1/5 was not Pakistan’s Day

By: Brig. Samson Sharaf(Retired)  

For Pakistanis, this is not time to feel embarrassed and to hang heads in shame over the simplicity and quickness of the operation that killed Osama Bin Laden. It is rather, a time for a long overdue bugle cry that Pakistan is at War. 1/5 was not Pakistan’s Day inasmuch as 9/11 exposed the vulnerabilities in USA’s homeland security.

Writing in Nation in December 2010, I had assessed the next eighteen months and beyond as crucial for Pakistan and reiterated it in my article ‘Pakistan Must Reassert Itself’ on 20 February. I had written, ‘the next 18 months and beyond will test Pakistan to the verge”.

Between the 14th and 17th months we have witnessed the Raymond Davis Case, a drone attack on a peaceful jirga, a fully fledged conventional multi directional night attack on a border outpost in Dir, a border skirmish at Anghoor Adda and now the operation to kill Osama Bin laden.

Writing earlier in Nation in November 2010, ‘Pakistan a Rudderless State’ I had cautioned the security planners of Pakistan to beware of Cold Start Type operations from across the Durand Line. I had also written about the heavily fortified US and ISAF citadels in Afghanistan that would be used as pivots of such operations against Pakistan. No one in Pakistan’s security establishment and the media took notice of the warnings.

2009-2010 had been remarkable years of Pakistan’s fight against militancy. During this time, joint intelligence operations led by Pakistani had resulted in elimination of numerous prized targets both from TTP and Al Qaida. The efficiency of information gathering was such that many high value targets deemed missing believed killed had been brought back into focus and neutralised, some amongst them US nationals. But by mid 2010, this cooperation began to wane due to the direct influx of CIA agents into Pakistan. This influx was not part of the working agreements between ISI and CIA. Pakistan’s security establishment felt that they were being stabbed in the back.

Counter security efforts on part of Pakistan indentified hundreds of locations in Pakistan in which US agents had hired or located inside Pakistan covertly. Some of these locations were heavily fortified and the activities inside them were always dubious. After much rallying, Pakistan was able to force the closure of some of these locations but not all. Meanwhile, the network of CIA’s local informers was spreading, a reason why CIA forced budgetary reallocations for its operations in Pakistan. With huge funds to play around, CIA could now buy off anyone including Al Qaida agents whose data Pakistan had shared with USA. They put tags on many such targets and monitored all their movements and places of visit. Consequently, what they have been able to track with their superior technical resources and heavy monetary disbursements is a trail of redoubts within Pakistan where militants have contacts and hiding places. Then came the Raymond Davis shooting and some issues became public.

There is definitely a trove of very important information that USA has extracted from shared sources and double crossing. One such is the hideout of Osama Bin Laden, his courier trails and much more. The biggest vulnerability that Pakistan faces is that some of its own assets within this Al Qaida trail may have been exposed, or double crossed and could be used to blackmail Pakistan into coercion.

With all this information coming from electronic chatter, media and social websites, I was able to piece a MOST DANGEROUS HYPOTHESES that predicted covert sting and intelligence and overt JSOC operations inside Pakistan that subsequently became the theme of my articles on the subject. Having been vindicated, this does not end here.

I have followed the information about the Kakul raid on a real timeline with startling conclusions.

According to information available on twitter and TV Channels, the explosion and helicopter crash were successively reported before mid night on 1 May 2011.

The call to President Zardari came well past midnight implying that it was made much after the operation had been completed. I am also sure that Zardari was told by President Obama to ask PAF not to interfere in the flight path of the US aircrafts.

Concurrently, by the time Pakistan Air Force scrambled, the US troops were well outside Pakistan’s air space.  

As an operational planner, I am wary of the fact that Pakistan’s surveillance system on the Western Front did not respond. The systems are deployed in layers in multiple redundancies to ensure that some elements of information do manage to beep through. The electronic systems are reinforced with human resources wherein even a section commander in a border post is trained to immediately report a violation/activity in real time. Why such a credible system was forced into passivity should be the subject of an inquiry and a story of the future. Surprisingly, much credible chatter emanated when the US helicopters made the exit.  

I am also aware of the safety layers in US military procedures and purely on technical grounds feel that this operation was carried out by at least four or even more helicopters including transport versions, with credible fool proof backups all along. Simply put, the operation had a sizable operational and logistical trail.

Already information is available that the operation had ground, intelligence and pathfinder support from US assets very close to the target area. 

Does this also imply that there was some sort of complicity by Pakistan to facilitate such an operation? Does this mean that US helicopters did not enter Pakistan’s air space on the day of the raid and were pre positioned for such an operation? However, what can be concluded with accuracy is that CIA agents have penetrated every nook and corner of Pakistan under the eyes of Pakistan’s counter intelligence, a fact that will be vindicated in the near future.

Reaction of Pakistan’s Defence Forces to the raid was slow in coming. Complicity at the cost of such a disgrace appears a bad bargain and unrealistic. The Army and Air Force cannot absolve themselves. The reaction of ISI that will never become public is perhaps that of betrayal. Many of its intelligence assets that it had shared with CIA have now double crossed and as Shaukat Qadir says made Al Qaida richer.

My analysis leads me to conclude that some levels of selective complicity existed, and it is this that combined with pre positioning of US assets inside Pakistan.

Foreign aircrafts have operated in Pakistan with impunity during the earthquake in 2005, floods, training missions etc. It is nigh possible that these flights were also used to dump hardware at secret locations that could subsequently become pivots for such operations. Troops for such operations could move into Pakistan under the garb of training, diplomatic staff and travellers coming to Pakistan from USA/ Europe, and local recruitments. Remember that some US soldiers as reported by the media spoke fluent urdu in a Pakistani accent.

Then there is also the much hyped issue of CIA contractors in Pakistan. Many of them have since returned but not before completing the ground work for an effective CIA presence in Pakistan all through the Long War.

The retired CGS of GHQ, Lt. Gen (R) Shahid Aziz had once claimed that he himself had reported evidence of US amphibious landing on the Balochistan Coast with the trails leading to interior Balochistan. If these landings indeed took place, where did these forces ultimately go; or where did they dump and move their cargo?

There is also the case of over 22,000 missing containers. Even if a mere hundred of them carried military hardware and knocked down helicopters, where has all the cargo gone and has anyone noticed it. The theory gets credence from a fact that in one of the ambushes, a container had a complete disassembled Blackhawk helicopter of the type used in Kakul.

My hypothesis is that from 2010 onwards, USA had built up a considerable covert military presence in Pakistan facilitated through visas bypassing the standing operating procedures, indiscriminate entry of containers into Pakistan, holding back of scanning equipment to scan these containers and bribes offered by the container operators from Karachi to the Afghan Border. Even the NLC was foxed into this in the name of business. As a military professional, I know that you do not need huge radioactive machines to scan these containers. A good thermal imaging device abundant in Pakistan can do the trick.

It is these reasons that put the Government of Pakistan and the Defence establishment at odds, something like a reverse replay of Kargil. While President Zardari like ever will use the occasion to push the army and ISI back, shore up new alliances to hedge his government, the security establishment may fight back in the name of national Interest. If this happens, it will set a confrontational environment with re alignment of strange bedfellows. As Pakistan will be destabilised further, Obama’s war in Afghanistan would be over and the Long War in Pakistan begun.

(The writer is a retired brigadier and a political economist).                                                                                                                                                                            NOTE:THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR THE NATION.

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  • shahbaz  On May 8, 2011 at 4:43 am

    Brig Sharaf has given an excellent analysis,but who is listening? The serving ARMED FoRCES Senior Officers think the retired officers have nothing better to do.Gen Parvez Musharaff after take over Met, Gen Aslam Beg and Gen Hamid gul.He sought their guidance,but later when they gave their opinion,he used to openly critisize them, even avoided inviting them to ARMY FUNCTIONS.Mr TALAT HUSSAIN of DAWN News the other day gave a similar analysis.I agree We are heading for big trouble; US has decided to now take us head on if we do’nt follow as a junior partner of INDIA.Our Atomic assets are becoming irrelevent.CIA with assistance from RAW have in the last seven to eight years made their contacts/Net work.
    They Know ARMY/ISI are the only unifying force in Pakistan if you break these you break the nation. Army/ISI are being critisized openly by the public. The Silence from ARMY/ISI is proving disasterous.

  • Syed Ataur Rahman  On May 8, 2011 at 7:11 am

    An article written by a patriot. He has analysed well and many of his conclusions have to be taken seriously. This a country at war, a clandestine war where many of our leaders are also involved, but on the wrong side. It is again left to our brave armed forces to save the situation by counter moves to destabilize the enemy. We have our strengths also and we should not shirk away from using them.

  • Nadeem  On May 8, 2011 at 7:39 am

    Very sane line of thinking, Majyd Aziz Sahib. It is important to have ‘Pakistan first’, without any ifs, ands or buts.


  • Admiral Sirohey  On May 8, 2011 at 7:39 am

    The answer is live within means. Reduce the government. All salaries. The rulers and the rich stop grandiose living. Develop the country with our own means and man power. Administer justice in every field. Invest maximum in creative education. Reappointment of the superannuated be undone and stopped. Appoint young of required wisdom.

    Disconnect from IMF WB. Get out of begging. Unlearn the western (Zionist) financial theory and practice. Enrich the poor by equatable distribution of means of earning. This country was not created for a chosen few families.


  • Syed Ataur Rehman  On May 8, 2011 at 7:40 am

    Mr Aziz writes honestly and has many pertinent points. The government and military have axed their own legs by not having a joint and well thought out response. The military response could have come from JSHQ, who would have spoken for both the Army and Air Force and spoken truthfully. I don’t think these institutions should be in anyway ashamed or even embarrassed for whatever happened. Thankfully the F-16’s could not see the advanced stealth MH-60 Helicopters on the ground or if they had gone for them the F-15’s most probably orbiting on top with a package of 6-7 support aircraft including EC-130E/H, MC-130, AC-130, E-3 AWACS and, KC-130, E-3 etc would have shot them out of the sky with their over 100 nm missiles. Why can’t we educate our population? They would understand. We cannot take on in one tactical combat an armada of weapon systems that the most advanced country in the world has.
    That very …. how should I say the Prime Minister was firing off his own statements, Zardari was doing the same. I am glad Gen Kiyani took his time but the people are not willing to accept any of these versions. There should have been one statement or maximum two, one from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the other from Chairman JSSC speaking for the military. Unfortunately, the people do not believe or have respect for the President and PM and even when they tell the truth; so people will not believe them. The credentials of the Army and Air Force has suffered acutely because they could not wisely come out with the truthful facts. Are they talking about withholding information for the sake of national security? Come on we have educated and highly intelligent people who will only listen to the truth.
    As far as relations with America is concerned they will continue to blackmail us. I disagree with Mr Aziz here. We should gradually start to distance ourselves from the Americans. Like someone said (probably Henry Kissinger), ‘It is bad to be the enemy of America but it is worst to be their friends,’ or words to that effect. Look at India, they just selected the Euro fighter, an aircraft half the capability of the F-18 or even the older F-16’s at a cost of $10 Billion. They understand the Americans well. We don’t after suffering from their actions again and again and yet again. Indians refuse to get into the clutches of USA. They instead take transport aircraft, Radars but much more their High Value items like super computers and advanced technology that benefit them in the long run. Not immediately, but slowly we must create a more independent national policy.
    That leads us to our leadership. That is the most worrying part. We have thieves and corrupt people now and another one is waiting to plunder. So what do we do and where do we go from here? I think we must all gear ourself to elect honest leadership, become politically active, educate the people around us, and select candidates who will work for this country. I am sure we will make a difference, perhaps not this time but in the next election. A lot more can be said but suffice it to say this much for now.
    Syed Ataur Rahman

  • Brig Mahmud  On May 8, 2011 at 7:47 am

    It is a logical artcle but has some flaws and doubtful assertions in drawing some hypothesis. In essence I commend the effort. We do need to reflect and ponder! It is all a part of the greater game plan.
    We have been alluding to it for the last nearly 4 Years. But in our many meetings and dicussions it was not taken too seriously and perhaps ignored as mere hypothesis. All these doubts and misgivings are over. The pieces of the mosaic are all in place. Only a blind eye can ignore it.What picture emerges? The Americans came to Afghanistan to ostensibly hunt down Osama and eliminate Al Qaida. For eleven years they kept building up an extensive and ambitious set up of bases, intelligence networking, of signnicant importance human intelligence, obtaining and collating all required data and information of signficance and importance to them and are now ready to act as per their plans and goals. Their stategic Alliance with iNDIA IS IN PLACE. They titled it, “Unfolding the future of Long Drawn War”. The centre piece of their attention is a major muslim country going bad. They were shy of naming Pakistan as that target because of its nuclear capability, but the fingers had clearly been pointed in that direction. All contingency plans have been prepared and even rehearsed. It was now time to eliminate Osama as that cover was no longer required. But they are establishing and linking the dead Osama to al Qaida for all connived and imagined future threats to the soil of USA from those quarters. This serves the purpose of providing justification for their people to this long drawn occupation of Afghanistan and their presence in this region and equally to illustrate the urgency of their continued watchful and supervisory direction of events in the entire Muslim World. The American intentions, aims and objectives are crystal clear and only a naive and dumb mind can ignore it. Incidentally a true reflection of it was on regal display by our Prime Minister and his worthy Foreign Minister on their circus to France. But why blame the Americans! They are pursing their own National interest. It is time for us to discover our direction. We have been clamouring for it for the last over three years. Forget the internal petty squabbling, get out of the cocoons of the limited visions of glorifications of self and own political parties and rise above all affiliations in the cause and interest of Pakistan. It is time for National Will, Resolve and Spirit. It is the illiterate common man who has a clear vision and determination to follow it. But who is to provide the leadership, commitment and dedication to this cause. A visit to the remote areas of Mohmand Agency clearly echoed the message. No peace can come to Pakistan unless you change the policies of Musharraf!

    It is the crying need to forge unity, look for well informed enlightened judgement and above all create the spirit to sacrifice-for the cause and future of Pakistan. Who will provide this? Not this idiocyncric, self centered and myopic leadership. It is in the hands of the vibrant, patriotic, devoted and totally focused and committed youth of the country. Let the saner elements of the aging ,but experienced and patriotic elements of all the sections of the civil society provide
    that trigger. Initiative must be taken. We have seen , endured and suffered through a period of over 60 Years of dictation. Are we condemned to continue living this purposeless, shameful and meaningless existence or do we have the character to show our will and resolce to charter our own destiny. I have full faith in it.The answer must come now. We cannot hedge for time. We have already given a call for a coalition to, “Save Pakistan”. Please strenghten the hands of all those who believe in it. We may be a few in the beginning. But have faith that the Nation will mobilize behind this noble and august cause.

    • sharafs  On May 8, 2011 at 9:15 am

      The Americans came to Afghanistan to ostensibly hunt down Osama and eliminate Al Qaida.
      Now they will just replace Afghanistan with Pakistan. As for flaws and doubtful assertions, all this is based on Hypothesis, the lead up to which have all proved correct. I just pray that whatever you assert on the substance and quality proves correct and me wrong.

  • Bajwa  On May 8, 2011 at 7:48 am

    Discretion, they say, is the better part of valor. Just accept that Pakistan is junior partner in this alliance.Just hold fast to the tail.

  • Murad Khan  On May 8, 2011 at 7:49 am

    Where did the US helicopters used in the raid come from?

    Where do the drones take off from and land?

    • sharafs  On May 8, 2011 at 9:17 am

      Pakistan efcourse, if not all. I think you never read the full article.

    • Kamal Khan  On May 8, 2011 at 9:25 am



    • Khalid  On May 18, 2011 at 12:53 pm

      The drones as announced now take off from Shamsi air base in Balochistan which ostensibly was leased to the UAE for the Sheikh’s hunting purposes. The helicopters could have come from there also and perhaps even assembled there as Brig.Sharaf has mentioned. On the other hand they could easily have flown in from forward bases in Afghanistan and blocked the Pakistan radars using stealth technology. I think the installed radars have been supplied by the US so they would also know how to bypass them.

  • Hasan Muizudin  On May 8, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    And the enemy’s plan is to repeat Baghdad like bombing in Pakistan. They know that we have no defence capability against air-raids. Grateful to the patriotic Brigadier !

  • Rizqan  On May 9, 2011 at 12:57 am

    Very well written and frighteningly truthful. I believe that our troubles have just begun..

  • Nasim Hassan  On May 9, 2011 at 12:57 am

    I hope Pakistani army and ISI learned some lesson from this episode.


  • saleemfida  On May 10, 2011 at 4:45 am

    true long war but not only for pakistan


  • S. Cadri  On May 12, 2011 at 1:25 am

    Please for God’s sake forget what happened with Binladen. He is dead. He is gone although not his ideology. US had repeatedly warned us “either you get him or we will”. We did not and they got them. Period.
    Now just ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Now catch hold of Aiman Al Zawahiri before US does and correct our image. They are not going to trust us before action lest we tip off the accused. This is their genuine concern.
    And the way media is creating a frenzy and fomenting hatred against US which is our donor and helper in so many different ways is very dangerous. Beggars are no choosers Sir. This hatred will do nothing good for Pakistan and Muslims of the world. Do not pander to the demands of the terrorists in whatever they guise they may appear in.
    The Urdu media and the Electronic media is just not doing the right thing by making a hero out of a villain. Terrorism will fetch us nothing. One bit of policy will not change. Palestine is not the issue for Pakistan but Kashmir is.
    So let the world know of Kashmir and how they are suffering at the hands of Indian Army and also let the world know how Muslims suffer at the hands of Government of India. Those are our issues. Not Binladen.
    Binladen challenged our sovereignty by being here without our consent and US did because quite unawares we were harboring an accused terrorist. Now for God’s sake go and get the other desired foreign nationals – Arabs and Afghanis.
    Come clean and let the world know that we do not aid or abet terrorism by silence and inaction. Otherwise be prepared for more Abbottabads.

  • Bajwa  On May 12, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Why not Mulla Omer as well.Is he a friend or a foe.

  • A Malik  On May 12, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Mulla Umer did not do 9/11. So why is he being sought??

    • Khalid  On May 18, 2011 at 12:46 pm

      Are you sure that OBL did it? With the kind of technical expertise and collusion that operation required available to OBL we would hardly see him sitting cloaked in Abbottabad watching a primitive TV. In any case now that he has served his purpose a nemesis has to exist for the war on terror to go on.By this time I think the war has become completely self perpetuating and self serving.

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