so far in whatever we're calling the war on terror now.” The adviser and consultant, David Kilcullen, explained that this would be unlike the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, which each had a population of over 30 million, whereas “Pakistan has  million people and 100 nuclear weapons, an army which is bigger than the American army, and the headquarters of al-Qaeda sitting in two-thirds of the country which the Government does not control.”
Going back to the later years of the Bush administration, it is apparent that the US strategy in Pakistan was already changing in seeing it increasingly as a target for military operations as opposed to simply a conduit. In August of 2007, newly uncovered documents revealed that the US military “gave elite units broad authority” in 2004, “to pursue suspected terrorists into Pakistan, with no mention of telling the Pakistanis in advance.”
In November of 2007, an op-ed in the New York Times stated categorically that, “the United States simply could not stand by as a nuclear-armed Pakistan descended into the abyss,” and that, “we need to think — now — about our feasible military options in Pakistan, should it really come to that.” The authors, Frederick Kagan and Michael O’Hanlon are both well-known strategists and scholars at the American Enterprise Institute and Brookings Institution, two of the most prominent and influential think tanks in the United States. While stating that Pakistan’s leaders are still primarily moderate and friendly to the US, “Americans felt similarly about the shah’s regime in Iran until it was too late,” referring to the outbreak of the Iranian Revolution in 1979. They warn:
The most likely possible dangers are these: a complete collapse of Pakistani government rule that allows an extreme Islamist movement to fill the vacuum; a total loss of federal control over outlying provinces, which splinter along ethnic and tribal lines; or a struggle within the Pakistani military in which the minority sympathetic to the Taliban and Al Qaeda try to establish Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism.
They state that the military solutions are “daunting” as Pakistan is a nation of 187 million people, roughly five times the size of Iraq. They wrote that, “estimates suggest that a force of more than a million troops would be required for a country of this size,” which led them to conclude, “Thus, if we have any hope of success, we would have to act before a complete government collapse, and we would need the cooperation of moderate Pakistani forces.” They suggested one plan would be to deploy Special Forces “with the limited goal of preventing Pakistan’s nuclear materials and warheads from getting into the wrong hand.” However, they admit that, “even pro-American Pakistanis would be unlikely to cooperate.” Another option, they contend:
would involve supporting the core of the Pakistani armed forces as they sought to hold the country together in the face of an ineffective government, seceding border regions and Al Qaeda and Taliban assassination attempts against the leadership. This would require a sizable combat force — not only from the United States, but ideally also other Western powers and moderate Muslim nations.
The authors concluded, saying that any state decline in Pakistan would likely be gradual, therefore allowing the US to have time to respond, and placed an emphasis on securing Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and combating militants. They finished the article with the warning: “Pakistan may be the next big test.”
In December of 2007, the Asia Times Online ran a story about the US plan to rid Pakistan of President Musharraf, and that the US and the West, more broadly, had begun a strategy aimed at toppling Pakistan’s military. As part of this, the US launched a media campaign aimed at demonizing Pakistan’s military establishment. At this time, Benazir Bhutto was criticizing the ISI, suggesting they needed a dramatic restructuring, and at the same time, reports were appearing in the US media blaming the ISI for funding and providing assistance to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. While much of this is documented, the fact that it suddenly emerged as talking points with several western officials and in the media does suggest a turn-around against a long-time ally.
Both Democratic and Republican politicians were making statements that Pakistan represented a greater threat than Iran, and then-Senator (now Vice President) Joseph Biden suggested that the United States needed to put soldiers on the ground in Pakistan in cooperation with the “international community.” Biden said that, “We should be in there,” and “we should be supplying tens of millions of dollars to build new schools to compete with the madrassas. We should be in there building democratic institutions. We should be in there, and get the rest of the world in there, giving some structure to the emergence of, hopefully, the reemergence of a democratic process.”
In American policy-strategy circles, officials openly began discussing the possibility of Pakistan breaking up into smaller states, and increasing discussion that Musharraf was going to be “removed,” which obviously happened. As the Asia Times stated:
Another worrying thing is how US officials are publicly signaling to the Pakistanis that Bhutto has their backing as the next leader of the country. Such signals from Washington are not only a kiss of death for any public leader in Pakistan, but the Americans also know that their actions are inviting potential assassins to target Bhutto.
If she is killed in this way, there won't be enough time to find the real culprit, but what's certain is that unprecedented international pressure will be placed on Islamabad while everyone will use their local assets to create maximum internal chaos in the country.
Of course, this subsequently happened in Pakistan. As the author of the article pointed out with startlingly accurate foresight, “Getting Bhutto killed can generate the kind of pressure that could result in permanently putting the Pakistani military on a back foot, giving Washington enough room to push for installing a new pliant leadership in Islamabad.” He observed that, “the US is very serious this time. They cannot let Pakistan get out of their hands.”
Thus, it would appear that the new US strategic aim in Pakistan was focused on removing the Pakistani military from power, implying the need to replace Musharraf, and replace him with a new, compliant civilian leadership. This would have the effect of fracturing the Pakistani elite, threatening the Army’s influence within Pakistani politics, and undertaking more direct control of Pakistan’s government.
As if on cue, in late December it was reported that, “US special forces snatch squads are on standby to seize or disable Pakistan's nuclear arsenal in the event of a collapse of government authority or the outbreak of civil war following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.”
The New York Times ran an article in early January 2008, which reported that, “President Bush’s senior national security advisers are debating whether to expand the authority of the Central Intelligence Agency and the military to conduct far more aggressive covert operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan.” The article stated that the new strategy was purportedly in response to increased reports of Al-Qaeda and Taliban activity within Pakistan, which “are intensifying efforts there to destabilize the Pakistani government.” Bush’s National Security team supposedly organized this effort in response to Bhutto’s assassination 10 days previously.
Officials involved in the strategy discussions said that some “options would probably involve the C.I.A. working with the military’s Special Operations forces,” and one official said, “After years of focusing on Afghanistan, we think the extremists now see a chance for the big prize — creating chaos in Pakistan itself.” Of pivotal importance to the strategy, as the Times reported: “Critics said more direct American military action would be ineffective, anger the Pakistani Army and increase support for the militants.” Perhaps this is not simply a “side-effect” of the proposed strategy, but in fact, part of the strategy.
As one prominent Pakistani political and military analyst pointed out, raids into Pakistan would expand anger and “prompt a powerful popular backlash” against the Pakistani government, losing popular support. However, as I previously stated, this might be the intention, as this would ultimately make the government more dependent upon the United States, and thus, more subservient.
On September 3, 2008, it was reported that a commando raid by US Special Forces was launched in Pakistan, which killed between 15 and 20 people, including women and children. The Special Forces were accompanied by five U.S. helicopters for the duration of the operation.
In February of 2009, it was reported that, “More than 70 United States military advisers and technical specialists are secretly working in Pakistan to help its armed forces battle Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the country’s lawless tribal areas.” So not only are U.S. Special Forces invading Pakistani territory; but now US military advisers are secretly advising the Pakistani Army on its own operations, and the advisers are themselves primary made up of Special Forces soldiers. They provide the Pakistani Army “with intelligence and advising on combat tactics,” and make up a secret command run by US Central Command and Special Operations Command (presumably JSOC – Joint Special Operations Command).
In May of 2009, it was reported that, “the U.S. is sending Special Forces teams into one of Pakistan's most violent regions as part of a push to accelerate the training of the Pakistani military and make it a more effective ally in the fight against insurgents there.” The Special Forces were deploying to two training camps in the province of Baluchistan, and “will focus on training Pakistan's Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force responsible for battling the Taliban and al Qaeda fighters.” Further, the project “is a joint effort with the U.K.,” which helps “fund the training, although it is unclear if British military personnel would take part in the initiative. British officials have been pushing for such an effort for several years.”
In December of 2009 it was revealed that, “American special forces have conducted multiple clandestine raids into Pakistan's tribal areas as part of a secret war in the border region where Washington is pressing to expand its drone assassination programme,” which was revealed by a former NATO officer. He said these incursions had occurred between 2003 and 2008, indicating they go even further back than US military documents stipulate. The source further revealed that, “the Pakistanis were kept entirely in the dark about it. It was one of those things we wouldn't confirm officially with them.” Further, as the source noted, British “SAS soldiers have been active in the province” of Bolochistan in 2002 and 2003 and “possibly beyond.”
The “Balkanization” of Pakistan: Blaming the Pakistanis
Selig S. Harrison is a director of the Asia Program at the Center for International Policy, senior scholar of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, former senior associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and former journalist and correspondent. “His reputation for giving ‘early warning’ of foreign policy crises was well established during his career as a foreign correspondent. In his study of foreign reporting, Between Two Worlds, John Hohenberg, former secretary of the Pulitzer Prize Board, cited Harrison’s prediction of the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war eighteen months before it happened.” Further, “More than a year before the Russians invaded Afghanistan, Harrison warned of this possibility in one of his frequent contributions to the influential journal Foreign Policy.”
On February 1, 2008, Selig Harrison threw his renowned “predictive” abilities on Pakistan in an op-ed for the New York Times in the run-up to the Pakistani elections. He started by stating that, “Whatever the outcome of the Pakistani elections, now scheduled for Feb. 18, the existing multiethnic Pakistani state is not likely to survive for long unless it is radically restructured.” Harrison then went on to explain that Pakistan would likely break up along ethnic lines; with the Pashtuns, concentrated in the northwestern tribal areas, the Sindhis in the southeast uniting with the Baluch tribesmen in the southwest, with the Punjab “rump state” of Pakistan.
The Pashtuns in the north, “would join with their ethnic brethren across the Afghan border (some 40 million of them combined) to form an independent ‘Pashtunistan’,” and the Sindhis “numbering 23 million, would unite with the six million Baluch tribesmen in the southwest to establish a federation along the Arabian Sea from India to Iran,” presumably named Baluchistan; while the rump state of Pakistan would remain Punjabi dominated and in control of the nuclear weapons. Selig Harrison explained that prior to partition from India, which led to the creation of the Pakistani state in 1947, Pashtun, Sindhi and Baluch ethnicities had “resist[ed] Punjabi domination for centuries,” and suddenly:
they found themselves subjected to Punjabi-dominated military regimes that have appropriated many of the natural resources in the minority provinces — particularly the natural gas deposits in the Baluch areas — and siphoned off much of the Indus River’s waters as they flow through the Punjab.
The resulting Punjabi-Pashtun animosity helps explain why the United States is failing to get effective Pakistani cooperation in fighting terrorists. The Pashtuns living along the Afghan border are happy to give sanctuary from Punjabi forces to the Taliban, which is composed primarily of fellow Pashtuns, and to its Qaeda friends.
Pashtun civilian casualties resulting from Pakistani and American air strikes on both sides of the border are breeding a potent underground Pashtun nationalist movement. Its initial objective is to unite all Pashtuns in Pakistan, now divided among political jurisdictions, into a unified province. In time, however, its leaders envisage full nationhood.
... The Baluch people, for their part, have been waging intermittent insurgencies since their forced incorporation into Pakistan in 1947. In the current warfare Pakistani forces are widely reported to be deploying American-supplied aircraft and intelligence equipment that was intended for use in Afghan border areas. Their victims are forging military links with Sindhi nationalist groups that have been galvanized into action by the death of Benazir Bhutto, a Sindhi hero as was her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
This passage is very revealing of the processes and perceptions surrounding “Balkanization” and “destabilization.” What I mean by this, is that historically and presently, imperial powers would often use ethnic groups against each other in a strategy of divide and conquer, in order “to keep the barbarians from coming together” and dominate the region.
Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote in his 1997 book, “The Grand Chessboard,” that, “Geopolitics has moved from the regional to the global dimension, with preponderance over the entire Eurasian continent serving as the central basis for global primacy.” Brzezinski then gave a masterful explanation of the American global strategy, which placed it into a firm imperialistic context:
To put it in a terminology that hearkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.
While imperial powers manipulate, and historically, even create the ethnic groups within regions and nations, the West portrays conflict in such regions as being the product of these “ethnic” or “tribal” rivalries. This perception of the East (Asia and the Middle East) as well as Africa is referred to as Orientalism or Eurocentrism: meaning it generally portrays the East (and/or Africa) as “the Other”: inherently different and often barbaric. This prejudiced perspective is prevalent in Western academic, media, and policy circles. This perspective serves a major purpose: dehumanizing a people in a region that an imperial power seeks to dominate, which allows the hegemon to manipulate the people and divide them against each other, while framing them as “backwards” and “barbaric,” which in turn, justifies the Western imperial power exerting hegemony and control over the region; to “protect” the people from themselves.
Historically and presently, Western empires have divided people against each other, blamed the resulting conflict on the people themselves, and thus justified their control over both the people, and the region they occupy. This was the strategy employed in major recent geopolitical conflicts such as the breakup of Yugoslavia and the Rwandan genocide. In both cases, Western imperial ambitions were met through exacerbating ethnic rivalries, providing financial, technical, and military aid and training to various factions; thus, spreading violent conflict, war, and genocide. In both cases, Western, and primarily American strategic interests were met through an increased presence militarily, pushing out other major imperial and powerful rivals, as well as increasing Western access to key economics resources.
This is the lens through which we must view the unfolding situation in Pakistan. However, the situation in Pakistan presents a far greater potential for conflict and devastation than either Yugoslavia or Rwanda. In short, the potential strategy of “Balkanization” and destabilization of Pakistan could dwarf any major global conflict in the past few decades. It’s sheer population of 187 million people, proximity to two major regional wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, its strategic location as neighbor to India, China, and Iran with access to the Indian Ocean, and its nuclear arsenal, combine to make Pakistan the potential trigger for a much wider regional and possibly global war. The destabilization of Pakistan has the potential to be the greatest geopolitical catastrophe since World War II.
Thus, Selig Harrison’s op-ed in the New York Times in which he describes the “likely” breakup of Pakistan along ethnic lines as a result of “ethnic differences” must be viewed in the wider context of geopolitical ambitions. His article lays the foundation both for the explanation of a potential breakup, and thus the “justification” for Western intervention in the conflict. His “predictive” capacities as a seasoned journalist can be alternatively viewed as pre-emptive imperial propaganda.
The war in Afghanistan is inherently related to the situation in Pakistan. From the days of the Afghan-Soviet war in the 1980s, arms and money were flowing through Pakistan to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. During the civil war that followed, Pakistan armed and financed the Taliban, which eventually took power. When the U.S. and NATO initially attacked Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, this was primarily achieved through cooperation with Pakistan. When the war theatre was re-named “AfPak,” the role of Pakistan, however, was formally altered. While the previous few years had seen the implementation of a strategy of destabilizing Pakistan, once the “AfPak” war theatre was established, Pakistan ceased to be as much of a conduit or proxy state and became a target.
In September of 2008, the editor of Indian Defence Review wrote an article explaining that a stable Pakistan is not in India’s interests: “With Pakistan on the brink of collapse due to massive internal as well as international contradictions, it is matter of time before it ceases to exist.” He explained that Pakistan’s collapse would bring “multiple benefits” to India, including preventing China from gaining a major port in the Indian Ocean, which is in the mutual interest of the United States. The author explained that this would be a “severe jolt” to China’s expansionist aims, and further, “India’s access to Central Asian energy routes will open up.”
In August of 2009, Foreign Policy Journal published a report of an exclusive interview they held with former Pakistani ISI chief Lieutenant General Hamid Gul, who was Director General of the powerful intelligence services (ISI) between 1987 and 1989, at a time in which it was working closely with the CIA to fund and arm the Mujahideen. Once a close ally of the US, he is now considered extremely controversial and the US even recommended the UN to put him on the international terrorist list. Gul explained that he felt that the American people have not been told the truth about 9/11, and that the 9/11 Commission was a “cover up,” pointing out that, “They [the American government] haven’t even proved the case that 9/11 was done by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.” He said that the real reasons for the war on Afghanistan were that:
the U.S. wanted to “reach out to the Central Asian oilfields” and “open the door there”, which “was a requirement of corporate America, because the Taliban had not complied with their desire to allow an oil and gas pipeline to pass through Afghanistan. UNOCAL is a case in point. They wanted to keep the Chinese out. They wanted to give a wider security shield to the state of Israel, and they wanted to include this region into that shield. And that’s why they were talking at that time very hotly about ‘greater Middle East’. They were redrawing the map.”
He also stated that part of the reason for going into Afghanistan was “to go for Pakistan’s nuclear capability,” as the U.S. “signed this strategic deal with India, and this was brokered by Israel. So there is a nexus now between Washington, Tel Aviv, and New Delhi.” When he was asked about the Pakistani Taliban, which the Pakistani government was being pressured to fight, and where the financing for that group came from; Gul stated:
Yeah, of course they are getting it from across the Durand line, from Afghanistan. And the Mossad is sitting there, RAW is sitting there — the Indian intelligence agency — they have the umbrella of the U.S. And now they have created another organization which is called RAMA. It may be news to you that very soon this intelligence agency — of course, they have decided to keep it covert — but it is Research and Analysis Milli Afghanistan. That’s the name. The Indians have helped create this organization, and its job is mainly to destabilize Pakistan.
He explained that the Chief of Staff of the Afghan Army had told him that he had gone to India to offer the Indians five bases in Afghanistan, three of which are along the Pakistani border. Gul was asked a question as to why, if the West was supporting the TTP (Pakistani Taliban), would a CIA drone have killed the leader of the TTP. Gul explained that while Pakistan was fighting directly against the TTP leader, Baitullah Mehsud, the Pakistani government would provide the Americans where Mehsud was, “three times the Pakistan intelligence tipped off America, but they did not attack him.” So why all of a sudden did they attack?
Because there were some secret talks going on between Baitullah Mehsud and the Pakistani military establishment. They wanted to reach a peace agreement, and if you recall there is a long history of our tribal areas, whenever a tribal militant has reached a peace agreement with the government of Pakistan, Americans have without any hesitation struck that target.
... there was some kind of a deal which was about to be arrived at — they may have already cut a deal. I don’t know. I don’t have enough information on that. But this is my hunch, that Baitullah was killed because now he was trying to reach an agreement with the Pakistan army. And that’s why there were no suicide attacks inside Pakistan for the past six or seven months.
An article in one of Canada’s national magazines, Macleans, reported on an interview with a Pakistani ISI spy, who claimed that India’s intelligence services, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), have “tens of thousands of RAW agents in Pakistan.” Many officials inside Pakistan were convinced that, “India’s endgame is nothing less than the breakup of Pakistan. And the RAW is no novice in that area. In the 1960s, it was actively involved in supporting separatists in Bangladesh, at the time East Pakistan. The eventual victory of Bangladeshi nationalism in 1971 was in large part credited to the support the RAW gave the secessionists.”
Further, there were Indian consulates set up in Kandahar, the area of Afghanistan where Canadian troops are located, and which is strategically located next to the Pakistani province of Baluchistan, which is home to a virulent separatist movement, of which Pakistan claims is being supported by India. Macleans reported on the conclusions by Michel Chossudovsky, economics professor at University of Ottawa, that, “the region’s massive gas and oil reserves are of strategic interest to the U.S. and India. A gas pipeline slated to be built from Iran to India, two countries that already enjoy close ties, would run through Baluchistan. The Baluch separatist movement, which is also active in Iran, offers an ideal proxy for both the U.S. and India to ensure their interests are met.”
Even an Afghan government adviser told the media that India was using Afghan territory to destabilize Pakistan. In September of 2009, the Pakistan Daily reported that captured members and leaders of the Pakistani Taliban have admitted to being trained and armed by India through RAW or RAMA in Afghanistan in order to fight the Pakistani Army.
Foreign Policy magazine in February of 2009 quoted a former intelligence official as saying, “The Indians are up to their necks in supporting the Taliban against the Pakistani government in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” and that, “the same anti-Pakistani forces in Afghanistan also shooting at American soldiers are getting support from India. India should close its diplomatic establishments in Afghanistan and get the Christ out of there.”
The Council on Foreign Relations published a backgrounder report on RAW, India’s intelligence agency, founded in 1968 “primarily to counter China's influence, [however] over time it has shifted its focus to India's other traditional rival, Pakistan.” For over three decades both Indian and Pakistani intelligence agencies have been involved in covert operations against one another. One of RAW’s main successes was its covert operations in East Pakistan, now known as Bangladesh, which “aimed at fomenting independence sentiment” and ultimately led to the separation of Bangladesh by directly funding, arming and training the Pakistani separatists. Further, as the Council on Foreign Relations noted, “From the early days, RAW had a secret liaison relationship with the Mossad, Israel's external intelligence agency.”
Since RAW was founded in 1968, it had developed close ties with the Afghan intelligence agency, KHAD, primarily to do with intelligence sharing on Pakistan. In the 1980s, while Pakistan was funding, arming and training the Afghan Mujahideen with the support of Saudi Arabia and the CIA, India was funding two covert groups which orchestrated terrorist attacks inside Pakistan, which included a “low-grade but steady campaign of bombings in major Pakistani cities, notably Karachi and Lahore.” RAW has also had a close relationship with the CIA, as even six years before RAW was created, in 1962, the CIA created a covert organization made up of Tibetan refugees, which aimed to “execute deep-penetration terror operations in China.” The CIA subsequently played a part in the creation of RAW. In the 1980s, while the CIA was working closely with the ISI in Pakistan, RAW, while wary of their relationship, continued to get counterterrorism training from the CIA.
In October of 2009, the New York Times reported that the US strategy “to vastly expand its aid to Pakistan, as well as the footprint of its embassy and private security contractors here, are aggravating an already volatile anti-American mood as Washington pushes for greater action by the government against the Taliban.” The U.S. gave Pakistan an aid deal of $1.5 billion per year for the next five years, under the stipulation of “Pakistan to cease supporting terrorist groups on its soil and to ensure that the military does not interfere with civilian politics.” President Zaradari accepted the proposal, making him even more unpopular in Pakistan, and further angering Pakistan’s powerful military, which sees the deal as interfering in the internal affairs of the country.
America is thus expanding its embassy and security presence within the country, as the Embassy “has publicized plans for a vast new building in Islamabad for about 1,000 people, with security for some diplomats provided through a Washington-based private contracting company, DynCorp.” The NYT article referred to how relations were becoming increasingly strained between Pakistan and the US, and tensions were growing within the country exponentially, as “the American presence was fueling a sense of occupation among Pakistani politicians and security officials,” and several Pakistani officials stated that, “the United States was now seen as behaving in Pakistan much as it did in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Futher:
In particular, the Pakistani military and the intelligence agencies are concerned that DynCorp is being used by Washington to develop a parallel network of security and intelligence personnel within Pakistan, officials and politicians close to the army said.
The concerns are serious enough that last month a local company hired by DynCorp to provide Pakistani men to be trained as security guards for American diplomats was raided by the Islamabad police. The owner of the company, the Inter-Risk Security Company, Capt. Syed Ali Ja Zaidi, was later arrested.
The action against Inter-Risk, apparently intended to cripple the DynCorp program, was taken on orders from the senior levels of the Pakistani government, said an official familiar with the raid, who was not authorized to speak on the record.
The entire workings of DynCorp within Pakistan are now under review by the Pakistani government.
As revealed in the Wikileaks diplomatic cables, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson wrote in September of 2009 that the U.S. strategy of unilateral strikes inside Pakistan “risk destabilizing the Pakistani state, alienating both the civilian government and military leadership, and provoking a broader governance crisis in Pakistan without finally achieving the goal.”
In an interview with Press TV, Hamid Gul, former Inter-Services Intelligence chief revealed more of what he sees as the US strategy in Pakistan. He explained that with the massive expansion of the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan, and alongside that, the increased security staff, the Chinese are becoming increasingly concerned with the sovereignty and security of Pakistan. He claimed that the money that the US government offered (with heavy conditions) to Pakistan, $1.5 billion every year for five years, will be spent under the direction of the Americans, and that “they are going to set up a large intelligence network inside Pakistan,” and ultimately “they really want to go for Pakistan's nuclear assets.” He further claimed that the Indians are trying to destabilize Pakistan; however, he explained, this does not necessarily mean disintegrate, but rather:
they are trying to destabilize Pakistan at the moment so that it feels weak and economically has to go begging on its knees to Americans and ask for succor and help. And in that process they will want to expect certain concessions with regards to nuclear power and also with regards to setting up their facilities here in Pakistan.
When he was asked what America’s long-term goal was in regards to Pakistan, Gul responded that the goal:
for America is that they want to keep Pakistan destabilized; perhaps create a way for Baluchistan as a separate state and then create problems for Iran so that this new state will talk about greater Baluchistan... So it appears that the long-term objectives are really to fragment all these countries to an extent that they can establish a strip that would be pro-America, pro-India, pro-Israel. So this seems to be their long-term objective apart from denuclearizing Pakistan and blocking Iran's progress in the nuclear field.
In Part 2 of ‘Pakistan in Pieces’, I will examine the specific ways in which the American strategy of destabilization is being undertaken in Pakistan, including the waging of a secret war and the expansion of the Afghan war into Pakistani territory. In short, the military and intelligence projections for Pakistan over the next several years (discussed in the beginning of Part 1 above) are a self-fulfilling prophecy, as those very same military and intelligence agencies that predict a destabilized Pakistan and potential collapse are now undertaking strategies aimed at achieving those outcomes.
"4. Dissect Pakistan into three smaller states -- Baluchistan for the Baluchi separatists including the city of Quetta, Pashtunistan for the Pashtun separatists covering the Pashtun tribal areas including Peshawar and the border areas, and Pakistan proper including Lahore and the Karachi areas. The ongoing domestic dissent in the Pashtun and Baluchi areas are rooted in the exploitative and discriminatory practices of the ruling class of Pakistan -- the Lahore elite -- who have alienated those groups. 5. Create a strong civilian government in Pakistan by dismantling the ISI, reducing Pakistan's military prowess and supporting the educated and secular population. Pakistan has a strong judiciary and press at this time. A strong civilian government is needed to implement democratic institutions and processes."
"The list also includes Siraj Haqqani, the operational commander of the Haqqani network, the most violent group in the Afghan Taliban and believed to be run out of the Pakistani tribal areas; Ilyas Kashmiri, a senior member of al Qaeda once dubbed “the next Osama bin Laden”; and Atiya Abdel Rahman, the Libyan operations chief of al Qaeda who had emerged as a key intermediary between bin Laden and al Qaeda’s affiliate networks across the world.
The list was discussed during three separate meetings between senior Pakistani and US officials in the past two weeks, including today in Islamabad with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to a US official, a Pakistani government official and a Pakistani intelligence official.
The United States views the list as a test of whether Pakistan is serious about fighting terrorists who have long enjoyed safe havens within its borders. But the list does not only include militants the United States wants Pakistan to target. In the case of Omar, the United States is interested in determining whether he can be part of political reconciliation in Afghanistan, and is pushing the Pakistanis to facilitate such an outcome, according to two US officials. The United States has already opened a dialogue with a man believed to be an emissary of Omar, according to two senior Afghan officials, but is proceeding cautiously.
Clinton and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen, who flew into Islamabad ahead of Clinton, today urged Pakistan to support that process and do nothing to scuttle it, according to senior administration officials. Pakistani intelligence officials have in the past admitted they detained Afghan Taliban leaders who expressed a willingness to reconcile.
Speaking to the media in Islamabad, Clinton declined to address specific names but said the United States expects Pakistan to authorize “joint action against al Qaeda and its affiliates,” adding, “there is still much more work required, and it is urgent.”
As a matter of retribution, the United Sates has several options when duplicity is firmly ascertained via bin Laden tapes and computer files.
1. Take out Pakistan's atomic facilities, thereby neutralizing its ability to detonate atomic weapons in any future conflicts. 2. Dismantle the ISI apparatus and arrest its leadership for crimes against humanity, including judicial criminal prosecutions that have caused the death and dismemberment of thousands of American soldiers and Afghan soldiers and civilians in Afghanistan. But for Pakistan's duplicity, the United States and Afghanistan would not have suffered sustained casualties inside Afghanistan. ISI of Pakistan was the ring leader of a criminal conspiracy whose members included bin Laden and Al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, the Jalaluddin Huqqani group, the Mullah Mohammad Omar and the Afghani Taliban, and the Gulbuddin Hekmatyar group. 3. Impose war reparation upon Pakistan equal to the present and future value of the following: Work-life earnings loss and the value of life of every American and Afghan soldier and civilian killed since 2001, and the present value and future value of every American and Afghan soldier and civilian who sustained partial or total disabilities for the remainder of their life, plus the military and civilian expenditures of the U.S. war in Afghanistan since 2001 (had Pakistan turned over bin Laden to the U.S. in 2001, there would have been no U.S. war involvement in Afghanistan. Plus $20 billion -- the amount of assistance that Pakistan has received from the United Sates since 2001, plus punitive damages for bad faith. 4. Dissect Pakistan into three smaller states -- Baluchistan for the Baluchi separatists including the city of Quetta, Pashtunistan for the Pashtun separatists covering the Pashtun tribal areas including Peshawar and the border areas, and Pakistan proper including Lahore and the Karachi areas. The ongoing domestic dissent in the Pashtun and Baluchi areas are rooted in the exploitative and discriminatory practices of the ruling class of Pakistan -- the Lahore elite -- who have alienated those groups. 5. Create a strong civilian government in Pakistan by dismantling the ISI, reducing Pakistan's military prowess and supporting the educated and secular population. Pakistan has a strong judiciary and press at this time. A strong civilian government is needed to implement democratic institutions and processes. 6. At a minimum, Pakistan must turn over to the United States Gulbuddin Hekmatyar from the Peshawar area, Jalaluddin Haqqani from the northern Waziristan area and Mullah Mohammad Omar from Quetta, Baluchistan area. These insurgents are shooting at American and Afghan soldiers inside Afghanistan and enjoy safe havens that are provided by ISI and are being sheltered in Pakistan.
It is extraordinary that Pakistan's former president, Mr. Musharraf, still denies that he knew where bin Laden was residing in Pakistan while the current prime minister, Mr. Yousuf Raza Gilani, and the Pakistani parliament are trying to shift the debate from Pakistan's duplicity to the American violation of Pakistan's sovereignty. They believe that the rubric of sovereignty will save the day for them. Not so. The Navy SEALs' possession and custody of bin Laden's computer files and tapes will end that debate, which may identify Pakistan as the most dangerous nation on earth.
Nake M. Kamrany is professor of economics and director of program in law and economics at the University of Southern California and a member of California Bar.
25 May 2011: Three complex and inter-related narratives drive terrorism in Pakistan. And the Pakistani Taliban attack on the Karachi naval base that killed a dozen commandoes and destroyed two US-supplied Orions could mark the beginning of the end of Pakistan and its replacement by an Islamist caliphate with nuclear weapons. The reasoning for this goes thus:
The so-called "mujahideen" war against the Soviet Union beginning in the late-Seventies marked a phase of the most unity between the terrorists and its state backers, the US, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and (quietly) China. Once the Soviets left Afghanistan, the Americans turned their back, the Saudis patronized the Taliban if only to keep terrorism away from home, and Pakistan hoped to replicate the "mujahideen" experiment in Jammu and Kashmir. The Pakistan army and ISI have wanted strategic depth in Afghanistan against India, even though this makes little sense after Pakistan became a declared nuclear power in 1998. Control of Afghanistan for Pakistan also means muting opposition of the Pashtuns to the Durand Line which they correctly believe divides a greater Pakhtunistan between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Pakistan and the United States created and financed the Taliban to take over Afghanistan from the "mujahideen" who fell out with one another once in power. The US needed a stable Afghanistan to pipe out hydrocarbons from Central Asia for final evacuation from a Pakistani warm-water port. Pakistan had strategic interests in Afghanistan in relation to India and the Pashtun question as explained before. The only opposition to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan came from the Northern Alliance backed by Russia, Iran, Central Asian republics and India. Nine-eleven changed Pakistan's cozy equations in Afghanistan. The US war in Afghanistan deprived the Taliban/ Al-Qaeda of state power. With the assistance of the Pakistan army and ISI, their leaders were settled in FATA and later in Quetta. Pakistan was forced to ally in the US war because otherwise it had been warned of being "bombed back to the Stone Age". FATA has always been a lawless area. Its fiercely Islamist tribes are very independent. As a launch pad for the Afghan "mujahideen" war, it became a melting pot for jihadis of several nations. In the thirty-two years since the start of the "mujahideen" war, a new generation of jihadis has grown on the ideologies, teachings and experiences of the Al-Qaeda and Taliban. The Pakistani Taliban is a product of that generation. Like the Afghan Taliban/ Al-Qaeda want a Sharia state of Afghanistan, so the Pakistani Taliban dream and demand the same of Pakistan. After the Lal Masjid attack in which their young adherents were killed by the Pakistan army, the Pakistani Taliban views it inimically. Pakistan's collaboration with US drone attacks in FATA and the death of Osama Bin Laden in an American raid have furthered the enmity. While a US drone attack killed the Pakistan Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud, the Pakistan army made him a prized target.
Pakistan's second terrorism narrative is directed against Jammu and Kashmir. The late Pakistani military dictator, Zia-ul-Haq, set in motion plans for that. When J and K's own insurgency sputtered out, Pakistan backed Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorism, which was independent of whatever else was going on in FATA and Afghanistan, apart from the shared terror-training infrastructure.
Pakistan's third terror narrative related to Indian interests in Afghanistan. Obsessed about Indian action on two fronts, Pakistan launched suicide attacks on India's embassy and mission personnel in Kabul and targeted its development projects. The ISI has instigated these attacks using the terrorist forces of the Haqqani Taliban.
The thing to understand is that Pakistan wants control of all these disparate terrorism narratives to suit its ends in Afghanistan and against India. The Lashkar-e-Toiba could be amenable for the moment to work under the overall guidance of Pakistan's state terror institutions like the army and ISI. But the FATA/ Quetta Shura Islamists have their own plans. The Afghan Taliban wants Afghanistan preferably without the involvement of the ISI, which it hates. The Al-Qaeda will return to Afghanistan as guests of the Taliban if the US leaves, which does not appear immediately imminent. The Pakistani Taliban wants a Pakistani caliphate eventually joined to Afghanistan. The Pakistan army and ISI believe they can continue to calibrate terrorism to win their aims. But the US is tired of Pakistani terrorism/ perfidy in Afghanistan. The American killing of Bin Laden has been a game-changer. Pakistan can no longer calibrate terrorism to extract aid, concessions and support from all parties simultaneously, including the US and the terrorists.
It is in this background that the Pakistani Taliban attack on the naval base must be seen. Caliphate forces are attacking Pakistan. Their aim is to weaken the Pakistan army and destroy its confidence about protecting Pakistan state interests. The destruction of two Orions in a heavily guarded base is no small matter. The caliphate forces are pushing for the tide to turn, when more in the Pakistan military/ ISI and atomic establishments will switch sides to them. But of course the Pakistan army and ISI with their endless obsession about India do not read the writing on the wall. One more successful attack such as on the Mehran base will cripple the Pakistan military. India must be ready and prepared to face any eventuality, including a nuclear incident within Pakistan triggered by terrorists. N.V.Subramanian is Editor, www.NewsInsight.net, and writes internationally on strategic affairs. He has authored two novels, University of Love (Writers Workshop, Calcutta) and Courtesan of Storms (Har-Anand, Delhi). Email: email@example.com.
Al-Qaeda had warned of Pakistan strike By Syed Saleem Shahzad
This is the first article in a two-part report.
ISLAMABAD - Al-Qaeda carried out the brazen attack on PNS Mehran naval air station in Karachi on May 22 after talks failed between the navy and al-Qaeda over the release of naval officials arrested on suspicion of al-Qaeda links, an Asia Times Online investigation reveals.
Pakistani security forces battled for 15 hours to clear the naval base after it had been stormed by a handful of well-armed militants.
At least 10 people were killed and two United States-made P3-C
Orion surveillance and anti-submarine aircraft worth US$36 million each were destroyed before some of the attackers escaped through a cordon of thousands of armed forces.
An official statement placed the number of militants at six, with four killed and two escaping. Unofficial sources, though, claim there were 10 militants with six getting free. Asia Times Online contacts confirm that the attackers were from Ilyas Kashmiri's 313 Brigade, the operational arm of al-Qaeda.
Three attacks on navy buses in which at least nine people were killed last month were warning shots for navy officials to accept al-Qaeda's demands over the detained suspects.
The May 2 killing in Pakistan of Osama bin Laden spurred al-Qaeda groups into developing a consensus for the attack in Karachi, in part as revenge for the death of their leader and also to deal a blow to Pakistan's surveillance capacity against the Indian navy.
The deeper underlying motive, though, was a reaction to massive internal crackdowns on al-Qaeda affiliates within the navy.
Volcano of militancy Several weeks ago, naval intelligence traced an al-Qaeda cell operating inside several navy bases in Karachi, the country's largest city and key port.
"Islamic sentiments are common in the armed forces," a senior navy official told Asia Times Online on the condition of anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to the media.
"We never felt threatened by that. All armed forces around the world, whether American, British or Indian, take some inspiration from religion to motivate their cadre against the enemy. Pakistan came into existence on the two-nation theory that Hindus and Muslims are two separate nations and therefore no one can separate Islam and Islamic sentiment from the armed forces of Pakistan," the official said.
"Nonetheless, we observed an uneasy grouping on different naval bases in Karachi. While nobody can obstruct armed forces personnel for rendering religious rituals or studying Islam, the grouping [we observed] was against the discipline of the armed forces. That was the beginning of an intelligence operation in the navy to check for unscrupulous activities."
The official explained the grouping was against the leadership of the armed forces and opposed to its nexus with the United States against Islamic militancy. When some messages were intercepted hinting at attacks on visiting American officials, intelligence had good reason to take action and after careful evaluation at least 10 people - mostly from the lower cadre - were arrested in a series of operations.
"That was the beginning of huge trouble," the official said.
Those arrested were held in a naval intelligence office behind the chief minister's residence in Karachi, but before proper interrogation could begin, the in-charge of the investigation received direct threats from militants who made it clear they knew where the men were being detained.
The detainees were promptly moved to a safer location, but the threats continued. Officials involved in the case believe the militants feared interrogation would lead to the arrest of more of their loyalists in the navy. The militants therefore made it clear that if those detained were not released, naval installations would be attacked.
It was clear the militants were receiving good inside information as they always knew where the suspects were being detained, indicating sizeable al-Qaeda infiltration within the navy's ranks. A senior-level naval conference was called at which an intelligence official insisted that the matter be handled with great care, otherwise the consequences could be disastrous. Everybody present agreed, and it was decided to open a line of communication with al-Qaeda.
Abdul Samad Mansoori, a former student union activist and now part of 313 brigade, who originally hailed from Karachi but now lives in the North Waziristan tribal area was approached and talks begun. Al-Qaeda demanded the immediate release of the officials without further interrogation. This was rejected.
The detainees were allowed to speak to their families and were well treated, but officials were desperate to interrogate them fully to get an idea of the strength of al-Qaeda's penetration. The militants were told that once interrogation was completed, the men would be discharged from the service and freed.
Al-Qaeda rejected these terms and expressed its displeasure with the attacks on the navy buses in April.
These incidents pointed to more than the one al-Qaeda cell intelligence had tracked in the navy. The fear now was that if the problem was not addressed, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) supply lines could face a new threat. NATO convoys are routinely attacked once they begin the journey from Karachi to Afghanistan; now they could be at risk in Karachi port. Americans who often visit naval facilities in the city would also be in danger.
Therefore, another crackdown was conducted and more people were arrested. Those seized had different ethnic backgrounds. One naval commando came from South Waziristan's Mehsud tribe and was believed to have received direct instructions from Hakeemullah Mehsud, the chief of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (Pakistan Taliban). Others were from Punjab province and Karachi, the capital of Sindh province.
After Bin Laden was killed by American Navy Seals in Abbottabad, 60 kilometers north of Islamabad, militants decided the time was ripe for major action.
Within a week, insiders at PNS Mehran provided maps, pictures of different exit and entry routes taken in daylight and at night, the location of hangers and details of likely reaction from external security forces.
As a result, the militants were able to enter the heavily guarded facility where one group targeted the aircraft, a second group took on the first strike force and a third finally escaped with the others providing covering fire. Those who stayed behind were killed.
This is big news....so soon after the SSS interview. Interesting, that western media is mostly ignoring it. Looks like beard on beard type attack. Loss of two P3C Orions is a big loss for the pakis, apart from the idea that its likely that the terrorists had inside help...First, the US caused a lot of H&D (honor & dignity) loss with the OBL raid, now the military has been caught napping. I would be very surprised if Kayani and Pasha can keep their jobs...ofcourse they can always mount an attack on India to relieve the loss of H&D.
KARACHI: Militants stormed one of Pakistan’s main military bases in the country’s largest city late Sunday, triggering explosions and gunbattles three weeks after the US killing of Osama bin Laden. According to DawnNews there could be 10 to 12 attackers still inside the base as at least six reported to be dead amid terrorist’s attack.
DawnNews at 03:30 am reported that according to the Pakistan Navy’s spokesman, Commodore Irfan ul Haq, four Pakistan Navy officials and a Rangers soldier were martyred in the attack, while at least seven Navy officials were injured as well.
Two P3C aircrafts were also destroyed during the attack, he added.
Here's an interesting interview with SSS of atimes, who is well connected with AQ and Taliban...he makes a few interesting points, in the wake of OBL's killing 1. Parts of the paki army may mutiny, as they are mad at the generals. Hopefully, it wont be the section dealing with nukes. 2. The taliban will be supportive of AQ, in the post OBL world, because they are a "courteous people"...referring to pashtoonwali, code of conduct.