Monthly Archives: April 2011

How to Arm a Dictator

Hueys Over Yemen                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

By NICK TURSE        

In recent weeks, Yemeni protesters calling for an immediate end to the 32-year reign of U.S.-backed President Ali Abdullah Saleh have been met with increasing violence at the hands of state security forces. A recent pledge by Saleh to step down, one of many that haven’t met demonstrators’ demands, has yet to halt the protests or violence by the troops backing his regime. During a demonstration earlier this month in the city of Taiz, protesters marching down a central street were confronted by security forces and Saleh supporters, while government helicopters flew overhead. “The thugs and the security forces fired on us with live gunfire,” Mahmud al-Shaobi, one of the protesters told the New York Times. “Many people were shot.”

In the days since, more demonstrators have been attacked by government forces — with the death toll now estimated to exceed 130. Witnesses have also been reporting the increased use of military helicopters in the crackdown. Some of those aircraft may be recent additions to Saleh’s arsenal, provided courtesy of the Obama administration as part of an $83-million military aviation aid package.

Since the beginning of 2011, under a program run by the U.S. Department of Defense, the United States has overseen the delivery of several new Bell UH-1Hs, or “Huey II” helicopters, current models of the iconic Huey that served as America’s primary gunship and troop transport during the Vietnam War. Although these helicopters are only the latest additions to a sizeable arsenal that the Pentagon has provided to Yemen in recent years, they call attention to how U.S. weapons and assistance support regimes actively suppressing democratic uprisings across the Middle East.

Last December, 26-year-old Tunisian fruit-seller Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire in front of a local municipal office, touching off popular protests that continue to sweep across the Middle East and North Africa. By the end of January 2011, the country’s U.S.-backed dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali had fled and demonstrations, which would eventually also topple corrupt autocrat and long-time U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak, had broken out in Egypt. In Yemen, as is the case elsewhere in the region, anger at government corruption, rampant poverty (40% of all Yemenis live on less than $2 a day), high unemployment (also running at 40%), and decades of harsh rule by an authoritarian strongman brought tens of thousands into the streets.

In January, as freedom struggles were spreading across the region, President Barack Obama publicly avowed support for “certain core values that wetursebelieve in as Americans[,] that we believe are universal: freedom of speech, freedom of expression, people being able to use social networking or any other mechanisms to communicate with each other and express their concerns.” Just days earlier, however, his government had transferred military equipment to the security forces of Yemen’s so-called president for life.

Under the terms of a $27 million contract between the Pentagon and Bell Helicopter, Yemen received four Huey IIs. Prior to this, 12 Yemeni Air Force pilots and 20 maintenance personnel were trained to fly and service the aircraft at Bell’s flight instruction facility in Alliance, Texas. “The swift execution of the Yemen Huey II program demonstrates that the military departments — in this case the U.S. Army — can quickly deliver defense articles and services to U.S. partners with the cooperation of U.S. industry,” said Brandon Denecke of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the branch of the Pentagon that coordinates sales and transfers of military equipment to allies.

The recent helicopter deal is just the latest example of Pentagon support for the forces of the Yemeni dictator through its so-called “1206 program,” a Congressionally-authorized arrangement that “allows the executive branch to rapidly provide foreign partners with military equipment and training…” Named for section 1206 of the 2006 National Defense Authorization Act, the program allows the Pentagon to enhance the capabilities of foreign military forces for “counterterrorism and stability operations.”

Since 2006, more than $1.3 billion worth of equipment has been allocated under the 1206 program and Yemen has been the largest recipient worldwide, benefitting from about one-fifth of the funding or approximately $253 million through 2010. This assistance, according to a recent report by the Congressional Research Service, has provided Yemeni security forces with light airplanes, helicopters, small arms, ammunition, light tactical vehicles, trucks, radios, surveillance cameras, computers, body armor, patrol boats, and helicopter parts, among other materiel.

Since 2000, the Pentagon has also transferred weapons and equipment directly from U.S. stockpiles to Yemen’s security forces. These items include armored personnel carriers, M-60 machine guns, 2.5-ton military trucks,radios, and motorboats, according to an analysis of Defense Department documents by TomDispatch. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency did not respond to repeated requests for further information.

All told, over the past five years, the U.S. has provided more than $300 million in aid to Yemen’s security forces, with the dollars escalating precipitously under the Obama administration. In 2008, under President George W. Bush, Yemen received $17.2 million in baseline military assistance (which does not include counterterrorism or humanitarian funding). In 2010, that number had risen to $72.3 million while, overall, Yemen received $155.3 million in U.S. aid that year, including a “$34.5 million special operations force counterterrorism enhancement package.” These funds have provided Yemen’s security forces with helicopters, Humvees, weapons, ammunition, radio systems, and night-vision goggles.

Additionally, U.S. special operations troops (along with British and Saudi military personnel) have been supporting, advising, and conducting training missions with some of Yemen’s elite forces — including the Republican Guard, Special Operations Forces, and the National Security Bureau — which are commanded and staffed by Saleh’s sons and other close relatives.

As his part of the bargain, Saleh allowed the U.S. to launch missile strikes against suspected al-Qaeda camps in Yemen while instructing his government to take credit for the attacks (for fear that if their American origins were made clear, there might be an anti-American backlash in Yemen and the larger Arab world), according to classified State Department documents released last year by the whistleblower group Wikileaks. “We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours,” Saleh told then-CENTCOM commander General David Petraeus following strikes in December 2009.

The Yemeni government also came up with a cover story for, and even excused, the deaths of civilians in those strikes. Rashad al-Alimi, a deputy prime minister, claimed that the Yemeni citizens killed in an attack were “acting in collusion with the terrorists and benefiting financially” when, in reality, they were likely Bedouin families involved in little more than peddling food.

Not So Tough Talk

As Yemen’s security forces have escalated their violence against demonstrators this spring, the Obama administration has offered mixed signals regarding Saleh, but has yet to issue an outright condemnation of the dictator, no less sever ties with a leader seen as crucial to the fight against al-Qaeda. “We have had a good working relationship with President Saleh. He’s been an important ally in the counterterrorism arena,” said U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on March 23rd. “But clearly, there’s a lot of unhappiness inside Yemen. And I think we will basically just continue to watch the situation. We haven’t done any post-Saleh planning, if you will.”

On April 5th, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney came out more forcefully. “The United States strongly condemns the use of violence by Yemeni government forces against demonstrators in Sanaa, Taiz, and Hodeida in the past several days,” he said. “The Yemeni people have a right to demonstrate peacefully, and we remind President Ali Abdullah Saleh of his responsibility to ensure the safety and security of Yemenis who are exercising their universal right to engage in political expression. ”

That same day, however, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell was more equivocal, justifying enduring U.S. support for Yemen’s strongman as a “prudent course of action,” while including the protestors as the equals of the security forces in his condemnation of the use of force: “The protests, the demonstrations need to be nonviolent. Obviously, the government needs to respond to them in a nonviolent manner. So we are — we condemn the violence all around.”

Morrell also sought to distance the Pentagon’s aid for the country’s security forces from the violence being meted out in Yemen’s streets. He told reporters, “To suggest that the aid to Yemen has somehow been used against protesters I think is a leap of faith for which there is no evidence to support.” Recent reports, however, suggest that Yemen’s elite U.S.-trained counterterrorism troops have now been deployed in the capital, Sanaa, to deal with the massive ongoing protests.

Late last year, the Pentagon floated a new proposal to pump up to $1.2 billion more into Yemen’s security forces over the next five years. However, with protesters in the streets week after week in vast numbers and significant elements of the military defecting from the regime, the Obama administration failed to write Saleh a check and began quietly urging him, through back-channel communications, to hand over power — assumedly to a successor likely to favor U.S. interests.

Finally, on April 23rd, after Saleh seemingly agreed to an arrangement brokered by Arab mediators that would grant immunity from prosecution to his family and him, and eventually shift power to his deputy for an interim period, the Obama administration threw its support behind the plan. A spokesman characterized it as “responsive to the aspirations of the Yemeni people.” Not only have many opposition protesters rejected the deal, while Saleh’s troops continue to attack them, but the dictator has slowly backed away from it as well.

And yet, despite weeks of violence that have left hundreds dead or wounded, President Obama has yet to publicly and unequivocally call for Saleh to step down as he did, albeit belatedly, with former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and, more recently, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Sending a Message

Earlier this month, Tawakul Karman, a Yemeni human rights activist and antigovernment protest leader, told the New York Times of her anger at Obama for his failure to issue such a call. ”We feel that we have been betrayed,” she said. Hamza Alkamaly, another prominent youth leader, echoed the same sentiments: ”We students lost our trust in the United States.”

After watching two allied autocrats fall in Tunisia and Egypt, the United States has focused on its periodic enemy, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, in Libya and has done little of substance to advocate for, let alone facilitate, demands for democracy and social change by protesters in allied states that are more integral to its military plans in the region, including Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Instead, Washington has continued to support repressive governments to which it has provided training, weapons, and other military equipment that has already been used or could be used to suppress grassroots democratic movements.

In the case of Bahrain, the U.S. has provided millions of rounds of live ammunition, helicopters, and tanks. For Saudi Arabia, it was a weapons deal worth tens of billions of dollars that will have Saudi pilots training in the U.S. In Iraq, the U.S. is aiding the very units of the security forces implicated in crackdowns on the free press. And these are only a few examples of recent U.S. efforts in the Middle East.

A survey of Yemeni adults conducted in January and February by the U.S.-based polling firm Glevum Associates found exceptional hostility to the United States. Ninety-nine percent of those surveyed viewed the U.S. government’s relations with the Islamic world unfavorably, 82% considered U.S. military influence in the world “somewhat bad” or “bad,” 66% believed that the U.S. hardly ever or never took into account the interests of countries like Yemen, and just 4% “somewhat” or “strongly approved” of President Saleh’s cooperation with the United States.

The numbers could hardly get more dismal, but anger and resentment can deepen and become even more entrenched. When protesters look to the skies over Sanaa in the days and weeks ahead, they may notice new American-made, U.S. taxpayer-financed helicopters hovering above them. Unless the Hueys are seen ferrying the dictator away in a scene reminiscent of Saigon in 1975, Yemenis — more than two-thirds under the age of 24 — are likely to remember for a very long time which side the United States took in their freedom struggle.

Nick Turse is the associate editor of, where this article originally appeared. His latest book, The Case for Withdrawal from Afghanistan(Verso Books), which brings together leading analysts from across the political spectrum, has just gone into its second printing. Turse is currently a fellow at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute. His website is

NOTE:This is a cross post from COUNTER PUNCH.



Sabaoon: Disarming Human Bombs

This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive

Jawad Raza Khan

It is commonly claimed that modern counterinsurgency operation hinges on three main pillars; Security; Political; and Economics. The contemporary military and political strategists advocate simultaneous development of these columns for a successful counterinsurgency operation and to achieve the ultimate control for establishment of writ of the government. Indeed this is an important conclusion but not complete in itself, at least after an experience of nearly a decade of fighting insurgency on own soil, Pakistan had to look through its own microscope, keeping in view the cultural, religious and most importantly the ethical dynamics of Pakistani society. What is really missing in the above mentioned three column philosophy is the social rehabilitation of the affected area. Especially, when innocent minds with predominantly teenagers are involved as one of the most devastating weapon against the state, the necessity then turns into inexorable. That’s how Pakistan Military thinkers included the fourth and the most important column to the tapered roof of the ultimate control“The Rehabilitation Phase”.

Right in the heart of Malakand Division near the historical Malakand fort, lies something extremely unique to this planet, though it looks like a normal school with a boarding facility but the students possess very indifferent attitude. They are young boys with varying age groups who seems to be misfit in the environment of the institution. Staff around them is very watchful and extremely careful as they know they are handling something more fragile than a normal youth………………

………It is Sabaoon (Ray of hope), the only institution in the world which is responsible to disarm human bombs…………yes! The children in Sabaoon were under the evil influence of terrorists before the launching of operation Rah-e-Rast in 2009. Not all, but most of them were trained militants ready to fight and within some of them were also primed to be launched against security forces and innocent civilians as suicide bombers.

Exact number of teenagers in Sabaoon and their family background is not known, mainly due to their own security and psychological management, but the fact which is very well known now, is that these affected victims have gone through multiple traumas while they were under the cruel influence of terrorists. Some of them were sexually abused as well with emotional distress and most importantly religious confusion of highest order created by so called Islamic militants. It is so killing and antagonizing to see those beautiful minds turning into psychopaths by an evil ideology, it will take a hard toil from them within their selves and from Sabaoon staff to make all negatives back to zero.

It is indeed horrifying that most of them were actually given the DTG (Date Time Group) for their launching and a little laxity from Pakistan Army would have made another precious life lost with many becoming targets of a victim.

Sabaoon is a hard core institution which bears an additional capability of handling psychological disorders appearing in a personality especially after intense trauma and technical brain washing. The complete concept of Sabaoon is basing on psychological, social and religious therapies of these victims with an especial emphasis on the culture and religious values of Kyber Pakhtoonkhwa in general and Swat valley in particular.

It looks pleasantly surprising when you see around men trained to fight and die for their country (officers and men of Army) involved in the rehabilitation program chalked out by the professionals for these innocent victims. One of the said professionals, who use to deal with religious therapy of the children in Sabaoon was Dr Muhammad Farooq (Shaheed). He was an exceptionally dedicated individual from district Mardan who possessed remarkable knowledge on Quran and Sunnah. He worked untiringly during the initial induction of these children as he was made responsible for the most significant aspect of psychological reformation i.e. the religion. Although he was shot dead by this evil menace around six months back, but the good Dr Farooq had to do for their revival as good human beings was nearly done by that time (May Allah bless his soul in peace).

Physical possession of these youths in Sabaoon by Army with monstrous efforts in line for their mental rehabilitation through highly determined professional staff has already worked out miracles, with twenty young kids passed out from Sabaoon have joined back their home to live a peaceful life with their friends and families.

The passed out youngsters are now not only better human beings but also capable enough to contribute well to their families and Pakistan.

Let’s analyze the western concept of fighting insurgency without the all-important column of rehabilitation. History cannot forget how westerners left the war devastated Afghanistan more than two decades before, without any rehabilitation program for Mujahedeen’s scattered in Afghanistan and FATA. History also cannot forget the breeding space provided to them by US and its allies, which is now being cashed out against the sovereignty of Pakistan in shape of Drones.

It is so difficult to understand the conceptual differences between the two allies of WOT, US and Pakistan, especially when we scrutinize the impact of drone attacks inside Pakistan’s tribal belt. Activities like drone attacks will only increase the number of victims ready to be admitted in institution like Sabaoon. It is hard to believe that US intelligentsia is still perplexed about the ongoing increase in terrorist activities inside Pakistan, in the wake of judicial and political crime committed by US political and military leadership. With complete silence of UN, world is silently witnessing for the first time, infliction of extra judicial killings of men, women and children from a state, on to another.

Pakistanis are now very much convinced that this is a well thought out and planned liquidation with roots of which are more dominantly taking care of US-Israel-Indian nexus. If all said is mere propaganda and US really wants peace to prevail on the globe, it’s time to reconsider. The annihilation by US drones will only result in aggravation of problems for US in achieving a decent exit from Afghanistan; or disgrace of Vietnam is already on the cards.


 NOTE: The writer is a known political analyst.He is based in Islamabad.

Why DG ISI Confronted Director CIA?

Zahid Malik                                                                                                                                                       

After my four hour long informal interaction with Admiral Mike Mullen, the most powerful man in uniform and Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, the multi-barrel gun directed at Afghanistan and Pakistan, at the residence of US Ambassador on the rainy evening of April 6, 2009, I had in my comments mentioned that now the ISI was the immediate target of the US Establishment. This was no “breaking news”  as everyone who keeps an eye on the ongoing war on terror knew well that US was hell-bent on (i) getting the Pakistan Army sucked into domestic turmoil in Swat, FATA and beyond Waziristan, and (ii) reining in what the US calls “rogue elements” in the ISI.

There are confirmed reports that to achieve its objectives the CIA hired the services of at least a dozen Afghan warlords inside Afghanistan and provided through them arms and finances to militants in FATA and Swat to carry out extensive death and destruction by devastating attacks in the country.

It was like a double-edged sword not only to get the Army to launch attacks against Taliban on Pakistani side of the border but also to give a message to the ISI that the CIA can use the Pakistanis – Taliban of the TTP- against their own security forces. It was in this background that after putting up with so much for so long, the prime intelligence agency of the country ultimately confronted the CIA Director Leon E. Panetta with some highly classified and irrefutable evidence.

Panetta was startled when DG, ISI General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, a no-nonsense General, placed the facts before him in Islamabad on November 20, 2009. The “deliberate leaks” after the meeting of the spy chiefs of the two countries, spoke of the mind of the ISI and the armed forces of Pakistan. General Pasha had earlier conveyed the facts about the interference of CIA in acts of terrorism in Pakistan to the Government but realizing that either the message was not strongly conveyed to the Americans or it had no desired impact on them, finally put its foot down and expressed serious concerns over the CIA’s crude interference in the country’s internal matters.

The proof about instances of covert US support to some hardened militant outfits and terrorist activities they carried out over the past few weeks and months, was presented to Panetta. It was indeed a startling revelation for the top US spy and a bold manoeuvre of Pakistan Army. General Pasha’s move surprised Panetta as the evidence presented was categorical in proving that the CIA officials provide assistance to perpetrators of some of the most serious and deadly attacks on offices and key persons in Pakistan’s security services.

He was told that in view of the negative impact on Pakistan’s efforts in its ‘war on terror’ the CIA must stop such activities. The clarity with which the information was meant to be a loud message to the Capitol Hill that if it wanted Pakistan’s cooperation in the war on terror; it must give up playing a double game.

Pakistan has publicly expressed concerns over the freedom enjoyed by the Indian intelligence agency RAW is operating from Afghanistan. RAW is not only involved in acts of terrorism in the NWFP but also in Balochistan. India cannot undertake such wide-scale activities in this region without the approval and backing of the CIA.

The question is: how did India develop such a huge presence in Kabul?

What has raised alarm bells in Islamabad is that Maulvi Fazlullah who escaped from Swat is living openly in Afghanistan under the protection of Afghan intelligence. The TTP leaders including Hakeemullah Mehsud have also being protected and allowed to operate from Afghanistan. All this could not happen without the knowledge of Americans? There are reports that TTP leaders are provided satellite phones operated by a Gulf based Western company and they have been talking freely to BBC and other media organizations without any fear of being detected and targeted by drones or missiles.

Then there are also credible reports that a helicopter that flew from Afghanistan before 17th October, when operation Rah-e-Nejat in South Waziristan was launched, evacuated the top leadership of the TTP from Waziristan to Afghanistan. The Americans also vacated some of the crucial posts along the border with South Waziristan in an apparent bid to provide safe passage to the fleeing Pakistani Taliban.
The terrorists arrested in Pakistan during the operation told their interrogators about their links with the US and Indian agencies. There is credible information that full logistic and auxiliary support is still being provided to anti-Pakistan Taliban from Nuristan Province and several top officials from Afghan and Indian intelligence networks were seen active in the area.

So, it is CIA’s agenda to get the Pak Army and now the Air Force also spend itself in internal security operations and erode the morale and capabilities of ISI so that Pakistan’s nuclear assets could be targeted in one way or the other.

The CIA’s new agenda started to be implemented as soon the present US Government took over. On many occasions since, Washington has been publicly blaming ISI for its links with some of the Taliban leaders including the Haqqani group. During the meeting with Prime Minister Gilani in Washington in August 2008, the Director CIA presented him with a charge sheet against Pakistani intelligence agencies for their alleged involvement in Jihadi activities. In order to justify its intended interference in Balochistan, the CIA also raised the bogey of the presence of Taliban Shura in or around Quetta.

The whole scenario became very grim as the Government appeared to have succumbed to American pressure to cut the ISI to size and make it a carpet lion. It was in this backdrop that a notification was issued in mysterious circumstances placing the ISI under the Interior Ministry; the notification was withdrawn the same day when the move backfired.

It is no coincidence that during the two stints of Mohtarma Benazir Bhuttoas Prime Minister, a perception developed that the PPP undermined the effectiveness of the ISI. That perception was also based on facts. On the instructions of the BB Government Lt. Gen. Javed Ashraf Qazi, the then DG ISI, posted out 125 officers of the Agency from Major General to Colonel ranks who were identified to be “rogue elements” by the CIA. Now there is a strong perception that the present leadership is not presenting the interests and concerns of the state of Pakistan to its ‘Americans friends’ and is just raising issues in a casual manner. Perhaps that was the reason that the Army leadership had to make unusual public remarks in a press release, issued by the ISPR after the Corps Commanders meeting in October 2009, expressing serious concern over the Kerry-Lugar Bill saying that certain of its clauses were intrusive and against the national interests and were thus unacceptable.

The Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar snubbed the Pakistan Army accusing it of ‘crossing the line’ bringing the differences into the open setting a new precedent and further undermining the state of Pakistan.

The crude interference by the CIA in Pakistan’s internal affairs has not gone well with the Establishment and infuriated the Pakistan Army.

If the Americans did not stop its active support to the Pakistani Taliban against the Army, cooperation with the US in the war in Afghanistan would come to an abrupt end. I am quite sure that if the Army says NO the whole nation will back it.

It was owing to this reason that COAS General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, while talking to newsmen on the occasion of rolling out of first JF-17 Thunder Aircraft at Kamra on November 24, declared that the US would have to take Pakistan into confidence and taking into consideration the armed forces know-how to defend the country.

(The writer owns Pakistan Observer. This article is a cross post from the said newspaper). 

Khawarij: Has the Destructive Ideology Reincarnated? PART II

1979: Rebirth of Kharijites and Road to Pakistan 

Ahmed Raza

The process of polluting Muslim school of thought started well before the incident of 1979 by radical ideologies like Egyptian ex-Communist Sayyid Qutb. He declared that a Muslim is either a “revolutionist” or an infidel, and went so far as to declare all the Islamic societies of his time apostate and fit to be overthrown, invoking the memory of the original Kharijis.

Leo Strauss an American philosopher also famous to be the God Father of the Neocons was responsible to draw a parallel theory of American nationalism on the lines Qutb’s apostate theory of own and other Islamic nations. Similarity lied in the aim, destruction of Islamic Civilization for Khawarijs and subsequent control of west on 60% of world’s energy resources for Americans Neocons. The only difference was the basic foundation on which both the extremists were drawing the lines. As Strauss was in knowledge of the divorce between the Church and the State long before his era, concentrated on selfish individualism of American masses and used the ideology of American Nationalism to its optimum. The said treatment was claimed to be done by Strauss to stop the decaying process of American society. 

On the other hand, the strong concept of a religious Statesman in Islam couldn’t really diffuse the importance of religion; this made Sayyid Qutb to use religion as the driving force against the rulers of the Muslim world especially in Egypt. He was executed after a short trial conducted by Egyptian Government in 1966, but the seed to violence was sewed in the land of Islam.

After the death of Qutb, Aiman al Zahawari the die-hard follower of Sayyid Qutb took charge of protests launched after the execution of his ideal; the Egyptian started his agenda of polluting the Muslim societies with his takfiri ideology basing on the very foundation laid down by his master.

In a BBC documentary “The Power of Nightmare”, Aiman Al Zahawari has been shown leading the slogans against the Egyptian Government in a jail. Something very exceptional can be easily pointed out that Zahawari was reciting an incomplete Kalmaa (Tayyaba) ie “La Illaha Ilallah”, not reciting “Muhammad ur Rasool Allah”. This indeed shows an in different attitude towards the prophet of Islam, again invoking the memory of first Kharij, who was disrespectful to the prophet in one of the gatherings. The head shaved bearded man was from tamimi tribe and when he left the scene, prophet told his companions that “in his descend people will come who will be the worst creatures on this earth”.  Those who will kill them will be best rewarded by Allah swt. “They will look more religious in their deeds and will apparently propagate concepts which will not be in contravention to Islam but latently follow their evil agenda”. “They will use young innocent minds for their evil designs”. “They will kill Muslims and leave non-believers”.

Now nexus between Neocons and Khawarij was in evitable, the Muslim world couldn’t realize the depth and in turn horrific result of the said nexus. Factually speaking this was the second time this nexus was worked out in the history of Islam. It was in 11th century during Crusades when Sultan Salah Uddin Ayubbi was fighting for the holy lands and from inside Hassan Bin Sabbah was busy in his terrorist activities through his suicidal attacks from the Castle of Death. Even, one of the bravest General of the Muslim history could not root out Hassan bi Sabbah until he was killed by furious Tartars.

After pulverizing the Arab societies especially in Middle East and North Africa, the satanic ideology of Kharjites was picked up by Western powers (Neocons) to use their barbaric cruelty for their own agenda. The said western schema was indeed in line with the Kharijites ( Aiman Al Zahawari) and the deal was on……………..the Ghost of Al Qaida.

Scene was set, after the defeat of Soviets in Afghanistan. It must be kept in mind that there was no single incident of suicide bombing even against Russians in 11 years of war between Mujahedeens and Russian Army. Now the Kharijites were poured in Afghanistan and Pakistan by westerners, with agendas of both complimenting each other. The targets were zeroed and fixed.

It’s time for 9/11, Afghan invasion and exploitation of Pakistan. Kharjites are now operating in the name of different terrorist organizations such as TTP (Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan). Numerous evidences are on record to prove this historical but evil nexus such as:

  • Recovery of Indian and American weapons from Kharijites (TTP)
  • Recovery of dollars and Indian currencies from the terrorists.
  • Bodies of militants killed in action by Pakistan Army are not circumcised (One of the basic requirement for a Muslim)
  • Hundreds of attacks on Mosques in Pakistan
  • Brutal killings of Muslims of Pakistan
  • No breather from drone attacks despite of the fact, that they are only improving the strength of suicidal recruits operating for Al Qaida and TTP.

The question now arises that how Pakistan can get out of this strangle hold of this potent nexus? This not only demands sophisticated strategic moves on political front but also correct employment of forces at operational and tactical level to counter original aim of the said nexus i.e. Destruction of Nuclear Pakistan. With Indian inclusion in the nexus, the dynamics of the issue has changed drastically and it has linked with the unrest in Baluchistan as well. Only military moves not coupled with societal reformations and education will not suffice the intensity for dealing with this dreadful situation.

One must take into account that success of Swat operation was due to a forceful reply from a coherent society of Swatis, which repelled the evil concept of Khawarijs with determination and steadfastness. Pakistani Armed Forces operated in a highly professional manner with political and media’s will behind them.

This needs to carry on for some time more, with same zeal, for clearing the whole of Pakistan from this menace. All the state tentacles especially judiciary and media should play the most pivotal role in educating society with authenticity (in the light of Hadiths) and deliberation, so that the common can himself pull out from these Khawarijs and contribute towards an exemplary punishment to these enemies of Islam and Pakistan.

It’s high time to educate Pakistan’s Islamic society about the real face of this Khariji Ideology in the context of TTP and alike terrorist organizations. The role of Pakistani Ulemas must be in line with interest of Islam and Pakistan.                     (The writer is a Senior Citizen based in Abbotabad, with a masters in History).                

Is ISI the problem?

By:Ahmed Quraishi   

It is if you believe the reasoning that Admiral Mike Mullen offered as he barged into Pakistan with a daring move, attacking our premier spy service on our home turf. This signifies two problems. One is that our high tolerance level emboldens our antagonists. Adm Mullen feels he can raise the stakes and do something he never did before because he knows there won’t be any public consequence strong enough to deter him. Someone in Islamabad or Rawalpindi should have told him, ‘If you feel this is the way to negotiate differences, by embarrassing us in front of our own people, then that’s the wrong way of doing it’, followed by a cancellation of his official engagements here until he retracts.

The second problem with his statement – that the ISI maintains links to Afghan Taliban factions – is that he is putting the ISI at the centre of the Pakistan-US dispute. That’s factually incorrect. But instead of correcting Mr Mullen, the responses from the Pakistani side are defensive in nature – ‘the Haqqani network are our adversaries too’ or ‘we’re too busy right now to take action against them’ or ‘it’s just a matter of time before we take action’.

The fact is: It is not the ISI but the deliberate American damage to vital Pakistani interests over a decade that is at the core of the current Pak-US dispute. The drone issue or the Raymond Davis affair is just an offshoot. Mr Mullen’s diagnosis is self-serving. The question is: why is he getting away with it without being challenged?

To be fair, the Pakistani Army chief did decry the ‘negative propaganda’ that the United States is waging against Pakistan. It’s the first time any Pakistani official used these two words together to describe the behaviour of our friends in Washington. But it’s not enough because our duplicitous ally is still scoring points in the battle for perceptions.

It is time we wiggled out of the commitments made by two presidents, Mr Musharraf and Mr Zardari, to America’s Afghan war. President Zardari is likely to support this policy change. The United States failed to live up to the post-2002 commitments to its Pakistani ally. The Americans almost turned Afghanistan into an Indian outpost, created conditions for insurgencies in Balochistan and FATA, and caused us up to $80 billion in direct and indirect losses and millions of displaced, killed and injured Pakistanis. The Pakistani military should commission a policy review that concludes with a recommendation to the government to formally exit America’s war. The notion that the United States would retaliate militarily to a sovereign Pakistani policy decision is exaggerated. Washington is in no position to do that.

Pakistan’s issues with domestic religious extremism can and will be resolved domestically. Any future Pakistani assistance to the US war effort in Afghanistan can be negotiated under new terms. The Americans are trying to create an impression that their interference in Pakistan is important to help Pakistan defeat extremism. For example, Adm Mullen came here last week emphasising, ‘the long-term US commitment to supporting Pakistan in its fight against violent extremists’. It is amazing how Washington has been redefining the mission and moving the goal posts over the past decade with no questions asked from our side of course.

The strength and ability of terror groups such as TTP and BLA to resupply will end when CIA ends its grand strategic project in Afghanistan.

We should tell Washington that we will maintain ties to legitimate Afghan parties, including the Afghan government and Afghan Taliban. American demands to cut off ties to any one of them are misplaced. If an Afghan group that Pakistan maintains links with is killing US soldiers in Afghanistan, this is not necessarily Pakistan’s design or responsibility. It is the result of flawed US policies in Afghanistan over the last decade, and a result of ignoring Pakistani advice.

It is also time to loudly question CIA ‘assessments’ about the number of al-Qaeda remnants in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. We know the figure is insignificant to pose any threat to anyone. The US military and CIA inflate these assessments to justify prolonging the Afghan war and, more importantly, to justify meddling in Pakistan. The US is also pandering to its Indian ally by telling another lie, that the pro-Kashmir Lashkar-e-Taiba group, which is opposed to Indian military presence in Kashmir, has somehow metamorphosed into a ‘global threat.’ This is political propaganda.

NOTE: The writer is a known journalist & TV Anchor person.

This is a cross post from THE NEWS.

Major General Tajammul Hussain Malik:INTERVIEW

Agha H Amin

I conducted this interview in 2001 September.

This is the man who was praised by Indians and they established a commission to study his masterpiece Battle of Hilli .He was praised by his Indian battle opponent in his book Indian Sword penetrates East Pakistan as a singularly brave man .

He was miles above pygmies like Zia , Ayub and Musharraf.When we joined the army it was inspired by his battalion 3rd Baloch’s attempted coup of 23 March 1980 to wipe out despicable clown Zia and his dirty clique !

One good thing that General Beg did immediately after that glorious crash was to restore Tajammuls complete military honours and privileges.Tajammul was serving a sentence of 14 years RI for planning to liquidate all army generals and Zia on 23 March 1980 ,a brilliant scheme indeed !

We had to wait till glorious 17th August 1988 when that plane finally crashed right into the Hindu Shamshan Ghat on Basti Lal Kamal !

Tajammul has thrown light on Zias shallow personality in this interview !

May God Bless His Soul !

Pakistan needs a military coup from juniour level and massive liquidation of all leadership civilian and military !

Pakistans salvation lies in bullets well aimed at the top ten thousand families of Pakistan ! No lengthy trials !

Agha H Amin


Commanding officer of the 38 Punjab Regiment of the Pakistani army, Major Hussain (left), surrendering to the Indian army on 16 December 1971

Maj Gen (Retd) Tajammal Hussain Malik

A.H Amin

September 2001

Please tell us something about your early life, parents?

I was born on 13th June 1924, in village Thanil Kamal, Tehsil Chakwal, then District Jhelum (now District Chakwal). I spent my childhood in rural atmosphere, which at that time was quite primitive. There was no electricity, no roads, no telephones and as far as I remember no one owned even a bicycle. Radio came much later. Men, women and children wore the same dress as their ancestors put on centuries ago. There was not much difference between the rich and the poor. There were no social barriers and the living style of all the inhabitants was almost alike.A village was a self-sustained compact unit. They produced their own wheat, meat, vegetable, rice, ghee, eggs and almost everything one needs for ones simple living. The village shopkeepers were Hindus or Sikhs. Almost all purchases from the shops were on barter system. The prices of agricultural and dairy products were very low: -Wheat was sold at 1 1/4 rupees a maund. (40 Kilo) Meat 1/4 rupee a seer ( Kilo) Milk – 10 seers for one rupee. Pure desi ghee – 1 1/4 seer for one rupee. Chicken weighing one seer for about four annas (1/4 rupee). These rates compared favourably with the rates laid down in “Aaeen-i- Akbari” during the Mughal Emperor Jalal ud Din Akbar’s rule, more than four hundred years ago.Both my father and mother were highly religious. I inherited my religious convictions from my parents.

Please tell us about your school / college days and any decisive influences on your personality formation / development of convictions ?

A common village boy living in rural atmosphere, as mentioned above, could not conceive any high ambitions. I had many relatives in the Army but the highest rank held by any one of them was that of a Subedar, (which was then called Viceroy Commission). In fact, as far as I remember, there was not even a single King’s Commission Officer in the whole of Tehsil Chakwal at that time. ( First IMA course passed out in 1934/35).From village school, I moved to Government High School Chakwal. Lieut General Abdul Majeed Malik and Maj General Nazar Hussain Shah were a class ahead of me. Brig Amir Gulistan Janjua, whose last appointment was Governor of NWFP, was my class fellow. I think if statistics are taken, that rural area High School produced more Brigadiers and Generals than Aitchison College and Burn Hall combined.

What were your perceptions as young man in pre-1947 India about the prevalent political conditions — Muslim League, Congress etc?

The British Indian army was a mercenary Army. Although occasionally we used to read about the political developments then taking place, yet at that time it never occurred to us that the Indian Army would be divided so soon and a new state of Pakistan would come into being as a homeland for the Muslims. It looked a fantasy.

I vividly remember when I was a cadet, I had read an article in one of the magazines, perhaps the Military Bigest, wherein, the then Commander-in-Chief Indian Army, Field Marshal Sir Claude Auckinleck, while addressing army personal at some station had said, “In ten years time, you would have all Indian Battalion Commanders, in fifteen years time you would have all Indian Division Commanders, and in twenty years time you would have an Indian Commander-in- Chief.” From this statement it would become evident that the division of Army was never visualised even at the highest level of military hierarchy, nor did the British officers ever thought of vacating their biggest colony so soon. At the most one could say that India might get dominion status in due course of time, but complete independence was still being regarded as a dream

Any memorable incidents, which left an indelible impression on your personality?

I cannot think of any particular instance, which left an indelible impression on my mind. However, by the time I was a Platoon Commander at PMA in 1954/55, my experiences, observations in life, extensive study of books of history, philosophy and religion particularly Iqbal’s book “Reconstruction of religious thought in Islam” and his Urdu poetry had convinced me of existence of God and all that is laid down in Quran. From then onwards I became a dedicated practicing Muslim and started praying regularly which continues till today. Islam is the guiding force for all my actions and reactions. Whether in peace or in war, I drew my aspirations from Islam. I pray to Almighty Allah that may He continue to guide me for the rest of my life.

Motivation for joining the Army?

I joined the Army to earn my living. When I grew up, Second World War was continuing and Army was the best profession at that time. There was no other consideration.

Please tell us something about your life as a cadet?

In 1945, I was selected for pre-cadet College Belgram (Southern India) and after the termination of Second World War in Sept 1945, all the cadets were put through another Selection Board.

In April 1946 I joined Officers Training School at Bangalore (Southern India) and on 16th Feb 1947 I was commissioned in the Rajput Regiment of the British Indian Army. (Late) General Akhtar Abdur Rehman (DG ISI) and Lieut General Jahanzeb Arbab were my course mates, though I passed out senior to both of them in the Order of Merit.

Any seniors, contemporaries who impressed you or were a decisive formative influence during cadetship?None. Experiences as a young Commissioned Officer from the date of Commission till partition?

The training at Officers Training School was aimed at moulding the very outlook on life of the cadets and not just imparting professional military training. After Commissioning, the Indian Officers were expected to behave like their masters in all aspects of their day-to-day life. The result was that in order to become a good officer, one was expected to drink, dance and even speak the Urdu language with English accent. The sooner one adjusted oneself to complete European way of life, the better one’s chances were to be regarded as a good officer.

Good annual confidential reports (ACRs) and even course reports were generally based on the outer personality of the individual concerned and seldom any superior reporting officer tried to find out the real worth of the man. That is why when partition took place, the outlook of most of our senior officers was more British than the British themselves.

Anyone who talked about religion was considered to be a backward type and sometimes even ridiculed in public. There were no doubt some exceptions like General Sher Ali, who took pride in calling himself Muslim and openly preached Islam, but even their way of life was generally very aristocratic and Europeanised. They could more appropriately be called, “Muslim Elites”.

The best regiments of the British Indian Army were those which had played the most treacherous part against their own countrymen particularly during the war of Independence in 1857 (which was called ‘Mutiny’ by the British and their henchmen) or those which had committed the most savage acts against unarmed Indian masses who had risen in revolt against their foreign rulers from time to time.

Items such as Sultan Tipu’s sword, captured copy of Quran from Ali Masjid during fighting against the Afghans, Regimental flags and various types of weapons belonging to the defeated armies of the Muslim rulers were displayed with pride as trophies in the Unit messes, which perhaps continues till today. A Junior Officer on joining the unit was expected to know all about the history of his unit, which in fact, was the history of treachery and savagery against his own countrymen or that of the fighting against the Ottoman or Afghan Muslim rulers. It never occurred to the young mind, at that time, what a poisonous effect it was likely to have on the development of his real personality.

Please tell us about your service profile from partition till 1958?

At the time partition took place, I was serving as a second lieutenant at the Rajput Training Centre at Fatehgarh in the United Province (UP) of India. In October 1947, a contingent of Muslim soldiers, comprised of four officers and about five hundred other ranks were repatriated to Pakistan. At first we all reported at the Frontier Force Training Centre at Abbottabad. In December 1947, I and another officer were posted to 3/8 Punjab Regiment (now 3rd Baluch Regiment) at Peshawar which was earmarked to proceed to East Pakistan.

In the first week of Jan 1948, we landed at Chittagong by the sea route. I stayed in East Pakistan up till June 1950. It was a wonderful experience. The East Pakistanis treated us with love and affection. I had developed great liking for those people. I wish those feeling had continued but it was our own fault. We treated them as Negroes were treated in the United States of America. We considered East Pakistan as our colony. We had to pay dearly for our follies twenty-five years later.In June 1950, I was posted as GSO-3 in Military Intelligence Directorate, General Headquarters Rawalpindi. About a year later, the Indians threatened to go to war unless we vacated Kashmir.

Liaquat Ali Khan, the then Prime Minister, accepted the Indian Challenge to go to war and showed his famous “Mukka” (fist) declaring “we will break your nose if you dare to cross our borders”. Consequently both the Armies were deployed on the border and occupied their defensive positions. It was a great feeling. The entire nation was emotionally charged and every soldier took pride in being in uniform. We were prepared to revive the traditions of Muslim Armies of early period of Islam. Charged with such feeling I volunteered to go to the front line. I was posted as GSO-3 in 10 Division where I spent about 6 months or so. In early 1952 I was posted back to my unit 3/8 Punjab Regiment, now 3rd Baluch which was still deployed in their battle positions at Gujranwala. I was appointed Adjutant of the Battalion. A few months later, both the countries agreed to withdraw their armies to their peace locations and my Battalion moved to Abbottabad.

In October 1954 I was posted as Platoon Commander at PMA. Towards the end of 1955, I passed my Staff College examination and in 1956 I attended the Staff Course at Staff College, Quetta. After the termination of Staff Course I was posted as GSO-2 to the Commandant, where I stayed upto the end of 1958.

You served in former East Pakistan as a young officer in early 1950s and saw Ayub as a GOC. How would you describe Ayub at that time as a professional, a person and a senior?

General Ayub of 1948 was quite different to what he became after proclaiming Martial Law in 1958. In those days, his living style was very simple. Most of the time he used to be attired in Khaki bush-shirt and trousers at all functions, formal or informal. He had only one grey suit, which he wore in summers and winters. He used to get his uniform stitched from our unit tailor. I never saw him wearing blue patrols or any other expensive suit other than what I have said before. I had developed great liking for him. In those days I had considered him an ideal soldier.

I changed my opinion about him completely when he became the President of Pakistan or even a few years earlier when he started indulging in politics and accumulation of wealth and property.

He had known me personally and soon after he became Commander-in-Chief in 1951 he had accepted my invitation to attend a private tea party. At another occasion in 1952, when I was a company commander at Chakdara, he accepted my invitation for a lunch when he was on his way to Dir with an entourage of about 8-10 other officers.

I still have his autographed photograph, which was sent to me framed in a silver frame through his Military Secretary, when I was a Military Attache in Turkey. I passed on that framed photograph to my elder son Naveed Tajammal who still likes him whereas I had changed my opinion about him after he became the President of Pakistan.

What are your impressions about the British Officers who served in the Pakistan Army after partition?

I carried good impression about them. Major General Hill, who was our Adjutant General and Brigadier Rhodom, who was Director of Infantry used to go to their offices on bicycle and so did some other British officers, who were holding key appointments in General Headquarters.

The then Commander in Chief, General Gracy used to go to his office in a small Hillman car and from C-in-C House to General Headquarters if he saw any soldier in uniform going on foot on his way to GHQ he used to stop his car and tell him to “Hop in” and carry him up to the gates of GHQ.

Most of British Officers could be trusted for their word and standard of integrity. No doubt they had social values of their own but that was part of their own culture. On the whole they conducted themselves as good ambassadors of British Nation. Please tell us more about your tenure as an instructor at PMA and the standard of training at PMA as you saw it in the 1950s.

When I joined PMA, Brigadier Pigot was the Commandant of the Academy. He had been the Commanding Officer of General Ayub, when the latter was a junior officer in one of the Punjab Regiments, perhaps old 1st/14 Punjab. His living style was very austere and was a highly dedicated soldier. He expected the same standard from the Platoon Commanders and the cadets. Since he had been Ayub Khan’s Commanding Officer, no PSO (Principal Staff Officer) or any other Pakistani senior officer, could dare interfere in his training programmes nor he was prepared to accept any dictation from General Headquarters. He had his own style of training the cadets and he continued to do so up to the time he left the Command sometime in the middle of 1955 and returned to England. Even on the day he was leaving he inspected the unit lines and the classes and sent a note to the Adjutant to send instructions to the officers concerned to put the things right wherever he found anything wrong.

Almost every platoon commander judged his cadets by his own standard of integrity, honesty and moral values. Some of the very good cadets were thrown out because they could not be judged properly by their platoon commanders. Whereas some of the low grade cadets were brought to high position by their platoon commanders on the basis of sycophancy and deceitfulness thus laying the framework for the future.

I generally found most of the West Pakistani Platoon Commanders rather biased towards the East Pakistani Cadets. I personally had very sympathetic feelings for them, perhaps because of my early stay in East Pakistan. After their repatriation to Bangladesh out of the six East Pakistani Cadets in my Platoon, four became General Officers.How was regimental life like in the period 1947-1965.

When Pakistan came into being, we had no industry which could provide material for soldiers’ uniform or other military equipment. Even socks, boots and cloth for uniform used to be imported from England. Kikar thorn was provided in packs from the stationary depot in place of common pin. Paper, pencils and every item of stationary had to be imported from abroad.

Indo-Pak war of 1948 in Kashmir was fought under these conditions. The present day Azad Kashmir was due to the sacrifices of those unknown heroes who had to carry on the fight under most difficult conditions. When the ceasefire was ordered in 1948 they were thoroughly disappointed. For, they were convinced that had they been allowed to continue to fight they would have captured Srinagar within a few months.

The old theory that it is the man behind the gun and not the gun that matters literally proved true in the Indo-Pak war of 1948 fought on the soil of Kashmir.After a few years, the conditions had slightly improved, in that, indigenous industry was installed to meet our partial requirement of arms and equipment. Towards the end of nineteen fifties, under mutual agreements and pacts, American Aid started pouring in, which provided free arms, heavy weapons and equipments to all the three services; Army, Navy and Air Force.

By 1965, Pakistan Armed Forces had become a hard hitting force capable of destroying any army twice its size at any place and at any time.Regimental life for the first ten years or so was still preferred over staff appointments. In all other aspects it remained more or less the same as it is today. I personally found it fascinating. We all lived like family members and the relationships developed during that period continue till today. Most of officers were dedicated soldiers. They served in the Army more for honour than for monetary benefits. With the passage of time, gradually standard of integrity, honesty and moral values degenerated.

Please tell us something about the standard of training in the Army in the period 1947-58 and 1958-65 i.e. how would you compare both the periods in terms of improvement or decline, standards set or achieved and level of professionalism?

From 1947 up till 1958, Pakistan Army was a small Army but highly competent and dedicated to the profession. We had very simple living but took pride in the profession and being men in uniform. Therefore, all its efforts were concentrated on professional training and loyalty to the Constitutional Government. However, after the proclamation of Martial Law in 1958, its priorities changed. Martial law changes the very outlook of a soldier towards his profession or his duty to the state. Loyalty to Ayub Khan and the ruling junta was given the top priority whereas training in the Army and its obligation to the State were relegated to the second position. Our senior officers started indulging in accumulation of wealth and building palatial houses. The higher leadership was mostly incompetent.

Thus the seed for the disintegration of Pakistan was sown. And after about ten years or so it resulted in the break-up of Pakistan in the 1971 war. Had we not lived under martial law from 1958 onwards and remained a professional army, as in the past, I have no doubt that we would have decisively defeated the Indian Army both in 1965 and 71 wars.

Please tell us about the political perceptions that you formed in the Pakistan of 1947-58?

In 1948, my unit 3rd Baluch was in East Pakistan. Then Major General Ayub Khan was the local Log Area Commander. Another unit of that formation was a battalion of the Frontier Force Regiment, perhaps the 8th FF Regiment. That was the total force under the Command of General Ayub. He very frequently used to visit the combined Unit Officers Mess and informally spend the evenings with the officers like our Commanding Officer. One day during informal conversation he said, “Before partition anyone who had a bit of brain preferred to join the services. They either got commission in the Army or joined Class One Civil Services. Only junk was left behind.

When partition came, Quaid-i-Azam couldn’t find better people and he had to pick up political leaders from amongst the available junk and dished out high appointments to anyone who came in the way.” That showed General Ayub’s contempt for the politicians even at that time. And to some extent this impression had its effect on other officers also. I, as a young officer at that time, also thought that perhaps he was right but with the passage of time I realised that even if he felt that way it was not proper for him to say so in the presence of junior officers. For, it amounts to spreading hatred against the constitutional government. And, Pakistan then being a new state could not afford such criticism to prevail.

In fact, one of the main reason why democracy could not take roots in Pakistan was that the Army had started indulging in Politics in the very early stages of its creation. The first Martial Law was proclaimed at Lahore in 1953. And the first constitutional government of Khawaja Nazim ud Din was dismissed by Governor General Ghulam Mohammad in 1954 with the connivance of General Ayub Khan, then C-in-C Pakistan Army.

On the other hand in India, General Cariappa, the first C-in-C Indian Army, when on completion of 3 years term, was offered an extension refused to accept such an offer, saying, “If the Indian Army cannot produce a Commander-in-Chief to replace me, it is not worth its salt”. Consequently, India remained safe from Martial Laws.

It is worth mentioning here that Mr Winston Churchill, British wartime Prime Minister who apart from being a great statesman and a National Hero was also a great intellectual and a great historian, had once said, “Democracy is not the best form of Government but no better system has yet been evolved.”

Please tell us something about your experiences as a student at the Staff College Quetta, the standard of instruction, any instructor who particularly impressed you etc?

This course forms an essential part of an army officer’s career. The standard of training at Staff College, Quetta compares favourably with any other Staff College in the world. It has a very fine library and instructions imparted are of a very high standard. The course I attended had about 20 foreign students and about 60 Pakistanis. It no doubt serves as a foundation for further promotion to higher command. I have nothing more to add.

Please tell us about your service profile from 1958-65?

After completion of my staff course in 1956, I was posted as GSO-2 to the Commandant where I stayed up till the end of 1958. In early 1959, I was sent to the United States for a course at the Infantry School Fort Benning. In July 1959, I returned from United States and was posted as company commander to my unit 3rd Baluch. In Oct 1960, I was posted as Brigade Major 104 Brigade at Sialkot.

In Jan 1963, I was selected for Turkish language Course and after undergoing preliminary training for about 4 months at Karachi I was sent to Turkey for advanced Language training where I stayed till the end of 1963. In early 1964 I was posted as 2nd in Command 21 Baluch where I stayed for nearly a year and a half and was then posted as CO 3rd Baluch in July 1965.

How was the experience in Turkey?

I went to Turkey, for the first time, in 1963 to attend the Turkish language course wherein I got First Class Interpretership. In October 1966 I was posted as Military Attache and stayed there for three years. Since I knew the language very well, it became easy for me to study their history and the reasons for the rise and fall of Turkish Empire. It was a fascinating study for me. For, since its foundation in 1288, the Turkish rulers had carried the banner of Islam for more than seven hundred years. Instead of fighting against the Muslim rulers in the East, they had expanded their empire towards Europe in the West and Russia in the North.

By the end of 17th Century almost the whole of Eastern Europe, major portion of southern Russia and entire middle-eastern Muslim countries formed part of the Ottoman Empire which continued to remain under their influence upto the beginning of First World War in 1914. During the First World War the Arabs had betrayed the Turks and Istanbul was occupied by the Allied Armies. Consequently, the Turks developed a hatred towards the Arabs. After 1918, the Turks carried out War of Independence under the leadership of Attaturk Mustafa Kamal Pasha and established present day Turkey as an independent state.

Though as a Nation, they carried out the War of Independence as a Jihad against the Christians, yet Mustafa Kamal and his close associates harboured hatred against the Arabs. By 1928, in the name of reforms he tried to obliterate the influence of Islam from the Turkish State and changed the written Arabic script into Latin and compelled everyone to put on European dress. Even Azzan in Arabic was banned and translated into Turkish.

The Army became the custodians of the reforms and that conflict still continues. A vast majority of Turks are dedicated Muslims and have very good feelings towards Pakistan. In 1965 war, the Prime Minister of Turkey had ordered all the resources of Turkish Armed Forces be placed at the disposal of Pakistan and anything they need must be immediately provided. Since both the armies were equipped with American equipment, planeloads of ammunition and equipment were sent to Pakistan to meet our requirement.

Throughout my stay in Turkey, I felt as if I was at home. I with my family travelled throughout the country, and at no stage I ever felt that I was in a foreign land.

Please tell us something about your experiences as CO 3rd Baluch in 1965?

On 17 July 1965, I took over the command of 3rd Baluch, the Battalion I had joined as a second lieutenant after repatriation from India where I was serving in the Rajput regiment since my commissioning on 16th February 1947. Immediately after assumption of command I started intensive training. In about a month and a half the battalion was fully trained for war. Chamb operation had started on the 1st of September 1965 but the troops at Lahore were carrying out normal peacetime training till 4th of September.

On 4th of September, I held my battalion ceremonial parade and in the afternoon there was a basketball competition. On 5th morning a TEWT (tactical exercise without troops) was to be held and instead of going to the exercise we were suddenly called to the Brigade Headquarters and ordered to move to our allotted defensive positions astride GT road on Wagha Sector.

We were specifically ordered not to leave the unit lines before midnight 5/6 September. From my unit lines to Batapur bridge was about 14 miles, which my Battalion had to cover on foot. At about 6 o’ clock on 6th September, my companies had reached their allocated position extended over a distance of about 5 miles astride the GT Road. My right forward company had just reached its position on both sides of the BRBL canal when the Indian Army attack started. I had hardly taken off my pack when I received a message from the Brigade Major 114 Brigade that India had attacked Pakistan and captured Wagha and Gawindi post on Burki Sector and was advancing towards Lahore.

It was my first experience of war and it is a fact that I felt highly thrilled. A little later, about half a dozen Indian planes flew past towards Lahore. The Indians had started their advance with 15th Indian Division consisting of 4 brigades on Wagha Sector and 7th Division less one Brigade on Burki Sector. Obviously Wagha sector was comparatively more important from the Indian point of view because the Grand Trunk passes through it and after reaching Shalimar gardens they could get on Mahmood Booti Road and capture Ravi bridge without going through the built up area of Lahore City. This would have sealed off Army reinforcements to the beleaguered troops in Lahore Cantonment who were, in any case, not yet ready to go into battle.

Most of the divisional artillery units and 22 Brigade, which was in reserve, were doing their normal PT parade on the morning of 6th September when the leading Indian troops had started their attack on our positions on BRBL canal. A major portion of Lahore garrison officers heard the news about the Indian attack when they were having their breakfast in the messes or in their houses. This was the state of preparedness of 10th Division, who were responsible for the defence of Lahore, on the morning of 6th September, I called up my depth companies to fill up the gaps in the defensive area.

We fought that battle without trenches, without defensive minefield and without barbed wire in the defensive positions when the Battalion was pitched against a division of 4 brigades. If I go into the details of the narrative of the battle of 6th September, it would become very lengthy. The area between the BRBL canal upto Ravi bridge was all empty. The two leading enemy tanks were destroyed by one of our anti-tank guns firing from behind a bullock cart. Both sides were surprised in this battle. We were not expecting enemy attack because we were moved only as a precautionary measure with only the pouch ammunition and not allowed to even dig our trenches till the time the positions were visited by the Brigade Commander or the GOC.

The Indians were surprised to find the BRBL occupied by Pakistani troops who had started firing on the Indian advancing troops. They were expecting that the canal would be empty, whereas on reaching there they were confronted by every type of fire. In those days, our defensive battle concept was in three layers; the first layer, the second layer and the resistance zone each 2000 yards apart. They perhaps thought that they had reached the first layer positions and they had yet to face the second layer and resistance zone.

Instead of pressing their attack to capture the bridges across the canal they decided to halt the advance with sporadic firing and carry out proper canal crossing operation at night. By the evening we had considerably strengthened our positions and were ready to face the challenge.Till today I call it a miracle. For, had the Indians succeeded in capturing the Batapur Bridge that morning, Lahore would have fallen latest by 11 o’clock that morning and General Chaudry, the then C-in-C Indian Army would have celebrated their victory in Gymkhana Club over a peg of whisky, as promised to his officers, on the eve of the battle.

The narrative of the battle for the next seventeen days is a long story. By 10th September, we were ready to resume the advance on the Indian soil, but because of the incompetence and cowardice of the higher command we could not do so and when the war ended the Indians were in occupation of about 240 square miles of our territory beyond the far bank of the BRBL canal.

Our armoured division offensive on Khem Karan sector had also got bogged down. Indian war correspondent Kuldip Nayar in his book “India’s Critical years” has described a very interesting account of Indo-Pak battle in Lahore-Khem Karan sector wherein he states that when our Armoured Division offensive started in Khem Karan sector, the Indian C-in-C General Chaudry ordered General Harbash Singh, Commander Western Command to withdraw his troops behind Bias river. General Harbash Singh refused to comply with the order saying he would not withdraw his troops but would instead fight the battle from his existing defensive positions. General Chaudry retorted, “You do not know the capabilities of Armour” implying that he could not comprehend the power of an Armoured Division. The Sikh General replied saying that “In war it is the courage that matters and not the technical knowledge”. By doing so, the Sikh General saved India.

Had our attack succeeded, the Indian Army would have suffered the same defeat as Arab Army had suffered at the hands of Israelis in 1967 war. Here again our higher leadership failed to carry the battle to a successful conclusion.After the end of the war, in order to hide their weaknesses and the public criticism, instructions were issued by the General Headquarters to destroy the war diaries so that, at some later stage, if any commission of inquiry was appointed to examine the conduct of war, no record of their incompetency could be produced as evidence.

You have asserted in your book that many gallantry awards were awarded in 1965 on the basis of citations and personal reasons rather than on actual ground realities. What is the basis of this viewpoint?

My personal experience of both the Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971, has convinced me that it is very difficult to draw a distinction between the fighting capabilities of individuals while engaged in a collective action by giving awards to some and leaving others who had done equally well. In fact this creates more discontentment than fostering harmony amongst comrades in arms.

For example, award of Nishan-i-Haider to Aziz Bhatti on Burki Sector was based on a completely fictitious citation. 

And I can say with confidence that at least eighty percent of the awards in both the wars were completely bogus. In 1971 war I had commanded 205 Brigade in Hilli Bogra Sector. Major Akram, Nishan-i-Haider was in my brigade. That brigade received more than 50 SJs & TJs, the highest number of awards in that war.

No one knows better than I do, that those awards were just dished out at random only because I was continuously being pressed from Eastern Command to send the list of gallantry awards. For, my brigade was the only brigade which continued to hold its position to the last days before the ceasefire and when the war ended the fighting was still going on in the streets of Bogra and I had refused to surrender.

Please tell us something about your service profile from 1965 to 1971?

After 1965 war, I was selected for posting abroad as a Military Attache in Turkey where I stayed from Oct 1966 to Oct 1969.

In November 1969 I returned to Pakistan and took over the Command of 54 Brigade at Sialkot. I remained in Command of 54 Brigade for about 2 years and in October 1971, I was posted to General Headquarters as Director of Staff Duties. In November 1971, I volunteered for service in East Pakistan and was posted to East Pakistan as Commander 205 Brigade at Bogra.

How was the standard of training in the Army in the period 1965-71? Was there any improvement as compared to the pre-1965 period.

I cannot comment much upon it for the period 1966-69 because in that period I was away in Turkey but on return to Pakistan in October 1969 and assumption of Command of 54 Brigade, I put the entire Brigade through tests as laid down in training Directive by GHQ and on completion of the tests I sent a report to the GOC 15 Division saying, “The entire Brigade units are unfit for war”.

The then GOC, General Abdul Hameed, called me in his office and said, “I have seen your report. My Division is as well or as badly trained as any other Division of the Pakistan Army”. Instead of appreciating it, he appeared to be a little sarcastic. I told him that I meant no aspersions on his Command and that I had sent him the report so that he should know the correct position about the operational fitness of my Brigade. Anyway that did not bother me and I started the training as I wanted to. It had been my practice throughout my career that I always did what I thought was right irrespective of the fact whether it was liked or disliked by my superiors. I was quite used to such rebuffs.

I have always maintained that only those officers who have learnt to command with confidence and obey with self-respect can bear the heavy strains of war.

You volunteered for service in the East Pakistan when many people already thought that it had been lost. What were your reasons for doing so?

In Oct / Nov 1971, I was holding the appointment of Director Staff Duties at GS Branch, General Headquarters. I used to see reports of at least 30 to 40 own troops being killed everyday. One got the impression that if that state of affairs continued, East Pakistan would slip into Indian hands.

I am a devoted Muslim and I became very emotional. I sent a personal letter to Brigadier Baqar Saddiqi, Chief of Staff Eastern Command, who was an old friend, saying we would not let East Pakistan become Spain in the History of Islam. In those days, officers posted to East Pakistan often used to remain on “Sick Report” or got themselves admitted in Hospitals. The MS had to issue a letter throughout the Army saying that in future posting to East Pakistan would not be cancelled on the grounds of admission in hospitals. The officer would have to move to East Pakistan even on stretcher and if it was a genuine case he would be admitted in hospital in Dacca.

Regardless of the prevailing situation I asked for interview with General Hameed, then Chief of the Army Staff and requested him for posting to East Pakistan for command of a Brigade. He highly appreciated my volunteering for service in East Pakistan and in a few hours my posting order was issued by the Military Secretary to take over the command of 205 Brigade at Bogra.

Please tell us something about your experiences as a brigade commander in the East Pakistan in 1971?

The battle of Hilli Bogra sector in 1971 war can rightfully be regarded as a classic example of defence in the history of warfare. Against my one brigade, Indians had deployed four infantry brigades i.e 202 Brigade, 66 Brigade, 165 Brigade and 340 Brigade, one armoured bridge i.e 3 Armoured Brigade, 471 Engineer Brigade and two artillery brigades augmented by 33 Corps Artillery, yet when the war ended on 16th September, the battle was still going on in the streets of Bogra. The Indians could not succeed in breaking through that sector till the very end.

If I go into the details of the battle, it would become very lengthy. The Indian General, Major General Lachman Singh in his book, “The Indian Sword Strikes in East Pakistan” described this battle in detail. He has devoted at least two chapters on it. After the war the Indians had sent a team of experts to study the battle on the ground and determine reasons why such a heavy force as described above could not break through that sector till the end.

You have stated in your book that atrocities were committed by many units / individuals in East Pakistan. You have also stated that you tried to curb these. What was the extent / magnitude of the alleged atrocities vis-a-vis alleged atrocities committed by the Mukti Bahini.

I took over the command of 205 Brigade on 17th of November 1971 and about 4 days later the Indians had started the attack on our positions. During the period of my command, on one occasion, it was reported to me that one of my units 8 Baluch had captured about 8 civilians. The brigade headquarter was informed for their disposal. I was told that as a routine all such persons who were captured were to be shot without any investigation. I passed orders that in future no such shooting would take place unless I had seen them myself. When I visited the unit, they produced them before me. As I was meeting them, one of them fainted. The CO of that unit said, he is malingering. On further inquiry I found out that they were not in fact ‘muktis’ but were the local people working in the fields, grazing cattle. I ordered that they be released.

I learnt through many other officers that during the earlier operations against the Mukti Bahinis thousands of innocent people were killed.

In one of my defensive position at Santahar, large number of people were massacred. General Tikka Khan & Lieutenant General Jahanzeb Arbab had earned their reputation of being Butchers of East Pakistan. So were many other Brigadiers and Generals. Mukti Bahinis too, may also have done so in retaliation but it was very negligible as compared to the atrocities committed by the West Pakistani troops against the East Pakistanis.

Despite the fact what we had done to them, I personally found the local people very sympathetic towards us. In fact after the war, when I was moving from Bogra to Naogaon to link up with 13 FF of my brigade, I and a team of another officer with 17 other ranks were captured by Mukti Bahinis and the locals who not only saved our life but put bandages on the wounds I had sustained during the process of my capture.

How would you sum up the root cause of the failure in East Pakistan from the pure military point of view?

We had enough resources in way of equipment and manpower to continue the war at least for six months. There was absolutely no justification for surrender. It was, perhaps, the guilt conscious weighing heavy on the minds of the Commanders, who had committed atrocities during the cleaning up operations. Had General Niazi and his team of Generals and Brigadiers decided to stand and fight, the Indian Army would never have succeeded in reaching even the fringes of Dacca. Even in the Hamood ur Rahman Commission it has been brought out that there was no justification for surrender. I do not consider it necessary to go into further details. For, it will become very lengthy.

We understand that you refused to surrender in East Pakistan. Please tell in detail what you felt about the whole issue.

Hilli Bogra sector was the only sector where Indians used an Armoured Brigade. For, in December the terrain represented the plains of Punjab. As I said before in this sector the Indians used 4 Infantry Brigade, one Armoured Brigade, one Engineer Brigade, one Mukti Brigade and yet could not break through this sector to the end and when the war ended the fighting was still going on in the streets of Bogra.

The Battle of Hilli Bogra received the maximum publicity through the world media. I was mentally attuned to resist the Indians in the same manner as I had done on Wagha Sector in 1965 War. I could not conceive of surrender. On 15th and 16th December, when Bogra was surrounded from all sides, I was moving about in the battle area in my jeep, with the flag and stars uncovered, and announcing on the loud speaker, “We shall fight from the rooftops, the windows and in the streets but we shall not surrender.”

I was inspiring them with the Quranic Ayat that a Muslim soldier does not surrender on the battlefield. Anyone who turns his back will go to hell. I could see that almost everyone whom I addressed was prepared to die. They responded to my speech with slogans of Allah Ho Akbar. It was most thrilling scene.

These words, which I have uttered, were later confirmed in the Indian Books published after the war. Some of the excerpts I would like to quote here. General Palit, in his book, “The Lightening Campaign” had said, “In Hilli Bogra sector the Pakistani troops fought for every inch of ground.”

Dr Monkakar in his book “Pakistan cut to size” had said, “the Battle of Hilli was the toughest battle of Indo-Pak War”, General Aurora, GOC-in-C Indian Eastern Command, in his interview with the Illustrated Weekly of India, published in 1973 had said, “The battle of Bhaduria (which was fought within Hilli Bogra sector) was the bloodiest battle fought in East Pakistan”.

General Lachman Singh in his Book, “The Indian sword strikes in East Pakistan” described the battle in this sector in great detail. He was a brave general, who had the courage to praise his opponents. He admired my fighting capabilities and went to the extent of saying, “Most of the senior officers preferred to surrender as soon as a threat developed to their Headquarters or their lives. Brigadier Tajammal was the only exception in my sector. He showed fanatical will to fight even at the cost of his life. I was happy to take him prisoner. I was glad to learn that he was the first senior officer to be promoted by the Pakistanis out of those who had surrendered in Bangladesh.”

He almost wrote my ACR, wherein he said, “when in all other sectors, Pakistani troops were laying down arms, a group of officers and JCOs came to him and advised him to surrender. He refused to do so. He was no doubt a very brave and capable commander. He was in fact, prepared to die rather than surrender on the battlefield. His troops followed his example and resisted till the end.”

In fact he said much more than what I have said. I have only given a brief gist of it. Imbued with such a spirit how could I possibly think of surrender. The examples of Muslim commanders in the history of Islam who had fought against overwhelming Christian armies were ringing in my ears. At that critical moment those examples became a source of strength for me to continue to fight till the end.

Was the failure in East Pakistan related to Niazi’s incompetence or also to the Pakistani GHQ’s poor initial planning and assessments which dated to the period before the 1971 war broke out?

General Niazi had a brave record of service. In the past, whether during the Second World War as a company commander or in the 1965 War as a Brigade Commander, he had fought for mundane gains as a mercenary soldier.

He is not the type who was guided by spiritual or moral convictions. In East Pakistan had he decided to stand and fight, he would have created example of bravery and dedication to the cause of Islam surpassing many Muslim commanders of the past.

He would have been compared favourably with Musa Bin Ghasam who had refused to surrender in the last Battle of Granada (Spain), wherein at the time King Abdullah and his cabinet were laying down arms against the enemy forces of King Fernandez and Queen Isabella, he mounted his horse, drew his sword and broke through the enemy lines who had surrounded the palace. In this process he was so heavily wounded that his dead body was found on the riverbank about 20 miles away.

I do not entirely blame him. Most of the senior Brigadiers and General Officers at that time were brought up in mercenary traditions and they were fighting for mundane gains. At the time when final surrender took place on 16th December, there were about 4 other Generals, one Admiral and about 30 Brigadiers. They could have forced him not to surrender, had anyone of them had the courage to do so.

In all armies of the world, it is the inherent right of a soldier to refuse to lay down arms on the battlefield. Field Marshal Manstein in his book, “The Lost Victories” had said “No General can vindicate his loss of a battle by claiming that he was compelled against his better judgement to execute an order that led to defeat. In this case the only course open to him is that of disobedience for which he is answerable with his head. Success will usually decide whether he was right or not.”

Any Pakistani field commander who impressed you in the 1971 War?

To be frank, none, both in East and West Pakistan. I have the greatest regards and respect for some of the soldiers in the lower ranks who refused to surrender at the risk of their lives. The two examples I have quoted in my book, “The Story of My Struggle” that of Naik Sarwar Shaheed and Havildar Hukumdad who fought till the end and when their ammunition was exhausted they were called upon by the enemy to lay down arms but they refused to do so. Naik Sarwar Shaheed died on the last day of the Battle, when I had ordered my Brigade to break out to Naogong in small groups. The Indians had given him a ceremonial burial as a mark of respect for his bravery. Naik Humkumdad had become Shaheed on the 13th or 14th of December when about 80 men of his company had already become shaheed and his own company commander, Maj Sajid, been taken prisoner by the enemy. The Indian Major putting pistol on the chest of Maj Sajid ordered him to tell Hukumdad to stop firing. Complying with the orders of the Indian officer, Maj Sajid told Hukumdad to stop firing. In reply Hukumdad said, “Sahib, Apna ammunition mukai bathi ho, meray pass abhi doo magazine baki hein” (You have apparently exhausted your ammunition, I am still left with two magazines full of ammunition.)

Brigadier Sadiq Salik in his book, “Witness to Surrender” has described this action in detail. I cannot think of any such example from amongst the senior officers, both in East and West Pakistan, who risked their life to such an extent. For, after the fall of Dacca, our Senior Commanders in West Pakistan had the option to continue the war had they so desired. In the past in all our operational planning for the defence of East Pakistan, we had been saying, “If Indians Capture Dacca we will capture Delhi and that the defence of East Pakistan lies in West Pakistan.” When the time came and East Pakistan was occupied by the Indian troops, Pakistan Army in West Pakistan could not capture even Amritsar or Jammu. In fact they very eagerly accepted the Indian offer of ceasefire. At that critical moment, none of them had the courage to stand up and say, “No we will not accept ceasefire. We will fight till such time we capture a big chunk of Indian territory, at least, the size of East Pakistan” Had they done so there would have been no need for our 96,000 prisoners of war to remain in Indian camps for about 2 1/2 years.

How was the PW experience in India?

For an honourable soldier, becoming a prisoner of war is most humiliating. After the war when we were being gathered in a camp at Bogra, I had the opportunity to address my officers. I said to them, “Sometimes a tiger can also be trapped in a cage. Now that, unfortunately, you have become prisoners of war you should behave like a tiger in the cage.”

There must be many officers who though have retired from service can bear testimony to my last address to them uttering these words. At one occasion when we were being brought to the Prisoner of War Camp at Barelli, and we were passing through the Bazars of Barelli city, which was predominantly a Muslim town, I could see from their faces that they were looking very morose. I, too, felt very humiliated on seeing such a scene. I said to myself that perhaps, it would have been better if all of us had died on the battlefield fighting the enemy rather than face such humiliation.

I am sure many other junior officers and other ranks must have felt the same way but I could not see such impressions on the faces of senior officers of my own rank.

Please tell us something about your service profile from repatriation till retirement in 1975-76?

We returned from the Indian prison of war camp in April 1974. All POWs had to be thoroughly screened before sending them back to their units. A committee of Inquiry headed by Lieutenant General Aftab had already been formed to examine each case. We were told to submit reports on our experiences during the war and for the period we stayed as prisoners of war.

I gave a very candid report guided purely by the dictates of my own conscience. As a result of the finding of the committee of inquiry, a considerable number of officers of rank of Generals, Brigadiers, Colonels and below were retired / dismissed from service. All those who were cleared by committee of inquiry as fit for retention in service were posted to various units / formations at different stations. I took over the Command of 22 Brigade at Lahore in June 1974.

A few months later, a special selection board for promotion was held at GHQ and I was lucky enough to be the only one out of 32 Brigadiers from the entire Eastern Command, who was approved for promotion to the rank of Major General. On 25th November 1974, I assumed the Command of 23 Division at Jhelum.

What actually happened when you were GOC 23 Division and allegedly made a draft plan to overthrow Mr Bhutto’s Government?

When General Zia ul Haq’s name was announced as the new Chief of Army Staff towards the end of February 1976, it came as a very big surprise throughout the country. He was the junior most Corps Commander and had not shown any extraordinary brilliance either in peace or in war. In fact, his past was quite obscure and not many people in the Army had known him.

On the other hand most of others who had been superseded such as Late Lieutenant General Akbar Khan, Lieutenant General Azmat Baksh Awan, Lieutenant General A.I. Akram, Lieutenant General Aftab Ahmad Khan and Lieutenant General Abdul Majid Malik all had distinguished service.

Even Lieutenant General Mohammad Sharif, though promoted to the rank of a General and made Chief of Joint Staff was in a way superseded because that post carried almost the same constitutional powers as late Chaudry Fazal Elahi had as President during Mr Bhutto’s regime, perhaps, even less than that because Chaudry Fazal Elahi was at least the constitutional head whereas Chief of the Joint Staff was not even the Constitutional head of the Armed Forces.

The three Services Chiefs came directly under the Minister of Defence who was the Prime Minister himself.General Zia had hardly been in command of the Army for about a month when on 24th March 1976 he suddenly appointed a team of five new Corps Commanders and their names were announced on the radio.

On that evening, there was a social function in the garrison officer club. I came back to my residence at about 2200 hrs and after saying my prayers went to bed. An hour or so later, I received a telephone call. I picked up the phone and the Chief of Army Staff, General Zia ul Haq was on the line. He said, “Have you heard the news”. I said “No Sir”. He said, “You stand superseded”. I said, ‘Who has been promoted’. He named Iqbal, Sawar Khan, Chisti, Ghulam Hassan and Jahanzeb Arbab. I said, ‘I would like to have an interview with the Prime Minister’. He said, ‘You can do that’. If I correctly remember, he said that I would be required to come to Pindi on 30th of March to attend a conference and during that period I could also see the Prime Minister. That was the end of our conversation.

I must be frank in saying that I felt very upset about it. I had not expected that. I never claimed to be a genius nor had any misconception about myself but I knew the capabilities of my contemporaries, particularly those who had been promoted. After all we belonged to the same Army and I had by then put in about 30 years service. It is a long time to get to know each other very well.

The peculiarity about these promotions was that except for Jahanzeb Arbab, who had been superseded earlier because of having been found guilty of embezzlement of huge amount of money while in East Pakistan by a Court of Inquiry, headed by Major General M H Ansari but continued to remain in an officiating Command of a Division with the rank of a Brigadier for nearly two years upto as late as February 1976 when he was promoted to the rank of a Major General, all others were those who were on staff in GHQ. 

Major General Iqbal was doing as Chief of General Staff, Major General Sawar Khan was Adjutant General, Major General Chisti was Military Secretary and Major General Ghulam Hassan was Director General Military Training. The Division Commanders that is to say myself, Major General Akhtar Abdur Rehman, Major General Fazal e Raziq, Major General Mateen, Major General Ch Abdur Rehman, Major General Jamal Said Mian, Major General Amir Hamza (DG Civil Armed Forces), Major General Wajahat Hussain (Commadant Staff College) were all superseded.

After the appointment of Chief of Army Staff, about a month earlier, this was the second big jolt in the Army.It is a part of my character that I do not accept defeat so easily particularly when I feel that I have a right cause. I had followed this practice throughout my career. Therefore, on 25th March when I went to my office I started drafting my representation.

It is also true that it came to my mind that in case the Prime Minister did not do Justice I would use force to get Justice done. Somebody had to stand up and say, ‘Enough is Enough. Don’t make Pakistan Army a private Army. There ought to be some Justice’.

I was, perhaps, the only Division Commander who was in position to do that quite easily. Rawalpindi was only about 70 miles away and I could complete the entire operation of taking over the Government in a couple of hours on any night. I did not have to discuss the matter with anyone else.

My method of Command was such that whereas I allowed complete freedom to my subordinates to point out any weakness in my personal conduct both official and private, I knew that no one could question the authenticity of my orders if I had so decided. However, so far this idea was only in my mind and I had not taken any practical steps in that direction.

On 25th or 26th March, I called my Colonel Staff (retired as Major General) Mohammad Aslam Zuberi to my office. He had been a cadet in my platoon when I was a platoon commander in the Pakistan Military Academy in 1954/55.

He was in upper term when I took over the platoon. To me he appeared to be quite sensible and a good person. I thought he was being unduly victimised and that if properly guided he had the making of a good officer. In September or October 1955 he got his commission and I never met him, thereafter, till he was posted as my Colonel Staff in 1975.

I was very pleased to see him on that post. He used to say, “I tell others I owe my existence in the Army to General Tajammal, otherwise I would have been on the streets” which in fact to a large extent was true. It was primarily because of my support that he was given commission in the Army. Quite naturally I had complete confidence in him.

I started telling him that I had such a good record of service both in peace and war that it could never cross my mind that I would be superseded and that I intended to put up a representation to the Prime Minister. I also gave him an inkling of my intentions. I told him that I had dedicated my life for the cause of Islam and that I had no desire for the accumulation of wealth and property or even for higher promotion except with the ultimate aim of establishing a truly Islamic State on the pattern of Khulfai Rashideen.

I think I gave him the example of China and said that if an athiestic state could create an almost classless society why could not a truly Islamic state provide, at least, same kind of socio-economic justice to its people if not better. As he was from the Corps of Signals, I asked him if he could provide me with the necessary information on the communication set up in the country.

I did not discuss any other details with him as to how and when I intended to carry out my plan. I could never imagine that my Colonel Staff would betray me. The same evening he went to Rawalpindi and reported to Corps Commander and then perhaps to Chief of Army Staff, General Zia ul Haq that I was planning to overthrow the Government.

The next morning I was informed that I was required to attend a conference at Corps Headquarters / General Headquarters on 28th March. Accordingly I went to Rawalpindi that morning and occupied a room reserved for me in Apprentice School at the Mall.

If I go into more details about what happened during the inquiry which lasted for five days, it would become very lengthy. The detailed account of that interview is given in my book, “The story of my struggle”.

In conclusion, I would say that on 3rd April 1976 I was told to come to Chief of Army Staff’s office. As I entered that office General Zia ul Haq, flanked by four Lieutenant Generals, Sawar Khan, Ghulam Hassan, Chisti and Ghulam Jilani donned in their ceremonial dresses were all sitting in a manner as if my trial was going to start. In their peculiar way they put to me almost the same questions, which had been put to me during the inquiry, and they got the same answers, which I had given them earlier.

What was the need for the big five to assemble in such a manner, I still do not understand. It was certainly not in keeping with normal procedure known in the Army. This drama lasted for a short time and then General Zia ul Haq said to me, “I have decided to retire you. The higher one goes the harder one falls. You are a fanatic.” Legally there was no justification to retire me from service.

During the inquiry, which I have already mentioned, nothing incriminating was found against me. However, after announcing his decision about my retirement, General Zia said to me that I would be given about 5 days to bid farewell to the units and formations of my Division and that my retirement would become effective from 8th April 1976.

Immediately after my retirement orders were issued, a letter was sent by General Headquarter from the Chief of the Army staff to the Formation Commanders to be read out to the Garrison Army Officers at various stations throughout the country stating that General Tajammal had been retired from service because he was planning to overthrow the Government and create an Islamic State.

On 8th April my Divisional Officers arranged a farewell lunch for me at the Divisional Officers Mess. That was the last day I wore the uniform.

How is that many officers including you, Amir Hamza, Saadullah etc who were praised by Indian Military Commanders like Lachman Singh were not promoted to Lieutenant General rank in the Pakistan?

It is not proper for me to say so, but the fact remains that to the best of my knowledge the Indians have not praised any other senior Pakistani commander except myself in their books or otherwise in a manner as I have been. As regards my own promotion to the rank of Lieutenant General, it was mainly because General Zia ul Haq had seen my conduct during the Division Commanders conferences expressing my view very candidly. He, therefore, thought that he would not be able to control me. He selected a team of ‘yes men’ who were more docile and prepared to accept his command without any hesitation.

My record of service at that time showed that I was the only one in the Pakistan Army who had been graded “OUTSTANDING”, as a Brigadier, in his last Annual Confidential Report. My last ACR as a Division Commander was graded “Above Average” by the then Corps Commander Lieutenant General Aftab Ahmad Khan, whereas from amongst my contemporaries Lieutenant General Faiz Ali Chisti and Late General Akhtar Abdur Rehman were adjudged on the lower side of the “Average” grade.

What do you have to say about the assertion that sycophancy and timidity plays a major role in promotion to higher ranks in the Army?

To a certain extent promotion through sycophancy has been experienced in almost all armies of the world. That is why Field Marshal Rommel of the German Army had to say, “Those who do no more than supinely pass on the opinion of the seniors are placed on the top whereas many others with high merits are placed on the shelf”. In our Army, Field Marshal Ayub Khan since he became Commander-in-Chief in 1951, made sure that only those people were promoted to higher ranks, who proved their personal loyalty to him rather than loyalty to the state.

He did so because he had the ambitions of becoming the Head of State from the very beginning. As I said before, he had a contempt for the politicians and with the passage of time he went on getting extension of his tenure till he finally took over in Oct 1958.

From amongst the senior officers anyone who expressed his opinion against the Army indulging in politics was immediately retired. Some of the very capable generals who had passed out from Sandhurst were superseded when General Musa was appointed Commander-in-Chief. Now that he is dead, it is not proper for me to pass any remarks against him but I have no hesitation in saying that he was a typical Gorkha Soldier, who had learnt to obey the command of their superiors whether right or wrong. The junior officers following examples of the seniors, had also learnt that perhaps sycophancy, rather than professional capabilities, was the only criteria for attaining the higher command.

Exceptions are always there, but as a general practice many good officers who would have become very good Generals could not go beyond the rank of Lieutenant Colonel because they were intellectually and professionally far superior to their seniors and always expressed their views without any hesitation whenever and wherever required.

Commanders who attain the higher ranks through following the path of sycophancy soon crumble in the face of danger and cannot stand the test of battle fatigue. That has been an inherent weakness in our Army, which perhaps continues till today.

What were your impressions about Zia as you saw him in the Army tenure?

I had not intimately known him before he became the Chief of the Army Staff but from his conduct during the Divisional Commanders Conferences, he appeared to me an incompetent and low grade officer.

In one of the Division Commanders promotion conferences, I even saw him sleeping with his mouth open. 

He surpassed all limits of sycophancy when meeting the Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. While in uniform, he used to bow when shaking hands with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. 

I remember my old Brigade Commander, Brigadier Hayat, with whom I served as his Brigade Major, once told me that he had written in Major Zia ul Haq’s ACR when he served under his command, “Not fit to go beyond the rank of a Major”. It is an irony of fate that a person of such a calibre had ruled Pakistan for a long period of eleven years till he was finally killed in an air crash.

NOTE:This interview was originally published in the Pakistan Defence Journal, it was reposted on from where it has been taken.

Khawarij: Has the Destructive Ideology Reincarnated? Part-1

This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive                                                                                                                                                                                          By:Ahmed Raza

Pakistan in its 63 years of existence has gone through many natural and far more than that, men made disasters (Wars). One of which Pakistan is still fighting- has no designated battle field-enemy has no uniform- Complete country is a battle ground now. We have lost more than 15000 Pakistanis in this war of unknown killing zone. Is this not the time to ponder and study the roots of this horrifying enemy? One, who has transformed us in a society of chauvinistic and psychologically depressed human beings, yes, We are very late to respond but nations do commit mistakes-we all did it-it’s time to react to the realized fact. Rebirth of Khawarijs (The Deviators) on this planet is the case in discussion here, especially when they are now entrenched against us in the silhouette of terrorist organizations like TTP (Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan). For analytical assessment of their agenda it’s always better to refer history.

It was 1st Muharram of 1400th Islamic year (20th November 1979)-Mecca was praying as usual in the Grand mosque Kaaba-as the Imam finished his prayers some young Arabs equipped with automatic weapons entered the arena. All the gates were closed leading to the inner part of the mosque Mataf. Juhayman ibn Muhammad ibn Sayf al-Otaibi presented a young man aged approx 25 years, Muhammad bin Abdullah as Mahdi – the crowd was stunned-they took over the control of the Grand mosque within minutes as professional trained soldiers…………………….

One of the most horrendous events in the Islamic history had happened, the Holiest Grand Mosque of Muslims the Kaaba was attacked and sieged by a fake Mahdi supported by Juhayman ibn Muhammad ibn Sayf al-Otaibi. It shook the very foundation of Al Saud Kingdom, Mecca’s bloody siege lasted two weeks, causing hundreds of deaths and inflaming human rage all around the globe.

To understand the reasons leading to this horrific episode, it is imperative to look into annuls of recent history of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with emphasis on the ruling family of Al Saud. 

…………..The Al Saud family that today rules the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a member of the Anizah, a Northern Arabian or Adnani, tribal confederation historically located in the Najd, or Central Arabian Peninsula. The family derives its name from its 18th Century ancestor, Muhammad bin Saud, who joined forces with an austere Islamic reformer, Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab, in a military religious alliance for control over Central Arabia. Muhammad bin Saud was defeated by the Egyptian Army, which moved to Arabia for protecting Hejaz on the orders of the Ottoman Caliph. 

The left job was taken over after a century by Abdul Aziz Bin Saud, who captured Najd and eastern coast of Arabia by 1912. In 1925 the forces of Ibn Saud captured the holy city of Mecca from Sharif Hussein bin Ali, ending 700 years of Hashemite rule. On 21 April 1925 the Saudis destroyed some of the most holy places of Islam, Jannat-ul-Baqi and Jannat-ul-Mualla, hence completing the agenda of military-religious alliance of Ibn Saud with Wahabbis.  On 10 January 1926, Ibn Saud proclaimed himself King of the Hejaz in the Great Mosque at Mecca. On 20 May 1927, the British government signed the Treaty of Jeddah, which abolished the Darin protection agreement and recognized the independence of the Hejaz and Najd with Ibn Saud as its ruler.

What happened in 1927 was triggered during The First World War which changed the political dynamics of the heartland of the Muslim world, abolition of Ottoman Caliphate brought western concept of state and nation hood. The concept of Euro Christians with sovereignty rests with the people prevailed in the center of Islamic civilization. Role of British diplomacy and created fervor of Saudi nationalism (courtesy British unprecedented help) paved the way for the first Monarch of Hejaz the Saud Family.

 The said diplomacy of British in Arabian Peninsula was multi-dimensional but highly integrated.

  • First of all, the objective of snatching control of the Hejaz the holy lands (Mecca and Madina) from the Caliph.
  • Secondly Britain wanted a friendly regime in control of the Hejaz so that it could better be able to manipulate the politics of the peninsula.
  • Finally, the politics of the peninsula and the defeat of the Ottomans were strategically linked to Zionism’s efforts to build a diabolical consensus with Britain in the pursuit of the creation of a Jewish National Home in Palestine.

Fall of Caliphate lead to non-existence of Dar al Islam. Nowhere in the world, it exists now, as it has never existed.

A little about Dar al-Islam,

While the Hejaz was Dar al-Islam every Muslim had the right to enter that territory.

  • He did not need a visa.
  • There was no such thing as Saudi sovereignty.
  • There was no such thing as Saudi citizenship.
  • The right of entry into any part of Dar al-Islam was one of several rights which Muslims had, such as the right to reside in Dar al-Islam,
  • They did not need residence permits, the right to seek livelihood in any part of Dar al-Islam, they did not need a work permits etc.

The birth of the State of Saudi Arabia resulted in the denial and eventual elimination of all these rights of Muslims as Ummah.

What made present Saudi Arabia and especially Al Saud Family win over the confidence of the complete Muslim world? It was through an exceptional support of British to Al Saud family, after the fall of Caliphate, which did this magic for them. On the other hand to gain all possible control over the Hejaz, the Saud family also enforced very strict brand of Islam(Wahabbism) in the new born state. The century old military-alliance between Al Saud and Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab was best achieved now, with Muslims strictly following Wahabbi sect (the purest form of Islam) as they claim, right in the heart-land of Islam-the Hejaz.

Every sect of Islam has its own effects on the minds of the people; the Wahabi perception is also not alien to this effect. The fanatical chapter of Wahabbi ideology of Islam gave rebirth to Takhfiri concept of Islam associated with Kharijites.

Aḥmad, Muslim, and Ibn Mājah recorded a Ḥadīth from Abū Dharr who narrated that, Allah’s messenger said:

“There will definitely be a people after me from my nation who will recite the Quran yet it will not even reach beyond their throats. They will pass through the religion as an arrow passes through a target, then they will not return back to it. They are the worst of people, the worst of all creatures”.

The origin of Kharijism lies in the first Islamic civil war, the struggle for political supremacy over the Muslim community in the years following the death of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). After the third caliph (Uthman ibn Affan), a struggle for succession ensued between Caliph Ali and Muʿāwiyah, the governor of Syria and cousin of Uthman.

According to the concept of Kharijites the caliphate of Abu Bakr and Umar were rightly guided but believed that Uthman ibn Affan had deviated from the path of justice and truth in the last days of his caliphate, and hence was liable to be killed or displaced. They also believed that Ali ibn Abi Talib committed a grave sin whence he agreed on the arbitration. In the Battle of Siffin, Ali acceded to Muʿāwiyah’s suggestion to stop the fighting and refuge to negotiation. A large portion of Ali’s troops (who later became the first Kharijites) refused to concede to that agreement, and they considered that Ali has breached a Qur’anic verse which states that The decision is only for Allah (Qur’an 6:57), and hence the Kharijites thought that the outcome of a conflict can only be decided in battle (by God) and not in negotiations (by human beings). Later on, Abu lo lo feroze majoose a renowned Khawarij killed the Fourth Caliph of Islam “Ali”.

Al-Bukhārī, Muslim, and Abū Dāwūd recorded a narration in which ‘Alī said:

“There will come towards the end of time a people who will be young in age, having reckless and deficient intellects. They will speak with the statements of the best of creation, yet they will pass through Islam just as an arrow passes through a target. Their faith will not even reach beyond their throats. Wherever you find them, kill them, for whoever kills them will have a reward on the Day of Resurrection”.

Coming back to the events of Kaaba 1979, what was immediately required for Saudi Army to operate with conviction to end the fiasco, was a Fatwa by the highest religious council of the country. As fighting in the holy land was completely prohibited by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), any defaulter in this regard was to be executed without fail. The Juhayaman and his men along with The Fake Mahdi were to be executed on the authority of that fatwa, as they breached the order of Prophet in the Holy Kaaba.

Bin Baaz, the religious head of the Saudi Government was a prominent Wahabbi scholar, who was to act promptly to end this embarrassment of highest order. He, on the other hand has been ignoring the wrongful deeds of Juhayaman in the past, to an extent, that about a year back he got him released from Governments custody on the charges of suspicious activities against the state. It is imperative here to mention that Juhayaman was a staunch practicing Wahabbi and this fact was very well known to Bin Baaz.

 It took more than three days to get the appropriate Fatwa from Bin Baaz and his council. Even convergence of all 22 ulemas in Ryiadh to frame the required Fatwa was not achieved after 48 hours of the catastrophe.

All is well that ends well, Saudi troops acted promptly after the initiation of Fatwa, which clearly declared Juhayaman and his men as Kharijites (deviators). The perpetrators were executed as per the law, but the ridiculous khariji ideology was born yet again.

In the next article I will make an endeavour to crystallize the happenings leading to transportation of this re-born Khariji ideology to Pakistan and what role US and India played in it.                                                                                                              (The writer is a Senior Citizen based in Abbotabad. He is a masters in History. This is is first article).

Tribal Plate Tectonics: The Supposed Christian-Muslim Vendetta in West Africa Is a Front for a Much Simpler Story

What the election riots in Northern Nigeria, a military mutiny in Burkina Faso, and massacres in Ivory Coast have in common.

By Gary Brecher

They look like separate stories, but they’re not. It’s all one story, a long, slow war between the coastal christianized people and the Muslim inlanders. It’s the same divide all down the line: vegetation, religion, ethnic groups, votes. Rain forest vs. scrub, goat herders vs. farmers, Gbagbo vs. Alassanne–they all overlap, and the biggest divide of all, the religious one, is mostly just a cover for an old tribal divide. We like to think a person changes religion when they see the light, one person getting the beam of light straight from God like Saul before he changed his name and franchised the operation.

It’s not like that, never has been. If your ancestors came from Germany and your family’s Lutheran, it means most likely the Protestants were winning the Thirty Years War when they marched into your ancestors’ valley. If your family’s Catholic, Wallenstein was having one of his better days, before the loopy astrologers got to him. If your folks came from England, you know why you went Protestant: Henry needed sons and that Catholic girl he married wasn’t up to it. Your great-great grandpa didn’t see the light of true religion, he got the word at the end of a pike: “New church in town, any objection?” Not a lot of objections when a feral drunk in the King’s uniform is holding a dagger to your son’s ear.

In other words, religion is a tribal deal. Whole tribes converted at once, in Europe just like they did, and still do, in Africa. Except it’s current history in Africa, whereas it’s old dry shit in Europe, unless you’re in Kosovo or Belfast. Religion isn’t meant to be a personal thing between you and god. Never was. That’s just another democratic lie. Religion is always meant to be unanimous, and there are ways of making sure it stays that way. Like war. So religious divides are usually ethnic divides, and the borders between the groups on the maps usually have those crossed-swords markers identified by the map key as “major battle.”

That’s why in the old days, they called wars “the movements of the peoples.” That’s what’s happening in West Africa: the peoples are on the move, wrestling, pushing to see who’s going to be THE tribe. It divided into “countries,” and those countries are real in some ways, but the tribal/religious divide is bubbling under all that like the supervolcano under Yellowstone. West Africa has real borders, old borders, under the new “country” borders the colonizers settled in Berlin in 1885. It helps if you think of those old, real borders, instead of imagining that a riot in Nigeria is a separate story from the war in Ivory Coast. It’s all one blob of ethnic lava pouring up through whatever weak spot is handy.

So you can start with the plant life, like a nature documentary. West Africa has a wet coastal strip, inland scrub and then Sahel quasi-desert that’s turning into full-on desert year by year. You’ll notice that the divide between wet coast and dry inlands cuts across all the national borders, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, the whole bunch. That’s the first layer of the ethnic geology here, if you can call it that:

Different habitats, different folks: the dry north was always nomad country, too dry to farm but OK for goats and camels. The Hausa/Fulani herders owned the Sahel strip in West Africa long before “Ivory Coast” and “Nigeria” were made up:

And then came Allah. Islam came south across the Sahara with the caravans about 1300 years ago. The desert people took to it; it was a desert religion, after all. The forest people along the coast kept to their own gods until the Christians started grabbing trade posts along the coasts. And naturally every time they established a slave transshipment outpost they assigned a preacher or a priest to it. Not that the Muslims have the high ground here; most of the caravans that brought Islam south took African slaves back north. Religion and slavetrading go way back, I won’t say any more than that.

The result is a nice little sand painting looking ethno-religious divide that cuts perfectly halfway through all those new countries.

In Nigeria, you get a perfect illustration in this map showing which provinces have Sharia law and which don’t.

The provinces in green voted against Goodluck Jonathan, the Igbo Christian who just won in Nigeria.

So in the Ivory Coast you’ve got the French and IMF siding with the Muslim North against the Christian coast, which reacts with massacres and riots; and in Nigeria you’ve got the Christian coastal guy beating the Muslim backed by the North…which reacts with riots and massacres.

They always deplore these riots, and I’m sure they’re not fun to be in unless you’re one of the choppers rather than the choppees, but I’m not sure they violate democracy. These votes are head counts at best, seeing if there’s more of us or more of you. And if you win and can say there’s more of you, the natural response is, “Well, we want it more, just watch!” Any coach would have to approve. You’ve got to want it, etc.

The question of who wants it more gets especially hot if you’re about equally divided, and in that way Nigeria’s like a perfect test lab for ethnic/religious war, damn near 50/50:

NOTE:This is a cross post from ALTERNET.COM. Original link:

Chomsky,”The US does not care about Pakistan”……

By Rabia Mehmood   

Professor Noam Chomsky sits on the eighth floor of the quirky-looking Stata Center of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, US. Former head of the linguistics department, the author and intellectual now serves as Professor Emeritus at the university.

The man is known worldwide for his incredibly popular and polarising criticism of American foreign policy.
“The US doesn’t care about Pakistan, just like the Reagan administration didn’t care about either Afghanistan or Pakistan,” says Chomski, when asked how he sees the relationship between Pakistan and the US. “They supported Zia, the worst dictator in Pakistan’s history, and pretended they didn’t know that Pakistan was developing nuclear weapons. So basically they supported Pakistan’s nuclear weapon programme and radical Islamisation in their bid to defeat the Russians. And that has not helped Pakistan.”
According to Chomsky, the reason the Pak-US relationship hasn’t worked is because the concern of US planners is not the welfare of Pakistan, it’s the welfare of their own constituency. “But it’s not the people of US either, just the powerful sectors within the US,” he said. “If the US policy towards Pakistan happens to benefit Pakistan it would be kind of accidental. Maybe it will to some extent, but that is not the purpose.”
Chomsky believes Pakistan has serious internal problems but says there are solutions. But, he insists, these problems have to be solved from within instead of from outside.
“These problems have to be dealt with inside Pakistan, and not by the US; providing them with massive military aid, carrying out drone strikes, which enrages the population rightly,” he says. “Drone attacks are target assassinations and therefore a crime. Whether they are militants or not, these people are being targeted because the US doesn’t like them. Targeted assassination is an international crime. United Nations’ special rapporteur Philip Alston, a very respected international lawyer, came out with a report which simply says that it is a criminal act.”
He also supports the 1973 constitution and believes it is suitable for Pakistan. “It looks sensible on paper. It provided a degree of autonomy within a federalised system, which makes sense for a country like Pakistan,” he says. “Devoting resources to education, development and not military will help.”

Relationship with India
Speaking about Pakistan’s relationship and outlook towards India, he said that the Pakistani military has a strategic doctrine that they have to have a military presence in Afghanistan to counter India. “That’s a losing proposition because Pakistan cannot compete with India in terms of military force. Besides, the strategic position in Afghanistan doesn’t really mean anything in case of a war,” he says. “Pakistan has undoubtedly supported terrorist groups in Kashmir and terrorism in India, which has made the situation worse.”
The Americans are avoiding the Kashmir issue, he says, which is central to the resolution of conflict in South Asia. “India has a very ugly record in Kashmir – horrible atrocities, fraudulent elections, most militarised place in the world. You can’t just ignore it,” he says.

US-India relations
Professor Chomsky says that it is a “joke” when US talks about giving aid for civilian nuclear facilities in India. “The aid for the civilian nuclear use can be easily transferred to military use. By granting India the right to import US nuclear technology, it has not only allowed India to freely develop nuclear weapons, the US has also violated the nuclear non-proliferation treaty,” he says.

Afghan war’s future
“It is a complicated situation but I think there is good evidence that the US military and political structures recognise that they cannot have a military victory,” Chomsky says.

However, he says, they [US] can conquer whatever they like, but the Russians also won every battle in the 1980s but eventually lost the war. “The Americans are therefore trying to find a way to extricate themselves in some fashion, that it can be presented as a victory. They don’t want to admit they’ve lost the war, like the Russians.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 19th, 2011.

No effective response

By: Huma Yusuf  

ISI CHIEF Lt Gen Shuja Pasha was en route from America to Pakistan after meeting the CIA director when drone strikes in South Waziristan killed four militants. The timing of the strikes was unfortunate, following reports that Pakistan had asked the US to limit its drone programme.

Not surprisingly, the Pakistani reaction to the latest strikes was histrionic: the prime minister railed against them in parliament; Shahbaz Sharif called for a rejection of civilian aid from the US, arguing that Pakistani blood cannot be bought with dollars, and the media accused the US of mocking Pakistan’s request. Despite these dramatics, it is unlikely that the US will heed Pakistan’s request for a suspension or curtailment of the drone programme. To truly change thinking on this issue, Pakistan will have to adopt a far more nuanced and dispassionate approach, one that is based on fact and legal frameworks rather than furore.

Ever since army chief Gen Ashfaq Kayani described drone attacks as “acts of violence”, Pakistanis have believed that their unified outrage can coerce the US into suspending the strikes. But the consensus in Washington is that the drones are here to stay for the foreseeable future.

There are several reasons for American adamancy on this issue. The programme ostensibly targets militants involved in the Afghan insurgency who seek sanctuary in Pakistan’s tribal areas. The strikes thus boost the morale of US troops in Afghanistan who can pursue militants until the Durand Line, but no further.

Moreover, US policymakers subscribe to a narrative that suggests the drone strikes have tacit support among the terrorised Fata population. Building off the analyses of several Fata-based journalists (as well as commentary by David Rohde, the New York Times reporter who spent seven months in Taliban captivity) Americans counter criticism of the drone programme saying that Fata residents value the strikes: they cause less collateral damage than the Pakistan Army’s conventional bombing tactics, and they’ve disrupted a variety of militant operations.

Indeed, for fear of drone strikes, militants conduct shorter training sessions with fewer recruits, avoid using satellite phones, travel shorter distances and keep a lower profile. Noting this, some in Washington write off anger against the drone programme as the shortsightedness of Pakistanis who don’t have to deal with the daily trauma of Taliban occupation the way Fata inhabitants must.

There are other strategic calculations at play too. The US still believes that a Pakistan Army operation against militants in North Waziristan is necessary. The drone programme could be used as leverage in this context — its curtailment or suspension could be offered in exchange for army action.

There’s also an institutional angle. As part of the budget deal struck recently to avert a US government shutdown, funding for the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Fund has been transferred from the State Department to the Department of Defence (DoD),
which originally controlled the fund, but had conceded it to the State Department to ensure more civilian oversight of foreign military assistance programmes. To accommodate budget cuts, the fund is now back with the DoD.

This means that the US-Pakistan relationship, at its logistical core, is a military-to-military interaction. This dynamic reinforces the transactional tone of the bilateral relationship, and privileges security concerns over civilian considerations.

With the DoD once again controlling a significant aspect of the US-Pakistan exchange, one can imagine that the emphasis will be on achieving security targets through the drone programme, with less patience for civilian grievances about casualties and sovereignty.

Finally, there is a perception that Pakistan’s drone fury is actually a test of US trust than a talking point. US officials have revealed that Pakistan has asked for advance notice of drone strikes. Since pre-intelligence requires the US to trust that Pakistani intelligence officials will not tip off the targets, the request is seen as a way to evaluate the state of the ISI-CIA relationship after recent bruising.

In response, Pakistani leaders’ protestations against drones have to be more innovative than emotive. Bemoaning civilian casualties is less effective, since these are believed to have been reduced. Plus, Maj Gen Ghayur Mehmood as in charge of troops in North Waziristan admitted recently that the majority of those killed by drones are terrorists.

Rather than bicker about numbers, Pakistan should demand transparency and propose a legal framework that forces the US to own the programme and clarify who can be targeted. According to the New America Foundation, most victims are low-level militants (between 600 and 1,000 people were killed in 118 drone strikes in 2010, but only a dozen were described as militant leaders). Islamabad should push Washington to confine the programme to high-value targets, and then seek a definition of the same. Is a valid target an enemy combatant? Or simply a hostile actor beyond the reach of conventional law-enforcement?

Ultimately, Pakistan’s drone debate needs consistency and clarity. If the argument is that the drones aren’t effective (despite a sharp escalation of strikes in 2010, there were more than 50 suicide attacks across the country) Pakistan should draft a more compelling counterterrorism strategy. If the genuine complaint is civilian casualties, then Islamabad should stop requesting a transfer of drone technology, since people will die no matter who runs the programme. And if this is about national sovereignty, then Pakistan should prepare for a tough conversation about how military and civilian aid also undermine self-jurisdiction.

*The writer is the Pakistan Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington, DC.

NOTE:This is a cross post from DAWN NEWS>