Monthly Archives: August 2011

Eid and International Day of Missing Persons

A Pakpotpourri2 Exclusive

Year 2011 has turned into a doubly sorrowful symbol for the families of Missing persons of Pakistan as International day of the victims of enforced disappearance and Eid fall on consecutive days. This year has an another significance because from today United Nations has also officially marked it as the International day of the victims of enforced disappearance.

For some of us it is the first Eid without one of our family member, for some it is fifth and for some of us it is tenth. But we are not talking about deceased family members whom one bury with their hands instead these are the missing loved ones subjected to enforced disappearance. Here one must remember that “Enforced Disappearance” is a legal term of international law coined by United Nation’s legal instruments. It denotes a disappeared or missing person who has been kidnapped and detained illegally by state run institutions, placing them outside the protection of law; the very institutions which are created and constituted to prevent citizens from all atrocities including kidnapping. It is like being robbed by your own watchman.

There are abundant and over whelming evidences, affidavits and eye witnesses which have already confirmed the presence of loved ones in the custody of local agencies, many of whom have been handed over to foreign agencies. The irony of the situation is that ex president Gen Perwaiz Musharraf and ex minister of interior Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao have authenticated, with a criminal pride, in their books and media statements that they have been enforce disappearing Pakistani citizens in exchange for American dollars. Even more distressing is the fact that the crime of enforced disappearance has accelerated in the present democratic government. We assert that if Gillani government denies this fact than it means that they have no control on agencies who are still in pursuit of American money. 

The perpetrators of this crime not only kidnap people but harass their families so much that most of them don’t dare to launch a complaint. More than 1200 families have contacted and registered their cases with Defence of Human Rights. Due to different hurdles and lack of enough funds Defence of Human Rights is representing only 322 cases in Supreme Court. Punjab stands at number one with 174 cases whereas KPK , Balochistan, Sindh, Azad Jammu Kashmir, Islamabad Capital Territory follow with 96, 19, 25, 7, 11 cases respectively.

In a Statement by the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or involuntary Disappearances to mark the first UN International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances it asserts, “Unfortunately, enforced disappearances continue to be used by some States as a tool to deal with situations of conflict or internal unrest. We have also witnessed the use of the so-called ‘short term disappearances,’ where victims are placed in secret detention or unknown locations, outside the protection of the law, before being released weeks or months later, sometimes after having been tortured and without having been brought in front of a judge or other civil authority. 

This very worrisome practice, whether it is used to counter terrorism, to fight organized crime or suppress legitimate civil strife demanding democracy, freedom of expression or religion, should be considered as an enforced disappearance and as such adequately investigated, prosecuted and punished.

On this day Defence of Human Rights Pakistan wants to draw your attention to the thousands of Pakistani families which are aggrieved for years whose loved ones, brothers, fathers, husbands, sons, daughters and even children are abducted by local and foreign intelligence agencies.

Our contentions as the voice for the Missing Person’s families are that in all laws of the world keeping anybody “Missing” is Illegal. United Nations’ convention has declared it as “crime against humanity”. According to the same convention, families of the missing persons have been established as equal victims of Enforced Disappeared. This reality makes the total victims of enforced disappearance in Pakistan ten times more than registered number. 

When a loved one is kept in secret confinement without any knowledge and contact to the family for years, it is the worst torture on Earth. 

Defence of Human Rights enjoys a unique status in the fight against Enforced Disappearance as this is an organization which has been created and is being run by the victim families of this heinous crime. We have been making efforts and struggling day and night for years to trace our loved ones. The sufferings and agonies involved in illegal abductions are enormous and must be dealt on priority. 

Defence of Human Rights is lucky in this regard that our cause is being supported by all factions of the society. But the one who is unmoved is the Government of Pakistan. The need of the hour is to intensify the pressure on the Government of Pakistan demanding immediate release of loved ones and to put an end to Enforced Disappearance forever and  to ratify “International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance” passed by UN. Eighty eight countries with clean conscience have already signed it. We also demand to stop all sorts of brutal, inhumane treatments and tortures going on in jails and secret detentions.

We want to convey the desperation and grief of the families who are waiting every second for any information regarding their missing relatives and for their release. The gravity and alarming nature of the issue and the threat it poses to the advancing world because of the rapid growth in number of people Enforced disappeared, demands for immediate action.  

We plead to the parliamentarians of all political parties to raise this issue in Parliament and take measures to ratify United Nation’s “International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance” and legislate proper laws to end this shameful practice from Pakistan. We also demand that Enforced Disappeared persons and their families should be rehabilitated, compensated and should be given all the medical and psychological treatment required, by the government.

It is apt on this occaison to thank the civil society, lawyer’s community, political parties, groups of civil society, students etc for sharing our grief and taking part in our struggle. We also thank international human right’s associations like Cageprisoners of UK, Amnesty International, Pakistan USA freedom forum, International action centre, Human rights watch etc for the extraordinary support extended by them.

Amina Masood Janjua

Chairperson And team of

Defence of Human Rights Pakistan

(Campaign for the Release of Missing Persons in Pakistan)

3rd floor Majeed Plaza

Bank Road Rawalpindi Cantt

+92-51-5511686

+92-301-5240550

mrsjanjua@gmail.com
www.dhrpk.org

Date: 30th Aug 2011

Analysis: What now after Zulfiqar Mirza’s bombshell?

Editor’s Note: Dr Mirza’s resignation as Vice President PPP Sindh,an MPA & Ministerial post may not have rocked the nation but for the reasons disclosed. The text of his speech is neatly reproduced by THE NATION & can be read : http://nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Politics/29-Aug-2011/Mirza-says-it-all Will Mirza be able to substantiate the allegations with proof? This needs to be investigated & not brushed under the carpet, claiming it to be a diatribe.For the Letter by Altaf Hussain to Britian’s Ex-Prime Minister,click link:http://www.hurriyat.com/528/mqms-offers-counter-terrorism-support-to-uk/  If it is so,that too,needs to come out based on facts,not rhetoric. Pakpotpourri2 gives you a balanced analysis by Nasim Zehra.

By:Nasim Zehra

Pakistani politics witnessed a new first. Holding the Holy Quran in his hand and then placing it upon his head, Sindh’s senior minister Zulfiqar Ali Mirza made some very bold revelations against his friend’s key, even if troubled, political ally as well as his friend’s closest and most handy aide.

President Asif Ali Zardari perhaps now faces the biggest challenge of his political career as none other than his most loyal friend and senior minister Sindh, Zulfiqar Ali Mirza, at a press conference issued a loaded charge sheet. Mirza gave specific information along with alleged evidence, against all those he accused. He said the ongoing operation was meaningless and that the real killers were not being apprehended.

Zulfiqar Mirza’s attack has produced a complex political dynamic. One with the ‘evidence’ that Zulfiqar Mirza claims he has against the MQM’s alleged involvement in target killings, he has put the MQM under pressure. An MQM on the defensive provides political leverage to the PPP in its ongoing negotiations with that party. It may also help to stem the growing alienation of the Sindhis against the PPP leadership, especially earlier the mishandling of the revival of the local bodies.

The claims made by Zulfiqar Mirza can also potentially strengthen the PPP’s hand in the Supreme Court’s suo motto hearing on the Karachi target killing. The SC bench now meeting in Karachi is bound to call Zulfiqar Mirza to make good his claims in court.

(Read: Suo motu action on Karachi – CJ seeks report from chief secretary, IGP Sindh)

But the most challenging for PPP’s internal politics is Mirza’s attack on Rehman Malik. Zulfiqar Mirza has made specific charges against the interior minister, holding him responsible for leading a “farcical operation” and for being primarily committed to keeping the MQM on board. In addition to his criticism at the press conference, Zulfiqar Mirza, later in a television program insisted that the interior minister  “is Pakistan’s enemy and if Pakistan breaks up, then Rehman Malik will be responsible for it.”

Although Mirza insisted that he would remain loyal to the president till his dying day and would give his life in the party’s service, within the immediate context he has created major political challenges for the president. He has alleged that the president’s right-hand man is hand in glove with the killers of innocent citizens.

As for whether these extraordinary revelations will lead to any action against Rehman Malik or the MQM, the punch-line comes from Zulfiqar Mirza himself. While speaking on television he said, “I have rolled the ball, now the ball in the court of the president, army chief, the ISI chief, the PM, the speaker of parliament and the chairman of the senate.” Mirza expects them to use the evidence that he has presented to take action against the MQM and the interior minister.  He said the moment the CJP asks him to present himself in court, he will do so.

Zulfiqar Mirza may have become a thorn in the president’s side. But Mirza is one PPP leader that the president will not find it easy to sideline. He will also not able to easily brush aside the alleged charge sheet presented against Rehman Malik nor the MQM. Clearly these moves by Zardari’s closest friend puts the Karachi operation in an even greater spotlight and for all the wrong reasons. It also sharply exposes the weaknesses in Zardari’s politics of “mufahimmat.”

The questions that Mirza’s charge sheet raises only confirms public criticism of the operation. Questions that have no easy answers but ones that will now be repeatedly asked by many political and non-political stake-holders from across the country.

NOTE:Nasim Zehra is a known political commentator & columnist. This is a cross post from Express Tribune.

Green Flag, Islamic Crescent

By: Humayun Gohar 

“Be careful. Be very careful,” friends are warning. “It took much less for NATO to walk into Libya than what’s happening in Karachi. First, their bombs opened the door for the rebels. Now, continued bombing will make it safe for them to enter.” True, but Pakistan is not Libya. It’s much bigger, much more complex.

 

Gaddafi made some grave mistakes. Starting out as a revolutionary to overthrow western hegemony, monsieur became a horrible tyrant. He killed his own people; he killed innocent foreigners – the Lockerbie bombing and the cold-blooded murder of policewoman Yvonne Fletcher come to mind. The mushrooming of rebel groups became a natural consequence. It also provided the hegemon ‘justification’ to ‘help’ the rebels. By making up with the West he let the hegemon in through the door. While he won the release of odious Lockerbie bomber in return for an oil concession to a British oil exploration company, thereafter the most concessions he gave were to China and Russia. Big mistake. The hegemon was riled. Today Gaddafi is all but done, running for his life, hiding in warrens and rat holes.

 

We too have exploited our people endlessly and unleashed tyranny on them periodically. But unlike Libya, we let the hegemon in through our door from inception – in fact, we never let him out.   

 

Libya’s oil, exploited and unexploited, is now virtually in American hands. Add Iraq and they’ve already got a huge reserve. Add Afghanistan and they also have gas pipeline routes. Add Afghanistan’s unexploited ‘rare earth minerals’ that China recently stopped exporting and they have great power. Next could be Saudi Arabia and Iran. The small fry would follow. Wars and control over global energy reserves are a sure way to kick start a bankrupt economy. America came out of the ‘Great Depression’ not because of Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ but because of the Second World War. But, “The times. They have a changed”. Attacking Iran is attacking an ideology. It could bring ‘Economogeddon’.  

 

Why Pakistan? It has little oil and hardly any gas left. Five reasons: to establish an Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline; prevent an Iran-Pakistan-China gas pipeline; control Karachi’s ports and foil China in Gwadar; control Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal; reduce China’s influence. Won’t work. It would lead to global anarchy. America knows it.

 

If a ruthlessly dispassionate observer were to step back and look at Pakistan in its entirety – the wood from the trees, as it were – he would say, “It’s over.”

 

“Why?” one would ask.

 

“Because Pakistan suffers an acute common sense deficit. Wisdom lies buried deep.”

 

Sure outsiders will interfere if you stupidly create the conditions for interference. Since the return of ‘democracy’ political gangs have killed more than 6,000 people, more than 2,000 this year alone, excluding security personnel. People are so desperate that they want to somehow – anyhow – get the hell out of the hell that is Karachi.

 

Demand for a Karachi province (and for others) is already there. In the current mood, a new province by violence would be seen as victory and a stepping-stone to separation. All it needs is for a ‘leader’ of a ‘rebel group’ to unilaterally declare independence and ask for foreign ‘help’. If people come out on the streets to celebrate, you have had it. You can be sure that America’s formal and informal intelligence operatives have already set up such ‘sleeper’ rebel groups and prepared their ‘leaders’ – its new set of stooges and satraps. They only have to wind up their toys and let them loose when needed. Such scenarios always sound fanciful before they happen, but we should be used to unlikely scenarios unfolding, having suffered so many that once were regarded as fanciful.

 

It would be a mess. If India plays any sort of role – and it would be out of character for it not to – like ‘recognizing’ the ‘rebels’ as the ‘legitimate’ government, and China enters the fray, which inevitably it must with so much strategic investment at stake, it would be Armageddon. Sure there will be huge orders for America’s military-industrial complex, but there may be no military-industrial complex left to meet those orders. The hope is that the millennia old wisdom of these three great civilizations emerges and defeats the nefarious designs of a desperate hegemon without history and civilization. America knows the consequences too.  Perhaps the only way to save Karachi might be to either make it a federal territory or to take the capital back there, however stupid and difficult it might seem – often only irrational solutions work in irrational situations.

 

It’s not just Karachi. Secular and religious maniacs in different garb chasing different agendas are on the rampage throughout Pakistan. Sure India is helping many of them. Considering we are the enemy, why wouldn’t they? Wouldn’t you?

 

America has been setting us up for long. We are accused of all sorts of things, from being two-faced to hiding Osama Bin Laden to helping the Taliban. After the Abbotabad caper tension between our army and the US ratcheted up so much that today they are hardly on talking terms. We threw out their ‘trainers’ and overt and covert intelligence operatives and placed restrictions on the movement of their diplomats. America not only stopped our funding but also reimbursement of our expenses. The temperature remains high.

 

If the Pakistan volcano erupts, the destruction would be great. The world map would change. Cartographers would become very busy. It would completely alter the Muslim world and South Asia, making new paradigms that the world might find difficult to cope with. America knows that. How to prevent it?

 

Find another way. Find horses for courses. What new breed of horse does America find for the Pakistani course? The hushed chatter has it that America has a new doctrine: “If you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em”. The task is to prevent a gaggle of crazed religious fanatics with different interpretations and agendas parceling the country out between them. If you can’t defeat them militarily, defeat them ideologically. Pull the rug out from under their feet. Hijacking their ideology by forging a modern and progressive ‘American Islamic Revolution’ with our military leading the way – a mixed breed by mating the new American Islamic mare and the old Pakistani military horse. Get the “guardians of Pakistan’s geographical and ideological frontiers” to play their hand, the Sabz Hilali Parcham – ‘Green Flag, Islamic Crescent’. Our generals at wits end may agree with alacrity. Islam is the only platform they could now possibly ride in on after the erosion of their credibility. If the majority of Pakistanis really are as moderate as we think, they should lap it up. If it works, it could be replicated elsewhere. Muslims scholars having failed, let the Islamic renaissance come from America. That this is precisely where the problem will lie: while Islamic is acceptable to our people, America is not. They love Islam; they hate America. A new Islamic doctrine forged by America doesn’t stand a chance. Don’t fool around with an ideology if you don’t quite understand it. End up aping western constructs in Islamic garb and it won’t work. Religion is ideology by another name. Ideology is secular religion. Don’t put you hand into a red-hot cauldron.

 

That it could be tried is not outside the realm of possibility. Nothing in this crazy situation is. Stupidity is also a democratic right. They could try and turn the joke that Pakistan functions on three, ‘As’ – Allah, America and the Army – into reality.

NOTE:The writer is a well known Columnist & Political Commentator.This is a cross post from PAKISTAN TODAY.

 

Proxy War and Politics in Pakistan

This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive

By:Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg

Former Chief of Army Staff

The ‘Proxy War on Pakistan’ got mixed-up with politics, after the occupation of Afghanistan in 2001, creating an orgy of social violence, terror, corruption and bad governance. Day to day life in Pakistan thus, has lot its charm. Business activities are dying down; capital is flowing-out and fear and despondency have gripped the nation. 

      It is not difficult to identify the perpetrators of the proxy war, particularly in the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, Balochistan and Sindh. The spy network in Afghanistan, created in 2001, under RAW, supported by CIA, Mossad, MI-6 and BND, has been targeting all the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan, particularly Pakistan, and succeeded in turning the war against Pakistan, by the year 2005. Since then, our army is engaged in a running battle with our own tribals. Swat Dir and Bajaur are relatively calm, but FATA is boiling. The insurgency in Balochistan is being fomented by the same spy network in Afghanistan. I wrote about this network operating against Pakistan, in the article titled: “Global Conspiracies against Pakistan”, published in national dailies on 14th August 2007: 

      “Sarobi near Kabul, is the nerve center headed by an Indian General officer, who also commands the Border Road Organization (BRO). Its forward bases are, Ghazni, Khowst, Gardez, Jalalabad, Asadabad, Wakhan and Faizabad. Faizabad training camp depicts a Pakistani camp for Chinese dissidents, with Muslim mullahs, trainers and guards. BRO has built an all weather road from Sarobi to Asadabad to Faizabad. Sarobi network, targets the province of NWFP, Pakistan. Dissidents from Pakistan are trained at Sarobi for missions inside NWFP. Wakhan salient has been infested with dozens of electronic outposts, covering Pakistan, China, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.”

      “Kandahar, with its forward bases, is targeting Balochistan. The dissidents from Balochistan are trained at Lashkargah for undertaking missions, with support of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). One of their tasks is to target Chinese working in the province, particularly at Gwadar, Sandak and Hab. From the anchorages, on the Pakistani coast at Jiwani and Kot-Kalamat, Americans jointly plan operations with BLA, inside Balochistan. They also use the Pakistani out-posts at Mand, for operations inside Iran. The American warships in the Arabian Sea and their intelligence bases in Muscat, provide the back-up support. The facilities at Jiwani and Kot-Kalamat were provided by Pakistan, as logistic support bases to the Americans for operation in Afghanistan, but the same are now being used to destabilize Balochistan and Iran.” 

      The proxy war in Sindh, presents a different picture, as it targets Karachi, the nerve centre of Pakistan and mixed with politics, presents a very dangerous situation. The factors, such as the ‘demographic imbalance’ caused by influx of Pashtuns from the North, and the flood affected internally displaced population from Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan, seeking refuge in Karachi, add to the social disorder, being exploited by foreign hands.

       

      The politics in Sindh is hostage to MQM’s grid-hold over Karachi and Hyderabad, which is being challenged by other political and ethnic groups, who want to create political space for themselves, in areas, which MQM considers as their exclusive reserve. The clash of interests thus has resulted into violence and blood-letting and took a new turn, as MQM, decided to split with the government at federal and provincial levels. This split was totally unexpected and was viewed as a conspiracy for ‘Regime Change”, because, American relations with the government of Pakistan and the army had soared and the desperate situation for the Americans in Afghanistan, demanded ‘a Compliant government in Pakistan and an Army Chief, of choice.’

       

      The ‘Conspiracy’ aimed at creating a grand alliance of the opposition and the demand for early elections, to get rid of the government in power. But President Zardari acted fast to pre-empt the regime change plan. While he was on a visit abroad, the opposition groups in Karachi were provided a field day against the MQM, claiming space for themselves, that took many lives and Karachi shuddered. Zardari returned to Karachi and passed orders to ‘cut MQM to size.’ Under the presidential notification, the local body’s ordinance was changed, denying power, privileges and projects to MQM; the new Karachi Hyderabad constituency demarcation order was repealed, reducing about thirty percent seats, that MQM could win in the next elections. At the same time intelligence reports about MQM’s gung-ho politics were sent to London. The MQM thus found itself tricked and cheated by the British and American planners, whose plan for regime-change was foiled by Zardari.

      Altaf Hussain in London cried-out for being scape-goated. The Americans and the British diplomats came rushing to Karachi to negotiate peace. The Sindh government agreed to take MQM back into the fold. The governor returned to his seat and the ‘damaging presidential ordinances were withdrawn. MQM now, badly bruised and battered is expected to join the government. Zardari has won, conspiracy has failed, but many innocent Pakistanis have lost their lives at the alter of our ‘politics and proxy war’.

      Pakistani nation is facing multi-dimensional threat to its security and this is not the time to rock the boat. No doubt change is needed but through the constitutional process, because the ‘hidden hands’ which destroyed Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, now are focusing on Libya and Syria and may soon return to strike at Pakistan. The ‘ruling junta’ in Pakistan is seeking ‘political consensus’ to complete the tenure and remains devoid of the political will to deal with the burning problems in the North-West region, Balochistan and Karachi. The Karachi turmoil has given the wake-up call to the people of Pakistan, to correct the course, before it is too late. 

      And in the absence of good ideas and options, for change, let our politicians have a look at the Anti-corruption movement of the Indian political activist, Anna Hazare (annahazare.com) and start a movement, in real earnest, than giving hollow statements, having no meaning  at all. The opposition leaders could provide the lead and many would follow them. But they have to do a lot of home-work to carefully prepare ‘the Bill’ to be tabled in the national assembly. The bill must initiate the policy and the plan of action, ensuring that “it is forged-out of the utter failure of our representative democracy, and that the democratic institutions remain accessible to ordinary people.

      Anna Hazare seems have a better understanding of the meaning of the words of God:

      “Thus have we placed leaders in every town, its wicked men, to plot

      (and burrow) there-in, but they only plot against their own souls and

      they perceive it not.” – Surah Al-Annam. 123

Rejecting New US Consulates

Farooq Hameed Khan 
The American efforts to gain permanent foothold in Balochistan and South Punjab by establishing Consulates in Quetta and Multan  suffered a blow after  serious opposition from  Pakistani security establishment specially after the Raymond Davis and Abbottabad episodes.  Reportedly the  Foreign Office denied the US their requests to open these new Consulates..
    US Ambassador  Cameron Munter’s  recent declaration   that ‘Balochistan was very significant for the United States’ reveals the superpower’s intentions when viewed in the context of  US obsession  to open up  the  new  Quetta Consulate.
     In early 2010, then US ambassador Anne Patterson had cited  two main reasons for the Quetta Consulate : to oversee the development activities carried out by Americans in Balochistan and ensure a close liaison with the Baloch people  for speedy  visa facility instead of  dealing with  US Consulates in Karachi and Islamabad.  Pakistanis, however, view these as a   cover for greater sinister US designs In Balochistan.
     But US Ambassador Cameron Munter is not willing to give up so easily too. He recently visited  Quetta , where he met with the Balochistan  Chief Minister and  Speaker Balochistan Assembly to lobby for the Consulate which  was obviously not agreed to. These Baloch leaders also rejected the American  themes regarding  presence of   Al –Qaida and Taliban   leaders  Al Zawahri  and  Mulla Omer  in Balochistan or  Taliban intrusion from around Quetta into Afghanistan.   Such narrative also points towards a US  agenda of   expanding  the Afghan war into Balochistan .
      Why is US Consulate in Quetta considered to be against Pakistan’s security interests? Because this would  serve as a launching pad for greater  American interference in Baloch istan affairs  to further American interests in the region. It is feared that US security personnel are  likely to intensify their clandestine activities  and further fuel the insurgency in the province in coordination with RAW sponsored Baloch militant groups.
      A recent media report  quoting  top-level sources in our foreign ministry is significant : “In fact, we have received a lot of secret correspondence by security agencies about the CIA operatives’ involvement in a number of nefarious plots against Pakistan. This is the reason we refused them establishment of new consulates.”
      The United States has clear strategic interests in  mineral rich  Balochistan which provides a regional  trade and energy corridor to Afghanistan and energy rich central asian states. According to media reports, the US is also eyeing a setup at Gwadar to maintain a watch over Chinese  activities in the area..
     Therefore US presence in Balochistan could threaten the security of strategic  projects  that are likely to takeoff in 2011/2012 including the  Chinese sponsored  second phase infra-strucutre development  of Gwadar port ,  construction of  Pak- Iran gas pipeline  and the mega Reqo Dik copper/gold mining facility,   which  do not converge with  Indo- US strategic interests in the region.  
    American interest in Balochistan’s  division on linguistic/ethnic lines was reflected in a senior  ANP leader’s recent statement  suggesting carving out a ‘South Pakhtun khwa’ province in Pashtun dominated regions of Balochistan  , that links with long term designs towards   Greater Pashtunistan.  Incidentally few months ago , Ambasador Munter  had  participated in a Pashtun tribal jirga in Quetta an event that had raised eye brows in Islamabad.  Baloch leaders seem conscious of such a conspiracy and have rejected any plan to breakup Balochistan. 
      In  the article  titled ‘The Destabilization of Pakistan’ dated  May 12, 2011 Dr. Stuart Jeanne Bramhall writes , “Following a familiar pattern, there are indications that the Baloch insurgency is being supported and abetted by Britain and the US. Washington favors the creation of a “Greater Balochistan” which would integrate the Baloch areas of Pakistan with those of Iran and possibly the Southern tip of Afghanistan, thereby leading to a process of political fracturing in both Iran and Pakistan. The US course consists in fomenting social, ethnic and factional divisions and political fragmentation, including the territorial breakup of Pakistan.”
    The American interest in South Punjab through their new found love for Sufism/ Barelvism has led to  renovation of  few Sufi shrines in South Punjab . Former US Ambassador  Anne W. Patterson  had announced  lavish grants   for the conservation and restoration of  three  shrines (Hazrat Rajan Qattal in Uch Sharif,  Hazrat Musa Pak Shaheed in Multan and Hazrat Khawaja Ghulam Fareed in Rajanpur) in South Punjab under the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation.  It is not known how much of these funds were actually used for the intended purpose.  
  Ambassador  Cameron Munter maintained the traditions of his predecessor when , during his latest visit to Multan,  he  laid floral wreath at the shrine of Hazrat Shah Shams and reassured US aid to restore the shrine in its original shape.     
      The American  double game is clearly visible. While on one hand they  present themselves as supporters of Sufi Islam, on the other the US embassy in Islamabad organized the  despicable  first ever gay, lesbians, bi sexual and transgender(GLBT) pride celebration ceremony  and assured its  Pakistani participants that Washington would continue to support their cause  in Pakistan.

      After the CIA’s  reported failure at acquiring land  in Dera Ghazi Khan, the next station of choice is obviously  Multan. But thanks to US funded mango processing project, that will facilitate American ingress into the interior of South Punjab. We also currently witness a coordinated  US/UK effort to engage   leaders/influentials  of South Punjab.
       Some questions arise. Is American support for Sufism  designed to promote inter sect hatred and  divide in an already polarized  religio- cultural environment in Pakistani society? Or is the strategy to penetrate the shrines culture a cover to establish links with  some banned  religious/militant  outfits  to destabilize  South Punjab ?  
           Do we see an American/British  link with the  sudden move for  creating Seraiki province by the ruling party? Are  few top ‘gaddi  nashins’ and power hungry opportunist politicians and waderas  of South Punjab falling into the American/ British trap?  Is this  a conspiracy to unnerve and divide Punjab  and create hatred   on linguistic/ethnic lines to  weaken Pakistan?
  It is also essential that movement of foreign diplomats specially the American and British personnel   be regulated and monitored and US/UK embassies should observe the Foreign Office protocol / procedures laid down for travel of their diplomats as well as meeting   Pakistanis in various cities.
        
     New US Consulates in Quetta and Multan  pose a threat to Pakistan’s security and our principled stand against their opening must not be compromised for short term political gains and vested interests.
  The writer is a political/defence analyst.
NOTE:THIS IS A CROSS POST.

Karachi : Solution Or Compromise

THIS IS A PAKPOTPOURRI EXCLUSIVE

By: Hamid Waheed

Karachi is the business hub of Pakistan but it has a long history of ethnic conflict, sectarian violence, land mafias and intra- and inter-party tensions. During the past 20 years, Karachi has seen many instances of violence and the disruption of civic life. Sectarian strife and easy availability of weapons were two factors that play a key role in this regard.  After 9/11 Karachi has been one of the main target of the Al-Qaeda as it is the major and important transit point used by US military during War On Terror. The presence of terrorist groups in Karachi in the grab of Afghan refugees have also been reported. Among these terrorist groups Sunni-shia groups have been alleged of Sunni Shia violence in Karachi. Rehman Malik also said that the terrorism activities in Karachi especially the ashura blast were conducted by LJ. Sunni-Shia sectarian violence has killed as many as 4,000 people in the past 15 years in Pakistan. Present Karachi situation is also a product of the past ethnic violence between Pathan, Sindhi and Mohajar which has now converged to rogue groups within political parties. Some political parties are now also involved in sabotaging the situation and taking the benefit of the situation. Foreign secret agencies and Raw were also actively involved in  Karachi carnage and ongoing wave of terrorism in Pakistan. If Karachi descends into violence, or becomes a centre for militants to regroup, the cost to the country can be immense. After analyzing the above circumstances the painful conclusion is that all internal as well as external  elements have successfully penetrated the rouge elements within the political parties which are main stakeholders in Karachi. The first step required to handle this situation now revolves around purging out these mafias from political parties  before we move to chop-off the foreign hand.

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Most of the politicians, media and intellectual suggest political solution to problems in Karachi but their blanket suggestions do not specify who will do it and how it will be done?  We must understand that for whatever reasons Pakistan’s present politics does not fit anywhere near to the definition of politics “government of the people, for the people and by the people”  the essence of true politics lie in the popular leadership having public confidence making popular decision  in public interest. Interestingly the institution blamed the most for not letting politics grow due to long spells of dictatorship presently seem totally in supporting role of the government. A portion of media and politicians attribute all wrongs including electricity short fall on dictatorship. They may be right to some extend but now they have the opportunity and the Turkish model to rectify wrongs of the past. In Turkey the political setup proved that they can bring more strength and prosperity in institutions than was possible under military influence in past decades. The way forward for the political set up lie in crossing the limits of standard achieved previously and tell that they have the ability to manage institutions better. There is a need to strengthen and depoliticize the interior law enforcers. In these difficult times public is interested in present and their tomorrow.  A road map which leads to somewhere .Most of the directions shown to public lack implementation and the will of leadership. Each day they see  minor promises like load shedding schedules during Ramadan being flouted. There has been number of attempts to control law and order of Karachi through political means and each time it has ended into compromise. A compromise acts as a catalyst for the mafia involved in Karachi killing. This breather gives them more physical and psychological ascendency over the poor victims of Karachi. In such environment can there be a political solution is the question touching every heart.

The reality has shown that political stakes do not allow neat and clean arrangements for use of law enforcing instrument. Demand for use of army to solve Karachi problem does not indicate army’s expertise or resources to handle the situation but it’s their non-political inclination towards any political party. Despite wide criticism on army it still holds the public confidence to deliver at the time of crisis without favoritism to a particular class, creed and group of society.

Having said above there are two main solutions. The priority still remains with political solution having true political setup .A setup where leadership does not coerce but derives strength from public sentiments. The second option lies in administrative solution through  security apparatus (police, ranger or army) but without any political interference / preference. The government needs to move fast to handle Karachi otherwise the power to choose any of the above solution under present circumstances will have to come through popular public demand. The public will not only have to take decision but also stand behind the implementers of their decision.

THE WRITER IS A KNOWN WRITER BASED IN ISLAMABAD.

 

New world disorder

By: ARNAUD DE BORCHGRAVE, UPI Editor at Large

From a record-breaking drought that has devastated much of the U.S. South and keeps getting worse, to the U.S. economy and what Time magazine’s cover story calls “The Decline and Fall of Europe (and maybe the West)”; civil wars in Libya and Syria; renewed terrorism in Iraq and endless fighting in Afghanistan, the good news was hard to detect.

The sudden uprising of jobless youth from poor families in what is arguably the most unequal society in Europe left London ablaze, shook the British establishment to its foundations and spotlighted the widening gap between rich and poor all over Europe.

The 27-nation European Union and its 17-nation common euro currency appear to be unraveling. Some 20 percent of European youth are jobless.

Income disparities throughout the European Union and in the United States show roughly 1 percent of the population controlling 42 percent of a nation’s wealth and taking in a quarter of the country’s income.

When the rising tide lifted all boats, the wealthiest could take credit for building bigger and better boats. But the current global receding tide has beached 14 million in the United States (excluding those who no longer qualify for compensation), while in the European Union the number, currently at 10 percent, is expected to crest at 16 million by 2013.

Worldwide, the current labor stats indicate 180 million looking for work. In Israel, normally a highly disciplined country of 6 million, 250,000 echoed the British underclass with popular anger against a government unable to deliver the goods. And in the Arab world, from Libya to Egypt to Syria, the Arab Spring is now a distant memory.

After 42 years in power in Libya, Moammar Gadhafi’s regime is history but unmentioned during NATO’s five-month bombing campaign is that the victorious rebel regime of Benghazi is heavily infiltrated by Islamist extremists.

In Cairo, the Muslim Brotherhood is consolidating its dominant position, albeit with the army still in charge.

For the British media, U.S. President Barack Obama’s two-week vacation in Martha’s Vineyard symbolized a declining superpower adrift between two warring parties that threw caution to the wind, accumulating irresponsible — and inaccurate — statements.

The 2012 election campaign is already under way. Reasonable ideas are shot down before they make the evening news.

Presidential hopefuls are flip-flopping from one interview to the next. A proposal for an immediate 40 percent cut in federal spending is quickly escalated to accuse Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke of treason if he prints more money between now and Election Day.

It is hardly surprising that there is high anxiety on both sides of the Atlantic; that banks are shaky and some even on the edge of the precipice.

The United States has clearly been living beyond its means, funding the Iraqi and Afghan wars ($1.5 trillion and counting) by growing the federal deficit to pay for them.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta notwithstanding, defense spending is clearly overdue for a proper haircut, not a trim.

The current plan is for a $400 billion cut in defense spending over the next 10 years after it almost doubled over the past 10 years.

The Pentagon’s war planners say that such a cut — only $40 billion per year for a decade — will make it impossible to fight two wars at the same time. But that kind of strategic planning was based on a Cold War turning hot with the Soviet Union while retaining the ability to fight a lesser war in another part of the globe.

Time to think forward to the age of robotic warfare where the United States already has a decisive edge. The U.S. Air Force Academy is graduating more drone pilots than fighter and bomber pilots.

The Predator unmanned aerial vehicle program is adding three more active duty squadrons over the next two budget cycles. In 2001, the United States had 167 UAVs; in 2011, more than 5,500. Almost half of UAV squadrons are manned by fighter pilots.

Robotic warfare has reached cruising altitude and by 2015, one-third of the U.S. Army’s ground systems will be unmanned.

Robots are already being planned in the role of suicide bombers. They have no substitute for surprise attacks and recon.

They have tripled flight time and are cheaper than conventional fighters and bombers.

An F-18 fighter bomber costs $70 million and a couple of million for pilot training. An equivalent drone runs $4.5 million plus $70,000 per guided missile.

The tab to deploy one soldier for a year in Afghanistan is $400,000.

For robotic warfare, chaplains and psychologists have been assigned to help fighters cope with the daily stress of killing remotely and then returning home in time for dinner with their families.

Air-to-air combat drones will soon join the robotic arsenal. Boeing is also testing a drone submarine that will be capable of torpedoing an enemy ship anywhere in the world.

Robotic warfare detractors fear that we will create a race of beings more capable than ourselves who will kill us and take over the world — known as the “Singularity.”

Ray Kurzweil, who wrote “The Singularity is Near,” posits that moment in history, 25 years hence, when the human brain will have reached 60 percent of its capacity (up from today’s anemic 25 percent usage) and potential parity with the supercomputer that is capable of several quadrillion operations per second.

Like it or not, robotic warfare will soon assume a dominant role in warfare.

There is also the fear of robots carrying nuclear weapons to a distant enemy. Robotic “soldiers” already guard stockpiles of nuclear materials and other nuclear secrets. They can cover more ground and are radiation proof.

The transition to robotic warfare requires a high degree of bipartisanship in Congress, now sadly lacking. Obama has demonstrated that this is beyond his capability.

Meanwhile, he has lost the mantle of leader of the free world. What he says has little impact on either side of the Atlantic — or the Pacific.

THIS IS A CROSS POST FROM UPI.COM

 

 

 

War against terrorist or terrorism?

This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive

By Hamid Waheed

The event of 9/11 proved  a major shift in Pak US relationship which had gone from bad to worse after US left Pakistan in aftermath of Russian defeat in Afghanistan. Hillary Clinton Publically told American audience that  Jehadi  organizations were US creations for defeating  Russia.(WATCH VIDEO).

 

It was though easy for US sitting thousands of miles away to walk away and let Pakistan face the music  and turn back in 2011 with a  report “Country Reports on Terrorism 2010”’ pub by United States Department of State .The report illustrates that coop b/w ALQ, Afgn and Pak-based millitants was critical. The report discussed the danger posed by LeT and increased resource-sharing b/w ALQ & its Pak-based allies and associates i-e TTP and the Haqqani Network as a source of threat in South Asia. But it fails to speak the complete truth that LeT was created in 1984 at Kunar in Afghanistan  by CIA  and the fact that Pakistan has played its role in arrest of Lakhvi head of the hardliner faction in LeT after 26/11 at Mumbai. The report also does not mention  the role played by JuD a welfare organization in Pakistan out of moderate group thus visibly reducing LeT’s potency. The converging interests after 9/11 this time more in favor of US, Pakistan once again decided to help a friend . Pakistani leadership came out to reverse anti U.S sentiments and defeat terrorism by convincing public that partnership in war on terror (WOT) is in interest of both Nations. However this way forward could only move few paces when it was challenged by adverse international hands .The U.S was targeted from within by creating a silent divide between Pentagon, the government and CIA. Media proved one of the major weapons ,  Western media and  a group of American officials became part of a perception war on Pakistan, accusing it of double dealing in the war against terrorism, where as in reality on Afghanistan side there have been some mind boggling events which shows that Raymond Davis was not the start of a problem but was  part of issues happening for quite some time .  In april 2008  Amrullah Saleh, the head of Afghanistan’s intelligence service, told a parliament security committee that “coalition forces” intended to place weapons, ammunition and food at a police checkpoint in a remote section of the southern province of Zabul in late March,a coalition helicopter by mistake  dropped somewhere far from the checkpoint. Later the Taliban came and they picked it up,” Later Hamidullah Tukhi, a lawmaker from Zabul, told the security commission the weapons were placed 300 feet from the home of a Taliban commander named Mullah Mohammad Alam. He said the supply drop contained heavy machine guns, AK-47s, rockets and food. Lawmakers discussed the issue with President Hamid Karzai and U.S. Gen. Dan McNeill, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan. “I think Gen. McNeill himself said that it was a mistake, but I don’t believe it,”.

Pakistan army fighting WOT in Swat , Malakand observed foreign hand supporting terrorists by training and arms supply to fight Pakistan army. Indian conciliates in Afghanistan near to Pakistan borders were suspected but few noticed a  46-page report by the GAO the non-partisan investigative arm of Congress which warned in Feb , 2009 that thousands of US weapons, including assault rifles and grenade launchers, may be in Taliban or Al-Qaeda hands in Afghanistan because of lax controls.

The chairman of the House subcommittee on national security and foreign affairs, John Tierney, asked “What if we had to tell families not only why we are in Afghanistan, but why their son or daughter died at the hands of an insurgent using a weapon purchased by US taxpayers?” the Democrat told the hearing.  Pakistan was thus confronted with CIA operating through outsourcing which knew no rules, ethics and principles. With time the initial statements of collation supporters in US state department and Pentagon started becoming hostage to perception war of CIA through media.

 

 

US journal terms 2010 a year of big success when over 18 senior al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders were confirmed killed through drone strikes. The drone strikes have increased anti-Americanism in Pakistan society and the region. The terrorists have used the collateral damage to maximize the environment and society to their benefit. Families of people killed in collateral damage become ideal nursery for suicide bombers. Pakistan Army fighting WOT under Gen Kayani had come a long way from low popularity level due to its political role to its present strength amongst the people of Pakistan. An international survey conducted to understand the FATA situation revealed that Pak military operation in tribal areas is now considered a step in the right direction. The percentage of the people favoring  military operation has been increasing from 16.7% in 2009 to 66.8% in 2010. However,  despite public  and official requests to US by political as well as Military leadership of Pakistan to stop drone or provide them the technology the drone attacks continued. These attacks converged with western media campaign to malign Pakistan armed forces and its intelligence agency leading to increase in distrust.

 

Despite such odds the professional media keeps showing true picture to the American audience.  The Report of Aug 2011 by “The Bureau of Investigative Journalism” claims that after every four days there is one US drone strike. US drone attacks killed 775 civilians including 168 children. Over all Bureau reports says some 2029 people have died in drone attacks since 2004. The report also declines a recent claim by President Obama saying that no civilians are being killed by drone attacks. (The host shows a clip of Obama’s administration’s top ctr-terrorism official (John Burner) , claiming that “we don’t take action where children and women are present even if we know that terrorists are present in that area. )

The Obama administration have labeled this report based on allegations and blame  that one of its sources is Pakistani spy Mirza Shahzad Akbar. Chris Wood Bureau of Investigative Journalism  explained all allegations during his interview. I quote (WATCH VIDEO)

AMY GOODMAN: The  criticism that’s been launched against your research is that one of the lawyers you’re working with, Mirza Shahzad Akbar, works for the ISI, as well, the Pakistani intelligence. Chris Woods, your response?

 

CHRIS WOODS: I do find that an extraordinary attack. I have met Shahzad Akbar on a few occasions. He seems a very straight-down-the-line man. He’s, I think, the only lawyer in Pakistan trying to bring cases on behalf of civilians killed in CIA drone strikes. And, you know, even the CIA now say they’ve killed 50 civilians in Pakistan. Not a single compensation settlement has ever been made in relation to these drone strikes. And we suspect far more civilians have died. Mr. Akbar is being smeared as a possible agent of Pakistani intelligence. I think that’s unfortunate.

A retired Admiral Dennis Blair, President Barack Obama’s former director of national intelligence, declared that America’s drone campaign “is eroding our influence and damaging our ability to work with Pakistan.”  The drone strikes in  Pakistan are affecting U.S. popularity on the ground, according to the Pew Global Attitudes survey, the U.S. favorability rating—long battered by conspiracy theories and an anti-American media—hovers at about 12%. The perception war blurs and suppresses the voices of intelligencia which believes in rule of law , Human rights and values. The super power which should be winning hearts and minds of world to maximize its peak life cycle is trapped into shortsighted un ethical aims and tactical objectives

 

The drone is a tactical weapon and has certainly given good results tactically to support coalition forces operation on their sides of the border. Historically, the drone strategies used by US are similar to French aerial bombardment in rural Algeria in the 1950s, and to the “air control” methods employed by the British in the Pakistani tribal areas in the 1920sThe  resemblance is more with the recent 2005-2006 Somalian crisis against the forces of Islamic courts. The strikes though killed the militant targets but the public anger over US’s power usage solidified the power of extremists. This eventually led to Ethiopian military intervention giving rise to regional insurgency and offshore piracy. The security dynamics of the area remain complex having far future implications. Society and environment remain the main area of concern both for LEA and Terrorists to shape up their future strategy. The solution  lie in looking for joint benefit and strategy for the coalition partners and pursue them under umbrella of confidence. This is a war of hearts and minds for peace around the globe. Are we looking to defeat the terrorist or terrorism  remains a trillion dollar question .

The writer is based in Rawalpindi & a known writer.

 

 

Karachi.com

This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive

By: Yasmeen Ali

Drenched in blood, from the mindless killings in Karachi that erupted a few weeks ago, and, have continued unabated, a pattern emerges. People are being pulled off from public transport vehicles, being killed, after visiting their ID cards. In a number of instances , those being targeted, in the recent round of killings are Urdu speaking settlers from Karachi(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfMn9WKBGrg&feature=player_embedded). MQM , the party ruling Karachi sits outside Government. The oft seen tantrum thrown and the Government’s wooing efforts to draw it back within the fold.  The MQM  Head, on phone, in a public message from England, called upon the people of Karachi to store a month’s rations in their homes shortly before the recent bloodbath.

Karachi today, presents a different political landscape than the Karachi of yesteryears. Pashtuns form 20 to 25% of Karachi’s population, arresting 2 provincial seats for them in the first time of Karachi’s political history during the last elections.  This changed political ground reality must be accepted by all stake holders.

The killings in Karachi may be like a many headed serpent, the Hydra in Greek Mythology. The Hydra ,is a serpent having numerous heads ,nine being the number often quoted .It was said as soon as one head was cut,  another grew in it’s place, but a famous quote states even Hercules’  alone could not fight Hydra. It was only when  he was helped, by ‘Iola’s’, who cauterized the beheaded stumps, that Hercules succeeded, but one head of Hydra was immortal and had to be buried alive.

Are the killings the outcome of murderers & looters going under the garb of political activists, or “Bhatta Mafia” (Extortionists) as stated by Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah?(The News 20th August 2011).This may be true in some cases, but not in all. Are these killers the militants within  parties,  putting innocent lives to death, and settling personal scores as they go along? Is there a “foreign hand” involved here as well? All can be true to varying degrees.

A friend shared his views with me, ”This is a turf war nothing more or less, an army take over is not the solution, a secret task force under the army is. This unit must be ultra secret and to report only to the ISI and IB which will pin point the gangs and its leaders. They must be equipped with the latest weaponry and helicopters in order to strike hard and fast and then disappear. This unit will have no political affiliations or considerations what so ever”.

Instead of playing the blame-game, all political parties must move towards resolving this situation. It must be a joint effort by all political parties who need to rise above their local and provincial level politics to bring peace to Karachi. Three simple steps, inter linked, will go a long way to help Karachi normalize.

First, acceptance of the new landscape of Karachi. A genuine desire to move towards peaceful solution to this embattled city. A clear Code of Conduct to be followed by all party leaders; avoid inflammatory speeches and attacks on leaders of other parties. This can only be interpreted as a green signal to their workers cadre to start riots and mayhem. Divest their cadres from militant elements. This must be done. Until and unless parties rely on street power to settle scores, issues can never be resolved. Only when the rouge elements lose political backing will they be dealt with according to law.

A crucial question which must be addressed is the supply of illegal weapons in Karachi. In a statement Rangers Brigadier Waseem said that the armed groups were using sophisticated weapons like machine guns, assault rifles such as AK47 and .222; in layman’s language called the Kalashnikov(Express Tribune July 25th 2011). Many years ago, the Government had withdrawn licenses of .222 and issued “regular” weapon licenses instead. This included licenses held by security companies. The question that rears its ugly head is: from where are these licenses coming from? What is the supply line? The leak must be stemmed.

The law and order situation directly impacts the economic health of Karachi. More than 25% of total taxes are paid by Karachi, more than 20% of total GDP is contributed by Karachi , the seaport is in Karachi. When the economy of Karachi is hit, the entire of Pakistan is hit. The law and order situation directly impacts the economic graph of Karachi and the rest of Pakistan.

The situation in Karachi is reflective of the overall situation in Pakistan in a more severe form.

Jonathan S. Landay, National Security and Intelligence Correspondent, at the McClatchy Newspapers had this to say,” I haven’t visited Karachi in several years, so I don’t feel qualified to propose a solution. This tragedy has been building for years, for the most part a result of years of inflammatory ethnic  politics, racketeering and strong-arming by all of the major political parties.
Now the chick has come home to roost. It will take the leaders of the national parties working together to bring an end to this – or a concerted citizens movement, which is probably naïve”.

Hercules awaits Iola’s help to kill Hydra.

In the meanwhile Karachi burns!

(Yasmeen Ali is a lawyer based in Lahore,Pakistan & can be contacted at yasmeen.a.9@gmail.com)
 

 

Why Pakistani Military Demands a Veto on Drone Strikes

By:Dr Gareth Porter

Pakistani civilian and military leaders are insisting on an effective veto over which targets U.S. drone strikes hit, according to well-informed Pakistani military sources here.

The sources, who met with IPS on condition that they not be identified, said that such veto power over the conduct of the drone war is a central element in a new Pakistani demand for a formal government-to-government agreement on the terms under which the United States and Pakistan will cooperate against insurgents in Pakistan.

The basic government-to-government agreement now being demanded would be followed, the sources said, by more detailed agreements between U.S. and Pakistani military leaders and intelligence agencies.

The new Pakistani demand for equal say over drone strikes marks the culmination of a long evolution in the Pakistani military’s attitude toward the drone war. Initially supportive of strikes that were targeting Al-Qaeda leaders, senior Pakistani military leaders soon came to realise that the drone war carried serious risks for Pakistan’s war against the Pakistani Taliban.

A key turning point in the attitude of the military was the unilateral U.S. decision to focus the drone war on those Pakistani insurgents who had already decided to make peace with the Pakistani government and who opposed the war being waged by Al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban against the Pakistani military.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was allowed to run the drone war almost completely unilaterally for years, according to former Pakistani military leaders and diplomats, and the Pakistani military has only mustered the political will to challenge the U.S. power to carry out drone strikes unilaterally in recent months.

Gen. Pervez Musharraf allowed the drone strikes from 2004 to 2007 in order to ensure political support from the George W. Bush administration, something Musharraf had been denied during the Bill Clinton administration, Shamshad Ahmad, who was Pakistan’s foreign secretary and then ambassador to the United Nations from 1997 to 2002, told IPS.

“Those were the days when we felt that we had to work with the Americans on Al-Qaeda,” recalled Gen. Asad Durrani, a former director general of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence agency (ISI), in an interview with IPS.

The choice of targets “usually was done by the U.S. unilaterally”, said Durrani. Two Pakistani generals confirmed that point in a separate interview with IPS.

The Musharraf regime even went so far as to provide cover for the drone strikes, repeatedly asserting after strikes that the explosions had been caused by the victims themselves making home-made bombs.

But that effort at transparent deception by the U.S. and Musharraf quickly fell apart when drone strikes were based on faulty intelligence and killed large numbers of civilians rather than Al- Qaeda leaders.

The worst such strike was an Oct. 30, 2006 drone attack on a madrassa in Chenagai village in Bajauer agency, which killed 82 people. Musharraf, who was primarily concerned with avoiding the charge of complicity in U.S. attacks on Pakistani targets, ordered the Pakistani military to take complete responsibility for the incident.

The spokesman for the Pakistani military claimed “confirmed intelligence reports that 70 to 80 militants were hiding in a madrassa used as a terrorist training facility” and said the Pakistani military had fired missiles at the madrassa.

But eyewitnesses in the village identified U.S. drones as the source of the attack and said all the victims were simply local students of the madrassa. Local people compiled a complete list of the names and ages of all 80 victims, showing that 25 of the dead had been aged seven to 15, which was published in the Lahore daily The News International.

Senior military officers believed the CIA had other reasons for launching the strike in Bajaur. The day before the drone attack, tribal elders in Bajaur had held a public meeting to pledge their willingness to abide by a peace accord with the government, and the government had released nine tribesmen, including some militants.

Former ISI chief Durrani recalled that the strike “effectively sabotaged the chances for an agreement” in Bejaur. That was “a very clear message” from the CIA not to enter into any more such peace agreements, Durrani told IPS.

The Bejaur madrassa strike was a turning point for many officers. “So many of us went in and said this is stupid,” Durrani recalled.

When Musharraf was pressured to step down as Army chief of staff, and was replaced by Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in November 2007, the unilateral character of the CIA’s drone war “pretty much continued”, according to Gen. Jehanger Karamat, who was ambassador to the United States from 2004 to 2006 after having retired as Army chief of staff in 1998.

The CIA’s drone war became more contentious in 2008, as the Bush administration concentrated the strikes on those who had made peace with the Pakistani government. Two-thirds of the drone strikes that year were on targets associated with Jalaluddin Haqqani and Mullah Nazeer, both of whom were involved in supporting Taliban forces in Afghanistan, but who opposed attacks on the Pakistani government.

Targeting the Haqqani network and his allies posed serious risks for Pakistan. When the Pakistani Army was fighting in South Waziristan, it had its logistic base in an area that was controlled by the Haqqani group, and it had been able to count on the security of that base.

Meanwhile, ISI had given the CIA accurate information on anti- Pakistan Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud’s location on four occasions, but the U.S. had failed to target him, according to a May 2009 column by retired Pakistani Gen. Shaukat Qadir.

In 2009, more of the drone strikes – almost 40 percent of the total – focused on the Taliban under Mehsud, and Mehsud himself was killed, which tended to mollify the Pakistani military.

But that effect did not last long. In 2010, only three strikes were aimed at Mehsud’s anti-Pakistan Taliban organisation, while well over half the strikes were against Hafiz Gul Bahadur, an ally of Haqqani who had signed an agreement with the Pakistani government in September 2006 that he would not shelter any anti-Pakistani militants.

The Barack Obama administration had made a deliberate decision around mid-2010 that it didn’t care if targeting the Haqqani network and other pro-Pakistani Taliban groups upset the Pakistanis, as the Wall Street Journal reported Oct. 23, 2010.

But two events caused Pakistani army chief Kayani to demand a fundamental change in U.S. policy toward the drone war.

The first was the arrest of CIA operative Raymond Davis on the charge of killing two Pakistanis in cold blood in January, which was followed by intense U.S. pressure for his release.

The second was a drone strike on Mar. 17, just one day after Davis was released, which was initially reported to have been an attack on a gathering of Haqqani network officials.

It turned out that the drone attack had killed dozens of tribal and sub-tribal elders who had gathered from all over North Waziristan to discuss an economic issue.

A former U.S. official admitted that the strike was carried out because the CIA was “angry” over the fact that Davis had been kept in prison for seven weeks. “It was retaliation for Davis,” the official said, according to an Aug. 2 Associated Press story.

That strike helped galvanise the Pakistani military leadership. ISI chief Shuja Pasha took it as a slap in the face, because he had personally intervened to get Davis out of jail. Kayani shocked the Americans by issuing the first denunciation of drone strikes by an Army chief.

When Pasha went to Washington in April, he took with him the first official Pakistani demand for an equal say in drone strike decisions.

*Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, “Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam”, was published in 2006.
NOTE:THIS IS A CROSS POST FROM IPS.

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