Wednesday, March 18, 2009

America Escalating Covert War in Pakistan?


Two of the high-level reports on Pakistan and Afghanistan that have been forwarded to the White House in recent weeks have called for broadening the target area to include a "major insurgent sanctuary" in and around the city of Quetta, according a report in the New York Times. With the potential risk of significant loss of civilian life in a large population center, such strikes on the provincial capital of Baluchistan would represent a major expansion in America's CIA-run covert war well inside Pakistani territory.

As President Obama considers any CIA recommendations to expand the war deep inside Pakistan, he should remember the following three of the five paradoxes from the US military's counter-insurgency manual:

Paradox 3: The hosts doing something tolerably is often better than foreigners doing it well.

Paradox 4: Sometimes the more force is used, the less effective it is.

Paradox 5: Sometimes doing nothing is the best reaction.


As the US seeks Pakistani cooperation in its Afghan war, the continuing American Predator strikes, strongly resented by the government and the people alike, represent the biggest stumbling block in the way of serious and committed US-Pakistan military alliance in Pakistan-Afghan border areas.

A serious but unintended and extremely dangerous consequence of the expanded US air strikes in Pakistan is that the militants are continuing to move further inland from FATA in to Pakistan's settled area such as Swat, Quetta and beyond. They are finding more new recruits for their cause and threatening to destabilize the entire country. A destabilized, nuclear-armed Pakistan will be far more dangerous to the interests of the US, the region and the world than anything we have seen in Afghanistan or Iraq.

So far, the Obama response to the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan is to order more Predator strikes and thousands of more US troops. This assumes that the problems are mainly the lack of firepower and of troop strength. But it's likely to have the opposite effect. More Predator strikes and more troops mean more fighting which will lead to more American and Afghan civilian casualties. And it will only increase the public opposition to the US presence there, and make the entire region a much more powerful magnet to draw more global Jihadists from around the world. These "holy warriors" love nothing better than to kill the American soldiers and achieve "martyrdom" for themselves.

This latest reported escalation recommendation risks further enhancing support for the militants and insurgents fighting America's presence in Afghanistan. It will also make it less likely for the Pakistani military and the severely weakened Zardari government to turn a blind eye to such open provocation by the CIA in a major Pakistani city, especially if it results in mass civilian casualties.

Mr. Obama has inherited a messy war in Afghanistan. He should listen to the advice of former Bush adviser David Kilcullen offered in his book titled "The Accidental Guerrilla". Kilcullen's advice, as reported by David Ignatius of the Washington Post, consists of three "don'ts." Don't do it again; don't make it worse by overescalation; don't think you can pull out now without damaging U.S. interests. For Obama, that means a measured commitment, somewhere between a major escalation and a minimal force.

Any expansion of the predator strikes into Quetta will put the U.S. on a slippery slope of deeper and prolonged involvement in the region. I hope that President Obama will seriously consider the long term consequences of US actions to prevent a repeat of Indochina in South Asia, rather than give in to the short-term temptation of temporary gains against the Taliban in Afghanistan. No amount of the proposed US aid increase will compensate for such a reckless escalation by the CIA in Quetta.

Related Links:

Kayani's Three Cups of Tea

FATA Raid Charades Endanger Pakistan, World

20th Anniversary of Russian Deafeat in Afghanistan

Is US Headed Toward Regional War in South Asia?

48 comments:

Captain03 said...

Such surgical strikes cannot be taken without the consent of the government [hard to believe isnt it]; similar to the ones happening right now. The government of Pakistan would never approve surgical strikes on such cities. So we don't have to worry about it that much.

Anonymous said...

Such surgical strikes cannot be taken without the consent of the government [hard to believe isnt it]; similar to the ones happening right now. The government of Pakistan would never approve surgical strikes on such cities. So we don't have to worry about it that much.

There's the small matter of "if you cannot control it you don't own it". Most of Baluchistan, Swat, FATA, and much of NWFP now meet that criterion. Ergo ...

Riaz Haq said...

Anon:

You are dead wrong in your assertion.

Unlike Kashmir, NWFP had a referendum under the Brits in July 1947 in which the people voted overwhelmingly in favor of Pakistan.

As far as the insurgencies are concerned, both India and Pakistan have their share of them.

There are vast swaths of the Indian territory called the "Red Corridor" spanning half of India's provinces where the Maoists rule and India's central government has no control. The situation in Pakistan is similar but not nearly as widely distributed or as bad as in the heartland of India.

Jadev,India said...

You sound as though situations in India and Pakistan some how have to mirror each other.There are important differences in case of Maoist insurgency:

1) Maoists are exclusively a rural phenomenon..rural in the sense inaccessible..in jungles where tribals live.Their support base is also confined to those territories feeding on genuine disaffection with administrative neglect.
2) There is no insincerity/double game /halfheartedness in fighting the Maoists. We fight the Maoists because we wants to, not fighting on behalf of Americans or Europeans.
3) There are not even remotely capable of taking over state of India.Even Indian military haven't tried it yet.
4)Nobody since 1997 thinks that India is a failing or failed state. Independent reports put Pakistan next to Afghanistan in terms of failing or failed state. Your country being a client state at various times to China or America is being artificially kept alive on a ventilator. We are NOT sustained by an external help...
5) Maoists are absolutely reconcilable..and have strong code of conduct in warfare, they only target police and soldiers.For example: if they are going to blow up a railway station, they will first scare away the employees and hit it empty.
They don't mindlessly kill people like a jehadis....
6) There is a multi-pronged process underway to wean away support to Maoists with economic development as well as use of special forces.We don't mindlessly use attack helicopters,tanks,artillery and jet fighters in fighting insurgency (like Pak military in Bajaur etc)
Like President Bush said..we are two countries with "different histories.."..and let me add "and different future.."

Riaz Haq said...

Jadev,

As expected, you continue to prove your Indian chauvinism by claiming India's insurgents have moral superiority over Islamic insurgents in Pakistan.

Please check your data. Insurgencies in India's Northeast, Northwest(Kashmir) and heartland (Red Corridor) continue to claim tens of thousands of civilian lives, in addition to hundreds of deaths among security forces, according to Indian govt's own admission. Manmohan Singh describes the Maoist insurgency as the most serious threat to India's national security.

The key difference is that the Indian insurgents are not anti-West and therefore do not get the coverage in western media as Pak insurgents do. But they are sure as deadly, if not more so, as Pakistani insurgents.

Anonymous said...

Mr.Riaz, the obama administration has talked about an exit strategy in afghanistan. So sooner or later they will leave. What do you think will be Pakistan's course of action in case of such future event. Today the civilian administration in Afghanistan has close ties with India, given that India has invested huge sums in construction of roads (to link to Iran) and 4 embassies.

I'm an indian. The view in India is that from 1994 until 2001 invasion, Pakistan has used Taliban in Afghanistan as a hedge against indian influence in Pakistan's western front. Will pakistan go back to supporting the Taliban if they were to seize power in Afghanistan once again. Also, since the Taliban, much like a frankenstein's monster have a propensity to come after their creator (read SWAT), what are the other foreign policy alternatives for Pakistan to check Indian presence in Afghanistan.

Also, already in India there is not too much hope in the Obama admin that India will receive preferential treatment that it received from Bush. the indian administration is already in wait and watch mode. If the foreign policy mavens in the Obama cabinet muddle or scuttle the nuclear deal, the US-India relations will cool considerably.

In that case India will play its iran card, and push for closer economic and political ties with iran and may even plan a regional strategy to contain the taliban in afghanistan with the help of russia.

There are pretty interesting times ahead. How do you think Pakistan will play its cards.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some interesting excerpts from a piece by Anjum Niaz in Pakistan's Daily Dawn today:

‘If I were a Pakistani, I would worry… there are frightening times ahead,’ Seymour Hersh warned. ‘You guys are next after Iran,’ he told me when I asked about American designs on our nukes. ‘Your nuclear programme is the target.’ Well wired with intelligence sources, not just in the American CIA, but the Mossad in Israel, RAW in India and the ISI in Pakistan; the Pulitzer Prize winner operates via sources crawling around these intelligence agencies who have over the years gladly handed him classified information.

‘If Musharraf was to go down south (exit),’ Hersh said four years ago, ‘there’ll be a traffic jam! There’ll be the CIA, Mossad and RAW jumping in to grab your nuclear facilities. It will be a free-for-all. The ISI and the Pakhtoons are terribly concerned.’ Earlier, he alleged in a November 2001 New Yorker article that Al Qaida was founded at a 1988 meeting in Peshawar. He quoted a former Pakistani diplomat who said, ‘If you go through the officers’ list, almost all of the ISI regulars would say of the Taliban, ‘They are my boys.’’

I pressed on with my questions on Pakistan’s security issues vis-à-vis Iran and India. How would a nearly nuclear armed Iran react if India and Pakistan were to go to war? In his typical New York accent, he answered, ‘Iran is not making nuclear weapons. It’s Israel you should be worrying about. With 600 nukes bristling under its arm, Tel Aviv is the greatest threat to the regional security. Other than Pakistan, there’s no Muslim country with a bomb.’

Castigating the New York Times, Hersh continued, ‘I throw a challenge to the Times to do a critical piece on Israel’s foreign policy and how it influences America. We must separate ourselves from Israeli interests and stop Israel from confusing the issue.’

Except for two walkouts, the rest of the audience, a 1000-strong, clap and cheer when he speaks of Israeli lobbyists infiltrating the power corridors in America to successfully mind-control policy-makers.

‘Hezbollah is not a terrorist organisation nor is it threatening our security one iota! Why then are the NYT and Washington Post pursuing the Israeli storyline? Israeli agents have infiltrated the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) in Vienna. ‘Muslims are not terrorists, as Israel alleges.’

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/columnists/what-sy-said

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting report in Pak Observer about ISI Chief's confrontation with CIA chief in Pakistan:

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

There are confirmed reports that to achieve its objectives the CIA hired the services of at least a dozen Afghan warlords inside Afghanistan and provided through them arms and finances to militants in FATA and Swat to carry out murders and devastations in the country. It was like a double-edged sword not only to get the Army launch attacks against Taliban on Pakistani side of the border but also to give a message to the ISI that the CIA can use the Pakistani Taliban against their own security forces. It was in this background that after a long, long tolerance the prime intelligence agency of the country ultimately confronted the CIA Director Leon E. Panetta with some highly classified and irrefutable evidence. Panetta was startled when DG, ISI General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, a no-nonsense General, placed the facts before him in Islamabad on November 20, 2009. The “deliberate leaks” after the meeting of the spy chiefs of the two countries, spoke of the mind of the ISI and the armed forces of Pakistan. General Pasha had earlier conveyed the facts about the interference of CIA in acts of terrorism in Pakistan to the Government but on realizing that either the message was not strongly conveyed to the Americans or it had no desired impact on them, finally put his foot down and expressed serious concerns over the CIA's crude interference in the country's internal matters. The proof about instances of covert US support to some hardened militant outfits and terrorist activities they carried out over the past few weeks and months, was presented to Panetta. It was indeed a startling revelation for the top US spy and a bold manoeuvre of Pakistan Army. General Pasha's tactical move baffled Panetta when he was told in categorical terms that Pakistan had incriminating evidence about the CIA officials' involvement in providing assistance to perpetrators of some terrorist activities within Pakistan, which had negative impact on Pakistan's efforts towards war on terror and that the CIA must shun such activities. The clarity with which the information was conveyed sent a loud message to Capitol Hills that if it wanted Pakistan's cooperation in the war on terror, it must give up playing double games. It is a known fact that the Indian intelligence agency RAW is operating in Afghanistan with the active backing of CIA and not only is it involved in acts of terrorism in the NWFP but also in Balochistan. The Indians cannot undertake such wide-scale activities in this region without the tacit approval and backing of the CIA. The question arises how come India has developed a huge presence in Kabul.

Riaz Haq said...

Lately, there have been some arrests of American-Muslim and Pakistani-American youths on suspicions of terror. The Internet has been identified as a tool for radicalization and proposals made to deal with it. Here's an interesting post by Reem Salahi in HuffingtonPost on this subject:

Yet even in cases where agent provocateurs were not employed, the reality is that the government and media have too long treated Islam and Muslims as a homogeneous, non-dynamic, suspect group. Whenever a Muslim engages in a criminal act, the individual is always qualified by his religious background. Very rarely do we see similar treatment of non-Muslims. For example, I have never read an article describing Timothy McVeigh as the Christian white man. But nearly every article on Nidal Hasan qualifies him as a Muslim and Palestinian within the first few sentences.

As a consequence, Muslims are forced to account for the (negative) actions of a fourth of the world's population. Ironically, I have never been congratulated for the positive actions of other fellow Muslims. The acts of a few bad apples or even a few misguided youth become the norm and not the exceptions. Put differently, it would be like suspecting that every White high school student was prone to commit a massacre as Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the killers at Columbine High School, did.

The reality is that the discourse on radicalization and homegrown terrorism is fundamentally racist and Islamophobic. It is based on seeing Muslims as the "other" and viewing our actions through an "orientalist" lens which frames any Muslim's questionable action as terrorism. Hence, a Muslim overstaying an immigration visa or improperly filing taxes or even paintballing becomes evidence of terrorism and radicalization, justifying the government's infiltration of our mosques, surveillance of our youth groups, and mapping of our populations. Maybe, just maybe, Muslims don't need to be understood by a different rubric than other populations. Further, by framing Muslims as terrorists and as the internal enemy within, the government and media have alienated and disenfranchised many law-abiding Muslims who seek nothing more than to actually live "unremarkable" lives.

Those in the media, in the government, and in Muslim organizations who have jumped on the bandwagon, you have missed the boat. Muslims and Muslim youth are not intrinsically prone to radicalization through the aid of the internet, just as White youth are not intrinsically prone to commit massacres or lynch ethnic minorities in solidarity with the KKK. Rather, the problem is the media and the government's continued vilification and the consequential disenfranchisement of the Muslim community. It is the government's infiltration of mosques and community centers with informants and agent provocateurs. It is the FBI's prolonged fishing expeditions and false prosecutions of many innocent Muslims. And it is an ever-worsening foreign policy that wastes away our tax dollars on killing innocent civilians throughout the world. So please stop parroting the misguided construct of homegrown terrorism and Islamic radicalization as the problem, when the real problem is xenophobia couched in politically correct terms.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from an interesting commentary by Juan Cole on the Khost suicide bombing:

"Although Pakistani troops fighting in South Waziristan had found Arab passports and other effects suggesting a small presence of Arab fighters with the TTP, al-Balawi had clearly joined the movement and given it his allegiance. It seems to me an alarming development, as the Aljazeera anchor also noted, that Arab jihadi volunteers might now be enlisting under the banner of the Pakistani Taliban rather than, as in the past, al-Qaeda or one of the Afghan insurgent groups. The Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan is only about 7 years old, there never having been Pakistani Taliban until the early 21st century--it was a phenomenon of the Soviet ethnic cleansing of Afghans, which forced 3 million into refugee camps in Pakistan, where many became radicalized. (And were encouraged in that direction by the Reagan administration).

Many intelligence specialists had insisted that the Khost bombing was the work of the Haqqani Network in North Waziristan. But I read al-Balawi's emotionalism about the Mahsuds as a clear indication that he was working for them rather than for the Haqqanis. He must have repeated seven or eight times that Baitullah Mahsud would be avenged. The militant founder of the TTTP was killed by a US drone strike in South Waziristan in August."

"Al-Balawi's sad biography in fact ties together the whole history of Western, including Israeli, attacks on the Middle East. Al-Balawi's family is Palestinians displaced from Beersheba by Zionist immigrants into British Mandate Palestine, who in 1948 ethnically cleansed about 700,000 Palestinians from what became Israel. Most Palestinians in Jordan are bitter about the loss of their homes, for which they never received compensation, and some still live in refugee camps. The British Empire and the United States supported this displacement of the Palestinians and to this day the US government often attempts to criminalize even charitable aid to the suffering Palestinian people."

"The Arabic press is confirming that al-Balawi was further enraged by the Israeli war on poor little Gaza last winter. A physician, he volunteered to be part of a group that intended to go to Gaza to do relief work for the victims of Israel's brutal targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure. (The Israelis were trying to destroy the fundamentalist Hamas party, which rules Gaza, and gave as their pretext the occasional rockets Hamas fired into Israel, though in fact there had been a truce for much of 2008, a truce of which the Israelis coldly took advantage to plan their war.)

The Jordanian secret police arrested al-Balawi to prevent him from going to Gaza. It may be that he had to agree to work for it as a quid pro quo to regain his freedom."

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a BBC report about Taliban's brazen Kabul attacks and how the Taliban deliberately avoided civilian casualties, unlike the Pakistani Taliban:

The Taliban, we learned later, having failed to storm the government buildings they had at first targeted, sought shelter elsewhere.

At least four went into a crowded shopping centre.

If their intention had been to kill as many people as possible, it would have been achievable there.

But they didn't. They ordered everyone - shoppers and shopkeepers alike - out. Soon the building was on fire.

The Taliban fighters died amid the flames, most of them in a volley of gunfire, while the last man alive blew himself up.

The number of civilians who died was - given the scale of what was happening - surprisingly low.

From Pakistan, we learned, a Taliban spokesman had called a news agency, while the attack was still under way, to announce that 20 of its militants were involved.

The public relations management was as vital to the perpetrators as the co-ordination of the attack itself.

This care, this determination to avoid civilian deaths is now part of the conflict in Afghanistan.

It is something the Taliban shares with its Nato enemies.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from an opinion piece from Tom's Dispatch about CIA's information and self-deception about its drone war in Pakistan:

"...there’s a deeper, more dangerous level of deception in Washington’s widening war in the region: self-deception. The CIA drone program, which the Agency’s Director Leon Panetta has called “the only game in town” when it comes to dismantling al-Qaeda, is just symptomatic of such self-deception. While the CIA and the U.S. military have been expending enormous effort studying the Afghan and Pakistani situations and consulting experts, and while the White House has conducted an extensive series of seminars-cum-policy-debates on both countries, you can count on one thing: none of them have spent significant time studying or thinking about us.

As a result, the seeming cleanliness and effectiveness of the drone-war solution undoubtedly only reinforces a sense in Washington that the world’s last great military power can still control this war -- that it can organize, order, prod, wheedle, and bribe both the Afghans and Pakistanis into doing what’s best, and if that doesn’t work, simply continue raining down the missiles and bombs. Beware Washington’s deep-seated belief that it controls events; that it is, however precariously, in the saddle; that, as Afghan War commander General Stanley McChrystal recently put it, there is a “corner” to “turn” out there, even if we haven’t quite turned it yet.

In fact, Washington is not in the saddle and that corner, if there, if turned, will have its own unpleasant surprises. Washington is, in this sense, as oblivious as those CIA operatives were as they waited for “their” Jordanian agent to give them supposedly vital information on the al-Qaeda leadership in the Pakistani tribal areas. Like their drones, the Americans in charge of this war are desperately far from the ground, and they don’t even seem to know it. It’s this that makes the analogy drawn by TomDispatch regular and author of Halliburton’s Army, Pratap Chatterjee, so unnerving. It’s time for Washington to examine not what we know about them, but what we don’t know about ourselves. Tom"

DeWayne said...

Regarding the present Pakistan (undeclared by Congress) war, concerning the ongoing to this day killing of 'Top Al-Qaeda leader' events and other collateral-damage (innocent men, women and children), Pres-Obama using "Presidential Emergency War Powers" that is unconstitutional appears to have passed over the heads of everyone including Congress and the Supreme Court.


What we learn from history, is quickly lost in a deluge of propaganda.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent expose about Blackwater owner Erik Prince publihed by the Nation magazine:

Despite Prince's attempts to shield his speeches from public scrutiny, The Nation magazine has obtained an audio recording of a recent, private speech delivered by Prince to a friendly audience. The speech, which Prince attempted to keep from public consumption, provides a stunning glimpse into his views and future plans and reveals details of previously undisclosed activities of Blackwater. The people of the United States have a right to media coverage of events featuring the owner of a company that generates 90% of its revenue from the United States government.

In the speech, Prince proposed that the US government deploy armed private contractors to fight "terrorists" in Nigeria, Yemen, Somalia and Saudi Arabia, specifically to target Iranian influence. He expressed disdain for the Geneva Convention and described Blackwater's secretive operations at four Forward Operating Bases he controls in Afghanistan. He called those fighting the US in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan "barbarians" who "crawled out of the sewer." Prince also revealed details of a July 2009 operation he claims Blackwater forces coordinated in Afghanistan to take down a narcotrafficking facility, saying that Blackwater "call[ed] in multiple air strikes," blowing up the facility. Prince boasted that his forces had carried out the "largest hashish bust in counter-narcotics history." He characterized the work of some NATO countries' forces in Afghanistan as ineffectual, suggesting that some coalition nations "should just pack it in and go home." Prince spoke of Blackwater working in Pakistan, which appears to contradict the official, public Blackwater and US government line that Blackwater is not in Pakistan.

Prince also claimed that a Blackwater operative took down the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President George W Bush in Baghdad and criticized the Secret Service for being "flat-footed." He bragged that Blackwater forces "beat the Louisiana National Guard to the scene" during Katrina and claimed that lawsuits, "tens of millions of dollars in lawyer bills" and political attacks prevented him from deploying a humanitarian ship that could have responded to the earthquake in Haiti or the tsunami that hit Indonesia.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some recent revelations from Washington Post security blog about ideas of CIA dirty tricks contemplated against Saddam and Osama Bin Laden:

During planning for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the CIA's Iraq Operations Group kicked around a number of ideas for discrediting Saddam Hussein in the eyes of his people.

One was to create a video purporting to show the Iraqi dictator having sex with a teenage boy, according to two former CIA officials familiar with the project.

“It would look like it was taken by a hidden camera,” said one of the former officials. “Very grainy, like it was a secret videotaping of a sex session.”

The idea was to then “flood Iraq with the videos,” the former official said.

Another idea was to interrupt Iraqi television programming with a fake special news bulletin. An actor playing Hussein would announce that he was stepping down in favor of his (much-reviled) son Uday.

“I’m sure you will throw your support behind His Excellency Uday,” the fake Hussein would intone.

The spy agency’s Office of Technical Services collaborated on the ideas, which also included inserting fake “crawls” -- messages at the bottom of the screen -- into Iraqi newscasts.

The agency actually did make a video purporting to show Osama bin Laden and his cronies sitting around a campfire swigging bottles of liquor and savoring their conquests with boys, one of the former CIA officers recalled, chuckling at the memory. The actors were drawn from “some of us darker-skinned employees,” he said.

Eventually, “things ground to a halt,” the other former officer said, because no one could come to agreement on the projects.

They also faced strong opposition from James Pavitt, then head of the agency’s Operations Division, and his deputy, Hugh Turner, who “kept throwing darts at it.”

Riaz Haq said...

The US is seeking to expand CIA's presence for large scale covert war in Pakistan, according to Wall Street Journal:

WASHINGTON—The U.S. is pushing to expand a secret CIA effort to help Pakistan target militants in their havens near the Afghan border, according to senior officials, as the White House seeks new ways to prod Islamabad into more aggressive action against groups allied with al Qaeda,

The push comes as relations between Washington and Islamabad have soured over U.S. impatience with the slow pace of Pakistani strikes against militants who routinely attack U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan. President Barack Obama has said he will begin to withdraw troops from Afghanistan in July, increasing the urgency to show progress in the nine-year war against the Taliban.

The U.S. asked Pakistan in recent weeks to allow additional Central Intelligence Agency officers and special operations military trainers to enter the country as part of Washington's efforts to intensify pressure on militants.

The requests have so far been rebuffed by Islamabad, which remains extremely wary of allowing a larger U.S. ground presence in Pakistan, illustrating the precarious nature of relations between Washington and its wartime ally.

The number of CIA personnel in Pakistan has grown substantially in recent years. The exact number is highly classified. The push for more forces reflects, in part, the increased need for intelligence to support the CIA drone program that has killed hundreds of militants with missile strikes. The additional officers could help Pakistani forces reach targets drones can't.

There are currently about 900 U.S. military personnel in Pakistan, 600 of which are providing flood relief and 150 of which are assigned to the training mission.

A senior Pakistani official said relations with the CIA remain strong but Islamabad continues to oppose a large increase in the number of American personnel on the ground.

The Obama administration has been ramping up pressure on Islamabad in recent weeks to attack militants after months of publicly praising Pakistani efforts. The CIA has intensified drone strikes in Pakistan, and the military in Afghanistan has carried out cross-border helicopter raids, underlining U.S. doubts Islamabad can be relied upon to be more aggressive. Officials have even said they were going to stop asking for Pakistani help with the U.S.'s most difficult adversary in the region, the North Waziristan-based Haqqani network, because it was unproductive.

The various moves reflect a growing belief that the Pakistani safe havens are a bigger threat to Afghan stability than previously thought.

When senior Pakistani officials visited Washington this week, Obama administration officials signaled they are willing to push for a long-term military aid package. But they also have made clear to Pakistani officials they expect tangible results, and they threatened that current cash payments to Pakistan could be reduced if things don't improve in tribal areas such as North Waziristan.

The current efforts to expand CIA presence are meant to expand intelligence collection and facilitate more aggressive Pakistani-led actions on the ground. Some U.S. officials, however, remain hopeful that Islamabad will allow a greater covert presence that could include CIA paramilitary forces.
----------
Much of the on-ground intelligence in Pakistan is gathered by the country's Inter-Services Intelligence agency. Some U.S. officials believe Pakistan wants the U.S. to remain dependent on the ISI for that intelligence.

Riaz Haq said...

The US has offered $2 billion military aid to Pakistan over next 5 years, according to Wall Street Journal:

The new military aid, which is contingent on congressional approval, is expected to amount to more than $2 billion over five years, would pay for equipment Pakistan can use for counterinsurgency and counterterror operations. U.S. officials say they hope the new aid could effectively eliminate Pakistan's objections that it doesn't have the equipment needed to launch more operations in tribal areas.

Department of Defense officials, including Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will meet on Wednesday with Pakistani Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ashfaq Kayani at the Pentagon.

In a recent report to Congress, the White House said it believed the Pakistani military was avoiding direct conflict with the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda forces for political reasons. Despite the U.S. calls for a crackdown on the Haqqani network, some Pakistani officials continue to support the group, viewing it as a longtime ally that has steadfastly opposed Indian involvement in Afghanistan.

Pakistan received about $1.9 billion in military assistance from the U.S. in fiscal 2010, which ended Sept. 30, including about $300 million in grants to buy U.S. defense equipment. The new package of defense equipment would average out to an additional $100 million a year in aid, although the size of the grants would start lower and grow over time.

By seeking assurances from Pakistan that the new equipment will be used only to combat militants in the border areas, the U.S. hopes to reassure India that it isn't trying to further boost the power of Pakistan's conventional military.

Officials from both the U.S. and Pakistan rejected the notion that the military assistance and talks were a quid pro quo, arguing that they are trying to build a partnership, not cut a deal.

U.S. officials, although they denied that the increased aid was part of an explicit deal to get Islamabad to mount a ground offensive in North Waziristan, said they hoped increased Pakistani military capabilities would translate into increased action on the ground.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from a piece by David Pilling of Financial Times published recently:

(There have ben many a dire warning about Pakistan failing), yet Pakistan has survived. In its partial victories against Islamist militants it may even have made some kind of progress. It is all too easy to think of Pakistan as a failing – even a failed – state. But it might be better to see it as the state that refuses to fail.

To appreciate just how remarkable this is, cast your mind back to this dangerous year’s catalogue of fire and brimstone. First, following its victory in Swat, the army turned its attention on South Waziristan, bombarding militants in lawless areas bordering Afghanistan. Many considered that an important step, given the well-documented links between the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency and tribal militants, part of Pakistan’s quest for “strategic depth” in Afghanistan.

Second, and partly as a result of the army’s offensives, there has been a wave of counter-attacks on hotels, mosques and police stations. Last October, militants mounted a brazen raid on the supposedly impregnable headquarters of the 500,000-strong army. That led to alarm that men with beards and a less-than-glowing feeling towards America were getting perilously close to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

Third, Pakistan has had to adapt to a dramatic shift in US policy towards Afghanistan. In December, President Barack Obama ordered a surge of 30,000 extra troops, a military intensification that has sent militants scurrying across the border into Pakistan. Worse from Islamabad’s point of view, the US president has committed to drawing down those troops from next summer, a retreat, if it happens, that would once again leave Pakistan alone in a nasty neighbourhood.

Fourth, the economic outlook remains precarious. Pakistan just about avoided a balance of payments crisis which, at one point, saw its reserves dwindle to just one month’s import cover. But respite has come at the cost of being in hock to the International Monetary Fund, which has extended some $7bn in loans. With tax receipts at a miserable 9 per cent of output, it is unclear how it will make ends meet.

As if these man-made calamities were not enough, Pakistan has been drowning in the worst floods in its history. At one point, no less than one-fifth of the country was under water.....

Remarkably it has not been. Why not? A partial explanation for Pakistan’s staying power is that it has become an extortionary state that thrives on crisis...

There are more benign explanations too. The strength of civil society has helped. Many refugees from the floods, like those from Swat, have found temporary shelter with the networks of friends and relatives that bind the country together. The army’s response to the floods has also underscored, for better or worse, the efficiency of the state’s best-run institution. Even the civilian administration, weak and discredited as it is, has clung on. If, as now seems plausible, Mr Zardari can survive, power could yet be transferred from one democratically elected administration to another for the first time in Pakistan’s 63-year history.

One should not overstate Pakistan’s resilience. The world is rightly alarmed at the mayhem that rages at its centre. But, if you care to look on the bright side, you might conclude that, if Pakistan can survive a year like this, it can survive anything.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent Times of India report about wikileaks regarding Pakistan:


WASHINGTON/NEW DELHI: Many of the cables in the first lot of Wikileaks' expose of intricate and dodgy U.S foreign policy pertains to Pakistan, a country variously described as a "nightmare" and a "headache" for the international community. The cables do not paint a flattering picture of Islamabad or its rulers.

For instance, one cable has the Saudi King Abdullah speak contemptuously of President Zardari. He calls Zardari the greatest obstacle to that country's progress and is quoted as saying "When the head is rotten, it affects the whole body."

Another cable describes a "dangerous standoff" with Pakistan over nuclear fuel: In May 2009, U.S Ambassador to Islamabad Anne Patterson reported that Pakistan was refusing to schedule a visit by American technical experts because, as a Pakistani official said, "if the local media got word of the fuel removal, "they certainly would portray it as the United States taking Pakistan's nuclear weapons."

Implicit in the cable is the suggestion of a see-saw battle between Washington and Islamabad about Pakistan's nuclear assets and its safety.

Some of the cables highlight Israel's concern with where Pakistan is going. In one exchange, Mossad chief Meir Dagan and U.S counterterrorism honcho Frances Townsend share concerns about Pakistan's ability to withstand the challenge of Islamic radicals. Dagan characterizes a Pakistan ruled by radical Islamists with a nuclear arsenal at their disposal as his biggest nightmare. Al-Qaeda and other "Global Jihad" groups could not be relied upon to behave rationally once in possession of nuclear weapons, he says, as they do not care about the well being of states or their image in the media.

"We have to keep (President Pervez) Musharaf in power," he is quoted as saying.

In another exchange, Israel's President Ehud Barak describes Pakistan as his "private nightmare," suggesting the world might wake up one morning "with everything changed" following a potential Islamic extremist takeover. When asked if the use of force on Iran might backfire with moderate Muslims in Pakistan, thereby exacerbating the situation, Barak acknowledges Iran and Pakistan are interconnected, but disagreed with a causal chain.

Exchanges between the U.S and Turkey also show Pakistan's continuing fears about India's presence in Afghanistan. At a meeting with U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, William Burns, Turkish diplomat Rauf Engin Soysal, who then was the Turkey's Deputy Under-Secretary for Bilateral Political Affairs responsible for the Middle East, South Asia and Africa, discloses that Turkey had not invited India to the Afghan neighbors' summit in deference to Pak sensitivities.

"He (Soysal) said Turkey had not invited India to the neighbors summit in deference to Pakistani sensitivities; however, he claimed, Pakistan understands attempting to exclude India from the nascent South Asian regional structures would be a mistake," says the confidential State Department cable dated February 25, 2010.

While Pakistan's reservations to India's presence at the meeting was known, its assessment that excluding India from regional structures would be a mistake is a disclosure that will be well-received in New Delhi.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a Christian Science Monitor report on wikileaks early reaction in Pakistan:

Long derided in liberal Pakistani circles as a fanciful conspiracy theory, the notion that the US has designs on Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal will likely gain traction here following a report that the US has mounted a secret effort to remove highly enriched uranium from a Pakistani reactor since 2007....
The perception that America is attempting to rob Pakistan of its nuclear capability has long been touted by Islamists and hardliners in Pakistan, and is frequently brought up alongside the theory that the security firm Xe (formerly known as Blackwater) is responsible for a spate of suicide bomb attacks on civilian targets over the past few years. The US, for its part, has been keenly aware of the sensitivity of the issue, so much so that in May 2009, Ambassador Anne Patterson reported that Pakistan was refusing to schedule a visit by American technical experts for fear of stoking the Pakistani media’s suspicions.

According to security analyst Gen. (ret.) Talat Masood, the WikiLeaks revelations will prove a boon to hardliners in Pakistan.

“It really reinforces [what until now] has been a conspiracy theory – that America has always been after nuclear assets and gives a big handle to the right and those who have been saying America is not a our friend and saying they are following a dual policy: with India they are friends but with Pakistan they are trying to simultaneously undermine us.”

General Masood predicts the WikiLeaks cable report will have a serious short-term and long-term impact on US-Pakistan relations, and undermine those Pakistanis who have spoken up in favor of closer cooperation with the US in recent times.

“It places such people on the defensive – it looks like the US is trying to get close to Pakistanis who are more Westernized but who are compromising Pakistan’s national interest,” he says.

According to Pervez Hoodbhoy, an eminent Pakistani nuclear physicist based at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, the report probably refers to the highly enriched uranium Pakistan received from the US in the late 1960s as part of the "Atoms for Peace" program, before its weapons program began.

“As far as I can guess, the leak refers to highly enriched uranium that Pakistan received from the US in the late 1960's or early 1970s for running the small 5-mw research reactor at PINSTECH,” he says, in reference to a research center based close to Islamabad that is aimed at producing atomic energy. “There is no other reactor in Pakistan that runs on HEU. I suppose that the US wants it back because of fears that Al Qaeda might get its hands on it somehow.”

Pakistan gained its own nuclear enriching capability in 1976, therefore the removal of some highly enriched uranium by the United States would not eliminate its ability to create nuclear weapons.

Attempt to create misperceptions?
Separate WikiLeaks cables concerning Pakistani politicians could also prove embarrassing to its allies.

In one cable, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia derides President Asif Ali Zardari as the biggest hurdle to progress, stating, “When the head is rotten, it affects the whole body.”

President Zardari however received a tepid lukewarm "endorsement" from Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, "Zardarni [sic] is dirty but not dangerous," while… Sharif is “dangerous but not dirty – this is Pakistan. Sharif cannot be trusted to honor his promises,” a reference to Pakistan’s foremost opposition leader, Nawaz Sharif.

Farhatullah Babar, the president’s spokesman, said via text message that “President Zardari regards Saudi King Abdullah as his elder brother. The so called leaks are no more than an attempt to create misperceptions between two important and brotherly Muslim countries.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a nation.com report excerpts on wikileaks regarding American covert war in Pakistan:

...In response to the Nation story, Pentagon spokesperson Geoff Morrell called it "conspiratorial" and explicitly denied that US special operations forces were doing anything other than "training" in Pakistan. More than a month after the October 2009 cable from the US embassy in Pakistan confirming JSOC combat missions, Morrell told reporters: "We have basically, I think, a few dozen forces on the ground in Pakistan who are involved in a train-the-trainer mission. These are Special Operations Forces. We've been very candid about this. They are—they have been for months, if not years now, training Pakistani forces so that they can in turn train other Pakistani military on how to—on certain skills and operational techniques. And that's the extent of our—our, you know, military boots on the ground in Pakistan." According to the October 2009 cable, Morrell's statement was false.

In one operation in September 2009, four US special operations forces personnel "embedded with the [Pakistani] Frontier Corps (FC)…in the FATA," where the Americans are described as providing "ISR": intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The support from the US forces, according to the cable, "was highly successful, enabling the FC to execute a precise and effective artillery strike on an enemy location." A month later, according to the cable, the Pakistan Army again "approved deployment of US special operation elements to support Pakistani military operations." To the embassy staff, this was documented in the cable as a "sea change" in Pakistan's military leaders' thinking, saying they had previously been "adamantly opposed [to] letting us embed" US special ops forces with Pakistani forces. According to the cable, "US special operation elements have been in Pakistan for more than a year, but were largely limited to a training role," adding that the Pakistani units that received training from US special operations forces "appear to have recognized the potential benefits of bringing US SOF personnel into the field with them."

In another operation cited in the cables, the US teams, led by JSOC, were described as providing support to the Pakistani Army's 11th Corp and included "a live downlink of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) full motion video."....

The ability of US special operations forces to operate in Pakistan is clearly viewed as a major development by the US embassy. "Patient relationship-building with the military is the key factor that has brought us to this point," according to the October 2009 cable. It also notes the potential consequences of the activities leaking: "These deployments are highly politically sensitive because of widely-held concerns among the public about Pakistani sovereignty and opposition to allowing foreign military forces to operate in any fashion on Pakistani soil. Should these developments and/or related matters receive any coverage in the Pakistani or US media, the Pakistani military will likely stop making requests for such assistance."

Such statements might help explain why Ambassador Richard Holbrooke lied to the world when he said bluntly in July 2010: "People think that the US has troops in Pakistan, well, we don't."

Riaz Haq said...

Is the alleged US diplomat assuming the identity of "Raymond Davis" a Blackwater or JSOC (Joint Special Ops Command commando) contractor? Here's a report from Press TV:

Pakistani media say the US embassy official charged with the murder of two Pakistani citizens is an agent for the notorious security firm, Blackwater.


The US official identified by police as Raymond Davis shot dead two men riding on a motorcycle in Lahore on Thursday in what he claimed was self-defense during an attempted robbery.

A third Pakistani was run over and killed in the incident after being hit by a US consulate vehicle rushing to the scene to the American's aid.

The US embassy in Islamabad has confirmed the man involved was a consular official and says it is carrying out an investigation.

Trying to avoid an anti-American reaction, US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said Thursday that Washington will fully cooperate with Pakistani authorities and will explain about the incident to the Pakistani people.

The issue of American diplomats carrying weapons inside Pakistan was a hot-button subject last year among certain politicians and sections of the media purportedly worried about the country's sovereignty.

Many Pakistanis regard the United States with suspicion or outright enmity because of its occupation of neighboring Afghanistan

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on Afghan anger against US and NATO for children's deaths in air strikes:

President Hamid Karzai has told the US commander of foreign troops in Afghanistan that his apology for the deaths of nine children in an air strike is "not enough".

"On behalf of the people of Afghanistan I want you to stop the killings of civilians," Mr Karzai said at a cabinet meeting attended by Gen David Petraeus.

The children were killed in a Nato strike on Tuesday.

Hundreds of people rallied on Sunday to denounce the killing of civilians.

The issue of civilian casualties is a source of widespread public anger and of tension between the Afghan government and the US, the BBC's Jill McGivering reports.

Washington is well aware of the strength of feeling and has worked hard to reduce casualties, she adds, though Nato says most civilian casualties last year were caused by Taliban insurgents, not the security forces.

On Sunday, at least 12 civilians, including five children, were killed by a roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan.
'Stop the killings'

"President Karzai said that David Petraeus's apology is not enough," a statement from the Afghan presidency said.

"The civilian casualties are a main cause of worsening the relationships between Afghanistan and the US," President Karzai was quoted as saying.

"The people are tired of these things and apologies and condemnations are not healing any pain."

On Wednesday, Gen David Petraeus said he was "deeply sorry" for the air strike in which the boys, aged 12 and under, were mistaken for insurgents by Nato helicopters as they gathered firewood.

Sunday's rally in Kabul condemned both Nato and the Taliban for killing civilians.

Riaz Haq said...

US CIA drones have struck a day after Raymond Davis's release, killing 40 Pakistanis believed to be innocent civilians, according to the BBC:

At least 40 people have died in a US drone strike in the Pakistani region of North Waziristan, local officials say.

Most of the victims were believed to be civilians attending a tribal meeting near the regional capital, Miranshah.

Earlier reports had said militants were among the dead. The area is an al-Qaeda and Taliban stronghold and US drones regularly target the region.

The latest deaths come amid rising anti-US anger in Pakistan after a CIA contractor was acquitted of murder.

The freeing of Raymond Davis has sparked protests across Pakistan.

Many people are angered that so-called "blood money" reported to amount to more than $2m (£1.24m) was paid to the families of the two men he killed in Lahore. The relatives then pardoned him under Sharia law and the court freed him.
Militants not 'present'

The BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says Thursday's drone strike is the deadliest such attack since 2006 when 80 people were killed in the tribal region of Bajaur.

Officials say two drones were involved in the latest attack, in the Datta Khel area 40km (25 miles) west of Miranshah.

One missile was fired at a car carrying suspected militants. Local tribesmen say the drones then fired another three missiles at their meeting, or jirga.

Riaz Haq said...

US CIA drones have struck a day after Raymond Davis's release, killing 40 Pakistanis believed to be innocent civilians, and eliciting strong condemnation from Pakistani political and military leaders.

Here's a BBC report:

Pakistan's army chief has condemned the latest raid by US unmanned drones as "intolerable and unjustified".

In a strongly worded statement, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said the attack, which killed about 40 people, was "in complete violation of human rights".

Most of the victims were believed to be civilians attending a tribal meeting near North Waziristan's regional capital, Miranshah.

Tension has been growing in recent weeks between the US and Pakistan.

The US drone attacks are a long-running source of bad feeling, but the acquittal of CIA contractor Raymond Davis of murder has sparked protests across Pakistan.

The Pakistani military often makes statements regretting the loss of life in such incidents, but rarely criticises the attacks themselves.

Gen Kayani, however, said such "acts of violence" make it harder to fight terrorism.

"It is highly regrettable that a jirga [meeting] of peaceful citizens including elders of the area was carelessly and callously targeted with complete disregard to human life," he said.

"It has been highlighted clearly that such aggression against people of Pakistan is unjustified and intolerable under any circumstances."

Pakistan's intelligence agency is often accused of complicity in the raids, either by supporting them or allowing them to happen.

Officials say two drones were involved in the latest attack, in the Datta Khel area 40km (25 miles) west of Miranshah.

One missile was fired at a car carrying suspected militants. Local tribesmen say the drones then fired another three missiles at their open-air meeting, or jirga.

Our correspondent says the car was moving close to the jirga, and the missiles hit the vehicle as well as the jirga.

According to the tribesmen, the meeting was being held to discuss a local land dispute over the ownership of chromite deposits in the area. They say that no militants were present at the time.

Officials said the drones were targeting militants linked to Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur. One of his commanders, identified as Sharabat Khan, was in the vehicle hit in the attack and was killed, one local official told the BBC.

The US military and the CIA do not routinely confirm that they have launched drone operations, and Gen Kayani did not specifically name the US or mention drones.

But analysts say only American forces could deploy such aircraft in the region.

The attacks have escalated in the region since US President Barack Obama took office. More than 100 raids were reported in the area last year.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12779232

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting analysis of US-Pakistan relations as published on Reuters Blog:

...One of the more interesting explanations lies in the statement itself:

“Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, strongly condemns the Predator Strike carried out today in North Waziristan Agency resulting into loss of innocent lives. It is highly regrettable that a jirga of peaceful citizens including elders of the area was carelessly and callously targeted with complete disregard to human life. In complete violation of human rights, such acts of violence take us away from our objective of elimination of terrorism. It is imperative to understand that this critical objective can not be sacrificed for temporary tactical gains. Security of people of Pakistan, in any case, stands above all.”

His criticism of the United States putting tactical gains ahead of the longer-term needs of battling terrorism goes to the heart of the mismatch between U.S. and Pakistani priorities. The United States, keen to end the war in Afghanistan, needs Pakistan’s help quickly in fighting militants on its side of the border. Pakistan says it can’t fight all militant groups at once and that moving too fast would unleash fresh instability in Pakistan itself.
-------------
Now put these comments into the context of the strains in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship. The United States has a short-term priority – to end the war in Afghanistan and bring its troops home by 2014. Pakistan has a long-term challenge in rolling back militant groups — and the mindset that accompanies them — something that could take a generation to achieve. And while the U.S. focus is on Afghanistan, the Pakistan Army’s priority (at risk of stating the obvious) is stability in Pakistan.

With some care and attention, these two different but overlapping priorities, and two different but overlapping timescales, can in theory be reconciled. But the area of overlap is narrow – a bit like a Venn diagram which is also constantly moving, as it is buffeted by volatility of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship and the unpredictability of events in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Imagined this way, you can see why — at least from Pakistan’s point of view – Kayani would argue that, “this critical objective (of the fight against terrorism) can not be sacrificed for temporary tactical gains. Security of people of Pakistan, in any case, stands above all.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from an Op Ed in The Hindu on Wikileaks cables showing growing US and Israeli influence in New Delhi:

The publication and analysis of the US embassy cables accessed by The Hindu through WikiLeaks is ongoing, but what has been made available so far reveals a disturbing picture. The US has acquired an influential position in various spheres - strategic affairs, foreign policy and economic policies. The US has access to the bureaucracy, military, security and intelligence systems and has successfully penetrated them at various levels. The cables cover a period mainly from 2005 to 2009, the very period when the UPA government went ahead to forge the strategic alliance with the US.
--------
The volte face by the Manmohan Singh government in voting against Iran in the IAEA in September 2005 was one such crucial event. The cables illustrate how the US government exercised maximum pressure to achieve this turn around. The Indian government was told that unless India takes a firm stand against Iran, the US Congress would not pass the legislation to approve the nuclear deal.
------------
Other cables reveal how the United States succeeded in getting India to coordinate policy towards other countries in South Asia like Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The close cooperation with Israel under US aegis is also spelt out.

The success achieved in getting India's foreign policy to be "congruent" to US policy is smugly stated in an embassy cable that Indian officials are ‘loathe to admit publicly that India and the US have begun coordinating foreign policies'.
----------
One of the cables from the US ambassador to the American defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld spells out the agenda which the Americans hope to accomplish during the visit. The Defence Framework Agreement was the first of this type to be signed by India with any country. It envisages a whole gamut of cooperation between the armed forces of the two countries. It is evident from the cables that the US government and the Pentagon had been negotiating and planning for such an agreement from the time of the NDA government.
------------
The cables show the growing coordination of the security establishments of the two countries reaching a high level of cooperation after the Mumbai terrorist attack. The then National Security Advisor, M K Narayanan was seen by the Americans as eager to establish a high degree of security cooperation involving agencies such as the FBI and the CIA.

The cables also provide a glimpse of how the Americans are able to penetrate the intelligence and security apparatus. Among the forty cables which were first published by the British paper, The Guardian, there are two instances of improper contacts. In the first case a member of the National Security Advisory Board meets an American embassy official and offers to provide information about Iranian contacts in India and requests for his visit to the United States to be arranged in return. In another case the US embassy reports that it is able to get access to terrorism related information directly from a police official serving in the Delhi Police, rather than going through official channels.
---------------
The collaboration between the intelligence and security agencies of the two countries had already resulted in American penetration. Two cases of espionage had come up. During the NDA government, a RAW officer, Rabinder Singh was recruited by the CIA. When his links were uncovered, he was helped by the CIA to flee to the United States. During the UPA government a systems analyst in the National Security Council secretariat was found to have been recruited by the CIA, the contact having been established through the US-India Cyber Security Forum.


http://www.thehindu.com/news/resources/article1568273.ece

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Guardian Op Ed by an Afghan on grisly photos of dead Afghan civilians along with grinning US soldiers who killed them:

The disgusting and heartbreaking photos published last week in the German media, and more recently in Rolling Stone magazine, are finally bringing the grisly truth about the war in Afghanistan to a wider public. All the PR about this war being about democracy and human rights melts into thin air with the pictures of US soldiers posing with the dead and mutilated bodies of innocent Afghan civilians.

I must report that Afghans do not believe this to be a story of a few rogue soldiers. We believe that the brutal actions of these "kill teams" reveal the aggression and racism which is part and parcel of the entire military occupation. While these photos are new, the murder of innocents is not. Such crimes have sparked many protests in Afghanistan and have sharply raised anti-American sentiment among ordinary Afghans.
----

The "kill team" images will come as a shock to many outside Afghanistan but not to us. We have seen countless incidents of American and Nato forces killing innocent people like birds. For instance, they recently killed nine children in Kunar Province who were collecting firewood. In February this year they killed 65 innocent villagers, most of them women and children. In this case, as in many others, Nato claimed that they had only killed insurgents, even though local authorities acknowledged that the victims were civilians. To prevent the facts coming out they even arrested two journalists from al-Jazeera who attempted to visit and report from the site of the massacre.

Successive US officials have said that they will safeguard civilians and that they will be more careful, but in fact they are only more careful in their efforts to cover up their crimes and suppress reporting of them. The US and Nato, along with the office of the UN's assistance mission in Afghanistan, usually give statistics about civilian deaths that underestimate the numbers. The reality is that President Obama's so-called surge has only led to a surge of violence from all sides, and civilian deaths have increased.

The occupying armies have tried to buy off the families of their victims, offering $2,000 for each one killed. Afghans' lives are cheap for the US and Nato, but no matter how much they offer, we don't want their blood money.

Once you know all this, and once you have seen the "kill team" photos, you will understand more clearly why Afghans have turned against this occupation. The Karzai regime is more hated than ever: it only rules through intimidation, corruption, and with the help of the occupying armies. Afghans deserve much better than this.

However, this does not mean more Afghans are supporting the reactionary so-called resistance of the Taliban. Instead we are seeing the growth, under very difficult conditions, of another resistance led by students, women and the ordinary poor people of Afghanistan. They are taking to the streets to protest against the massacre of civilians and to demand an end to the war. Demonstrations like this were recently held in Kabul, Marzar-e-Sharif, Jalalabad and Farah.

This resistance is inspired by the movements in other countries like Egypt and Tunisia – we want to see "people power" in Afghanistan as well. And we need the support and solidarity of people in the Nato countries.

Many new voices are speaking up against this expensive and hypocritical war in Afghanistan, including soldiers from the Nato armies. When I last visited the UK I had the honour of meeting Joe Glenton, a conscientious objector who spent months in jail for his resistance to the war in Afghanistan. Of his time in prison, Glenton said: "In the current climate I consider it a badge of honour to have served a prison sentence."

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan Tells U.S. It Must Sharply Cut C.I.A. Activities. NY Times

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan has demanded that the United States steeply reduce the number of Central Intelligence Agency operatives and Special Operations forces working in Pakistan, and that it put on hold C.I.A. drone strikes aimed at militants in northwest Pakistan. The request was a sign of the near collapse of cooperation between the two testy allies.
---------
In all, about 335 American personnel — C.I.A. officers and contractors and Special Operations forces — were being asked to leave the country, said a Pakistani official closely involved in the decision.
------------

A C.I.A. spokesman, George Little, called the meetings “productive” and said the relationship between the two services “remains on solid footing.”
------------
The Pakistani Army firmly believes that Washington’s real aim in Pakistan is to strip the nation of its prized nuclear arsenal, which is now on a path to becoming the world’s fifth largest, said the Pakistani official closely involved in the decision on reducing the American presence.
-----------
In a rare public rebuke, a White House report to Congress last week described the Pakistani efforts against the militants as disappointing.

At the time of his arrest, Mr. Davis was involved in a covert C.I.A. effort to penetrate one militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has ties to Pakistan’s military and intelligence establishment, has made deepening inroads in Afghanistan, and is perceived as a global threat.
------------
In addition to the withdrawal of all C.I.A. contractors, Pakistan is demanding the removal of C.I.A. operatives involved in “unilateral” assignments like Mr. Davis’s that the Pakistani intelligence agency did not know about, the Pakistani official said.

An American official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said without elaborating that the Pakistanis had asked “for more visibility into some things” — presumably the nature of C.I.A. covert operations in the country — “and that request is being talked about.”

General Kayani has also told the Obama administration that its expanded drone campaign has gotten out of control, a Pakistani official said. Given the reluctance or inability of the Pakistani military to root out Qaeda and Taliban militants from the tribal areas, American officials have turned more and more to drone strikes, drastically increasing the number of attacks last year.

The drone campaign, which is immensely unpopular among the Pakistani public, had morphed into the sole preserve of the United States, the Pakistani official said, since the Americans were no longer sharing intelligence on how they were choosing targets. The Americans have also extended the strikes to new parts of the tribal region, like the Khyber area near the city of Peshawar.
-----------
“Kayani would like the drones stopped,” said another Pakistani official who met with the military chief recently. “He believes they are used too frequently as a weapon of choice, rather than as a strategic weapon.” Short of that, General Kayani was demanding that the campaign return to its original, more limited, scope and remain focused narrowly on North Waziristan, the prime militant stronghold.
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General Kayani’s request to reduce the number of Special Operations troops by up to 40 percent would result in the closing of the training program begun last year at Warsak, close to Peshawar, an American official said.
.....

Riaz Haq said...

For readers who find it hard to believe RAW or CIA working with Taliban, here are a few questions:

1. Do you know that Hamas was created by Mossad?

2. Do you know that CIA has infiltrated al Qaeda and Taliban ranks?

3. Do you know that Raymond Davis was working with LeT when he was arrested in Lahore?

4. Did you ever hear about the Khost incident where a CIA recruit to infiltrate AQ turned against the CIA and killed several CIA agents and contractors?

Answers to the above can found in the same media, ranging from NY Times, Wall St Journal, Haaretz, New Yorker, that are often quoted as credible.

As a sample of reports on Mossad-Hamas close ties, here's one story by the Wall Street Journal:

Surveying the wreckage of a neighbor's bungalow hit by a Palestinian rocket, retired Israeli official Avner Cohen traces the missile's trajectory back to an "enormous, stupid mistake" made 30 years ago.

"Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel's creation," says Mr. Cohen, a Tunisian-born Jew who worked in Gaza for more than two decades. Responsible for religious affairs in the region until 1994, Mr. Cohen watched the Islamist movement take shape, muscle aside secular Palestinian rivals and then morph into what is today Hamas, a militant group that is sworn to Israel's destruction.

Instead of trying to curb Gaza's Islamists from the outset, says Mr. Cohen, Israel for years tolerated and, in some cases, encouraged them as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its dominant faction, Yasser Arafat's Fatah. Israel cooperated with a crippled, half-blind cleric named Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, even as he was laying the foundations for what would become Hamas. Sheikh Yassin continues to inspire militants today; during the recent war in Gaza, Hamas fighters confronted Israeli troops with "Yassins," primitive rocket-propelled grenades named in honor of the cleric.


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123275572295011847.html

Riaz Haq said...

Is there a difference between "infiltrating" and "working with" as reported about Raymond Davis and LeT?

Let's not forget that CIA moles also facilitate the work of the "bad guys" in the orgs they infiltrate, as was the case with Switzerland's Tinner family, Friedrich Tinner and his two sons, Urs and Marco, who infiltrated the AQ Khan network and helped him for years in nuclear proliferation for personal profit, according to NY Times.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/24/world/europe/24nukes.html?_r=1

Riaz Haq said...

Here are a few excerpts from a News Op Ed by Najam Sethi:

Who could have imagined that a serving commander of the Pakistan Army in the Waziristan badlands would have consciously knocked the popular myth that American drone strikes in Fata are part of the problem and not part of the solution of terrorism? But that’s exactly what happened on March 8.

Maj Gen Ghayur Mehmud, GOC 7th Div North Waziristan, did not mince words in his printed brief ‘“Myths and Rumours about US Predator Strikes” handed out to journalists from his command post in the area. He made two main points: (1) A majority of those killed by drone strikes are “hardcore Taliban or Al Qaeda elements, especially foreigners,” while civilian casualties are “few”. (2) But by scaring local populations and compelling displacement through migration, drone attacks create social and political blowbacks for law enforcement agencies. Obviously, the first consequence is good and welcome as part of the national “solution” strategy and the second is problematic and should be minimised because it creates local “problems” of a tactical nature.

Gen Mehmud hasn’t been fired or reprimanded. This means he had the green signal from the GHQ to make his brief. His statement explains the consciously nurtured “duality” of official policy versus popular position on drone strikes and confirms the Wikileaks summary that both secret authorisation and popular criticism go hand in hand in Pakistan where both civilian and military leaders are on the same page.
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A recent editorial in The Wall Street Journal, a pro-US establishment paper, sums up the American position bluntly. It is titled: The Pakistan Ultimatum: choose whose side it is on. “Maybe the Obama Administration can inform its friends in Islamabad that, when it comes to this particular fight, the U.S. will continue to pursue its enemies wherever they may be, with or without Pakistan’s cooperation... Pakistan can choose to cooperate in that fight and reap the benefits of an American alliance. Or it can oppose the U.S. and reap the consequences, including the loss of military aid, special-ops and drone incursions into their frontier areas, and in particular a more robust U.S. military alliance with India... After 9/11 Pakistan had to choose whose side it was on. It’s time to present Pakistan with the same choice again.

So it’s time for Pakistan’s military leaders to make up their minds and deal with its consequences. They must be upfront with America – because it’s a greatly beneficial “friend” to have and a deadly “enemy” to make – and honest with Pakistanis – because they’re not stupid and can eventually see through duplicity, as they did in the Raymond Davis case.

The military cannot forever hunt with America and run with an anti-American Pakistani public they have helped to create. They cannot instruct the DG-ISPR in Islamabad to convey the impression of tough talking in Langley while asking the GOC 7 Division in Waziristan to give a realistic brief to the media about the critical benefits of drone strikes amidst all the “myths and rumours” of their negativity. This double-dealing confuses the public, annoys a strategic partner, and discredits the military all round when it is exposed.
---------
The duality or contradiction in the military’s private and public position vis a vis its relationship with civilians in Pakistan and its relationship with America is a direct consequence of two inter-related factors: First, the military’s threat perception of India’s rising military capability, and second, its fear of losing control over India-centred national security policy to the civilians who are keen to start the process of building permanent peace in the region, thereby diluting the military’s pre-eminent role in Pakistan’s polity.----------

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts from a CNN report on the closure of Shamsi airfield in Pakistan used by the CIA to launch drone strikes in FATA region:

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- A senior Pakistani intelligence official told CNN Friday that U.S. military personnel have left a southern base said to be a key hub for American drone operations in the country's northwestern tribal areas.

It is the Shamsi Air Base in Pakistan's Balochistan Province, from which drones are said to take off and where they are refueled for operations against Islamic militants.

The development comes amid a public furor over American drone attacks, which have killed civilians.

A suspected U.S. drone strike Friday in the Pakistani tribal region killed 25 people, including eight civilians and 17 militants, a Pakistani intelligence source said. This came after another strike on March 17 killed 44 people, most of them civilians.
---------
The departure of American personnel -- if confirmed -- would be significant because of increasing strain between Islamabad and Washington sparked by the continuing drone attacks and by the Raymond Davis affair, in which a CIA contractor fatally shot two Pakistani men in a Lahore neighborhood.

It has always been unclear how many drone bases the United States operates in or near Pakistan. But the Friday attack in North Waziristan that killed 25 people would indicate the United States maintains the capability to strike tribal areas with drones.

Carl Forsberg, research analyst at the Institute for the Study of War think tank, said he doesn't think the alleged move will affect the effort using drones to target the Haqqani Network and other militant groups holed up in the tribal region.

That's because many strikes have been conducted from closer bases, such as those across the Pakistani border in eastern Afghan provinces. He said the Pakistanis could be making the alleged move to appease a populace angry at the United States.

The southern air base, he said, doesn't appear to be integral to the tribal area fight and is probably a supporting base.

"It's not like the Pakistanis shut down the program," he said. "It's possible they want to do this as a means of pre-empting drone strikes in Balochistan," where there is a Taliban presence.

"The United States has an interest in going after the Taliban in Balochistan" he said, and in an ideal world the United States would like to target Taliban sanctuaries in that region with drones.

Also, he said, it's possible the Pakistanis are using pressure on the United States to offset any U.S. pressure on them.

He said it's no coincidence that the development emerged after Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Islamabad.

In an interview that aired Wednesday on Pakistan's Geo TV, Mullen spoke forcefully about the Haqqani Network, which he said "very specifically facilitates and supports the Taliban who move in Afghanistan, and they're killing Americans."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an LA Times story about new Wikileaks disclosures worsening already bad CIA-ISI ties:

Authorities at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, regarded Pakistan's national intelligence agency, or ISI, as either involved in or supporting terrorism, according to leaked documents made public Monday, a designation that could anger leaders in the nuclear-armed Muslim country and worsen a relationship already marred by deep distrust.
-----------
But the latest disclosure, made in a new round of documents obtained and released by the website WikiLeaks that focuses on U.S. handling of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, comes at a time when relations between Washington and Islamabad are at one of their lowest points.

The September 2007 document, entitled "Matrix of Threat Indicators for Enemy Combatants," lists the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, Pakistan's main intelligence agency, as one of 65 "terrorist and terrorist support entities." The list, which also includes Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Taliban, was drafted to help interrogators at Guantanamo determine a detainee's linkage with terrorist organizations and what future threat the individual may pose.

"Through associations with these groups and organizations," the document states, "a detainee may have provided support to Al Qaeda or the Taliban, or engaged in hostilities against U.S. or coalition forces."

Pakistani intelligence officials refused to comment Monday on the document. The country's intelligence community previously has denied any links with militant groups.

The ISI has been long said to have nurtured ties with Afghan mujahedin groups who years ago battled Soviet forces and later evolved into insurgents fighting U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. The ISI also fostered the growth of militant groups fighting Indian troops in the disputed region of Kashmir — groups that have carried out terrorist strikes within Pakistan and coordinate with Al Qaeda.

The CIA has channeled hundreds of millions of dollars directly to the ISI since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, some of which is supposed to help pay for the capture or killing of Al Qaeda and Taliban militants.
--------
In recent months, there has been a near-freeze in cooperation between the CIA and the ISI, a conflict fueled largely by the case of Raymond Davis, the American who shot to death two Pakistani men in Lahore on Jan. 27. Davis has said the men were trying to rob him. Angered by the revelation that Davis was a CIA contractor, the ISI put joint operations with the CIA on hold and later demanded a sharp reduction in the number of the American intelligence agency's operatives in Pakistan, as well as detailed information on the assignments of its remaining personnel.
------------
U.S. frustration with Pakistan has centered on Washington's long-held suspicions that the ISI provides support and sanctuary to the Haqqani network, believed responsible for many of the attacks on U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces in eastern Afghanistan.

Among the documents disclosed by WikiLeaks was a report on the interrogation of Guantanamo detainee Harun Afghani, an Afghan militant who talked of direct support given by the ISI to militants fighting in Afghanistan in 2006. Afghani told interrogators that an ISI officer paid $11,700 to a militant who was transporting ammunition to a weapons depot operated by the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Afghani also told interrogators about a meeting in August 2006 between Pakistani military and intelligence officials and commanders from Al Qaeda, the Taliban and the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba to discuss ratcheting up attacks in the provinces of Kapisa, Kunar, Laghman and Nangarhar in eastern Afghanistan.

Riaz Haq said...

A Guardian newspaper report says that "An al-Qaida operative accused of bombing two Christian churches and a luxury hotel in Pakistan in 2002 was at the same time working for British intelligence, according to secret files on detainees who were shipped to the US military's Guantánamo Bay prison camp."

Adil Hadi al Jazairi Bin Hamlili
CIA believed Adil Hadi al Jazairi Bin Hamlili ‘withheld important information’ from British intelligence, the files reveal.

Adil Hadi al Jazairi Bin Hamlili, an Algerian citizen described as a "facilitator, courier, kidnapper, and assassin for al-Qaida", was detained in Pakistan in 2003 and later sent to Guantánamo Bay.

But according to Hamlili's Guantánamo "assessment" file, one of 759 individual dossiers obtained by the Guardian, US interrogators were convinced that he was simultaneously acting as an informer for British and Canadian intelligence.

After his capture in June 2003 Hamlili was transferred to Bagram detention centre, north of Kabul, where he underwent numerous "custodial interviews" with CIA personnel.

They found him "to have withheld important information from the Canadian Secret Intelligence Service and British Secret Intelligence Service … and to be a threat to US and allied personnel in Afghanistan and Pakistan".

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Op Ed by a retired Indian diplomat KH Bhadrakumar published in The Hindu:

The fact of the matter is that the U.S. has been holding direct talks with the Taliban. It has been able to do this largely because of the extensive intelligence network it has created in Pakistan — which became possible because Islamabad allowed it to happen. That, ironically, enables Washington to dispense with the good offices of the Pakistani military and the ISI, and opt for direct interaction with the insurgent groups. The U.S. intelligence network within Pakistan has penetrated the range of insurgent groups — the Afghan Taliban, the “Pakistan Taliban,” and non-Taliban (Afghan and Pakistani) militant groups. Evidently, if the drone attacks are becoming more “result-oriented,” it is due to real-time intelligence inputs. During the six weeks of gruelling interrogation of U.S. intelligence operative Raymond Davis, the Pakistani military caught on to a host of home truths. By now, the Pakistani military would have a fair idea of the extent of the American intelligence network and its potential to play merry havoc by splintering insurgent groups, pitting one group against another, manipulating factionalism within groups, monitoring the terror network and, conceivably, even turning some of the insurgent groups into instruments of U.S. regional policies. (Tehran insists that the U.S. is indulging in covert operations in Pakistan and Iran.)

Suffice it to say the Pakistani military leadership wishes to draw a redline for the U.S.' covert operations so that Washington will be compelled to deal with militant Afghan groups through the single window of the ISI — within the parameters set by what old-timers call the “[Ronald] Reagan rules” during the Afghan jihad of the 1980s. There is hardly any leeway for Pakistan to compromise on this demand, which aims at revising the ground rules of the U.S.-Pakistan strategic partnership in the conduct of the Afghan war (based hitherto on unspoken, unwritten, ever-deniable and flexible templates of collaboration).
-----------
Of course, Pakistan is justified in wondering what is there for it in this scenario. This wasn't how the war was supposed to end. Obviously, Washington's priorities will change once the intensity of the fighting declines. For one thing, the U.S. aid flow will decline. Once the U.S. strengthens its direct line to the insurgents, its dependence on the Pakistani military can only decline. But Pakistan's objective of gaining “strategic depth” in Afghanistan remains elusive. Equally, Pakistan will be left grappling with an assortment of militant groups along its long, disputed border with Afghanistan that have been highly radicalised by the U.S.-led war. These include some groups which have been alienated one way or the other by Pakistan's role as the U.S.' “key non-NATO ally.”

Pakistan faces an existential crisis in its Pashtun tribal tract that has borne the brunt of the U.S.-led war. As last Saturday's London Times report shows, there will be all sorts of attempts to muddy the waters. It suits the U.S. strategy to give the Afghan endgame the exaggerated overtones of an India-Pakistan turf war. The Indian establishment acted wisely to open dialogue with Pakistan in Mohali.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Wall Street Journal report saying Pakistan wants Karzai to dump US:

Pakistan is lobbying Afghanistan's president against building a long-term strategic partnership with the U.S., urging him instead to look to Pakistan—and its Chinese ally—for help in striking a peace deal with the Taliban and rebuilding the economy, Afghan officials say.
----------
Pakistan enjoys particular leverage in Afghanistan because of its historic role in fostering the Taliban movement and its continuing support for the Afghan Taliban insurgency. Washington's relations with Pakistan, ostensibly an ally, have reached their lowest point in years following a series of missteps on both sides.

Pakistani officials say they no longer have an incentive to follow the American lead in their own backyard. "Pakistan is sole guarantor of its own interest," said a senior Pakistani official. "We're not looking for anyone else to protect us, especially the U.S. If they're leaving, they're leaving and they should go."
-----------
The leaks about what went on at the April 16 meeting officials appear to be part of that effort. Afghans in the pro-U.S. camp who shared details of the meeting with The Wall Street Journal said they did so to prompt the U.S. to move faster toward securing the strategic partnership agreement, which is intended to spell out the relationship between the two countries after 2014. "The longer they wait…the more time Pakistan has to secure its interests," said one of the pro-U.S. Afghan officials.
-------

Yet in a reflection of U.S. concerns about Pakistan's overtures, the commander of the U.S.-led coalition, Gen. David Petraeus, has met Mr. Karzai three times since April 16, in part to reassure the Afghan leader that he has America's support, and to nudge forward progress on the partnership deal, said Afghan and U.S. officials.
----------
Formal negotiations on the so-called Strategic Partnership Declaration began in March. Details of talks between U.S. and Afghan negotiators so far remain sketchy. The most hotly contested issue is the possibility of long-term U.S. military bases remaining in Afghanistan beyond 2014 to buttress and continue training Afghan forces and carry on the fight against al Qaeda.
-----------
The opening of talks in March was enough to raise alarms among Afghanistan's neighbors. Senior Iranian and Russian officials quickly made treks to Kabul to express their displeasure at the possibility of a U.S. military presence after 2014, Afghan officials said. The Taliban have always said they wouldn't sign on to any peace process as long as foreign forces remain.
------------
Mr. Gilani repeatedly referred to America's "imperial designs," playing to a theme that Mr. Karzai has himself often embraced in speeches. He also said that, to end the war, Afghanistan and Pakistan needed to take "ownership" of the peace process, according to Afghans familiar with what was said at the meeting. Mr. Gilani added that America's economic problems meant it couldn't be expected to support long-term regional development. A better partner would be China, which Pakistanis call their "all-weather" friend, he said, according to participants in the meeting. He said the strategic partnership deal was ultimately an Afghan decision. But, he added, neither Pakistan nor other neighbors were likely to accept such a pact.
----------
Although a U.S. ally, Pakistan has its own interests in Afghanistan, believing it needs a pliant government in Kabul to protect its rear flank from India. Pakistani officials regularly complain of how India's influence over Afghanistan has grown in the past decade. Some Pakistani officials say the presence of U.S. and allied forces is the true problem in the region, not the Taliban.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times story about shifting loyalties of a Libyan who has gone from being a US ally to an adversary and back to being an ally in Libya again:

For more than five years, Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamuda bin Qumu was a prisoner at the Guantánamo Bay prison, judged “a probable member of Al Qaeda” by the analysts there. They concluded in a newly disclosed 2005 assessment that his release would represent a “medium to high risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to the U.S., its interests and allies.”

Today, Mr. Qumu, 51, is a notable figure in the Libyan rebels’ fight to oust Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, reportedly a leader of a ragtag band of fighters known as the Darnah Brigade for his birthplace, this shabby port town of 100,000 people in northeast Libya. The former enemy and prisoner of the United States is now an ally of sorts, a remarkable turnabout resulting from shifting American policies rather than any obvious change in Mr. Qumu.

He was a tank driver in the Libyan Army in the 1980s, when the Central Intelligence Agency was spending billions to support religious militants trying to drive Soviet troops out of Afghanistan. Mr. Qumu moved to Afghanistan in the early 1990s, just as Osama bin Laden and other former mujahedeen were violently turning against their former benefactor, the United States.

He was captured in Pakistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, accused of being a member of the militant Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, and sent to Guantánamo — in part because of information provided by Colonel Qaddafi’s government.

“The Libyan Government considers detainee a ‘dangerous man with no qualms about committing terrorist acts,’ ” says the classified 2005 assessment, evidently quoting Libyan intelligence findings, which was obtained by The New York Times. “ ‘He was known as one of the extremist commanders of the Afghan Arabs,’ ” the Libyan information continues, referring to Arab fighters who remained in Afghanistan after the anti-Soviet jihad.

When that Guantánamo assessment was written, the United States was working closely with Colonel Qaddafi’s intelligence service against terrorism. Now, the United States is a leader of the international coalition trying to oust Colonel Qaddafi — and is backing with air power the rebels, including Mr. Qumu.

The classified Guantánamo assessment of Mr. Qumu claims that he suffered from “a non-specific personality disorder” and recounted — again citing the Libyan government as its source — a history of drug addiction and drug dealing and accusations of murder and armed assault.

In 1993, the document asserts, Mr. Qumu escaped from a Libyan prison, fled to Egypt and went on to Afghanistan, training at a camp run by Mr. bin Laden. At Guantánamo, Mr. Qumu denied knowledge of terrorist activities. He said he feared being returned to Libya, where he faced criminal charges, and asked to go to some other country where “You (the United States) can watch me,” according to a hearing summary.

Nonetheless, in 2007, he was sent from Guantánamo to Libya and released the next year in an amnesty for militants.

Colonel Qaddafi has cited claims about Mr. Qumu’s past in statements blaming Al Qaeda for the entire Libyan uprising. American officials have nervously noted the presence of at least a few former militants in the rebels’ ranks.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ABC News report on Navy Seals operation to kill Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan:

The Navy SEAL team of military operatives who killed Osama bin Laden in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan on Sunday night was made up of some of the best-trained troops in the world. SEAL Team Six, the "Naval Special Warfare Development Group," was the main force involved in Sunday's firefight.

The daring operation began when two U.S. helicopters flew in low from Afghanistan and swept into the compound where Osama bin Laden was thought to be hiding late Sunday night Pakistan time, or Sunday afternoon Washington time. Twenty to 25 U.S. Navy SEALs disembarked from the helicopters as soon as they were in position and stormed the compound. The White House says they killed bin Laden and at least four others with him. The team was on the ground for only 40 minutes, most of that was time spent scrubbing the compound for information about al Qaeda and its plans.

The Navy SEAL team on this mission was supported by helicopter pilots from the 160th Special Ops Air Regiment, part of the Joint Special Operations Command. The CIA was the operational commander of the mission, but it was tasked to Special Forces.

U.S. Navy Sea, Air and Land Teams, commonly known as SEAL Teams, are the best of the best. Their creed is to be "a special breed of warrior ready to answer our nation's call."


In an interview with ARY TV, retired Pakistani Army chief Aslam Beg speculated that the Americans may have jammed Pakistani air defense system to avoid detection during the operation reportedly carried out by US helicopters flying in from Afghanistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a contrarian view of the events in Abbottabad as published in Indian Telegraph newspaper:

--------
The army faction that supports a deep alliance with the US has won out and proved its loyalty to Washington.

Contrary to the carefully cultivated perception in Washington and Islamabad about the fallout of killing Osama, a new phase in the US-Pakistan security alliance has been sealed in Abbottabad with the blood of the Saudi billionaire-turned-terrorist.

The best accounts of the operation which killed bin Laden are not to be found in the US media, which is behaving as if it is embedded with the CIA like American journalists were with the US forces during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and swallowed army propaganda for which newspapers like The Washington Post later apologised.

Revealing details about Sunday’s Abbottabad operation are to be found in the Chinese media, especially China’s official news agency, Xinhua, which has no pretensions to media freedom unlike its American counterparts.

The Chinese have the best sources in Pakistan, given the all-weather friendship between Islamabad and Beijing.

Xinhua says electricity was cut off to Abbottabad as the operation to kill Osama began. That shows complicity with the Americans not only within the Army General Headquarters in Rawalpindi but down the line to the local administration that controls the electricity switching stations.

Xinhua says security forces cordoned off the entire area near Osama’s safe house before the Americans attacked it and no one was allowed to enter or leave the operational surroundings during the attack.

That only means the Pakistanis knew what was going to take place, although it is only logical that reasons for sealing off the area would not have been communicated down the line to the local police or paramilitary units.

Xinhua also says residents of Abbottabad took videos and cellphone pictures from their rooftops as the spectacular helicopter landing and firefight was under way.

But Pakistani security forces went round from house to house collecting memory cards from cameras and seizing videos from residents soon enough so that the pictures were not transmitted freelance by what modern TV would call citizen journalists.

All this could not have been organised by the Pakistanis after the event, which means, circumstantially, that the killing of Osama was a well co-ordinated US-Pakistani operation down to local ward-level in Abbottabad.

Besides, Abbottabad is the seat of a brigade of the second division of Pakistan’s Northern Army Corps and several other sensitive army establishments, including a key military training academy.

Metaphorically, even a fly cannot circle the skies of that city without escaping the attention of the defence network that guards Abbottabad.

It is for this reason and to keep up the fiction that the US and Pakistan did not co-operate in killing Osama that an official statement was issued in Islamabad today that “US helicopters entered Pakistani airspace making use of blind spots in the radar coverage due to hilly terrain”.

The statement added that “US helicopters’ undetected flight into Pakistan was also facilitated by the... efficacious use of latest technology and ‘nap of the earth’ flying techniques”.

At the same time, the Pakistan Army did not want its people to lose faith in Rawalpindi as the guardian of their country’s borders and their defence.

Hence, a paragraph in the statement which asserts that “it may not be realistic to draw an analogy between this undefended civilian area and some military (and) security installations which have elaborate local defence arrangements”.------

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some interesting comments by Jeremy Scahill, a journalist who has researched and written extensively about CIA and JSOC, as published on Democracy Now website:

Also, on the issue of the helicopter, I mean, we understand that it was what’s called a Little Bird helicopter, which is a very lightweight helicopter that Blackwater types and JSOC types have often used in Iraq and, to an extent, in Afghanistan. The reports are that it was then destroyed by the U.S. forces after it went down. And the official line is that it was a mechanical failure. There are other reports that say that it was brought down by some kind of arms fire from within the compound, and we probably won’t know that. I would concur with what Mosharraf is saying. I mean, the idea that U.S. Special Ops forces are operating in Pakistan without the knowledge of the Pakistani government is, in fact, ludicrous. And that’s why, when this deal was originally brokered by Musharraf and McChrystal, the public posture had to be that the Pakistanis would deny it.

Let’s remember, too, that this killing of Osama bin Laden takes place just months after Raymond Davis, who was a man who straddled the world of both the CIA and Special Operations forces, killed two men in Lahore, Pakistan, and then, after weeks of controversy, was eventually taken out of the country after payments were made to the families of his victims. One of the things that Raymond Davis is suspected of having done inside of Pakistan was having communications with people in the tribal areas, but also potentially targeting Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is a terrorist organization behind the Mumbai bombings that has been designated by the U.S. as a state sponsor of terrorism and that the U.S. accuses of having very close ties to the ISI. So, the timing of this operation coming as soon as it did after this epic scandal with Raymond Davis, perhaps the most serious crisis between Pakistan and U.S. governments in a decade, or maybe even since the ransacking of the U.S. embassy in Islamabad in 1979, is curious, to say the least.

But I think there’s two questions here. Were the Pakistanis giving sanctuary to Osama bin Laden in this town that Mosharraf has just described, a heavily populated town with big military presence? And what was the full role of the Pakistani government in ultimately killing Osama bin Laden? Because it was Special Ops forces and not the CIA, it would indicate that there had to have been very high-level discussions between the U.S. and Pakistan about this, but the Obama administration says no intelligence was shared with any government, including the Pakistani. So this mystery, I think, is going to continue to deepen.


http://www.democracynow.org/2011/5/2/did_pakistani_govt_know_where_osama

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an MSNBC report about US contingency plans to "secure" Pakistani nuclear weapons:

It’s no secret that the United States has a plan to try to grab Pakistan’s nuclear weapons -- if and when the president believes they are a threat to either the U.S. or U.S. interests. Among the scenarios seen as most likely: Pakistan plunging into internal chaos, terrorists mounting a serious attack against a nuclear facility, hostilities breaking out with India or Islamic extremists taking charge of the government or the Pakistan army.

In the aftermath of the bin Laden raid, U.S. military officials have testified before Congress about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and the threat posed by “loose nukes” – nuclear weapons or materials outside the government’s control. And earlier Pentagon reports also outline scenarios in which U.S. forces would intervene to secure nuclear weapons that were in danger of falling into the wrong hands.

But out of fear of further antagonizing an important ally, officials have simultaneously tried to tone down the rhetoric by stressing progress made by Islamabad on the security front.

Such discussions of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, now believed to consist of as many as 115 nuclear bombs and missile warheads, have gotten the attention of current and former Pakistani officials. In an interview with NBC News early this month, Musharraf warned that a snatch-and-grab operation would lead to all-out war between the countries, calling it “total confrontation by the whole nation against whoever comes in.”

“These are assets which are the pride of Pakistan, assets which are dispersed and very secure in very secure places, guarded by a corps of 18,000 soldiers,” said a combative Musharraf, who led Pakistan for nearly a decade and is again running for president. “… (This) is not an army which doesn't know how to fight. This is an army which has fought three wars. Please understand that.”

Pervez Hoodboy, Pakistan’s best known nuclear physicist and a human rights advocate, rarely agrees with the former president. But he, too, says a U.S. attempt to take control of Pakistan’s nukes would be foolhardy.

“They are said to be hidden in tunnels under mountains, in cities, as well as regular air force and army bases,” he said. “A U.S. snatch operation could trigger war; it should never be attempted.”

Despite such comments, interviews with current and former U.S. officials, military reports and even congressional testimony indicate that Pakistan’s weaponry has been the subject of continuing discussions, scenarios, war games and possibly even military exercises by U.S. intelligence and special operations forces regarding so-called “snatch-and-grab” operations.

“It’s safe to assume that planning for the worst-case scenario regarding Pakistan nukes has ready taken place inside the U.S. government,” said Roger Cressey, former deputy director of counterterrorism in the Clinton and Bush White House and an NBC News consultant. “This issue remains one of the highest priorities of the U.S. intelligence community ... and the White House.”


http://openchannel.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/08/03/7189919-us-prepares-for-worst-case-scenario-with-pakistan-nukes

Riaz Haq said...

Leaked emails by wikileaks suggest that dead Pakistani journalist Saleem Shahzad was working for the CIA. The emails show Stratfor's web of informers, pay-off structure, payment laundering techniques and psychological methods:

Email-ID 1644311
Date 2011-06-01 15:50:16
From burton@stratfor.com
To sean.noonan@stratfor.com, hoor.jangda@stratfor.com, secure@stratfor.com
The most interesting aspect is the killing of a journalist. Fine line
between an investigative journalist and spy. When you rattle around
topics nobody wants aired, you pay the price. Truth tellers always get
shot. Its much easier to lie or make up stories.

On 6/1/2011 8:46 AM, Sean Noonan wrote:

http://www.amazon.com/Bloodmoney-Novel-Espionage-David-Ignatius/dp/0393078116/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1306935919&sr=8-1

i don't think we're going anywhere with this SSS thing, though it is
interesting.
On 6/1/11 8:41 AM, Fred Burton wrote:

The poor bastard went down the rabbit hole and was neutralized.

ISI is fully infiltrated by sympathizers and operatives. So, he was
killed by ISI. Will we find a smoking gun? No. Will anybody care
about this dude? Not really. The Agency lost an asset. Life goes
on. There is a reason the CIA set up unilateral operations in
Pakistan.

Suggest everyone read David Ignatius new book on CIA NOC and front
company operations in Pakistan. Once again, he has gotten dead
right.

On 6/1/2011 8:06 AM, Sean Noonan wrote:

the question, though, is still who did it.

It means very different things if it is the ISI, the traditional
military, or the jihadists. Then a question of who within those
groups can also mean different things. Not saying we can answer that
very easily, but who specifically killed who (with the support of
who) would explain if there is an issue or not. Operating between
the intelligence services and jihadists is a very, very dangerous
place- so it's not all that surprising that these deaths occur. And
as tensions go up, so will those deaths. But we would have to know
the same people were involved in the deaths to really know what 'the
issue' actually is.
On 6/1/11 7:59 AM, Kamran Bokhari wrote:

The issue is not the man himself (though I am personally spooked
out because I knew him and we met not too long ago and he wrote on
my fb wall a day before he went missing). Instead the issue is the
growing number of deaths of people who have been supportive of
jihadists. Recall KK and Col Imam and now Triple-S. The other
thing is that each of these 3 people were with the ISI at one
point. A former army chief confirmed to me that SSS was at one
point on the payroll. Each of these guys had a falling out with
the official ISI but maintained links deep within the service.
These guys have also had ties to jihadists of one type while
pissing off other more radical types.

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


http://wikileaks.org/gifiles/docs/1644311_re-pakistan-journalist-vanishes-is-the-isi-involved-.html

http://books.google.com/books?id=fQLfrQzfpxsC&printsec=frontcover&dq=bloodmoney&hl=en&sa=X&ei=vdZcT_CSDu3KiAKNzb2ECw&ved=0CDoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=bloodmoney&f=false

Riaz Haq said...

Washington: Leon Panetta as head of the CIA had sought setting up a parallel spy body inside Pakistan hidden from its premier intelligence agency ISI, a noted Pakistani author has disclosed, adding that the recommendation along with others were accepted by the Obama Administration.

In his latest book "Pakistan on the Brink: The Future of America, Pakistan and Afghanistan", noted Pakistani author Ahmed Rashid said on Monday such a recommendation by Panetta, who then headed the CIA, was given sometime after September 2009, when the White House was conducting a long assessment of his options.

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/panetta-sought-parallel-intelligence-body-in-pak/240770-2.html

Riaz Haq said...

Dr. Afridi, a Pakistani physician working for Save the Children, was used by the CIA to spy on bin Laden in Abbottabad before the US raid. To put it in perspective, here's interesting piece on how CIA operates through various commercial and non-profit organizations in foreign nations:

Everyone knows that the CIA funds various covert operations throughout the world. They do this through various front organizations including known CIA operations groups which funnel funds to “various non-governmental agencies” (NGOs) which then use those funds to achieve objectives both foreign and domestic. There is a tremendous history of this funneling to quasi-private organizations … but it’s also interesting how overt some of it is. Much of how the CIA operates has bubbled up due to failures and successes around the world in countries like Venezuela, Egypt, Pakistan and thanks to some American whistle-blowers.

The #1 thing you have to understand about this…all of this taxpayer money (your money) that is being spent to further geopolitical and corporate goals is not just money spent to overthrow foreign governments…a good amount of that money is being spent to influence the hearts and minds in America too.

America is a case study of how to successfully let the tail wag the dog; there are a LOT of journalists, editors and influential people on the take (propaganda assets). And they’re is always a concerted effort to punish those of us who share any semblance of truth....


http://pakdefenceunit.wordpress.com/2012/04/16/how-the-cia-operates-through-non-governmental-agencies/

A recent CBS 60 Minutes segment on CIA agent Hank Crumpton confirmed how CIA agents operate under cover in various countries.

"A particular U.S. company can provide cover for a CIA officer who's deployed overseas. A U.S. executive who's traveled abroad can come back and agree to a debriefing from the CIA. A foreign institution may have a relationship with an American institution. And that might be a pathway for the CIA to acquire foreign intelligence."

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57433105/hank-crumpton-life-as-a-spy/?tag=contentMain;cbsCarousel

HopeWins said...

Dr. Haq,

I see that you have written a lot of articles on ISI, CIA, RAW, Khad/RAM (Riyasati Amniyati Milli), KGB/SVR, etcetera, so I presume that you have some understanding of how intelligence organizations operate all over the world.

As you know the CIA & the KGB were opponents during the cold war. The ISI and the RAW have always been opponents. And ISI and Khad/RAM are now opponents.

Can you recall a single incident during the whole Cold War period in which the KGB carried out the assassination of a serving CIA officer, either directly or indirectly via proxies? Conversely, can you find a single incident where CIA carried out such a hit against KGB officers?

Yes, the KGB would pick-up spies on the CIA payroll inside the USSR and they would be sentenced to death or prison in Siberia. Yes, the CIA would pick-up spies on the KGB payroll inside the USA and they sentenced to prison or given the death-sentence. That is just part of the job. But can find a single event in which actual KGB or CIA officers were killed by the other side in a DELIBERATE assassination-style hit, either directly or indirectly?

If you research this issue, you will see that this never happened.

Similarly, the ISI routinely picks-up spies on RAW's payroll inside Pakistan and they are usually sentenced to life in prison. Conversely, and obviously, RAW routinely picks-up spies on the ISI payroll inside India and they are also usually sentenced to life in prison.

But have you ever heard of an ISI officer being assassinated by RAW, either directly or indirectly through proxies? Have you heard of a RAW officer being assassinated by the ISI, either directly or indirectly?

Again, this does not happen.

Why?

This is because all intelligence agencies follow a CARDINAL rule: "No agency is to carry out a hit on the serving officers of the opposition agency".

--

Now look at what has happened in Afghanistan recently: Numerous serving CIA and RAM Officers have been deliberately targeted and assassinated by suicide bombers. These suicide bombers are not from Mullah Omar's Taliban, as suicide bombing is not their specialty. These suicide bombers are from the Haqqani Network, which essentially takes orders from the ISI.

So the ISI has now broken the CARDINAL rule.

Now my question is this: Since the ISI has now broken the CARDINAL rule and crossed that dreaded line, what lies in the future for Pakistan? Surely we don't think that CIA and RAM are going to just look the other way and forget all this ever happened?

Even if we dismiss RAM as a small, amateur agency by itself, surely we cannot dismiss the CIA. It is the premier intelligence agency of the sole hyper-power in the world. CIA's budget is half the GDP of Pakistan. Their budget is 20 times our military budget and 200 times the budget of the ISI.

What is the CIA planning now for Pakistan? Are they thirsting for revenge? Are they cooking up a plan to teach the ISI/Army a lesson? Are they planning to teach all of us a lesson we will never forget?

They might not do very much now, since the US still needs the transit route in Pakistan for their bulk withdrawal in 2014. But once the bulk of the troops exit and they no longer need Pakistan, what will the CIA do? Will they and their proxies begin a campaign of killing against the ISI/Army? Will the CIA pay us back in our own coin? Will we face a tsunami of horrific terror, the likes of which the world have never seen before? Will a whirlwind of destruction rumble across Pakistan? Will there be a deliberately-orchestrated orgy of sectarian killings across the country? Will Pakistan be engulfed in a tempest of fire & sword? Will there ever even be an end to the bloodshed and slaughter?

How did we get into this mess? Who authorized the Army to mess with the USA? who directed the ISI to arrange hits against the serving officers of the CIA? Who is in charge of policy, strategy and tactics in Pakistan?

Dr. Haq, I am deeply worried about all this.....

Thank you.

Riaz Haq said...

HopeWins:

CIA is no longer just an intelligence agency. Its responsibilities in GWOT go far beyond collecting information and carrying out occasional sabotage to disrupt the enemy. It's in fact engaged in active combat.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts of NY Times summary of “The Way of the Knife: The C.I.A., a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth” by Mark Mazzetti:

More than two years later, the Raymond Davis episode has been largely forgotten in the United States. It was immediately overshadowed by the dramatic raid months later that killed Osama bin Laden — consigned to a footnote in the doleful narrative of America’s relationship with Pakistan. But dozens of interviews conducted over several months, with government officials and intelligence officers in Pakistan and in the United States, tell a different story: that the real unraveling of the relationship was set off by the flurry of bullets Davis unleashed on the afternoon of Jan. 27, 2011, and exacerbated by a series of misguided decisions in the days and weeks that followed. In Pakistan, it is the Davis affair, more than the Bin Laden raid, that is still discussed in the country’s crowded bazaars and corridors of power.
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Back in Washington, Ambassador Haqqani was summoned to C.I.A. headquarters on Feb. 21 and taken into Panetta’s spacious office overlooking the agency’s campus in Langley, Va. Sitting around a large conference table, Panetta asked Haqqani for his help securing Davis’s release. “If you’re going to send a Jason Bourne character to Pakistan, he should have the skills of a Jason Bourne to get away,” Haqqani shot back, according to one person who attended the meeting.
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Munter said he believed that the C.I.A. was being reckless and that his position as ambassador was becoming untenable. His relationship with the C.I.A. station chief in Islamabad, already strained because of their disagreements over the handling of the Davis case, deteriorated even further when Munter demanded that the C.I.A. give him the chance to call off specific missile strikes. During one screaming match between the two men, Munter tried to make sure the station chief knew who was in charge, only to be reminded of who really held the power in Pakistan.
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On the streets and in the markets of Pakistan, Raymond Davis remains the boogeyman, an American killer lurking in the subconscious of a deeply insecure nation. On a steamy summer night last summer, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed — the head of Lashkar-e-Taiba and the reason Davis and his team were sent to Lahore in the first place — stood on the back of a flatbed truck and spoke to thousands of cheering supporters less than a mile from Pakistan’s Parliament building in Islamabad. A $10 million American bounty still hung over Saeed’s head, part of a broader squeeze on Lashkar-e-Taiba’s finances. But there he was, out in the open and whipping the crowd into a fury with a pledge to “rid Pakistan of American slavery.” The rally was the culmination of a march from Lahore to Islamabad that Saeed ordered to protest American involvement in the country. The night before the march reached the capital, six Pakistani troops were killed by gunmen riding motorcycles not far from where the marchers were spending the night, leading to speculation that Saeed had ordered the attack.

But Saeed insisted that night that he was not to blame for the deaths. The killers were foreigners, he told the crowd, a group of assassins with a secret agenda to destabilize Pakistan and steal its nuclear arsenal. With a dramatic flourish, he said he knew exactly who had killed the men.

“It was the Americans!” he shouted to loud approvals. “It was Blackwater!” The cheers grew even louder. He saved the biggest applause line ...


www.nytimes.com/2013/04/14/magazine/raymond-davis-pakistan.html