Monthly Archives: May 2011

Imperial Eye on Pakistan

Pakistan in Pieces, Part 1


By Andrew Gavin Marshall  


As the purported assassination of Osama bin Laden has placed the focus on Pakistan, it is vital to assess the changing role of Pakistan in broad geostrategic terms, and in particular, of the changing American strategy toward Pakistan. The recently reported assassination was a propaganda ploy aimed at targeting Pakistan. To understand this, it is necessary to examine how America has, in recent years, altered its strategy in Pakistan in the direction of destabilization. In short, Pakistan is an American target. The reason: Pakistan’s growing military and strategic ties to China, America’s primary global strategic rival. In the ‘Great Game’ for global hegemony, any country that impedes America’s world primacy – even one as historically significant to America as Pakistan – may be sacrificed upon the altar of war.

Part 1 of ‘Pakistan in Pieces’ examines the changing views of the American strategic community – particularly the military and intelligence circles – towards Pakistan. In particular, there is a general acknowledgement that Pakistan will very likely continue to be destabilized and ultimately collapse. What is not mentioned in these assessments, however, is the role of the military and intelligence communities in making this a reality; a veritable self-fulfilling prophecy. This part also examines the active on the ground changes in American strategy in Pakistan, with increasing military incursions into the country.

Imperial Eye on Pakistan

In December of 2000, the CIA released a report of global trends to the year 2015, which stated that by 2015, “Pakistan will be more fractious, isolated, and dependent on international financial assistance.”[1] Further, it was predicted, Pakistan:

Will not recover easily from decades of political and economic mismanagement, divisive politics, lawlessness, corruption and ethnic friction. Nascent democratic reforms will produce little change in the face of opposition from an entrenched political elite and radical Islamic parties. Further domestic decline would benefit Islamic political activists, who may significantly increase their role in national politics and alter the makeup and cohesion of the military – once Pakistan’s most capable institution. In a climate of continuing domestic turmoil, the central government’s control probably will be reduced to the Punjabi heartland and the economic hub of Karachi.[2]

The report further analyzed the trends developing in relation to the Pakistan-India standoff in the region:

The threat of major conflict between India and Pakistan will overshadow all other regional issues during the next 15 years. Continued turmoil in Afghanistan and Pakistan will spill over into Kashmir and other areas of the subcontinent, prompting Indian leaders to take more aggressive preemptive and retaliatory actions. India’s conventional military advantage over Pakistan will widen as a result of New Delhi’s superior economic position.[3]

In 2005, the Times of India reported on a US National Intelligence Council report, written in conjunction with the CIA, which predicted a “Yugoslavia-like fate” for Pakistan, saying that, “by year 2015 Pakistan would be a failed state, ripe with civil war, bloodshed, inter-provincial rivalries and a struggle for control of its nuclear weapons and complete Talibanisation.”[4]

In November of 2008, the US National Intelligence Council released a report, “Global Trends 2025,” in which they outlined major trends in the world by the year 2025. When it came to Pakistan, the report stated that, “Ongoing low-intensity clashes between India and Pakistan continue to raise the specter that such events could escalate to a broader conflict between those nuclear powers.”[5] It stated that Pakistan “will be at risk of state failure.”[6] In examining potential failed states, the report stated that:

[Y]outh bulges, deeply rooted conflicts, and limited economic prospects are likely to keep Palestine, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and others in the high-risk category.  Spillover from turmoil in these states and potentially others increases the chance that moves elsewhere in the region toward greater prosperity and political stability will be rocky.[7]

The report referred to Pakistan as a “wildcard” and stated that if it is “unable to hold together until 2025, a broader coalescence of Pashtun tribes is likely to emerge and act together to erase the Durand Line [separating Pakistan from Afghanistan], maximizing Pashtun space at the expense of Punjabis in Pakistan and Tajiks and others in Afghanistan.”[8]

In January of 2009, a Pentagon report analyzing geopolitical trends of significance to the US military over the next 25 years, reported that Pakistan could face a “rapid and sudden” collapse. It stated that, “Some forms of collapse in Pakistan would carry with it the likelihood of a sustained violent and bloody civil and sectarian war, an even bigger haven for violent extremists, and the question of what would happen to its nuclear weapons,” and as such, “that ‘perfect storm’ of uncertainty alone might require the engagement of U.S. and coalition forces into a situation of immense complexity and danger.”[9]

A top adviser to former President George Bush and current President Obama warned in April of 2009, that Pakistan could collapse within months, and that, “We have to face the fact that if Pakistan collapses it will dwarf anything we have seen so far in whatever we’re calling the war on terror now.” The adviser and consultant, David Kilcullen, explained that this would be unlike the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, which each had a population of over 30 million, whereas “Pakistan has [187] million people and 100 nuclear weapons, an army which is bigger than the American army, and the headquarters of al-Qaeda sitting in two-thirds of the country which the Government does not control.”[10]

Target: Pakistan

Going back to the later years of the Bush administration, it is apparent that the US strategy in Pakistan was already changing in seeing it increasingly as a target for military operations as opposed to simply a conduit. In August of 2007, newly uncovered documents revealed that the US military “gave elite units broad authority” in 2004, “to pursue suspected terrorists into Pakistan, with no mention of telling the Pakistanis in advance.”[11]

In November of 2007, an op-ed in the New York Times stated categorically that, “the United States simply could not stand by as a nuclear-armed Pakistan descended into the abyss,” and that, “we need to think — now — about our feasible military options in Pakistan, should it really come to that.” The authors, Frederick Kagan and Michael O’Hanlon are both well-known strategists and scholars at the American Enterprise Institute and Brookings Institution, two of the most prominent and influential think tanks in the United States. While stating that Pakistan’s leaders are still primarily moderate and friendly to the US, “Americans felt similarly about the shah’s regime in Iran until it was too late,” referring to the outbreak of the Iranian Revolution in 1979. They warn:

The most likely possible dangers are these: a complete collapse of Pakistani government rule that allows an extreme Islamist movement to fill the vacuum; a total loss of federal control over outlying provinces, which splinter along ethnic and tribal lines; or a struggle within the Pakistani military in which the minority sympathetic to the Taliban and Al Qaeda try to establish Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism.[12]

They state that the military solutions are “daunting” as Pakistan is a nation of 187 million people, roughly five times the size of Iraq. They wrote that, “estimates suggest that a force of more than a million troops would be required for a country of this size,” which led them to conclude, “Thus, if we have any hope of success, we would have to act before a complete government collapse, and we would need the cooperation of moderate Pakistani forces.” They suggested one plan would be to deploy Special Forces “with the limited goal of preventing Pakistan’s nuclear materials and warheads from getting into the wrong hand.” However, they admit that, “even pro-American Pakistanis would be unlikely to cooperate.” Another option, they contend:

would involve supporting the core of the Pakistani armed forces as they sought to hold the country together in the face of an ineffective government, seceding border regions and Al Qaeda and Taliban assassination attempts against the leadership. This would require a sizable combat force — not only from the United States, but ideally also other Western powers and moderate Muslim nations.[13]

The authors concluded, saying that any state decline in Pakistan would likely be gradual, therefore allowing the US to have time to respond, and placed an emphasis on securing Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and combating militants. They finished the article with the warning: “Pakistan may be the next big test.”[14]

In December of 2007, the Asia Times Online ran a story about the US plan to rid Pakistan of President Musharraf, and that the US and the West, more broadly, had begun a strategy aimed at toppling Pakistan’s military. As part of this, the US launched a media campaign aimed at demonizing Pakistan’s military establishment. At this time, Benazir Bhutto was criticizing the ISI, suggesting they needed a dramatic restructuring, and at the same time, reports were appearing in the US media blaming the ISI for funding and providing assistance to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. While much of this is documented, the fact that it suddenly emerged as talking points with several western officials and in the media does suggest a turn-around against a long-time ally.[15]

Both Democratic and Republican politicians were making statements that Pakistan represented a greater threat than Iran, and then-Senator (now Vice President) Joseph Biden suggested that the United States needed to put soldiers on the ground in Pakistan in cooperation with the “international community.” Biden said that, “We should be in there,” and “we should be supplying tens of millions of dollars to build new schools to compete with the madrassas. We should be in there building democratic institutions. We should be in there, and get the rest of the world in there, giving some structure to the emergence of, hopefully, the reemergence of a democratic process.”[16]

In American policy-strategy circles, officials openly began discussing the possibility of Pakistan breaking up into smaller states, and increasing discussion that Musharraf was going to be “removed,” which obviously happened. As the Asia Times stated:

Another worrying thing is how US officials are publicly signaling to the Pakistanis that Bhutto has their backing as the next leader of the country. Such signals from Washington are not only a kiss of death for any public leader in Pakistan, but the Americans also know that their actions are inviting potential assassins to target Bhutto.

If she is killed in this way, there won’t be enough time to find the real culprit, but what’s certain is that unprecedented international pressure will be placed on Islamabad while everyone will use their local assets to create maximum internal chaos in the country.[17]

Of course, this subsequently happened in Pakistan. As the author of the article pointed out with startlingly accurate foresight, “Getting Bhutto killed can generate the kind of pressure that could result in permanently putting the Pakistani military on a back foot, giving Washington enough room to push for installing a new pliant leadership in Islamabad.” He observed that, “the US is very serious this time. They cannot let Pakistan get out of their hands.”[18]

Thus, it would appear that the new US strategic aim in Pakistan was focused on removing the Pakistani military from power, implying the need to replace Musharraf, and replace him with a new, compliant civilian leadership. This would have the effect of fracturing the Pakistani elite, threatening the Army’s influence within Pakistani politics, and undertaking more direct control of Pakistan’s government.

As if on cue, in late December it was reported that, “US special forces snatch squads are on standby to seize or disable Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal in the event of a collapse of government authority or the outbreak of civil war following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.”[19]

The New York Times ran an article in early January 2008, which reported that, “President Bush’s senior national security advisers are debating whether to expand the authority of the Central Intelligence Agency and the military to conduct far more aggressive covert operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan.” The article stated that the new strategy was purportedly in response to increased reports of Al-Qaeda and Taliban activity within Pakistan, which “are intensifying efforts there to destabilize the Pakistani government.” Bush’s National Security team supposedly organized this effort in response to Bhutto’s assassination 10 days previously.[20]

Officials involved in the strategy discussions said that some “options would probably involve the C.I.A. working with the military’s Special Operations forces,” and one official said, “After years of focusing on Afghanistan, we think the extremists now see a chance for the big prize — creating chaos in Pakistan itself.” Of pivotal importance to the strategy, as the Times reported: “Critics said more direct American military action would be ineffective, anger the Pakistani Army and increase support for the militants.”[21] Perhaps this is not simply a “side-effect” of the proposed strategy, but in fact, part of the strategy.

As one prominent Pakistani political and military analyst pointed out, raids into Pakistan would expand anger and “prompt a powerful popular backlash” against the Pakistani government, losing popular support.[22] However, as I previously stated, this might be the intention, as this would ultimately make the government more dependent upon the United States, and thus, more subservient.

On September 3, 2008, it was reported that a commando raid by US Special Forces was launched in Pakistan, which killed between 15 and 20 people, including women and children. The Special Forces were accompanied by five U.S. helicopters for the duration of the operation.[23]

In February of 2009, it was reported that, “More than 70 United States military advisers and technical specialists are secretly working in Pakistan to help its armed forces battle Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the country’s lawless tribal areas.” So not only are U.S. Special Forces invading Pakistani territory; but now US military advisers are secretly advising the Pakistani Army on its own operations, and the advisers are themselves primary made up of Special Forces soldiers. They provide the Pakistani Army “with intelligence and advising on combat tactics,” and make up a secret command run by US Central Command and Special Operations Command (presumably JSOC – Joint Special Operations Command).[24]

In May of 2009, it was reported that, “the U.S. is sending Special Forces teams into one of Pakistan’s most violent regions as part of a push to accelerate the training of the Pakistani military and make it a more effective ally in the fight against insurgents there.” The Special Forces were deploying to two training camps in the province of Baluchistan, and “will focus on training Pakistan’s Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force responsible for battling the Taliban and al Qaeda fighters.” Further, the project “is a joint effort with the U.K.,” which helps “fund the training, although it is unclear if British military personnel would take part in the initiative. British officials have been pushing for such an effort for several years.”[25]

In December of 2009 it was revealed that, “American special forces have conducted multiple clandestine raids into Pakistan’s tribal areas as part of a secret war in the border region where Washington is pressing to expand its drone assassination programme,” which was revealed by a former NATO officer. He said these incursions had occurred between 2003 and 2008, indicating they go even further back than US military documents stipulate. The source further revealed that, “the Pakistanis were kept entirely in the dark about it. It was one of those things we wouldn’t confirm officially with them.” Further, as the source noted, British “SAS soldiers have been active in the province” of Bolochistan in 2002 and 2003 and “possibly beyond.”[26]

The “Balkanization” of Pakistan: Blaming the Pakistanis

Selig S. Harrison is a director of the Asia Program at the Center for International Policy, senior scholar of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, former senior associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and former journalist and correspondent. “His reputation for giving ‘early warning’ of foreign policy crises was well established during his career as a foreign correspondent.  In his study of foreign reporting, Between Two Worlds, John Hohenberg, former secretary of the Pulitzer Prize Board, cited Harrison’s prediction of the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war eighteen months before it happened.” Further, “More than a year before the Russians invaded Afghanistan, Harrison warned of this possibility in one of his frequent contributions to the influential journal Foreign Policy.”[27]

On February 1, 2008, Selig Harrison threw his renowned “predictive” abilities on Pakistan in an op-ed for the New York Times in the run-up to the Pakistani elections. He started by stating that, “Whatever the outcome of the Pakistani elections, now scheduled for Feb. 18, the existing multiethnic Pakistani state is not likely to survive for long unless it is radically restructured.” Harrison then went on to explain that Pakistan would likely break up along ethnic lines; with the Pashtuns, concentrated in the northwestern tribal areas, the Sindhis in the southeast uniting with the Baluch tribesmen in the southwest, with the Punjab “rump state” of Pakistan.[28]

The Pashtuns in the north, “would join with their ethnic brethren across the Afghan border (some 40 million of them combined) to form an independent ‘Pashtunistan’,” and the Sindhis “numbering 23 million, would unite with the six million Baluch tribesmen in the southwest to establish a federation along the Arabian Sea from India to Iran,” presumably named Baluchistan; while the rump state of Pakistan would remain Punjabi dominated and in control of the nuclear weapons. Selig Harrison explained that prior to partition from India, which led to the creation of the Pakistani state in 1947, Pashtun, Sindhi and Baluch ethnicities had “resist[ed] Punjabi domination for centuries,” and suddenly:

they found themselves subjected to Punjabi-dominated military regimes that have appropriated many of the natural resources in the minority provinces — particularly the natural gas deposits in the Baluch areas — and siphoned off much of the Indus River’s waters as they flow through the Punjab.

The resulting Punjabi-Pashtun animosity helps explain why the United States is failing to get effective Pakistani cooperation in fighting terrorists. The Pashtuns living along the Afghan border are happy to give sanctuary from Punjabi forces to the Taliban, which is composed primarily of fellow Pashtuns, and to its Qaeda friends.

Pashtun civilian casualties resulting from Pakistani and American air strikes on both sides of the border are breeding a potent underground Pashtun nationalist movement. Its initial objective is to unite all Pashtuns in Pakistan, now divided among political jurisdictions, into a unified province. In time, however, its leaders envisage full nationhood.

… The Baluch people, for their part, have been waging intermittent insurgencies since their forced incorporation into Pakistan in 1947. In the current warfare Pakistani forces are widely reported to be deploying American-supplied aircraft and intelligence equipment that was intended for use in Afghan border areas. Their victims are forging military links with Sindhi nationalist groups that have been galvanized into action by the death of Benazir Bhutto, a Sindhi hero as was her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.[29]

This passage is very revealing of the processes and perceptions surrounding “Balkanization” and “destabilization.” What I mean by this, is that historically and presently, imperial powers would often use ethnic groups against each other in a strategy of divide and conquer, in order “to keep the barbarians from coming together” and dominate the region.

Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote in his 1997 book, “The Grand Chessboard,” that, “Geopolitics has moved from the regional to the global dimension, with preponderance over the entire Eurasian continent serving as the central basis for global primacy.”[30] Brzezinski then gave a masterful explanation of the American global strategy, which placed it into a firm imperialistic context:

To put it in a terminology that hearkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.[31]

While imperial powers manipulate, and historically, even create the ethnic groups within regions and nations, the West portrays conflict in such regions as being the product of these “ethnic” or “tribal” rivalries. This perception of the East (Asia and the Middle East) as well as Africa is referred to as Orientalism or Eurocentrism: meaning it generally portrays the East (and/or Africa) as “the Other”: inherently different and often barbaric. This prejudiced perspective is prevalent in Western academic, media, and policy circles. This perspective serves a major purpose: dehumanizing a people in a region that an imperial power seeks to dominate, which allows the hegemon to manipulate the people and divide them against each other, while framing them as “backwards” and “barbaric,” which in turn, justifies the Western imperial power exerting hegemony and control over the region; to “protect” the people from themselves.

Historically and presently, Western empires have divided people against each other, blamed the resulting conflict on the people themselves, and thus justified their control over both the people, and the region they occupy. This was the strategy employed in major recent geopolitical conflicts such as the breakup of Yugoslavia and the Rwandan genocide. In both cases, Western imperial ambitions were met through exacerbating ethnic rivalries, providing financial, technical, and military aid and training to various factions; thus, spreading violent conflict, war, and genocide. In both cases, Western, and primarily American strategic interests were met through an increased presence militarily, pushing out other major imperial and powerful rivals, as well as increasing Western access to key economics resources.

This is the lens through which we must view the unfolding situation in Pakistan. However, the situation in Pakistan presents a far greater potential for conflict and devastation than either Yugoslavia or Rwanda. In short, the potential strategy of “Balkanization” and destabilization of Pakistan could dwarf any major global conflict in the past few decades. It’s sheer population of 187 million people, proximity to two major regional wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, its strategic location as neighbor to India, China, and Iran with access to the Indian Ocean, and its nuclear arsenal, combine to make Pakistan the potential trigger for a much wider regional and possibly global war. The destabilization of Pakistan has the potential to be the greatest geopolitical catastrophe since World War II.

Thus, Selig Harrison’s op-ed in the New York Times in which he describes the “likely” breakup of Pakistan along ethnic lines as a result of “ethnic differences” must be viewed in the wider context of geopolitical ambitions. His article lays the foundation both for the explanation of a potential breakup, and thus the “justification” for Western intervention in the conflict. His “predictive” capacities as a seasoned journalist can be alternatively viewed as pre-emptive imperial propaganda.

Fracturing Pakistan

The war in Afghanistan is inherently related to the situation in Pakistan. From the days of the Afghan-Soviet war in the 1980s, arms and money were flowing through Pakistan to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. During the civil war that followed, Pakistan armed and financed the Taliban, which eventually took power. When the U.S. and NATO initially attacked Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, this was primarily achieved through cooperation with Pakistan. When the war theatre was re-named “AfPak,” the role of Pakistan, however, was formally altered. While the previous few years had seen the implementation of a strategy of destabilizing Pakistan, once the “AfPak” war theatre was established, Pakistan ceased to be as much of a conduit or proxy state and became a target.

In September of 2008, the editor of Indian Defence Review wrote an article explaining that a stable Pakistan is not in India’s interests: “With Pakistan on the brink of collapse due to massive internal as well as international contradictions, it is matter of time before it ceases to exist.” He explained that Pakistan’s collapse would bring “multiple benefits” to India, including preventing China from gaining a major port in the Indian Ocean, which is in the mutual interest of the United States. The author explained that this would be a “severe jolt” to China’s expansionist aims, and further, “India’s access to Central Asian energy routes will open up.”[32]

In August of 2009, Foreign Policy Journal published a report of an exclusive interview they held with former Pakistani ISI chief Lieutenant General Hamid Gul, who was Director General of the powerful intelligence services (ISI) between 1987 and 1989, at a time in which it was working closely with the CIA to fund and arm the Mujahideen. Once a close ally of the US, he is now considered extremely controversial and the US even recommended the UN to put him on the international terrorist list. Gul explained that he felt that the American people have not been told the truth about 9/11, and that the 9/11 Commission was a “cover up,” pointing out that, “They [the American government] haven’t even proved the case that 9/11 was done by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.” He said that the real reasons for the war on Afghanistan were that:

the U.S. wanted to “reach out to the Central Asian oilfields” and “open the door there”, which “was a requirement of corporate America, because the Taliban had not complied with their desire to allow an oil and gas pipeline to pass through Afghanistan. UNOCAL is a case in point. They wanted to keep the Chinese out. They wanted to give a wider security shield to the state of Israel, and they wanted to include this region into that shield. And that’s why they were talking at that time very hotly about ‘greater Middle East’. They were redrawing the map.”[33]

He also stated that part of the reason for going into Afghanistan was “to go for Pakistan’s nuclear capability,” as the U.S. “signed this strategic deal with India, and this was brokered by Israel. So there is a nexus now between Washington, Tel Aviv, and New Delhi.” When he was asked about the Pakistani Taliban, which the Pakistani government was being pressured to fight, and where the financing for that group came from; Gul stated:

Yeah, of course they are getting it from across the Durand line, from Afghanistan. And the Mossad is sitting there, RAW is sitting there — the Indian intelligence agency — they have the umbrella of the U.S. And now they have created another organization which is called RAMA. It may be news to you that very soon this intelligence agency — of course, they have decided to keep it covert — but it is Research and Analysis Milli Afghanistan. That’s the name. The Indians have helped create this organization, and its job is mainly to destabilize Pakistan.[34]

He explained that the Chief of Staff of the Afghan Army had told him that he had gone to India to offer the Indians five bases in Afghanistan, three of which are along the Pakistani border. Gul was asked a question as to why, if the West was supporting the TTP (Pakistani Taliban), would a CIA drone have killed the leader of the TTP. Gul explained that while Pakistan was fighting directly against the TTP leader, Baitullah Mehsud, the Pakistani government would provide the Americans where Mehsud was, “three times the Pakistan intelligence tipped off America, but they did not attack him.” So why all of a sudden did they attack?

Because there were some secret talks going on between Baitullah Mehsud and the Pakistani military establishment. They wanted to reach a peace agreement, and if you recall there is a long history of our tribal areas, whenever a tribal militant has reached a peace agreement with the government of Pakistan, Americans have without any hesitation struck that target.

… there was some kind of a deal which was about to be arrived at — they may have already cut a deal. I don’t know. I don’t have enough information on that. But this is my hunch, that Baitullah was killed because now he was trying to reach an agreement with the Pakistan army. And that’s why there were no suicide attacks inside Pakistan for the past six or seven months.[35]

An article in one of Canada’s national magazines, Macleans, reported on an interview with a Pakistani ISI spy, who claimed that India’s intelligence services, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), have “tens of thousands of RAW agents in Pakistan.” Many officials inside Pakistan were convinced that, “India’s endgame is nothing less than the breakup of Pakistan. And the RAW is no novice in that area. In the 1960s, it was actively involved in supporting separatists in Bangladesh, at the time East Pakistan. The eventual victory of Bangladeshi nationalism in 1971 was in large part credited to the support the RAW gave the secessionists.”[36]

Further, there were Indian consulates set up in Kandahar, the area of Afghanistan where Canadian troops are located, and which is strategically located next to the Pakistani province of Baluchistan, which is home to a virulent separatist movement, of which Pakistan claims is being supported by India. Macleans reported on the conclusions by Michel Chossudovsky, economics professor at University of Ottawa, that, “the region’s massive gas and oil reserves are of strategic interest to the U.S. and India. A gas pipeline slated to be built from Iran to India, two countries that already enjoy close ties, would run through Baluchistan. The Baluch separatist movement, which is also active in Iran, offers an ideal proxy for both the U.S. and India to ensure their interests are met.”[37]

Even an Afghan government adviser told the media that India was using Afghan territory to destabilize Pakistan.[38] In September of 2009, the Pakistan Daily reported that captured members and leaders of the Pakistani Taliban have admitted to being trained and armed by India through RAW or RAMA in Afghanistan in order to fight the Pakistani Army.[39]

Foreign Policy magazine in February of 2009 quoted a former intelligence official as saying, “The Indians are up to their necks in supporting the Taliban against the Pakistani government in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” and that, “the same anti-Pakistani forces in Afghanistan also shooting at American soldiers are getting support from India. India should close its diplomatic establishments in Afghanistan and get the Christ out of there.”[40]

The Council on Foreign Relations published a backgrounder report on RAW, India’s intelligence agency, founded in 1968 “primarily to counter China’s influence, [however] over time it has shifted its focus to India’s other traditional rival, Pakistan.” For over three decades both Indian and Pakistani intelligence agencies have been involved in covert operations against one another. One of RAW’s main successes was its covert operations in East Pakistan, now known as Bangladesh, which “aimed at fomenting independence sentiment” and ultimately led to the separation of Bangladesh by directly funding, arming and training the Pakistani separatists. Further, as the Council on Foreign Relations noted, “From the early days, RAW had a secret liaison relationship with the Mossad, Israel’s external intelligence agency.”[41]

Since RAW was founded in 1968, it had developed close ties with the Afghan intelligence agency, KHAD, primarily to do with intelligence sharing on Pakistan. In the 1980s, while Pakistan was funding, arming and training the Afghan Mujahideen with the support of Saudi Arabia and the CIA, India was funding two covert groups which orchestrated terrorist attacks inside Pakistan, which included a “low-grade but steady campaign of bombings in major Pakistani cities, notably Karachi and Lahore.” RAW has also had a close relationship with the CIA, as even six years before RAW was created, in 1962, the CIA created a covert organization made up of Tibetan refugees, which aimed to “execute deep-penetration terror operations in China.” The CIA subsequently played a part in the creation of RAW. In the 1980s, while the CIA was working closely with the ISI in Pakistan, RAW, while wary of their relationship, continued to get counterterrorism training from the CIA.[42]

In October of 2009, the New York Times reported that the US strategy “to vastly expand its aid to Pakistan, as well as the footprint of its embassy and private security contractors here, are aggravating an already volatile anti-American mood as Washington pushes for greater action by the government against the Taliban.” The U.S. gave Pakistan an aid deal of $1.5 billion per year for the next five years, under the stipulation of “Pakistan to cease supporting terrorist groups on its soil and to ensure that the military does not interfere with civilian politics.” President Zaradari accepted the proposal, making him even more unpopular in Pakistan, and further angering Pakistan’s powerful military, which sees the deal as interfering in the internal affairs of the country.[43]

America is thus expanding its embassy and security presence within the country, as the Embassy “has publicized plans for a vast new building in Islamabad for about 1,000 people, with security for some diplomats provided through a Washington-based private contracting company, DynCorp.” The NYT article referred to how relations were becoming increasingly strained between Pakistan and the US, and tensions were growing within the country exponentially, as “the American presence was fueling a sense of occupation among Pakistani politicians and security officials,” and several Pakistani officials stated that, “the United States was now seen as behaving in Pakistan much as it did in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Futher:

In particular, the Pakistani military and the intelligence agencies are concerned that DynCorp is being used by Washington to develop a parallel network of security and intelligence personnel within Pakistan, officials and politicians close to the army said.

The concerns are serious enough that last month a local company hired by DynCorp to provide Pakistani men to be trained as security guards for American diplomats was raided by the Islamabad police. The owner of the company, the Inter-Risk Security Company, Capt. Syed Ali Ja Zaidi, was later arrested.

The action against Inter-Risk, apparently intended to cripple the DynCorp program, was taken on orders from the senior levels of the Pakistani government, said an official familiar with the raid, who was not authorized to speak on the record.

The entire workings of DynCorp within Pakistan are now under review by the Pakistani government.[44]

As revealed in the Wikileaks diplomatic cables, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson wrote in September of 2009 that the U.S. strategy of unilateral strikes inside Pakistan “risk destabilizing the Pakistani state, alienating both the civilian government and military leadership, and provoking a broader governance crisis in Pakistan without finally achieving the goal.”[45]

In an interview with Press TV, Hamid Gul, former Inter-Services Intelligence chief revealed more of what he sees as the US strategy in Pakistan. He explained that with the massive expansion of the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan, and alongside that, the increased security staff, the Chinese are becoming increasingly concerned with the sovereignty and security of Pakistan. He claimed that the money that the US government offered (with heavy conditions) to Pakistan, $1.5 billion every year for five years, will be spent under the direction of the Americans, and that “they are going to set up a large intelligence network inside Pakistan,” and ultimately “they really want to go for Pakistan’s nuclear assets.” He further claimed that the Indians are trying to destabilize Pakistan; however, he explained, this does not necessarily mean disintegrate, but rather:

they are trying to destabilize Pakistan at the moment so that it feels weak and economically has to go begging on its knees to Americans and ask for succor and help. And in that process they will want to expect certain concessions with regards to nuclear power and also with regards to setting up their facilities here in Pakistan.[46]

When he was asked what America’s long-term goal was in regards to Pakistan, Gul responded that the goal:

for America is that they want to keep Pakistan destabilized; perhaps create a way for Baluchistan as a separate state and then create problems for Iran so that this new state will talk about greater Baluchistan… So it appears that the long-term objectives are really to fragment all these countries to an extent that they can establish a strip that would be pro-America, pro-India, pro-Israel. So this seems to be their long-term objective apart from denuclearizing Pakistan and blocking Iran’s progress in the nuclear field.[47]

In Part 2 of ‘Pakistan in Pieces’, I will examine the specific ways in which the American strategy of destabilization is being undertaken in Pakistan, including the waging of a secret war and the expansion of the Afghan war into Pakistani territory. In short, the military and intelligence projections for Pakistan over the next several years (discussed in the beginning of Part 1 above) are a self-fulfilling prophecy, as those very same military and intelligence agencies that predict a destabilized Pakistan and potential collapse are now undertaking strategies aimed at achieving those outcomes.


[1]        NIC, Global Trends 2015: A Dialogue About the Future With Nongovernment Experts. The Central Intelligence Agency: December 2000: page 64

[2]        Ibid, page 66.

[3]        Ibid.

[4]        PTI, Pak will be failed state by 2015: CIA. The Times of India: February 13, 2005:

[5]        NIC, Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World. The National Intelligence Council: November 2008: page x

[6]        Ibid, page 45.

[7]        Ibid, page 65.

[8]        Ibid, page 72.

[9]        Peter Goodspeed, Mexico, Pakistan face ‘rapid and sudden’ collapse: Pentagon. The National Post: January 15, 2009:

[10]      PAUL MCGEOUGH, Warning that Pakistan is in danger of collapse within months. The Sydney Morning Herald: April 13, 2009:

[11]      Scott Lindlaw, AP: U.S. gave troops OK to enter Pakistan. USA Today: August 23, 2007:

[12]      Frederick Kagan and Michael O’Hanlon, Pakistan’s Collapse, Our Problem. November 18, 2007:

[13]      Ibid.

[14]      Ibid.

[15]      Ahmed Quraishi, The plan to topple Pakistan’s military. Asia Times Online: December 6, 2007:

[16]      Ibid.

[17]      Ibid.

[18]      Ibid.

[19]      Ian Bruce, Special forces on standby over nuclear threat. The Sunday Herald: December 31, 2007:

[20]      Steven Lee Myers, David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt, U.S. Considers New Covert Push Within Pakistan. The New York Times: January 6, 2008:

[21]      Ibid.

[22]      Ibid.

[23]      Farhan Bokhari, Sami Yousafzai, and Tucker Reals, U.S. Special Forces Strike In Pakistan. CBS News: September 3, 2008:

[24]      Eric Schmitt and Jane Perlez, U.S. Unit Secretly in Pakistan Lends Ally Support. The New York Times: February 22, 2009:

[25]      YOCHI J. DREAZEN and SIOBHAN GORMAN, U.S. Special Forces Sent to Train Pakistanis. The Wall Street Journal: May 16, 2009:

[26]      Declan Walsh, US forces mounted secret Pakistan raids in hunt for al-Qaida. The Guardian: December 21, 2009:

[27]      CIP, SELIG S. HARRISON. Center for International Policy:

[28]      Selig S. Harriosn, Drawn and Quartered. The New York Times: February 1, 2008:

[29]      Ibid.

[30]      Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives. (New York: Perseus, 1997), page 39

[31]      Ibid, page 40.

[32]      Bharat Verma, Stable Pakistan not in India’s interest. Indian Defence Review: September 11, 2008:

[33]      Jeremy R. Hammond, Ex-ISI Chief Says Purpose of New Afghan Intelligence Agency RAMA Is ‘to destabilize Pakistan’. Foreign Policy Journal: August 12, 2009:

[34]      Ibid.

[35]      Ibid.

[36]      Adnan R. Khan, New Delhi’s endgame? Macleans: August 23, 2009:

[37]      Ibid. See also Michel Chossudovsky, The Destabilization of Pakistan, Global Research, December 30, 2007

[38]      Imtiaz Indher, Afgan MPs call for early withdrawal of foreign troop. Associated Press of Pakistan: April 1, 2009:

[39]      Moin Ansari, Proof: Captured TTP terrorists admit to being Indian RAW agents. Pakistan Daily: September 20, 2009:

[40]      Laura Rozen, Can the intel community defuse India-Pakistan tensions? Foreign Policy: February 16, 2009:

[41]      Jayshree Bajoria, RAW: India’s External Intelligence Agency. The Council on Foreign Relations: November 7, 2008:

[42]      Ibid.

[43]      Jane Perlez, U.S. Push to Expand in Pakistan Meets Resistance. The New York Times: October 5, 2009:

[44]      Ibid.

[45]      US embassy cables, Reviewing our Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy, The Guardian, 30 November 2010:

[46]      US military bases ‘will destabilize Pakistan’. Press TV: September 13, 2009:

[47]      Ibid.

Andrew Gavin Marshall is a frequent contributor to Global Research.




It’s the Military, Stupid!: Don’t Blame America’s Debt Crisis on Social Security and Medicare

By Dave Lindorff

Amid all the nonsense and gobbledegook that has been written about banking industry and about the economic slump during the last four years of the global financial crisis, New York Times reporter Gretchen Morgenson has stood out both for the clarity of her analysis, and for her willingness to go after the guilty parties in the political and especially the banking system, naming names and calling it as she sees it.

So it was kind of disappointing–even shocking–to read her latest article reporting on a new “study” by Peterson Institute for International Economics Senior Fellow Joseph Gagnon, warning about the nation’s growing debt crisis.

Real cause of the deficit: the Pentagon, not “Entitlements”

The Peterson Institute, founded by Wall Street tycoon Peter Peterson, has long been gunning for the Social Security and Medicare systems, which he, and the rest of the Wall Street gang, see as unfairly competing with Wall Street for the assets of the public, and as destructive of the “free market.”

Peterson’s basic schtick is that the two critical support systems for the elderly and infirm are going to bankrupt the country as they pay out benefits that exceed what retirees paid into the system, and that the solution is to cut back on those benefits, increase the taxes collected, or better, to privatize both systems.

Given Peterson’s and his institute’s long-standing agenda to gut Social Security and Medicare, it’s not surprising that Gagnon, as a fellow there, would say the solution to the nation’s growing debt is to either raise taxes or cut those two hugely successful, critically important and broadly popular social programs.

Morgenson is too smart not to know better, and yet not once in her article did she look outside of Gagnon’s narrow definition of the problem at the real cause of the national debt: the country’s outlandish military budget and a decade of unfunded wars, which have been piling up debt at a rate of some $150 billion a year (and that’s just the principal!).

After all, the country has been piling up this debt for several decades, and especially over the last decade, but during all this time, Social Security and Medicare have been paying out their benefits from current dedicated payroll taxes and by drawing on the trust funds that had built up because of the years that more was being collected than paid out in benefits.

Get the point? Nobody, including Gagnon, Morgenson or the Social Security and Medicare-hating members of Congress like Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), will acknowledge the fact that not one dime of the huge US deficit has been caused by a benefit check paid by Social Security or Medicare.

It’s the wars, stupid!

If the US would just cut its military spending down to size, instead of spending as much as the rest of the world combined on war or preparing for war–say by 75%–it would free up more than $450 billion a year that could go towards funding things like improved education, research into alternative energy, improving health care access, and paying down the deficit, too. Toss in cuts in the outsized $40+ billion annual secret intelligence budget, in the nation’s obsolete and dangerous nuclear weapons program and other ancillary military-related expenditures, and we’re talking about saving half a trillion dollars a year!

Morgenson should be ashamed at carrying water for the likes of Peterson and Gagnon.

She could make an attempt to restore her once sterling but now sullied reputation as an uncompromising financial journalist by taking on the Pentagon.

*Dave Lindorff is founder of blog “This Can’t Be Happening”. This article was originally posted there. LINK:


Pakistan under psychological Attack

This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive:     

Hamid Waheed

The reality considered an absolute value has becomes dynamic with the uni-polar world moving towards information operations (IO) and information warfare.  The psychological (Psy) operations as part of information operations (IO)  launched against Pakistan now focus on creating confusion and demoralisation amongst Pakistanis and increase the wedge between the leadership, security apparatus and general population. In aftermath of Raymond, Osama and Naval base incidents of April-May the covert ground operations are being conducted through help of terrorist organisations who move hand in hand and terrorise the hearts and mind of target population through building and harnessing perceptions. The ideal covert operation are always carried out by a state through non-state actors. The amount  of involvement of other state is measured through intended objectives of such operations. Covert ground actions supported by media and intelligence mostly compliment IO under such environment .

The naval base attack of Karachi is seen as part of psy war launched against Pak. The concept of  psy warfare has been discussed in my article “Challenges for Pakistan” published in a News paper and “Pakistan: Fighting Perceptions” on a website. In this form of warfare IO are the main operations and covert guerrilla and intelligence operation supplement the achievement of IO objectives to break the will of target population. The Pak Army trained in conventional warfare takes this incident as a terrorist attack launched by Talibans. The Naval Chief calls it an attack on Navy by extremists. I find many experts and analysts comment that such attacks where the attacker is on suicide mission are almost impossible to be averted but no one is questioning the intended and achieved objectives. The clear objectives were to reduce defence capabilities of Pakistan, hit economically and most important psychologically demoralize the target population. Under such environment we must look for the enemy who would benefit the most. If we follow the post incident reports, the initial figure of 10-15 terrorists reported in media were reduced to 6, four dead and two found successful in escape. Dead space in between two installed security cameras  was decleared the entrance  and exit points of the attackers . The interior minister indicated Taliban terming them as Zaliman involved in the attack. The FIR registered in the police station shows twelve attackers, four killed and eight managed to escape. Naval Chief’s statement ‘No security Lapse’ which he never said was given widest projection. All this speaks of unprepared confused minds creating more confusion in target population and intentionally or unintentionally supporting enemy psy warfare.

Understanding a problem is the first major step to its solution. Did Osama die of a conventional raid or part of Information Operation? Mohammad Bashir lives a stone’s throw away from the purported Bin Laden compound that was raided on May 1. In an astounding interview with Pakistani news channel Samaa TV, Bashir describes how he watched men land in the helicopter and enter the compound. However, in contrast to the official story, Bashir then claims the helicopter exploded and killed the men as they were re-entering the chopper to leave.
Bashir said that the men who landed in the helicopter spoke Pashto, an Iranian language spoken in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
According to a translation of the comments that was posted on the Veterans Today website, Bashir told the interviewer, “There was a blast in the first helicopter and it was on fire, we immediately came out, when we reached there, the helicopter was burning, then after about 20 minutes the army and police arrived, they pushed us back, now we are asking that if Osama was here then who took him to America because all those men that came in the helicopter died in the blast, now if Osama was in that helicopter he must have died and got burnt in that helicopter too, then how they took him?”

“We saw the helicopter burning, we saw the dead bodies, then everything was removed and now there is nothing,” said Bashir.
Top US government insider Dr. Steve R. Pieczenik, told The Alex Jones Show in first week of May 2011 that Osama Bin Laden died in 2001 and that he was prepared to testify in front of a grand jury .Pieczenik cannot be dismissed as a “conspiracy theorist”. He served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State under three different administrations, Nixon, Ford and Carter, while also working under Reagan and Bush senior, and still works as a consultant for the Department of Defense. A former US Navy Captain, Pieczenik achieved two prestigious Harry C. Solomon Awards at the Harvard Medical School as he simultaneously completed a PhD at MIT.

There are many such happenings which exemplifies the importance of understanding the new game. The most noticeable impact of this warfare is seen on the target segment of population.   In this case the target is generally Pakistanis and specifically the security elements. In the present environment effects of morale boosting statements by the leadership has  been compromised. The mid and lower level decision makers in target population want to know the steps which will be taken on occurrence of such incidents in future. Raymond Davis, Osama and Navy base incidents need to be seen from psychological point of view. What additional measure has been placed, what additional instructions have been passed to avoid reoccurrence and enhance confidence of the Nation and the security apparatus. The strategy of secrets steps in conventional warfare may be a strong battle loosing factor in IO.  It is equally important to handle a incident psychologically to defeat the enemy’s psy objectives. Perceptions play an important role and can only be fought with pre planning and forecasting events.

A sincere, confident and trustworthy  leader ship having close connect with the Nation will prove much powerful than the atomic deterrence .We need to rely more on own public support for which leadership has to decrease the existing class differences and encourage simplicity. The trust deficit with public can only be reduced by sharing truth. The actions only will bridge as words have lost their credibility.  These trying times demand that leaders must come out and take steps in the interest of Pakistan and have trust in the nation. Our institutions are time tested , they have always proved their worth in natural as well as other calamities. The nation must identify the enemy and their moles within  to defeat the enemy psycological  attack.

The writer is based in Islamabad.


This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive  

By: Air Commodore (Retd) Shahid K Khan, S.Bt.


On the night of Sunday the 22nd May 2011, Pakistan Naval Station Mehran, located in the middle of Karachi, was rocked by an explosion of mild intensity. This was followed by a series of additional blasts, explosions and gunfire which continued sporadically for 16 hours. Almost immediately the entire national media converged upon the scene and began telecasting live an unfolding terrorist attack on a highly sensitive naval installation. The more resourceful were able to secure vantage points from where they broadcast live color video of two aircraft burning fiercely, billowing black smoke. The entire spectrum of military and civil personnel responded. The Navy, the Air Force, the Army, the Rangers, the DSG, Police, the Intelligence agencies, Civilians, Military, paramilitary; yes even the coastguard arrived. They came in trucks, jeeps, personnel carriers, helicopters. They flocked to the scene, onlookers and other responders, the ambulances, the media, the curious, the jaded; every one came. Families climbed to the rooftops to catch a glimpse of the disaster. Life across the nation stopped as everyone focused on PNS Mehran. Bleary eyed ‘experts’ were dragged from their beds to studios across the nation to expound theories on what was happening. One resourceful individual brought along a pair of binoculars for better viewing. Bad idea. Wrong place, wrong time. He was promptly hauled up by the police and has by now most probably confessed to every crime committed in the greater Karachi area in the last decade.


I live a stone’s throw from PNS Mehran. I pass in front of its main entrance regularly. I am reasonably well aware of the congested nature of the base and its tarmac. As an air force officer who first walked the Mehran landscape in 1964, I am extremely well versed with the terrain, layout and the assets within the huge military complex that sprawls the eastern approaches of Karachi. Despite the fact that I live about a kilometer from the site, I first came to know of the incident when a friend from Islamabad rang to inquire if we were safe. I had heard the explosions and the gunfire but because we are blessed with marriage halls all around us, these are routine sounds heard each night as yet another bride, joyously anticipative, is dispatched to her nuptial bed by an emotional family. Alerted, I turned on the TV and began watching the unfolding scene. The next thing I did was tell my wife of my analysis which, inevitably ended up in a serious argument. She did not share my perception of the incident and berated me for being a “contrarian”. As the night wore on, a stalemate having obviously developed, I went to sleep, only to wake up next morning to find that the drama was continuing and the terrorists were now holed up inside a hanger, determined to fight until death. They had hunkered down for the long haul.


In the event however, it was not to be so. By late afternoon it was all over; everyone flashed the victory signs and headed home. As the dust settled over the incident, both literally and figuratively, ‘facts’ began emerging. • There were six terrorists. • They breached the perimeter defenses using ladders and wire cutters. • They trekked almost two kilometers inside the military compound to arrive at PNS Mehran. • Upon arrival, two of the terrorists promptly blew themselves up alongside two aircraft. • Two were killed during the night. • A dead terrorist’s photograph was taken by a cell phone. • The other dead terrorist was buried under the rubble of a wall and, apparently still remains so. • The last two terrorists then took a defensive position in a hangar where they planned to fight until death. • They held off the entire force deployed against them for an entire day. •For some obscure reason, they changed their mind about fighting until death and disappeared during late afternoon.


I have tried to believe what is being said officially but my gut feeling, a sense developed over almost fifty years of living, breathing and studying warfare, air power and military and civil aircraft operations tells me otherwise. As facts continue to emerge, my conviction becomes stronger and my belief is reinforced that this was no terrorist attack. The politically correct thing to do keep quiet but I am unable to do so. I see my nation going down a self-delusional route and I am compelled to voice my beliefs in the hope that there may be others who have a similar perception.


Here is my assessment of the situation. I do not believe that terrorists attacked PNS Mehran. What happened was an unfortunate ground accident at a military facility which was allowed to spiral out of control simply due to the anarchy and chaos that prevails in our country. This unfortunate state of affairs is constantly being fuelled by multiple, sensationalist, uninformed, self-promoting individuals and organizations especially the media channels desperate to outdo each other in making news; least bothered whether the news they broadcast are fact or figments of imagination. Here is what happened on the night 22nd May.


A spurious, unplanned ignition took place in close proximity of a parked Orion aircraft. Anything could have led to this; a whole range of reasons exist for such an occurrence to take place. All aircraft operators across the world know of these, the most common and those that have periodically resulted in destruction of aircraft are: • Static discharge. • Faulty grounding of aircraft and support equipment close to the aircraft. • Improper refueling techniques. • A spark from equipment being used on the aircraft. • Faulty ground support equipment. • Overheated brakes of aircraft or vehicles around it. • A careless smoker. • Failure to follow SOPs. • Accidental discharge of a hand weapon. • Electrical shorting. • Friction • Fuel leaks The list is considerably longer.


Something very insignificant can cause a fire and, if an aircraft begins to burn, the resultant fireball is truly impressive. If another aircraft is parked close by, the fire will travel and it too will ignite and burn. It is almost impossible to save an aircraft that has started to burn. Fire can be caused by many other, environmental factors also. PNS Mehran is situated smack in the middle of an area where such factors exist in plenty. Errant fireworks, a bullet fired in the sky returning to earth, brush fires, spark from a faulty vehicle, cinders from food cookouts; there are triggers that are routinely available around Mehran and each can start a fire. The place is, by its very nature of business, extremely rich in fuel, explosives and flammable materials. What most likely happened is that for whatever reason, a fire started and an aircraft exploded. Another adjacent aircraft was then engulfed in the flames also. It also exploded. Secondary explosions started. All military aircraft have explosives on board that begin to ‘cook off’ when the structure burns. These are squibs, bullets, igniters, propellants; flares, cartridges, survival packs; the list is long. And then there are random ejections of projectiles. High pressure cylinders, actuators, valves, pipes, hoses can take off in random directions in a manner that duplicates the intensity and trajectory of a projectile. The fact is that such incidents have happened across the world; many times. They are all unfortunate, expensive events but are occupational hazards that will take place despite the most aggressive of accident prevention programs.


What makes the Mehran incident different is that there were jumpy, jittery, emotionally charged, weapon toting guards and security personnel deployed within the perimeter. All that was needed was for someone to interpret the incident as a terrorist attack. All that was needed was for someone to fire a weapon at a shadow. Someone did. And that is all it took; one jumpy guard, to begin a fratricidal firefight that would last for sixteen hours and leave behind ten dead and many more injured. As the two aircraft burnt, everyone turned up, each bearing arms. Each on tenterhooks, each expecting and indeed, finding, terrorists in the shadows of the Karachi night. There was no central command and control; it was a free for all. A simple, explainable accident snowballed into the nation’s worst military compromise. And yes; the Taliban promptly took credit; why wouldn’t they? Maybe I am wrong. Maybe there were terrorists; suicidal individuals determined to humblePakistan’s military.


For me to believe this, I need to have the answers to the following questions: • If blowing up oneself with an airplane each was the plan; why not destroy six aircraft? There were at least six terrorists; so we are told. • They number of terrorists started off at about 20 but the figure kept getting refined. When the showdown ended, the figure stood at six. • Why were the terrorists in a rush to self-destruct?. Why did they not blow up many more aircraft before departing for their rendezvous with the virgins? • The total aim of any terrorist is to cause maximum deaths, inflict maximum damage. Why were these terrorists so different in their philosophy? • The tarmac at PNS Mehran is always crowded, almost all the naval assets are there in plain sight. Adjacent to them is a fleet of army aircraft. You do not have to take my word for it; just see it on Google Earth. • The terrorists were in the midst of almost the entire naval air assets of Pakistan. Why did they not destroy more aircraft? All that was needed was a burst of gunfire at each fuselage. • Why did they ignore the third Orion parked right in front of them? • Having sought refuge in a hanger, full of eminently destroyable hardware, why did they not blow up or at least damage these assets also? • Why were two terrorists tasked to blow themselves up immediately upon arrival while the other four had planned to fight it out until the end? • What was the urgency; the terrorists obviously had achieved surprise and did manage to evade the opposition for a full sixteen hours. • Why did the two holed up terrorists have a sudden change of heart? • Why did they elect to call it quits and disappear? • And How? This is the most perplexing of all questions. How do two strangers walk through multiple layered defenses that have been placed around the site?


I refuse to believe that this was a terrorist attack. It was gross incompetence; first on part of the Pakistan Navy in allowing such an incident to take place and then, far, far worse, it was utter incompetence at the national level to allow this affair to morph into an event of national shame. Sadly, the truth will never be known. It is too damaging to acknowledge that what happened on the night of the 22nd was a simple ground accident. It is far more convenient for everyone, even the international powers, to make sure that this is classified as a terrorist act. It lets the nation off the hook and it enables the West to reaffirm the ineffectiveness of the Pakistan Military in keeping the Taliban and Al Qaeda at bay. The process has begun. An enquiry team has been established. Voluminous documents will be created; multiple recommendations will be put forth. Some individuals will be sacked, others will be awarded medals. Evidence will be found; if some is lacking, it will be fabricated. Replacement aircraft shall be procured; more defences will be incorporated. Funds shall be sought, funds shall be allocated, funds shall be spent. Walls shall be raised, equipment procured, perimeters fortified, pockets lined. We will move on; the incident shall be consigned to the dustbin of Pakistani history. A dustbin already full to the brim.


The writer is based in Karachi. 

Revealed: The “Insider” at Mehran Base Attack!

Yasmeen Ali

Views, comments, speculations are rife, as to who was the insider(s) involved, providing information, in the Mehran Base Attack a few days ago in Karachi. Pakistan security was blamed for everything under the sun. Yes, the side from where the attackers entered was kid’s play. The attackers probably travelled along a dirt lane running beside cinder block shacks at the rear of the base. Videos released by various TV channels showed one lone guard at the wired wall from where the breach was made.

What next? How were they so clued up to the layout of the base? Of course, an insider MUST be involved here, it is claimed. The News stated, “The investigation team will question all those who were present at the time of the attack,” a security official told AFP on condition of anonymity. “The way the militants attacked means they had maps and were aware of all the directions inside the base,” the official added.

I am certain they had maps. The “Insider” we look for, may well be……GOOGLE!

I was forwarded this link:,67.110519&spn=0.001944,0.003329&z=19

It shows not only detailed maps of Mehran base but ALSO, Makran base. Should we then, expect the next attack at the Makran base?

Google Earth is a double edged sword created by Google.  Vernie Kopytoff, Chronicle Staff Writer for in his article states, “Government efforts to thwart terrorists by asking — or in some cases requiring — that companies censor aerial images of potential targets have failed to keep them off the Internet. Scores of federal buildings, military installations and corporate headquarters are clearly visible on some Web sites, even though the facilities are deemed vulnerable enough to censor on others. Aerial images of a nuclear power plant in Perry, Ohio, are considered so sensitive that they are blurred on Google’s popular satellite mapping service, Google Earth.But on Microsoft’s online maps, users get a crystal-clear bird’s-eye view of the facility, including the cooling towers, storage tanks and a parking lot filled with cars”.

By going through the entire base via Google Maps, and navigating through the images available in there, one may not deny the fact that this service might have served terrorists for laying out their attack plan in their targeting of the Mehran Base.

The Government of Pakistan, in light of these attacks, must immediately request these search engines not to provide maps of such facilities that can only help terrorists in their nefarious aims!

Any one listening out there?


(The writer is a lawyer based in Lahore and teaching in a University. She may be reached at





Pakistan Decides It Won’t Confront United States


Pakistan’s leadership, civilian and military, has made a strategic decision not to confront the United States and seek Pakistani interests through quiet diplomacy. Our advice is: Speak up for Pakistani interests & bottom lines the way Americans are speaking up for theirs. This also means we won’t be reviewing our disastrous cooperation with US in Afghan occupation. We need this review urgently to extricate Pakistan from the American mess.


AHMED QURAISHI | Tuesday | 24 May 2011 |


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—Pakistan’s military has made a strategic decision not to confront its ally, the United States military, despite all sorts of humiliation and abuse.

In conversations and briefings with several Pakistani military officials recently, one question kept coming up: ‘Do you want us to declare war on the US?’

The answer, of course, is no. And for good reason. The United States is not an enemy of Pakistan. But there is little doubt that American double game in Afghanistan, posing as an ally of Pakistan while building up an anti-Pakistan regional coalition, has destroyed US credibility in Pakistani eyes. Former President Musharraf and the civilian and military leaders who replaced him failed in effectively putting the United States on notice for its incessant efforts since 2004 to spread global alarm about the country and its nuclear program. The US brilliantly pursued its own interests. Pakistan didn’t, unfortunately.

President Asif Zardari is hand in glove with the Americans and no one expects him to rise to the occasion. But our military leadership should consider a range of options to defend Pakistan’s image and interests, short of going to war that no one wants. If confrontation is not an option, then an undeclared surrender shouldn’t be either.

Take the right to speak up publicly, for example. The United States is blunt about its interests and demands. Pakistani officials, both civilian and military, continue to shy away from articulating their demands and bottom lines publicly. This is a sign of weakness and is spreading confusion and demoralization among Pakistanis. Unfortunately, Pakistani officials continue to place their personal relationships with Washington above all else. This type of relationships has long endangered Pakistani national security.

The irony is that a foreign government, China, was faster and bolder than our own political and military leaders in defending the Pakistani position and rejecting the deliberate American demonization of Pakistan. Pakistani officials went overly defensive.



Take for example the repeated threats by President Obama and Secretary Clinton over the past week about unilateral military action inside Pakistan. Both are considered friends of Pakistan by some segments of our government and military. The truth is both are serving US interests the best they can, which is unfortunately not the case on the Pakistani side.

Washington has the right to pursue its al-Qaeda enemies, as Secretary Clinton said last week. That maybe so, but what Pakistani officials are loath to say publicly is that Washington does not have the right to use our intelligence and then sidestep Pakistan and question its sincerity and demonize it worldwide. [This is exactly what happened in the bin Laden operation of 2 May, where again Pakistani officials failed miserably in defending their position publicly.]

Pakistani officials can counter US pressure on unilateral action if they want to. US officials keen on waging war inside Pakistan can be countered using four strong arguments:

1.      The US is responsible for the blunders of its military in late 2001 that resulted in pushing al-Qaeda terrorists into Pakistan.

2.      The US is responsible for the actions of CIA and its uncontrolled Drones program that dispersed al-Qaeda terrorists all over Pakistan.

3.      The number of al-Qaeda remnants on Pakistani soil is less than one hundred and possible below fifty, according to Pakistani intelligence estimates. Most of them are not high-value targets, which negates the need for a blanket US policy of unilateral action.

4.      Pakistani intelligence has been instrumental in the elimination of most al-Qaeda terrorists. The US is not justified in using Pakistani intel and then cutting out Pakistani authorities from final action, a la OBL, on the pretext of operational security.

By all standards, the US military breach inside Pakistan on 2 May, by more than one hundred kilometers, was not possible without internal collusion at individual and multiple levels, and resulted in destroying the morale of the nation and ridiculing Pakistan internationally. And yet signs abound this episode will be buried under the carpet without accounting for the tremendous inroads CIA appears to have made in and around Islamabad.



More shameful is the fact that a long due Parliament resolution to review the lopsided Pakistani-American cooperation on Afghanistan seems to have been set aside after Senator John Kerry’s visit. Mr. Kerry proved to be an unreliable emissary during the crisis over the jailed CIA mercenary. Let’s remember that his words amounted to nothing when CIA decided to punish Pakistanis by killing forty of them in a single drone attack hours after the mercenary was released. This time around Mr. Kerry was reported to have given his word to the Pakistani military leadership there won’t be CIA drone attacks during his visit. But an hour after he left Islamabad, a CIA drone fired a missile on Waziristan. So much for the credibility of his other pledge, written “in blood” as per his own dramatic description, that the United States is not interested in targeting Pakistani nukes.

The day Mr. Kerry arrived in Islamabad a British newspaper ran a detailed report on US plans to deploy troops in Pakistan to ‘protect’ Pakistani nukes. In Pakistan, we see these kinds of reports as part of CIA’s disinformation campaign against Pakistan, not very dissimilar to the lies this agency planted in major American and British newspapers in the weeks before invading Iraq. The Americans cannot intervene against Pakistani nuclear assets without huge risks, but the story was classic multipurpose information warfare.

The decision not to confront the United States militarily, by for example not shooting down a CIA drone, might largely be a right decision considering the circumstances. But Pakistan’s civilian and military leaderships should not expect Pakistanis to gloss over some glaring facts. One of them is that Pakistan’s ally the United States has humiliated Pakistani military like no one has done before. Our people and military were punished when we humiliatingly released a jailed CIA mercenary in March, and when the US repeatedly attacked Pakistani soldiers on the Afghan border. When it came time to take out al-Qaeda terror chief, CIA and the US military could have minimized costs by jointly capturing OBL with ISI. Instead, not only did they decide to go it alone, they decided to compromise Pakistani sovereignty in the ugliest way possible and make Pakistani military the butt of domestic and international jokes.


And now we have US diplomatic cables suggesting our army chief tacitly approved CIA drone operations inside Pakistan, coupled with a feeble ISPR clarification that explains nothing and fails at defending the army chief’s position. This comes in addition to the known green signals for the drones from the president and the prime minister. The drones themselves are not the real issue. The real problem is that our officials in the government and the military have allowed something that is now totally out of our control. It is also a violation of the UN mandate for the war in Afghanistan after 9/11, which did not allow for US warfare to be extended into Pakistan regardless of the reasons.


And all of this comes with the worst humiliation facing our valiant and brave armed forces, thanks to the mismanagement and the wrong policies of a few. It is also totally unjustified and unacceptable that a few elements inside and outside Pakistan are exploiting this opportunity to demonize our armed forces and dampen national morale. And this is being allowed to happen without any countermoves to stop this slide in public’s confidence in our national institutions.

No one is responsible for this reckless (mis)management of our relations with a foreign power than our own people in power. And in the absence of accountability and transparency, they should know they have caused one of the biggest divisions among Pakistanis in a long time. Someone will have to pay the price for this. Let’s just hope it’s not Pakistan or the nation.

This op-ed is based on a column by Mr. Quraishi that appeared in The News International this week.


Is Pakistan Being Framed?

Yasmeen Ali  

The dynamics are shifting. The game plan to deal with Pakistan is shifting. There is a huge feeling of let down amongst the general populace with regards to the relationship of our status as a “close ally on war on terror” with the USA.

Since the Raymond Davis case, events have transpired to bring Pakistan , internationally, in a most unfavorable light. First, Osama was discovered in Abbotabad.  A US cable, released by WIKILEAKS revealed USA knew Osama was in Pakistan since 2008 (CLASSIFIED BY: MULTIPLE SOURCES REASON: E.O. 12958, AS AMENDED, SECTION 1.4(C) DECLASSIFY ON: 20330910 S E C R E T / / NOFORN / / 20330910).


And they did nothing?

Political pundits long predicted attacks like Karachi Naval Base, will happen to establish to the world, that Pakistan is a world of terrorists, thereby, by being unable to protect it’s naval base, is implicitly incapable of protecting it’s nukes! A case cleverly being projected by the western media by expressing “concern” over Pakistan’s ability to protect her sensitive points.  Even before the naval base attack, in it’s May 15th edition,Express.Co.UK carried an article by Marco Giannangeli. It announces the decision of US to deploy troops in Pakistan if the nation’s nuclear installations come under threat from terrorists seeking revenge for Osama Bin Laden’s death.

Entry into the Karachi Naval Base was way beyond the capability of Taliban. Only 4 to 6 invaders held the base captive, inside collaboration and security failure notwithstanding? C’mon! Gimme a break.

Wait. A memory kick here.

Was not India very interested in procuring the P-3C Orion Aircrafts eventually procured by Pakistan?   In a cable generating from US Embassy in New Delhi on 2005 May clearly defined the Indian Navy’s interest in the P-3C Orion aircraft( some excerpts are shown below):

“We continue to see serious potential for the sale of P-3C Orions, and the chance to compete for multi-role combat aircraft. During Admiral Prakash’s recent visit to the US he indicated a strong desire to move quickly on acquisition of P-3Cs, even requesting leasing two P-3’s as an interim solution. “

What a co-incidence! That was what got destroyed in the attack.

The NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has admitted the safety of Pakistan nukes is a matter of concern” during his one day visit to Afghanistan in May 2011.

Clinton arrives today in Pakistan for talks. A friend, in light of the on going scenario, wrote,” Slowly and surely they are coming to the point.  We have to wait for the onslaught after the visit of Ms. Hillary Clinton and Pakistan’s response”.

Question looming large on the horizon is: Is Pakistan Being Framed?

(The writer is a lawyer and teaches at a Lahore based University. She can be reached at

Russo-Pak Relations: New Dimensions

THIS IS A PAKPOTPOURRI EXCLUSIVE                                                                                                                          Should Pakistan consider learning from history?

3RIA-909422-Preview.jpgJawad Raza Khan

Creation of Pakistan in middle of the 20th century raised many eyebrows from east to west and north to south. An ideological Muslim state was created between an imaginary line carved by Mr. Henry Mortimer Durand, the foreign secretary of British India in 1892 and an award by Mr. Redcliff during Partition 1947, yet another British. This is article is not at all another endeavor to throw spotlight on unjust division of India rather, it’s an attempt to present a consolidated document on the dichotomy and derailment of Pakistan’s foreign policy since its very inception.  gilani.jpg

To begin with let’s see the ground reality in Indian perspective just after three years of its creation: Mr. Purushottamdas Tandon, the newly-elected Congress Party president, who was in charge of India’s foreign policy and Kashmir, while addressing the 56th session of the Indian National Congress at Gandhinagar on September 20, 1950 said that “Congress did not wish India to join either the U.S. or the Soviet bloc, but to maintain friendly relations with both, and to consider every question raised at the U.N. from the viewpoint of justice and world peace; thus India had supported the Soviet policy of admitting Communist China into the U.N., and the Anglo-American policy of naming North Korea an aggressor.mahmud.jpg

According to Keesing’s Record of World Events, Volume VIII, March, 1951 India, Page 11310. The disadvantage of this policy was that no bloc regarded India as a full ally, and many nations were “biased in favour of Pakistan” as a possible future ally.

With weaker wicket for India after passing of United Nations Security Council Resolution 47, adopted on April 21, 1948, to restore peace and order to the region and prepare for a plebiscite to decide the fate of Kashmir, Pakistan was a hot favourite for strong economic and military alliances.medvedev1_s.jpg

Harrison Salisbury writes for New York Times on November 06, 1955, “Moscow Eyes South Asia from Kabul to Calcutta”.

“A new struggle between the Soviet Union and the United States is now unfolding on a 7,000-mile front in Asia–the struggle for the “uncommitted third.”medvedev3_s.jpg

As Russians were looking for breathing space during this Cold War era and Indian non alliance attitude in the wake of UN resolution of Kashmir, Pakistan couldn’t realize the gravity of a strategic partner in regional politics and in the same year went for SEATO and CENTO. Although, CENTO had little formal structure, but it did give the US and Britain access to facilities in Pakistan, facilities like an airbase outside of Peshawar from where U-2 intelligence flights over the Soviet Union were launched.medvedev_s.jpg

Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal a research Scholar, School of International Studies Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi in his article “Pak- Russo relation A Review” in July 2007 commented about Pakistan relations with Russia as: Russo-Pakistan relations have come through unfavorable circumstances in a phased manner. In a historical perspective, the first significant Soviet–Pakistan aid agreement was signed in March 1961 for the oil exploration in Pakistan. In September 1966, the Soviet Union and Pakistan concluded an agreement for economic and technical cooperation. At the time of Kosygin’s visit to Pakistan in April 1968, the Soviets offered to assist in the building of a steel plant near Karachi and an atomic power plant in East Pakistan. Pravda (April 19, 1968) noted that the Soviet Union was giving aid to Pakistan for the construction of 21 large industrial undertakings.Medvedev-zardari-500.jpg  Tashkent.jpg  Vladimir_Putin.jpg  Vladimir_Putin2_s.jpg 

Projects like Steel mills Karachi and oil exploration in Baluchistan were strategic agreements of their time and Pakistan was trying to peep beyond the shoulder of the Big Brother (West), more realistically after the dilemma of 1971.

Let’s not forget China at this important juncture of Pakistan’s Foreign policy memoranda, especially in the context of its relations with Russians. Despite of Pakistan entering into SEATO and CENTO, China realized the geo-strategic importance of Pakistan. History bears the testimony of strong economic and military ties between China and Pakistan. Strategic assets of Pakistan in shape of Heavy Industrial Complex Taxila, Aeronautical complex Kamra, Nuclear power projects in Karachi and Chasma, the 8th undeclared wonder of the world Karakorum Highway, Gawader port and many more are……………..

On the other hand in the same time and space, for Pakistanis, the United States plays concurrent, exasperating roles as partial supporter, guardian, interrupter and harasser. For more than five decades, the United States has provided armaments, agricultural aid and alliances; every promise has brought enduring difficulties. Military aid supported military dictators, foreign aid brought a huge U.S. presence and the Afghanistan war brought, and continues to bring, millions of refugees, guns and drugs. At the same time, critique seems to accompany every act of seeming generosity: U.S. statements are full of hectoring about the sorry state of Pakistan’s economy, democracy and foreign entanglements. For many Pakistanis, the U.S. has always been part of the problem, an inappropriate, self-appointed conscience.

Post 9/11

Pak US Relations as Ally

Last 11 years saw great game of Tug of War with Pakistan not as a participant but as rope between the players of the Great Game. Famous carrot and stick policy of west remains the headlines for Pakistan. Following can be put up as the summary of Pakistan’s worst years of its history with its so called status of an important US ally in the war on terror.

Pakistan picked up more than 40000 funerals of Pakistani brothers both civilians and security officials; Pakistan is now one of the most dangerous countries in the world; Economy has been shattered; The strongest pillar of Pakistan its ideology is now the most confused preposition; Pakistan is now discussed as a failed and dysfunctional state, suspiciously incapable to guard its nuclear installation; Terrorism which was effectively used in this world as tactical weapon, has invented its new facet of strategic terrorism (PNS Mehran).

With all the mentioned benefits accomplished by Pakistan, the world is witnessing yet another paradigm shift in US policy against its own ally, hence strengthening dozens of conspiracy theories, discussed at length regarding dismemberment of nuclear Pakistan.

Pak-Russia Relations

Although Pakistan did joined hands with US for eliminating terrorism from the globe but at the same time also realized the importance Russian influence and importance in the region. Just after 18 months of 9/11 President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf visited Russia on the invitation of Putin (The first visit by a Pakistani leader for 30 years since Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1970s). The visit can be termed as historic as it brought President of Russia for the first time in the history of Pakistan to its soil. This was indeed a great break through which led Pakistan to organize the first ever solo Pakistan exhibition in St. Petersburg in early September 2004. Years of 2004 and 2005 also witnessed some important MoUs signed for oil exploration in Pakistan.

In anticipation of a visit of Putin to Pakistan Indian media reacted very strongly especially when Russian delegation visited Pakistan in late 2000, concurrently when Putin was visiting old friend India. In an article published in Indian Daily The Hindu on September 2000 written by C Raja Mohan “In choosing to be the first Soviet or Russian supremo ever to visit Pakistan, President Vladimir Putin has set in motion a new phase in the Russian policy towards the subcontinent. The move could begin to unfreeze the historically one-sided Russian engagement of the archrivals in the subcontinent, India and Pakistan”.

Meanwhile, collaborative actions in Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), grouping organized by China and Russia that also includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, offered Pakistan and Russia to understand each other’s concerns. Under insistence from Putin, Islamabad’s move to join SCO, a regional grouping, dominated by China and Russia further cemented the ties with Moscow. SCO offered Pakistan to join Russia, China and Central Asian States to advance its national interest as well. Most Russian desired that Pakistan joins SCO as a full member.

The Current Situation   

The OBL fiasco from Abbottabad; Parliament’s collective voice to reconsider relation with US; No breather from drones; Eve of Strategic terrorism in the back drop PNS Mehran catastrophe; Indian betrayal to Russia in form of cancellation of jets deal has forced Pakistan and Russia to start building up the relations in their best interest.

Recent visit of President Zardari to Russia coupled with Russian Army Chief visiting GHQ can indeed be taken as melting of the tip of iceberg. Pakistan and Russia must sieze this opportunity as Pakistan’s closeness to China is yet another factor that Russia always takes very seriously.

The Last Say

Ideological nation like Pakistan possess ideology as the most effective weapon to counter disunity amongst the masses. On the other hand nation’s own ideology has nothing to do with the world outside, as far as the political dynamics of modern international relations are concerned. Pakistan’s fight to counter terrorism inside Pakistan for the rest of the world and fall of communism after the disintegration of Soviet Union, has left no irritants for Russia and Pakistan to join hands and work for the betterment of the region. This can prove to be a very vital step for a safer and prosperous world living in peace with harmony.


Questions about Usama that have no answers so far

By Muhammad Abd al-Hameed  

The media have not raised so far several important questions about Usama bin Ladin, nor have Americans provided any evidence to give answers.

Let us take them up.

Did the American helicopters really come from Afghanistan?

Not at all. If they did, they would have been exposed within minutes. It never occurred to the great investigative minds in the media, here and abroad, that another radar system is also in place that covers every square kilometer of the country and never sleeps. (Air Force radars are fully active only when a war starts or a war-like situation arises. When Indians intended to raid Hafiz Saeed’s complex near Muridke in the aftermath of the Bombay attacks, they had to change their mind when they found that our planes were ready to hit back the moment Indians crossed the border.)

The air control system of civil aviation monitors all aircraft. Any plane or helicopter entering our territory has to submit its flight plan to get permission. Any intruder, such as a hijacked plane, is reported and air force jets scramble immediately. If American helicopters tried to go ahead without permission, our fighter planes would have forced them down to ground or back to their Bagram base.

The claim that the helicopters were not visible to radars is false. Even if the two HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters were supposedly invisible Stealth type, what about the two CH-47 Chinooks that are always very much visible? (They helped in relief work after the earthquake in Azad Kashmir.)

The helicopters actually flew from the NATO base near Tarbela. From there, the distance to Abbottabad was less than 10 kms, only a few minutes away. After returning from Abbottabad, the helicopters flew to Bagram, as normal flights from NATO base to Bagram.

Najam Sethi, of Geo, reported the same night that helicopters flew from Tarbela. (If he cannot get facts from the Americans, nobody else can.) Sethi contradicted himself the next night, not because he was wrong but presumably, because the admission would have led to a shrill demand that NATO must be asked to leave Tarbela.)

Did the helicopters remain unnoticed during the operation?

No. It was just not possible. There were four helicopters, one pair for operation and another for backup. Their rotors were running all the time during the 40-minute operation. They made a lot of noise, even the Stealth type. Their lights were also shining in the moonless, pitch-dark night. The neighbors did notice them. So did the authorities, who are reported to have placed a security cordon immediately around the Usama house and asked people to stay away.

Could the U.S. stop the destruction of its helicopters by our air farce?

It is difficult to believe Obama’s claim that he had given “instructions to engage” PAF fighters, if attacked. It just seems to be an afterthought to shore up people’s morale.

Usually two fighter planes scramble to engage intruders. Suppose our planes engaged the helicopters when they were close to Abbottabad and destroyed them. What could the 20 aircraft, including F-18 Hornets, supposed to be flying in Afghan space, do to stop our fighter planes? Even if they were able to destroy the two PAF fighters, the mission against Usama would have failed and Pakistan would have found it impossible to cooperate further with the U.S. in Afghanistan. The cost would have been too high for the U.S.

Were the U.S. helicopters really invisible to our radars?

If U.S. claims that its planes were ready in Afghanistan to engage our fighters, it proves that the helicopters were not invisible to radars and thus were vulnerable to attack.

In any case, American helicopters were not very invisible. According to Aviation Week, an authoritative publication on such matters,”… it is believed that a helicopter cannot yet be made as radar-stealthy as a fixed-wing airplane, as helicopters generally operate at low altitude and against ground clutter.” (See

Moreover, the claims of defense contractors (in this case of helicopter makers) are not always accurate. The manufacturer of Patriot missiles made a lot of propaganda about their effectiveness during the first invasion of Iraq in 1990. The reality later turned out to be quite different.

Meanwhile, is it not ironical that the country that could build a $60-million Stealth helicopter, did not find a pilot to operate it properly?

How long did Usama stay in Abbottabad?

There is no proof, no evidence whatsoever that the stay was for six years. The house was built six years ago but that does not mean Usama was the only occupant since then. Amal, Usama’s third wife, is reported to have said that the family lived there all those six years. CIA does not have even common sense, not to speak of intelligence, if it believes that she was telling the truth. (Incidentally, to cover the earlier period, she also said that the family stayed for over 2½ years in a village near Haripur, when no villager saw any stranger living there during that period.)

CIA has no idea how shrewd women are in this part of the world. A police party raided the home of a wanted criminal in a remote village. To get him time to escape, his wife took off her clothes, sat under a hand pump in the courtyard and shouted, “Don’t enter the door. I am taking a bath.” By the time her “bath” was over, the husband had run away from the back of the house.

If Usama’s wife had said that the family had been there only for a few months, there would have been incessant questions about all of earlier stays. Giving the details of all previous stays truthfully would have exposed al-Qaida supporters all the way. Does it make sense that she would betray her husband’s faithful followers?

It is also inconceivable that Usama could depend entirely on a single courier to run his organization for so many years. Suppose he was killed in an accident, was abducted or was arrested for some reason. How could Usama find someone to replace him? Advertise in newspapers? (Incidentally, CIA now recruits agents through newspaper advertisements.)

CIA is quite dumb to insist that Usama stayed so long in Abbottabad without providing any supporting evidence. Blaming us for his “long stay” is sheer bullying.

Was it not possible for Usama to have Internet and mobile phone?

Singapore Computer Bureau prepared a database for motor vehicles about 20 years ago. The bureau head explained proudly to a visitor that the entire data was now available to investigate theft and other crimes. “How do you access the data?” the visitor asked. “By entering the license plate number,” he replied. “What if the plate had a fake number?” The head was speechless. It had never occurred to him that fake plates were quite common and data should be accessible also by entering chassis number, engine number, etc.

CIA experts are no better. If somebody bought a laptop, got a wireless Internet connection and, after passing through several hands, the computer ended up with Usama, how could they find out the ultimate user? Similarly, somebody in a faraway place could buy mobile SIMs, which are dime a dozen, activate them and pass on to Usama. Usama could use a SIM just once and then destroy it. How could CIA locate him?

The story about Usama’s courier having been traced through a mobile phone does not make sense. He could not be stupid enough to use a SIM more than once and that too in Abbottabad.

Even if Arabic phone calls were recorded, CIA could not have made much use of them. The U.S. agencies already have phone call recordings of hundreds of thousands of hours in the languages of our region, waiting to be transcribed (to be done only by U.S. citizens for security reasons). By the time, their transcription is completed, all al-Qaida agents would have died natural death.

It is also astonishing that Americans could not locate a satellite dish receiver in the Usama house that was getting Arabic channels most of the time. There could not be many such dishes in Abbottabad, or even the entire country. When the U.S. National Security Agency claims to tap even a landline phone anywhere in the world, what was so difficult in following a digital signal from a satellite to a receiver? Even the satellite with most Arabic channels, Arabsat, was quite well-known.

Was Usama really killed in Abbottabad?

It was quite possible to immobilize Usama with a stun gun or something else, arrest him and take him away. It may well have happened, at least for some time, though he would have to be killed quite soon, as nothing remains secret in the U.S. for long.. (Iranian President says that Usama was alive “for some time.”) Americans certainly needed Usama to know all about his organization and plans. (That was why they left his wives and children behind, who were the next best source of information.)

So far, the U.S. has not provided incontrovertible evidence to prove his death. It was not difficult to get a lookalike, kill him and disfigure his face to make it difficult to identify him clearly.

Secrecy leads to doubts and suspicions. Questions about the final hour of Usama will always remain there. The live video feed from the Abbottabad operation to CIA headquarters and then to the White House could also be given to CNN for the whole world to watch. There would have been still many ifs and buts but most people would have been satisfied about the authenticity of the operation.

There is, however, no doubt that Usama was very much there with his family because it is inconceivable that he would leave them unprotected, without his own reliable guards being present. He would have allowed his wives and children to go to his home country if he believed they were not safe with him. Most probably, he believed he would be soon on his way to Yemen along with his family (as I suggested in my previous article, “Usama’s plan that went awry”.

 The writer is Author, “Ghurbat kaise mit sakti hai” (Classic, Lahore).
This is a cross post from

Extremism in Pakistan

This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive

By: Yasmeen Ali  

The attack on Karachi Naval Base has sharply brought in focus once again, extremism in Pakistan. The attack is manifestation of a wound festering. This and other like attacks are symptoms of a disease that needs to be treated.

First and foremost, elements within Pakistan must desist from supporting, in any way, the terrorist outfits. The monster created in the days of Gen. Zia has turned.  If Taliban are blamed today for extremist actions, USA too, must equally be blamed, to quote Hilary Clinton, who stated , “The people we are fighting today, we helped create. We did it because we were locked in this struggle against the Soviets”.

For some elements within Pakistan, the support means an extra arm to be used against India. The festering wound that is Kashmir, looms large over the relationship of both the countries. USA and other western countries must give a serious thought to resolve the issue, behaving like the proverbial ostrich will have a cascading effect and desist from allowing the two neighbors from enjoying good relations, cosmetic steps notwithstanding. Here lies the rub. Many in Pakistan, question, the intentions of USA, given the presence of a strong China in the region, as an upcoming super power to do so. They state, India and Pakistan, at continuous war with each other, suits USA. However, if a lasting solution to peace in the region is sought, this crucial issue cannot be over looked.

A friend of mine, correctly wrote,” As a scientist I believe first in Diagnosing the Disease (the Cause) to cure it with Appropriate Medicine. This follows the same logic which we have used to find the causes of Electronic Systems sent in Space, which FAILED during Tests on Ground,  by performing “Fault Analysis,” in order to get  to the ROOT CAUSE of the PROBLEM!”

Secondly, Pakistan must undertake a systematic study through the length and breadth of the country, of the madrassahs present on ground. There is hardly any credible information on the unregistered madrassas. However, those, which are registered, are controlled by their own central organizations or boards. They determine the syllabi, collect a registration fee and an examination fee. They send examination papers, in Urdu and Arabic, to the madrassas where pupils sit for examinations and declare results. At independence there were 245, or even fewer, madrassas. In April 2002, Dr. Mahmood Ahmed Ghazi, the Minister of Religious Affairs, put the figure at 10,000 with 1.7 million students. They belong to the major sects of Islam, Sunnis and Shias. However, Pakistan being a predominantly Sunni country, the Shia ones are very few. Among the Sunni ones there are three sub-sects: Deobandis, Barelvis and the Ahl-i-Hadith (Salafi). Besides these, the revivalist Jamaat-e-Islami also has its own madrassas.The Saudi Arabian organization, Harmain Islamic Foundation, is said to have helped the Ahl-i-Hadith and made them powerful. Indeed, the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, an organization which has been active in fighting in Kashmir, belongs to the Ahl-i-Hadith. Madrassas  have always been supporting the poor and the lifestyles of the moulvis are spartan and closer to the poorer strata of society than the affluent ones. Pakistan must bring the non registered madrassas in the fold. There must be a monitoring body to over look their syllabi and workings. This was first bought in focus by the Lal Masjid incident, however, no focused steps have been taken since, to address this institution.

Thirdly, I strongly believe, that the rise in extremism is directly proportional to poverty, lack of fair opportunities to progress in life, injustices, and illiteracy. Unless and until, the government, both at the centre and the provinces, are willing to  create a life of dignity to the common man, this rise will continue going up.  Around four years ago, I taught a student who hailed from Swat. He and his brother were studying in Lahore. The father had died many years ago. They had a sister and a mother, who moved to Lahore, too, in due course of time. The reason for moving the family to Lahore was interesting. He told me that the Taliban would come to the residents’ houses and ask the able-bodied men of the family to join them. The ‘pay structure’ then ranged from Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000 pak ruppees. Should the men die in action, the money would continue to be paid and in case of the marriage of a sister or a daughter, the Taliban organization would bear the full costs. For many, he said, in the absence of any job opportunities, this was just another plain job. Many embraced it. Not because of faith in their ideology, nor an undying belief in the cause, but just as a vocation. It does not necessarily follow that a great number do not believe within the ranks of the Taliban that they are answering to a higher calling. Of course they do. But a large number joins their ranks due to poverty, lack of opportunities, inability to improve their lot, having been made negative-minded after suffering injustices and, at times, just to seek power.

It was Aristotle who said,” It is better for a city to be governed by good men than by good laws”.

(The writer is a lawyer, based in Lahore & teaches in a University. She may be reached at