CIA instigating mutiny in the Pakistani army

By M K Bhadrakumar   

The unthinkable is happening. The United States is confronting the Pakistani military leadership of General Parvez Kayani. An extremely dangerous course to destabilise Pakistan is commencing. Can the outcome be any different than in Iran in 1979? But then, the Americans are like Bourbons; they never learn from their mistakes.

The NYT report today is unprecedented. The report quotes US officials not less than 7 times, which is extraordinary, including “an American military official involved with Pakistan for many years”; “a senior American official”, etc. The dispatch is cleverly drafted to convey the impression that a number of Pakistanis have been spoken to, but reading between the lines, conceivably, these could also probably have been indirect attribution by the American sources. A careful reading, in fact, suggests that the dispatch is almost entirely based on deep briefing by some top US intelligence official with great access to records relating to the most highly sensitive US interactions with the Pak army leadership and who was briefing on the basis of instructions from the highest level of the US intelligence apparatus.

The report no doubt underscores that the US intelligence penetration of the Pak defence forces goes very deep. It is no joke to get a Pakistani officer taking part in an exclusive briefing by Kayani at the National Defence University to share his notes with the US interlocutors – unless he is their “mole”. This is like a morality play for we Indians, too, where the US intelligence penetration is ever broadening and deepening. Quite obviously, the birds are coming to roost. Pakistani military is paying the price for the big access it provided to the US to interact with its officer corps within the framework of their so-called “strategic partnership”. The Americans are now literally holding the Pakistani army by its jugular veins. This should serve as a big warning for all militaries of developing countries like India (which is also developing intensive “mil-to-mil” ties with the US). In our country at least, it is even terribly unfashionable to speak anymore of CIA activities. The NYT story flags in no uncertain terms that although Cold War is over, history has not ended.

What are the objectives behind the NYT story? In sum, any whichever way we look at it, they all are highly diabolic. One, US is rubbishing army chief Parvez Kayani and ISI head Shuja Pasha who at one time were its own blue-eyed boys and whose successful careers and post-retirement extensions in service the Americans carefully choreographed fostered with a pliant civilian leadership in Islamabad, but now when the crunch time comes, the folks are not “delivering”. In American culture, as they say, there is nothing like free lunch. The Americans are livid that their hefty “investment” has turned out to be a waste in every sense. And. it was a very painstakingly arranged investment, too. In short, the Americans finally realise that they might have made a miscalculationabout Kayani when they promoted his career.

Two, US intelligence estimation is that things can only go from bad to worse in US-Pakistan relations from now onward. All that is possible to slavage the relationship has been attempted. John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Mike Mullen – the so-called “friends of Pakistan” in the Barack Obama administration – have all come to Islamabad and turned on the charm offensive. But nothing worked. Then came CIA boss Leon Panetta with a deal that like Marlon Brando said in the movie Godfather, Americans thought the Pakistanis cannot afford to say ‘No’ to, but to their utter dismay, Kayani showed him the door.

The Americans realise that Kayani is fighting for his own survival – and so is Pasha – and that makes him jettison his “pro-American” mindset and harmonise quickly with the overwhelming opinion within the army, which is that the Americans pose a danger to Pakistan’s national security and it is about time that the military leadership draws a red line. Put simply, Pakistan fears that the Americans are out to grab their nuclear stockpile. Pakistani people and the military expect Kayani to disengage from the US-led Afghan war and instead pursue an independent course in terms of the country’s perceived legitimate interests.

Three, there is a US attempt to exploit the growing indiscipline within the Pak army and, if possible, to trigger a mutiny, which will bog down the army leadership in a serious “domestic” crisis that leaves no time for them for the foreseeable future to play any forceful role in Afghanistan. In turn, it leaves the Americans a free hand to pursue their own agenda. Time is of the essence of the matter and the US desperately wants direct access to the Taliban leadership so as to strike a deal with them without the ISI or Hamid Karzai coming in between.

The prime US objective is that Taliban should somehow come to a compromise with them on the single most crucial issue of permanent US military bases in Afghanistan. The negotiations over the strategic partnership agreement with Karzai’s government are at a critical point. The Taliban leadership of Mullah Omar robustly opposes the US proposal to set up American and NATO bases on their country. The Americans are willing to take the Taliban off the UN’s sanctions list and allow them to be part of mainstream Afghan political life, including in the top echelons of leadership, provided Mullah Omar and the Quetta Shura agree to play ball.

The US tried its damnest to get Kayani to bring the Taliban to the reconciliation path. When these attempts failed, they tried to establish direct contact with the Taliban leadership. But ISI has been constantly frustrating the US intelligence activities in this direction and reminding the US to stick to earlier pledges that Pakistan would have a key role in the negotiations with the Taliban. The CIA and Pentagon have concluded that so long as the Pakistani military leadership remains stubborn, they cannot advance their agenda in Afghanistan.

Now, how do you get Kayani and the ISI to back off? The US knows the style of functioning of the Pakistani military. The army chief essentially works within a collegium of the 9 corps commanders. Thus, US has concluded that it also has to tackle the collegium. The only way is to set the army’s house on fire so that the generals get distracted by the fire-dousing and the massive repair work and housecleaning that they will be called upon to undertake as top priority for months if not years to come. To rebuild a national institution like the armed forces takes years and decades.

Four, the US won’t mind if Kayani is forced to step aside from his position and the Pakistani military leadership breaks up in disarray, as it opens up windows of opportunities to have Kayani and Pasha replaced by more “dependable” people – Uncle Sam’s own men. There is every possibility that the US has been grooming its favourites within the Pak army corps for all contingencies. Pakistan is too important as a “key non-NATO ally”. The CIA is greatly experienced in masterminding coup d-etat, including “in-house” coup d’etat. Almost all the best and the brightest Pak army officers have passed through the US military academies at one time or another. Given the sub-continent’s middle class mindset and post-modern cultural ethos, elites in civil or military life take it for granted that US backing is a useful asset for furthering career. The officers easily succumb to US intelligence entrapment. Many such “sleepers” should be existing there within the Pak army officer corps.

The big question remains: has someone in Washington thought through the game plan to tame the Pakistani military? The heart of the matter is that there is virulent “anti-Americanism” within the Pak armed forces. Very often it overlaps with Islamist sympathies. Old-style left wing “anti-Americanism” is almost non-existent in the Pakistani armed forces – as in Ayaz Amir’s time. These tendencies in the military are almost completely in sync with the overwhelming public opinion in the country as well.

Over the past 3 decades at least, Pakistani army officers have come to be recruited almost entirely from the lower middle class – as in our country – and not from the landed aristocracy as in the earlier decades up to the 1970s. These social strata are quintessentially right wing in their ideology, nationalistic, and steeped in religiosity that often becomes indistinguishable from militant religious faith.

Given the overall economic crisis in Pakistan and the utterly discredited Pakistani political class (as a whole) and countless other social inequities and tensions building up in an overall climate of cascading violence and great uncertainties about the future gnawing the mind of the average Pakistani today, a lurch toward extreme right wing Islamist path is quite possible. The ingredients in Pakistan are almost nearing those prevailing in Iran in the Shah’s era.

The major difference so far has been that Pakistan has an armed forces “rooted in the soil” as a national institution, which the public respected to the point of revering it, which on its part, sincerely or not, also claimed to be the Praetorian Guards of the Pakistani state. Now, in life, destroying comes very easy. Unless the Americans have some very bright ideas about how to go about nation-building in Pakistan, going by their track record in neighbouring Afghanistan, their present course to discredit the military and incite its disintegration or weakening at the present crisis point, is fraught with immense dangers.

The instability in the region may suit the US’ geo-strategy for consolidating its (and NATO’s) military presence in the region but it will be a highly self-centred, almost cynical, perspective to take on the problem, which has dangerous, almost explosive, potential for regional security. Also, who it is that is in charge of the Pakistan policy in Washington today, we do not know. To my mind, Obama administration doesn’t have a clue since Richard Holbrooke passed away as to how to handlePakistan. The disturbing news in recent weeks has been that all the old “Pakistan hands” in the USG have left the Obama administration. It seems there has been a steady exodus of officials who knew and understood how Pakistan works, and the depletion is almost one hundred percent. That leaves an open field for the CIA to set the policies.

The CIA boss Leon Panetta (who is tipped as defence secretary) is an experienced and ambitious politico who knows how to pull the wires in the Washington jungle – and, to boot it, he has an Italian name. He is unlikely to forgive and forget the humiliation he suffered in Rawalpindi last Friday. The NYT story suggests that it is not in his blood if he doesn’t settle scores with the Rawalpindi crowd. If Marlon Brando were around, he would agree.

*Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.



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  • S. Cadri  On June 20, 2011 at 1:56 am

    Dear Mam,

    These are primarily feelers sent to get the reaction feedback. While the damage to the public psyche is significant but to suggest “instigating for mutiny” is going far too far. Nothing like this is ever going to happen inshallah.

    What is happening is, the less educated elements in the forces and some feeble minds among officers fall a prey to the propaganda leashed out by irresponsible columnists of Urdu Press and the Anchors and Guests in our Electronic Media.

    Constant bombardment of the top four inches 24×7 has an impact. But you will notice one thing they bombard only against those who do not have the power to hit back. They will never talk against the landed class. Observe.

    They will never freely attack or condemn the terrorists, however much they may blow up any thing, because they are afraid for their lives. The religious parties of Munawar Hasan and Qazi Hussain and guys like Imran Khan, Hameed Gul and co. become their political spokesmen. Sing their tune.

    But poor Musharraf was an easy target as he did not have the muscle power to bury them in the vast lands of Sindh, deserts of Baluchistan or push them into the kilns of Punjab.

    Bombarding America is an easy pass time. There is nothing to loose except image abroad. By attacking USA they become heroes at home. But they hurt the nation a lot. Muddle people’s minds that include armed forces, police, intelligence, civil service and indeed judiciary too.

    The problem has to be dealt seriously. Very seriously before further damage is done. Media has to learn to self behave so as not to mislead people making policy making difficult for the leadership.


  • Inam Khan  On June 20, 2011 at 1:56 am

    A hundred anti-Pakistan articles are written every day especially by Americans on pay roll of Israel.It is one such wishful article.Pakistanis have come of age, dealing with Americans for the last six decades…………………………………………………Inam Khan

  • S. Cadri  On June 20, 2011 at 1:57 am

    That’s it. Well said.

  • khan saheb  On June 20, 2011 at 2:02 am

    If Pakistanis had come of age, one would have expected them to differentiate between the real friends and foes and, in the very least, they would have had the wisdom of not becoming their own enemies.

    We are looking for the light at the end of a long dark tunnel, without realizing that we are in fact in a tunnel….the typical case of living in denial..

    Sorry, Pakistanis have not even remotely come of age. They are not even close. The writing is on the wall for those who can read and comprehend, as US positions itself making a strong case of direct intervention. Perhaps that may well be the only workable option left for survival of PK.


  • Arif  On June 20, 2011 at 2:25 am

    An alarming article by a retired Indian diplomat.
    Arif Rizvi

  • Nadeem  On June 20, 2011 at 2:26 am

    It is not only alarming, but based on sound reasoning.

    I hope most of us, and the top brass, is reading this and seriously thinking about salvaging whatever is left of Pakistan.


  • Shahid  On June 20, 2011 at 2:29 am

    Really alarming.Time to close ranks.But,by no stretch of imagination the perceived “coup” is possible.As when it comes to the security of Pakistan,and keeping in mind,that the “threat exposure” has been casting its evil shadow over the country since more than a decade,it has brought in the rank and file a hardened attitude in their thinking on the tactics and machinations of anti-Pakistan elements.
    There may have been and probably are different views and perceptions amongst the ranks of the high command (remember,there was,we kept hearing,between Gen Musharraf and some of his colleagues),still the unity and discipline has been maintained.Kudos,here.
    There was an opportunity,immediately after the May 02,episode,for the high command to exercise through their “unanimous democratic decision making system” to request the COAS and CAS to quit (as it happened in Gen Musharrafs’ case).But that did not happen.Neither they volunteered,accept for Pasha.Now it is too late.
    Pakistan,its people,institutions,leaders,should realize that the present state of affairs is a “wake-up call”.There is an urgency to “correct the course”.Hard work.Self-reliance (pay taxes,shun aid).Develop basic and advanced industries (skilled Pakistanis are available in all fields/technologies and know-how,at all levels,from labor to scientists).Develop human potential.And, etc.
    An “opportunity” knocks.Now is the time.

  • Ardeshir  On June 20, 2011 at 2:53 am

    A well thought out article. They build them up and they bring them down, it was only a matter of time and the time has arrived. US will pursue their national interests which are supreme and client states like Pakistan are a means to an end.

    If the politico/military leadership thought they were partners and equals then that’s delusional.

    Only Pakistan can be in Pakistan’s interest, somehow that maxim has escaped our leaders past and present military or civilian. National policy is not about morality it is about interest ,as Lord Palmerston said “Britain has no permenant allies only permenant interests” and so should Pakistan but, once it breaks away from the begging bowl.


  • Admiral Sirohey  On June 20, 2011 at 5:33 am

    There seems to be substance in what has been written. It is because of such a possibility that an iternal cohesion is vital. Blideberg type inhouse study group should formed to prepare a plan to coumter any such tendency.

    It is to be done post haste


  • TMH  On June 20, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Their is gradual increase of suchlike inspired columns internationally.
    It is no rocket science to understand, who is behind this campaign.
    Thing that hurts, is the attitude of politicians, specially those who owe
    their existence to the support of Establishment.


  • S. Cadri  On June 20, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Sir why blame the enemy for our own woes. The enemy is out to get you. If you fall an easy prey whose fault is it? It is about time to stop blame the enemy, do introspection and take measures to counter their efforts.

  • Inam Khan  On June 20, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    All these are attempts by Jews-Christians-Hindus Nexus to weaken Muslim States from Morocco to Indonesia……..Inam Khan

  • S. Cadri  On June 20, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Allah gave them brains. They chose to use it. He gave us too. We chose to undermine each other.

  • Rauf  On June 20, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    S.B. Cadri, Sir.
    You just said the most sensible statement of all. We have to see towards our own inner
    self and rectify the errors.The rest will fall in to its proper places.

  • GRK  On June 20, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    have we learned from our own mistakes,no.i was going through the new book of kissinger on china.i was indeed grieved to see that this outstanding us diplomat just mentioned pakistan and the lead player YAHYA KHAN and one of our best foreign service officers agha hilaly and sultam mohammad khan role mentioned in not than one page. if readers may read the book from dr faqheer aijazuddin book SARBRAH SE SARBARAH SE SARBRAHtak,readers will be astonished what magnificent role pakistan played in kissinger/nixon visit to china in 1970.and than again in 1979 and again in 2001,we played our role as most obedient servant,but just in few weeks all warmth and friendship becomes a matter of past and we are asked to lick again and continue to do more.i am surprised to note on the subject of this communication. sir we and our services are all on sale. for few thousands dollars cia or their other agents can buy any one in pakistan.there is no such thing as loyalty with the wonderful land Almighty gifted us as Pakistan. we do not have to look for enemies abroad,the enemy is within have seen in my journey to earn and learn,how our diplomats and commercial counselors have performed. just give any one of the retired officer to go to the country they have served and i bet you except few i know for sure all of them cannot even bring one million dollar investment to pakistan’s rightly suggested by my worthy colleague rauf saheb.let us start searching our own soul can we stand up to the KHUDI of allama much money is needed for living a comfortable life. just to invite readers attention to recent car accident of a son of chairman FBR in lahore.the boy was drunk and life of a commoner is of no value. apparently the senior civil servant has become fatty and lavish while working in most prestigious jobs in lahore and islamabad.naturally the easy money will produce such irresponsible children’s as his son is.i am sure every FBR official in lahore will leave no stone unturned to save the son of this heavy boss. let us see what action ultimately court and police will take. the entire system is full of incompetent and dishonest civil servants,politicians and judiciary or some even in armed forces men. every thing in pakistan is on just have to be a little smart which hands needs to be balmed.grk

  • Rizwan  On June 20, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Lets break free from the victim syndrome and do something..

  • Imtiaz Zaidi  On June 20, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    No doubt we have enemies from whom we should expect all kinds of conspiracies and skullduggery. We should however not lose out capacity of introspection and self criticism.
    Sent from my iPhone

  • S. Cadri  On June 20, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    Thank you very much for your appreciation Rauf Sahab.

  • Bajwa  On June 20, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    There is no mutiny. It just that Osama Affair was overblown, as if it was a great defeat for Pakistan.

    CIA should have hired an ordinary assassin and no one would have known.


  • TMH  On June 21, 2011 at 9:24 am

    We can expect any thing from our strategic partners. Treachery is the hallmark
    of CIA. They are known for manufacturing revolution, type of revolution MQM
    and NS is talking about. They notorious for abduction, murder, assassinations,
    burglary on its friends and foes alike,
    As a matter fact its friendship is dangerous, and its enmity is lethal. The
    proof is what happened to Liaqat Ali Khan, Bhutto, and Zia ul Haq.
    Now they have marked COAS, for being honest and straightforward, and
    calling spade a spade, which is not liked by the American Administration.
    We should be very careful, CIA on its own is very dangerous, over and above
    it is run by a Italian American, remember MAFIA?


  • Brig Farooq H. Khan  On June 22, 2011 at 4:30 am

    in every muslim era , there were mir jafars and mir sadiqs. unfortunately within muslims the love for zan, zar and zameen is the highest. remember the words of a western lawyer few years ago, Pakistanis would sell their mothers for a few thousand dollars, words to the effect.

    the British rule thrived because loyalties of muslims were bought thru gifts of agricultural land, that is how the tiwanas, legharis, khosas, dultanas etc became owners of large tracts of lands and hence exploited and ruled the poor.
    Brig Retd Farooq Hamed Khan

  • kathleen  On June 22, 2011 at 7:10 am

    I worry about Pakistan. You are between a rock and a hard place! I’m happy to see more and more Pakistani’s opposing the US. The US and NATO are not your friends!!! This is a dangerous time for Pakistan. It’s like the wife that finally leaves her abusive husband. That is the time the wife is in the most danger of a deadly physical attack by the husband who refuses to let her go. The US is no longer the country it used to be. It has been corrupted from within and taken over by a global elite who intend to enslave and rule the world with an iron fist. All nations, including my own have been deliberately bankrupted due to the machinations of these evil bankters and global elites. Once they bankrupt a country, they own it and everything of value within it, including it’s people. Liberty, justice and freedom are ideals antithetical to this New World Order. Pakistan, like the rest of the world, is in for the fight of it’s life. I pray that you can extricate yourselves from the west’s diabolical grip. Wishing you peace!

  • Gulzar Sudozai  On June 24, 2011 at 3:27 am

    Pakistan is target of probably every neighbouring and western country. In fact we boast and indulge in rhetoric for which we have neither means nor imagination. We have alienated every one. It is strange that we have no foreign Minister. We have no foreign policy. Our image gets tarnished from within and without and there is no one to stem this stinking flow. Our armed forces are being maligned and there is no one to stop that. Our main political party PMLN is using all resources to malign Army and the rest of enjoying the ludicrous remarks. I do not think that there is any serious threat as propounded in the article but , yes. there have been failed attempts in the past. General Tajammal case and General Zaheer episodes are examples. Pakistan Army is too big and any possibility of mutiny is figment of imagination of our enemies and can be termed as psywar. However it is high time that every patriot Pakistani stands behind our armed forces to show our solidarity. Pakistan army has to follow policies aimed at defence of Pakistan and not that of America. But let us not be emotional. America is very dangerous friend but far too dangerous enemy. Let us not increase animosity but use fabian tactics.


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