Thursday, December 31, 2009

American CIA's "Secret" War in Pakistan

The publicly-acknowledged recent deaths of several CIA agents and Blackwater personnel in a suicide bombing in Khost, Afghanistan, have once again brought the CIA's and its private contractors' combat role into sharp focus. Apparently, the attacker was a potential CIA "asset" recruited to identify targets for covert missions in Pakistan. He appears to have worn an explosives-laden suicide vest under an Afghan National Army uniform, two NATO officials told the media. The attack happened close to dusk, when some people at the base were relaxing before dinner. In a statement to the C.I.A.’s work force, President Obama said that the spy agency had been “tested as never before,” and that C.I.A. operatives had “served on the front lines in directly confronting the dangers of the 21st century.”

The CIA personnel regularly take foreign agents onto their base along the border before sending them on intelligence collection missions in eastern Afghanistan and across the border into Pakistan, said one Pentagon consultant who works closely with the C.I.A. in Afghanistan, according to a report in the New York Times.

The CIA's drone war over Pakistan has recently been in high gear. Under the Obama administration, the CIA launched more than 50 reported robotic strikes, killing several hundred people, reportedly mostly civilians. Compare that to 2008, when there were just 36 drone attacks, according to an article by Noah Schachtman in Wired magazine. Slightly at variance with the Wired report, Pakistani government estimates indicate there were 44 predator strikes carried out by US drones in the tribal areas of Pakistan over the past 12 months, and only five were able to hit their actual targets, killing five key Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders, but at the cost of over 700 innocent civilians. These statistics represent the loss 140 innocent lives for every militant killed by US drones, a reckless disregard for lives of Pakistanis in the tribal belt. And now there are strong rumors of further expansion of the U.S. drone strikes inside Pakistan in 2010, with potential for even greater innocent civilian casualties fueling further unrest in the country already wracked by extreme violence.

The false denials by both the American and the Pakistani officials of the existence of an understanding on the drone attacks and the presence of Blackwater personnel on Pakistani soil have been exposed by the investigative media and Google Earth images showing U.S. Predators parked on a Pakistani runway. In fact, the CIA publicly acknowledged what it has been doing for years when it announced that it was cutting Blackwater’s contract for servicing and arming the drones in Pakistan. The US Air Force acknowledged its attacks in Pakistan when it let slip that their drones were running missions east of the Durand Line. But counterinsurgency experts continue to worry that the robotic attacks could destabilize the region as they continue into 2010 and expand to a new front: Yemen.

While the new and more restrictive guidelines have been enacted for drone attacks by the US Air Force in Afghanistan to prevent growing civilian death toll, the CIA drone strikes in Pakistan remain essentially unconstrained. As the CIA demands cooperation from the ISI, it refuses to share with the ISI any intelligence from the CIA informants and "assets" on the ground in Pakistan that help pick the targets. Such secrecy raises suspicions that the CIA agents and "assets" in Pakistan are possibly engaged in subversive activities that the Americans want to hide from their Pakistani allies. There are also concerns about the Americans preparing to "secure" Pakistani nuclear weapons as alleged in a recent New Yorker article by Seymour Hersh.

In addition to the increasing drone attacks and rising suspicions about the role of the CIA, there are new and explosive revelations about the role and the strength of Blackwater contractors in the region. A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine have alleged that Blackwater chief Erik Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," and that Prince's companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life." The number of US contractors working for the US military and the CIA in the region exceeds the total strength of the US troops and CIA personnel, according to estimates by Jimmy Scahill who has researched and written extensively about Blackwater. The presence of over 80,000 US military and intelligence contractors in Afghanistan and Pakistan makes the level of privatization of war unprecedented.

There have also been credible reports by Jeremy Scahill in the Nation that Blackwater has been working with US special forces JSOC on American forward operating bases (FOBs), like the one in Khost, in various parts of Pakistan, including Karachi, on "snatch and grabs" of high-value targets and other sensitive actions inside and outside Pakistan. The US FOBs in the region are known to recruit and create an informants network, as confirmed by the accounts of what happened with suicide bombing and killing of CIA agents at Khost FOB in Afghanistan.

While Pakistanis must accept responsibility for their own unwise actions in the past, there is no doubt that the US presence in the region has had a huge negative impact on Pakistanis. Some of the actions by Americans, starting with the use of the "Mujaheddin" during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, have clearly contributed to the problems Pakistan faces today. These problems have been further exacerbated by the use of heavy-handed US tactics in the region, American policy of targeted assassinations by the CIA, and the use of private contractors like Blackwater who view themselves as "Christian Crusaders tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe". There were few religious militants and no incidents of suicide bombings in Pakistan before the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. There was only a small presence of the Taliban or al Qaeda in Pakistan prior to the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in the United States. But in recent years, thousands of Pakistani soldiers have died fighting, killing or capturing the militants who fled into Pakistan from Afghanistan. And the civilian death toll from terrorist attacks in Pakistan is continuing to increase on a daily basis. The US secret war in Pakistan is not so secret any more, and it is clearly counterproductive with the rapidly deteriorating situation threatening to destabilize the nuclear-armed Islamic nation.

Pakistan is just too big to fail. Although things are likely to get worse with the latest US surge before they get better, the United States will eventually leave the region, in a year or two. And in spite of all of the serious problems it faces today, I remain optimistic that Pakistan will not only survive but thrive in the coming decades. With a fairly large educated urban middle class, vibrant media, active civil society, assertive judiciary, many philanthropic organizations, and a spirit of entrepreneurship, the nation has the necessary ingredients to overcome its current difficulties to build a democratic government accountable to its people.

Here's a video clip of Jeremy Scahill talking about the US covert war in Pakistan:

Here's former CIA official Michael Scheuer talking to NPR about the Chapman incident involving suicide bombing and killing of CIA agents:

Related Links:

Blackwater Bribing in Pakistan?

Obama's High-Tech Warfare in Pakistan

America Escalating Covert War in Pakistan?

Facts and Myths About Obama's Afghan Surge

The US Secret War in Pakistan

The Wired: Danger Room

The CIA's Expanded Role on Front Lines

Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder

Vanity Fair on Blackwater

US Covert War in Yemen

Defending the Arsenal By Seymour Hersch

CIA's Silent War in Pakistan

Valuing Life in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Marching Toward Hell by Michael Scheuer


Sikander Hayat said...

It is so obvious that one has to be totally blind to not see the American hand in Pakistan.

Anonymous said...

nothing can save pak now. 88 killed as new year gift

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece by a former NY Times correspondent Chris Hedges published by on Dec 28, 2009:

Syed Fahad Hashmi can tell you about the dark heart of America. He knows that our First Amendment rights have become a joke, that habeas corpus no longer exists and that we torture, not only in black sites such as those at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan or at Guantánamo Bay, but also at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Lower Manhattan. Hashmi is a U.S. citizen of Muslim descent imprisoned on two counts of providing and conspiring to provide material support and two counts of making and conspiring to make a contribution of goods or services to al-Qaida. As his case prepares for trial, his plight illustrates that the gravest threat we face is not from Islamic extremists, but the codification of draconian procedures that deny Americans basic civil liberties and due process. Hashmi would be a better person to tell you this, but he is not allowed to speak.

This corruption of our legal system, if history is any guide, will not be reserved by the state for suspected terrorists, or even Muslim Americans. In the coming turmoil and economic collapse, it will be used to silence all who are branded as disruptive or subversive. Hashmi endures what many others, who are not Muslim, will endure later. Radical activists in the environmental, globalization, anti-nuclear, sustainable agriculture and anarchist movements—who are already being placed by the state in special detention facilities with Muslims charged with terrorism—have discovered that his fate is their fate. Courageous groups have organized protests, including vigils outside the Manhattan detention facility. They can be found at or On Martin Luther King Day, this Jan. 18 at 6 p.m. EST, protesters will hold a large vigil in front of the MCC on 150 Park Row in Lower Manhattan to call for a return of our constitutional rights. Join them if you can.

The case against Hashmi, like most of the terrorist cases launched by the Bush administration, is appallingly weak and built on flimsy circumstantial evidence. This may be the reason the state has set up parallel legal and penal codes to railroad those it charges with links to terrorism. If it were a matter of evidence, activists like Hashmi, who is accused of facilitating the delivery of socks to al-Qaida, would probably never be brought to trial.

Hashmi, who if convicted could face up to 70 years in prison, has been held in solitary confinement for more than 2½ years. Special administrative measures, known as SAMs, have been imposed by the attorney general to prevent or severely restrict communication with other prisoners, attorneys, family, the media and people outside the jail. He also is denied access to the news and other reading material. Hashmi is not allowed to attend group prayer. He is subject to 24-hour electronic monitoring and 23-hour lockdown. He must shower and go to the bathroom on camera. He can write one letter a week to a single member of his family, but he cannot use more than three pieces of paper. He has no access to fresh air and must take his one hour of daily recreation in a cage. His “proclivity for violence” is cited as the reason for these measures although he has never been charged or convicted with committing an act of violence.

Anonymous said...

88 killed on the first day of the year.

And if US is so bad for muslism, why don't you go back to the jannat that is Pakistan. No muslim want to leave this country.

So Christians, Jews, Hindus all dislike muslims and yet there is nothing wrong with muslims.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "nothing can save pak now. 88 killed as new year gift"

I can sense the "unconcealed delight" in your words, and your ill-will toward your neighbor. To help you understand what it means, let me quote Shekhar Gupta, the editor of Indian Express, who I believe is a lot smarter than saner than you and your ilk (others like you who have been leaving similar comments on this blog). Here's what Shekhar wrote recently:

"It is time therefore to stop jubilating at the unfolding tragedy in Pakistan. India has to think of becoming a part of the solution. And that solution lies in not merely saving Pakistan — Pakistan will survive. It has evolved a strong nationalism that does bind its people even if that does not reflect in its current internal dissensions. It is slowly building a democratic system, howsoever imperfect. But it has a very robust media and a functional higher judiciary. Also, in its army, it has at least one national institution that provides stability and continuity. The question for us is, what kind of Pakistan do we want to see emerging from this bloodshed? What if fundamentalists of some kind, either religious or military or a combination of both, were to take control of Islamabad? The Americans will always have the option of cutting their losses and leaving. They have a long history of doing that successfully, from Vietnam to Iraq and maybe Afghanistan next. What will be our Plan-B then?"

Anonymous said...

I am convinced that that rapidly deteriorating situation in Pakistan will force a major re-evaluation of longstanding Establishment's policies and assumptions. The domestic situation is simply that serious. To add insult to injury (from Pak's point of view), the ongoing rise of India - and the growing disparity it creates in international stature andquality of life - will further drive home the point among Pak general public that they have been misled by their leadership. Think for yourself! If two "twins" - who start life at the same time, so to speak - by their mid-lives turn out to be in completely different economic and social situations, the family of the less fortunate twin is going to wonder "what happened?". It is only natural, is it not? And this precisely what Pak populace will feel with increasing severity with each passing year.

Riaz Haq said...

dcrunchr: "I am convinced that that rapidly deteriorating situation in Pakistan will force a major re-evaluation...."

History tells us that all major positive changes have always come from high turmoil and extreme adversity....otherwise the vast majority of the people who remain passive get left behind, and get condemned to a life to extreme deprivation, hunger and abject poverty, as we can see in our neighborhood, as confirmed by all of the available data on hunger and poverty.

With a fairly large educated urban middle class, vibrant media, active civil society, assertive judiciary, many philanthropic organizations, and a spirit of entrepreneurship, Pakistan has the necessary ingredients to overcome its current difficulties to build a democratic government accountable to its people.

I know it's hard to be sanguine when you are in the midst of such wrenching change, but I am far more optimistic that Pakistan will do well in the years to come, as reform takes hold and the resulting fruits of economic growth are shared more equitably.

Anonymous said...

"I know it's hard to be sanguine when you are in the midst of such wrenching change, but I am far more optimistic that Pakistan will do well in the years to come, as reform takes hold and the resulting fruits of economic growth are shared more equitably."

All available data indicates that developed country like US remains far more in-equitable in wealth
distribution than even India (your favorite whipping country).

You are dreaming of a pakistan which will be something which not even US is. Huh?

Riaz Haq said...

drcrunchr: "All available data indicates that developed country like US remains far more in-equitable in wealth
distribution than even India (your favorite whipping country).

You are dreaming of a pakistan which will be something which not even US is. Huh?"

Neither US nor Pakistan have the kind of hunger, poverty, and filth that India has.

Center for Poverty Reduction (CPRSPD), backed by the United Nations Development Program(UNDP), estimated that Pakistan's poverty at national level declined sharply from 22.3 percent in 2005-06 (versus India's poverty rate of 42%) to 17.2 percent in 2007-08.

The US does have greater wealth disparity than India, but it also has a pretty good safety net that neither India nor Pakistan do.

There is widespread hunger and malnutrition in all parts of India. India ranks 66th on the 2008 Global Hunger Index of 88 countries while Pakistan is slightly better at 61 and Bangladesh slightly worse at 70. The first India State Hunger Index (Ishi) report in 2008 found that Madhya Pradesh had the most severe level of hunger in India, comparable to Chad and Ethiopia. Four states — Punjab, Kerala, Haryana and Assam — fell in the 'serious' category. "Affluent" Gujarat, 13th on the Indian list is below Haiti, ranked 69. The authors said India's poor performance was primarily due to its relatively high levels of child malnutrition and under-nourishment resulting from calorie deficient diets.

Last year, Indian Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed acknowledged that India is worse than Bangladesh and Pakistan when it comes to nourishment and is showing little improvement.

What Pakistan can and should do, and I hope it will do, is to create a basic safety net to end hunger as soon as possible, and follow that up with a basic child welfare system to protect the children from the ravages of malnutrition, poverty and illiteracy, with school breakfast and lunch programs.

Anonymous said...

oh great.

It is so easy to pontificate while living in the comforts of a house in California.

so a nation where no educated person is sure that he will return back from office alive or with this both legs intact is superior to a nation where there is a widespread poverty. I don't know how to name this logic.

Educated class in India (a.k.a middle class) is far bigger than Pakistan can ever imagine and it is reflected in their consumer driven economy. In 2009 Pak's auto industry declined by 50% and India's auto industry grew by 15%. We read about MNC making a beeline towards India, not Pakistan.

There is no comparison between India and Pakistan when it comes to educated class and somehow I identify myself with the uneducated class more than the poor uneducated class.

It is one thing to be optimistic. It is another to live in fools paradise. You are dreaming about something which Pak has not done for 60 yrs and never looks like doing it, thanks to its Punjabi dominated Army who use Islam to their advantage.

Riaz Haq said...

drcruncher: "so a nation where no educated person is sure that he will return back from office alive or with this both legs intact is superior to a nation where there is a widespread poverty. I don't know how to name this logic."

Yes there is a serious security problem Pakistanis are facing today, but it has not paralyzed life, as I observed first hand during my visit there earlier this year. Pakistanis are very resilient people.

It's also clear that you don't understand the connection between peace, prosperity and social justice. Please go read some history to understand how big positive changes has come to nations in the past.

You are also totally unfamiliar with what's going on in India.

There is a lot of quiet violence going on in India. The fact that it has not touched the lives of the urban middle class yet is not an indication that things are hunky dory.

An estimated 200,000 Indian farmers have ended their lives since 1997. And India has had to deploy about 100,000 troops to quell the Maoists violence which has spread to more than half of the Indian states, though it is still mainly in the rural areas.

drcrunchr: "Educated class in India (a.k.a middle class) is far bigger than Pakistan can ever imagine and it is reflected in their consumer driven economy."

The size of the educated middle class in India as a percentage of the population is still smaller than Pakistan's. The level of urbanization in Pakistan is now the highest in South Asia, and its urban population is likely to equal its rural population by 2030, according to a report titled "Life in the City: Pakistan in Focus", released by the United Nations Population Fund. Pakistan ranks 163 and India at 174 on a list of over 200 countries compiled by Nationmaster.

drcruncr: "In 2009 Pak's auto industry declined by 50% and India's auto industry grew by 15%. We read about MNC making a beeline towards India, not Pakistan."

One year does not make a trend. With the robust economic growth averaging 7 percent and availability of millions of new jobs created between 2000 and 2008, there has been increased rural to urban migration in Pakistan to fill the jobs in growing manufacturing and service sectors. Pakistan's industrial and auto sectors have experienced accelerated growth.

Industrial sector now accounts for about 28% of GDP while agriculture contributes less than 20%. The rest id service sector.

I know you keep coming back with arguments without any data to back them up. I'd suggest that you do your homework to extend this further. My blog has lots of data from credible sources I cite. Please take some time to read and comprehend it to make our discussion more meaningful for you and I and other readers.

Anon_for_good_reason said...

Drone attacks: challenging some fabrications
There is a deep abyss between the perceptions of the people of Waziristan, the most drone-hit area and the wider Pakistani society on the other side of the River Indus. For the latter, the US drone attacks on Waziristan are a violation of Pakistani’s sovereignty. Politicians, religious leaders, media analysts and anchorpersons express sensational clamour over the supposed ‘civilian casualties’ in the drone attacks.

They see the US drone attacks as their liberators from the clutches of the terrorists into which, they say, their state has wilfully thrown them. The purpose of today’s column is, one, to challenge the Pakistani and US media reports about the civilian casualties in the drone attacks and, two, to express the view of the people of Waziristan, who are equally terrified by the Taliban and the intelligence agencies of Pakistan

Riaz Haq said...

Anon-for-: "They see the US drone attacks as their liberators from the clutches of the terrorists "

What is this based on? Is there any poll that suggests this? I think it's like saying that people like to be bombed by Americans in Wairistan and Afghanistan. If this were true, the strong Afghan reaction to such bombings and the subsequent US policy change to reduce such attacks would not have occurred.

Please read the Wired article by Noah Schachtman that I have referred to in my post.

Anonymous said...


US has used every country to its advantage. But where did the leadership of pakistan do to stop the exploitation.

why is the islamic fundamentalist gather around the country development and provide some breather for the civil and army to rap up things. Internal weakness are eternally exploited by external factors for their advantage. Nothing is too big to fail and certainly not USA is going to bail out pakistan at its cost. It will extract its pound of flesh before it gives.

Anon_for_good_reason said...

Well, she makes an interesting point.Let's not go into poll thingy where militants are fully controlling the area..and authorities are no even present symbolically. Even if a poll is conducted hypothetically,who in the right mind will say anything that will offend militants when they are routinely killing people near attack sites blaming them for "spying" and dumping bodies in the open.Nobody can go near the site of drone strikes as militants always surround and barricade the attack site and pull out bodies..and claim all or majority are "innocent civilians".
When Pak authorities even cannot approach the site, how does independent civilian causality data is gathered?

Again, there is a narrative that things got worse in Pak because of US in Afghanistan.
You are forgetting that the sole reason for creation of TTP was Lal Masjid Raid..that has nothing to do with US..but pressure was put on Musharaf by China..when its people where kidnapped by Lal Masjid fundos.

anoop said...

"They express their fear of the intelligence agencies of Pakistan whenever speaking against the Taliban. They see the two as two sides of the same coin.",says Farhat Taj when he talks about people from Waziristan.

He writes that Pakistan army is ruthless and fires indiscriminately and is responsible for a lot of Civilian casualties. And, they see the drones as their saviours. This is remarkably different than the line Pakistani govt toes when it comes to drone attacks. People of Waziristan actually support the drone strike. Here, is the link:\01\02\story_2-1-2010_pg3_5

Drone attacks should be expanded to Quetta where Al Qaeda and the Taliban have established a haven for themselves and Pakistan has no authority in the area..

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "You are forgetting that the sole reason for creation of TTP was Lal Masjid Raid..that has nothing to do with US..but pressure was put on Musharaf by China..when its people where kidnapped by Lal Masjid fundos."

And how did the "Lal Masjid fudos" gain strength? Did it happen before or after the US invasion and bombing of Afghanistan? The religious parties never commanded more than a few seats in parliament before the US attacks, but they swept NWFP and Baluchistan in 2002 as a backlash against the US bombing and heavy civilian casualties of their Pushtun brethren in Afghanistan.

Riaz Haq said...

anoop:"Drone attacks should be expanded to Quetta where Al Qaeda and the Taliban have established a haven for themselves and Pakistan has no authority in the area.."

I can guarantee that such attacks will be a recipe for disaster for the already teetering US mission in the region.

Just think of what has happened since the killing of Mehsud, the leader of the TTP? Have the terror attacks stopped or slowed in Pakistan or intensified further?

Do you think short-term tactical gains like the killing of a few terrorists in US drone attacks, while also killing hundreds of innocent civilians, help or hurt the objectives of eliminating terror?

In addition to the increasing drone attacks and rising suspicions about the role of the CIA, there are new and explosive revelations about the role and the strength of Blackwater contractors in the region. A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US Marine have alleged that Blackwater chief Erik Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," and that Prince's companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life." The number of US contractors working for the US military and the CIA in the region exceeds the total strength of the US troops and CIA personnel, according to estimates by Jimmy Scahill who has researched and written extensively about Blackwater. The presence of over 80,000 US military and intelligence contractors in Afghanistan and Pakistan makes the level of privatization of war unprecedented.

There have also been credible reports by Jeremy Scahill in the Nation that Blackwater has been working with US special forces JSOC on American forward operating bases (FOBs), like the one in Khost, in various parts of Pakistan, including Karachi, on "snatch and grabs" of high-value targets and other sensitive actions inside and outside Pakistan. The US FOBs in the region are known to recruit and create an informants network, as confirmed by the accounts of what happened with suicide bombing and killing of CIA agents at Khost FOB in Afghanistan.

I think the US actions are hurting, not helping the US objectives. The US is rapidly losing the battle for the hearts and minds of young Muslims who can be the best defense against terror from within the Islamic world.

The expansion of the battles from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen and Somalia are an example of the spread of al Qaida inspired ideology of hate that draws strength from the involvement of "Christian Crusaders" on the US side.

Anonymous said...

"And how did the "Lal Masjid fudos" gain strength? Did it happen before or after the US invasion and bombing of Afghanistan? The religious parties never commanded more than a few seats in parliament before the US attacks, but they swept NWFP and Baluchistan in 2002 as a backlash against the US bombing and heavy civilian casualties of their Pushtun brethren in Afghanistan."

So Pakistanis think that supporting terrorism against their own people is a good form of protest against US invasion of Afghanistan. WOW. What a logic?

BTW US is fully justified in invading Afghanistan. 9/11 happened prior to invasion.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "BTW US is fully justified in invading Afghanistan. 9/11 happened prior to invasion."

The US may have been justified in the wake of 911, but the way it went about the "revenge" lost the US a lot of the sympathy and support it had garnered. Essentially, Bush saw 911 gave him the license to "preemptive" invasions and indiscriminate killing of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan, thereby strengthening the hands of the Islamic radicals. Nine years later, the failures of unwise US policies should be obvious to even the most casual observer.

Riaz Haq said...

The polls continue to show distrust of the United States in the Islamic World, mostly based on the US policies that are perceived as unjust by the majority of the world's Muslims. However, it would be wrong to conclude from such poll results that more than a tiny minority of the followers of the Islamic faith support the terrorists inspired by al Qaeda's ideology of hate. In a recent International Republican Institute (IRI) poll, eighty percent of Pakistanis oppose Pakistan's cooperation with the United States on the "war on terror," a figure that shot up 19 points since March. At the same time, 86 percent agreed that Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants posed a problem for Pakistan and more than two-thirds supported a recent Pakistani army offensive on extremists.

Zen, Munich, Germany said...

"The level of urbanization in Pakistan is now the highest in South Asia, and its urban population is likely to equal its rural population by 2030, according to a report titled "Life in the City: Pakistan in Focus", released by the United Nations Population Fund. Pakistan ranks 163 and India at 174 on a list of over 200 countries compiled by Nationmaster."

This reminds me of some stock Gurus claim in 1999 that Dow Jones will shoot to 40000. Now you know where it stands. This is the problem with projecting past into future. Urbanization in developing world is a secular trend and Chindia is in the vanguard. Pakistan if it urbanises faster could be as a result of some other freakish reasons such as emigration of people fleeing war and civil riots. In India, it is often abject poverty that increases urbanization as you frequently points out, but this has been the case in all presently rich nations.

Riaz Haq said...

Zen: "Urbanization in developing world is a secular trend and Chindia is in the vanguard."

Pakistan is already the most urbanized country in South Asia, and it is urbanizing faster than its neighbors. As to comparison with India, let me quote what Alistair Scrutton wrote recently:

Indeed, for sheer spotlessness, efficiency and emptiness there is nothing like the M2 in the rest of South Asia.

It puts paid to what's on offer in Pakistan's traditional foe and emerging economic giant India, where village culture stubbornly refuses to cede to even the most modern motorways, making them battlegrounds of rickshaws, lorries and cows.

There are many things in Pakistan that don't get into the news. Daily life, for one. Pakistani hospitality to strangers, foreigners like myself included, is another. The M2 is another sign that all is not what it appears in Pakistan, that much lies hidden behind the bad news.

On a recent M2 trip, my driver whizzed along but kept his speedometer firmly placed on the speed limit. Here in this South Asian Alice's Wonderland, the special highway police are considered incorruptible. The motorway is so empty one wonders if it really cuts through one of the region's most populated regions.

"130, OK, but 131 is a fine," said the driver, Noshad Khan. "The police have cameras," he added, almost proudly. His hand waved around in the car, clenched in the form of a gun.

On one of my first trips to Pakistan. I arrived at the border having just negotiated a one-lane country road in India with cows, rickshaws and donkey-driven carts.

I toted my luggage over to the Pakistan side, and within a short time my Pakistani taxi purred along the tarmac. The driver proudly showed off his English and played U.S. rock on FM radio. The announcer even had an American accent. Pakistan, for a moment, receded, and my M2 trip began."

anoop said...

That is what I am saying. Although people in Punjab and Sindh feel like the sovereignty is being violated, people in Waziristan dont seem to think so. Why would they? There has been no govt control in that area EVER and Taliban in North Waziristan are supported by the Pakistan. Who would they turn to? Predator attacks have been like a blessing.

Quetta should be targeted atleast once to convey the seriousness of the situation to Pakistan. I dont support drone attacks but Pakistan army must take the operation to its logical conclusion and CIA should come onboard to guide the fight against the militants. There is no excuse of Militants enjoying a haven in any part of any country.
If the Pakistan establishment doesnt enjoy influence in the area that US wants to target with drones then there is no question of Sovereignty being violated. All we are asking is if Pakistan claims a territory then it must also make sure no militants take refuge in that territory. Is that too much to ask?

I think there are a few reasons why drone attacks outside Waziristan is inevitable. 2011 is the pull out date given by Obama and he has to make sure the havens are destroyed before they pull out. They will either force the Pak army to attack the North or they will send special ops teams along with occasional drone attacks. This will definitely happen in North Waziristan. In Balochistan the drones might come but the emphasis will be on the Pak army to extend control to every part of Balochistan.

Riaz Haq said...

anoop: There have been at least 45 terrorist attacks in 2009. The death toll from this steady stream of violence stands at more than 650. The past three months have been particularly bloody. More than half of Pakistan's terrorists attacks last year occurred since the beginning of October, a few weeks after the Pakistan military launched an operation to drive the Pakistan Taliban out of its stronghold in South Waziristan.

Pakistani government estimates indicate there were also 44 predator strikes carried out by US drones in the tribal areas of Pakistan over the past 12 months, and only five were able to hit their actual targets, killing five key Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders, but at the cost of over 700 innocent civilians. These statistics represent the loss 140 innocent lives for every militant killed by US drones, a reckless disregard for lives of Pakistanis in the tribal belt. And now there are strong rumors of further expansion of the U.S. drone strikes inside Pakistan in 2010, with potential for even greater innocent civilian casualties fueling further unrest in the country already wracked by extreme violence.

Unfortunately, the drone attacks show a total and reckless disregard for innocent life, just as the suicide bombers' attacks do. Drone strikes have been totally ineffective and counterproductive in stopping the violence in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and now the expansion of such attacks in new geographies in Pakistan and Yemen shows the desperation of the US policy makers in stemming the tide of anger, resentment and violence their policies are breeding around the world.

anoop said...

Pakistani estimates?? How did Pakistani govt people get to that area to find out the truth?? Besides, the vocal opposition by the Pak govt notwithstanding we all know that Pak govt is actively involved in the drone strikes. Pakistan can shoot down a super sonic Su-30 MKI but cant shoot down a slow moving Predator!???
Pak govt is in on the drone strikes.
I like to quote from the article,"I would challenge both the US and Pakistani media to provide verifiable evidence of civilian ‘casualties’ because of drone attacks on Waziristan, i.e. names of the people killed, names of their villages, dates and locations of the strikes and, above all, the methodology of the information that they collected. If they can’t meet the challenge, I would request them to stop throwing around fabricated figures of ‘civilian casualties’ that confuse people around the world and provide propaganda material to the pro-Taliban and al Qaeda forces in the politics and media of Pakistan."

He further adds,"I pose that challenge because no one is in a position to give a correct estimate of how many individuals have been killed so far in drone attacks. On the basis of American media estimates, 600 to 700 ‘civilian population’ have been killed. The Pakistani government, pro-Taliban political parties like Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam, Tehrik-e-Insaf, and the media are quoting the same figure. Neither the government of Pakistan nor the media have any access to the area and no system is in place to arrive at precise estimates. The Pakistani government and media take the figure appearing in the American media as an admission by the American government. The US media too do not have access to the area. Moreover, the area is simply not accessible for any kind of independent journalistic or scholarly work on drone attacks. The Taliban simply kill anyone doing so."
So,who will verify the numbers??


anoop said...

The author also quotes people from Waziristan who vouch for the Hellfire missile's accuracy..
Important points are,
1) "the people feel comfortable with the drones because of their precision and targeted strikes. People usually appreciate drone attacks when they compare it with the Pakistan Army’s attacks, which always result in collateral damage. Especially the people of Waziristan have been terrified by the use of long-range artillery and air strikes of the Pakistan Army and Air Force. People complain that not a single TTP or al Qaeda member has been killed so far by the Pakistan Army, whereas a lot of collateral damage has taken place. Thousands of houses have been destroyed and hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed by the Pakistan Army. On the other hand, drone attacks have never targeted the civilian population except, they informed, in one case when the funeral procession of Khwazh Wali, a TTP commander, was hit. In that attack too, many TTP militants were killed including Bilal (the TTP commander of Zangara area) and two Arab members of al Qaeda. But some civilians were also killed. After the attack people got the excuse of not attending the funeral of slain TTP militants or offering them food, which they used to do out of compulsion in order to put themselves in the TTP’s good books. “It (this drone attack) was a blessing in disguise,” several people commented."
2)"I have heard people particularly appreciating the precision of drone strikes. People say that when a drone would hover over the skies, they wouldn’t be disturbed and would carry on their usual business because they would be sure that it does not target the civilians, but the same people would run for shelter when a Pakistani jet would appear in the skies because of its indiscriminate firing. They say that even in the same compound only the exact room — where a high value target (HVT) is present — is targeted. Thus others in the same compound are spared. The people of Waziristan have been complaining why the drones are only restricted to targeting the Arabs. They want the drones to attack the TTP leadership, the Uzbek/Tajik/Turkmen, Punjabi and Pakhtun Taliban."

Riaz Haq said...

Anoop: The US claims of "precision" drone strikes killing "terrorists" have been debunked repeatedly in Iraq and Afghanistan. That's why Gen McChrystal has laid down new guidelines after a large number of known civilian deaths in Afghanistan, which angered the people and the Karzai government. The US drones have often attacked killed Afghans in wedding parties, homes, schools, villages etc.

I suggest you read the Noah Schachtman article about the "precision" of the drones, whose link I have included in my post.

Therefore, I believe the Pakistani estimates in FATA, like the Afghan estimates in Afghanistan, are far more reliable than anything you hear from the Pentagon.

Pakistanis, after all, have a lot more access and info about FATA than anyone else. CIA is not the only one with "assets" there, one of whom just killed several CIA and Blackwater personnel in Khost.

Anonymous said...

check this out from the economist.
Pakistan rated at very high risk for social unrest. Even china is rated higher than your beloved India.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "Pakistan rated at very high risk for social unrest. Even china is rated higher than your beloved India."

Usually, these forecasts are like driving forward while looking in the rear view mirror...making them very dangerous to follow. But this report takes the showing China as higher risk than India in 2010. It is an example of wishful thinking packaged as an economic forecast.

Anonymous said...

"by showing China as higher risk than India in 2010. It is an example of wishful thinking packaged as an economic forecast."

Just curious. On what basis you think that bloggers and writers you endorse are any superior to
It may be of interest to you that is generally more pro china than pro india.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "It may be of interest to you that is generally more pro china than pro india."

I think you are unaware of the fact that there is an inherent bias against China and a broad consensus among western thinkers-writers that Indian democracy will eventually prevail, helping India surpass China in the near future.

Tom Friedman (along with Fareed Zakaria) is one of the biggest cheerleaders for India who often compares China as a "smooth highway" with serious speed bumps ahead to India's "pot-holed roads" that turn into a smooth speedy highway further out.

The westerners, the Economist included, with their absolute faith in democracy, have an agenda and an ideological bias to see India's western style democracy succeed and the Chinese "controlled" system fail.

Anonymous said...

"he westerners, the Economist included, with their absolute faith in democracy, have an agenda and an ideological bias to see India's western style democracy succeed and the Chinese "controlled" system fail."

The westerns also seem to hate muslim countries, Pak in particular. Can you shed your priceless wisdom as to why.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "The westerns also seem to hate muslim countries, Pak in particular. Can you shed your priceless wisdom as to why."

It's easy to point to to 911 and its aftermath to draw all sorts of conclusions.

But I don't think one needs "priceless wisdom" to see why. Any casual student of basic history knows the seeds of mutual animosity sowed in the Crusades when a bunch of Europeans decided to "liberate" Jerusalem hundreds of miles away from Europe and massacred a large number of Arabs and Muslims in the process.

Please study a little bit of history and literature such as the western colonization of Islamic lands, Dante's "Divine Comedy" and a more recent book "Muhammad in Europe" by Minou Reeves, and you'll have a better understanding of the history of the current Islamophobia, xenophobia and McCarthy style witch hunt going on in the West.

Please also take a look at a recent piece by Pat Buchanan summarized below:

"The Sept. 11 massacre may have been decided upon in Afghanistan. But the perpetrators were Saudis and Egyptians who plotted, planned and trained in Germany, Boston, Delray Beach and Northern Virginia.

How has occupying two nations at a cost of 5,000 dead, 35,000 wounded and a trillion dollars made us safer from an enemy that more resembles the Apache of Geronimo than the panzers of Rommel?

If protection of the homeland against another Sept. 11 is the goal of this war, how relevant to that goal is the building of clinics and schools in Kabul and keeping the Taliban at bay in Helmand?
To win the war we are in, we have to fight the war we are in, not the war we prefer to fight because no one else is so good at it."

Anonymous said...

"Any casual student of basic history knows the seeds of mutual animosity sowed in the Crusades when a bunch of Europeans decided to "liberate""

There is lot of animosity between Hindus/Sikhs and Muslims in the subcontinent. And there is rabid anti jew feelings amongst muslims in all parts of the world.

In Indonesia there is lot of animosity between Buddhist and Muslims. In Malaysia there is lot of animosity between Chinese origin Malaysians and muslims. Isn't it bit too strange that muslims are common in all.


Riaz Haq said...

anon: "There is lot of animosity between Hindus/Sikhs and Muslims in the subcontinent."

Wrong! The right-wing Hindu fanatics of of the Sangh Parivar continue to plot and carry out violence and murder against all minorities in India; for example against Delhi Sikh in 1984, against Gujarat Muslims in 2002, and against Orissa Christians in 2008.

Read Paul Brass's "Production of Violence in India" to learn more about institutionalized killings of minorities in India.

anon: "And there is rabid anti jew feelings amongst muslims in all parts of the world."

This is a misrepresentation of historical realities. For most of history, Jews have thrived in Muslim lands when they were persecuted in Christian Europe. Read Jewish historians like Aba Eban to learn more about "The Golden Era of Jewry" in Muslim Spain, and the escape of Jews to the Ottoman empire after the Spanish Inquisition.

The recent Muslim-Jewish animosity since 1948 is the result of the colonial injustice in taking away Palestinian lands and giving them away to foreign Jews and then continuing illegal occupation and atrocities by Israel with the backing of the West.

anon: "In Indonesia there is lot of animosity between Buddhist and Muslims. In Malaysia there is lot of animosity between Chinese origin Malaysians..."

You are mischaracterizing ethnic conflicts as religious conflicts.
These are ethnic conflicts which exist in all parts of the world, including India and elsewhere.

anoop said...

I think you will do well to become the spokesperson for China.
You dont see all the troubles in China because they dont allow free press. Did anyone,but China scholars,know that there was unrest in the province of Xinjiang and that the Uighurs were exploited? Nobody new as the crackdown is swift and there are no foreign journalists. They also let people into selected areas like Shanghai,Beijing,etc only. They dont let you in poorer areas. Especially you are a journalist they will monitor your travel in China.
Who knew the Uighur problem would suddenly erupt? If free press were present you could have atleast predicted the dissatisfaction of people from that region. This is what happens if you try to control free thought. And, probably that is why they is a higher risk of Social Unrest.
You must know the dissatisfaction the highly censored press generates as you are a Pakistani.. Generals (You might call them Kings) have done it for most of the History of Pakistan. And, it has generated tremendous dissatisfaction but there was no outlet but to come on the streets.

Riaz Haq said...


I know you think China is about to explode into chaos.

But the reality is that it's India which is more ripe for a bloody revolution because of the sustained deep poverty, widespread hunger, and growing hunger in many parts of India.

What the Maoists are doing represents only the tip of the iceberg of discontent in India's unresponsive democracy.

I think it's high time that all sane Indians seriously reflect on the following questions:

Why is resurgent India so badly failing the vast majority of its people?

Why are 42% of Indians forced to live on less than $1.25 a day?

Why does Indian official Syeda Hameed believe "countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are better" than India in terms of meeting basic nutritional needs of their children?

Why have an estimated 200,000 farmers in India committed suicide in the last ten years?

Why are 46% of India's children malnourished?

Why does the world call India a nutritional weakling?

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report about the identity of the suicide bomber in Khost who killed several CIA agents:

The suicide bomber who killed seven CIA agents in Afghanistan was an al-Qaeda triple agent, US media reports say.

He is said to have been a doctor from Jordan who was arrested by Jordanian intelligence a year ago.

He was then reportedly recruited by the Jordanians and CIA - who thought they had successfully turned him - and given a mission to find al-Qaeda leaders.

He is believed to have been working undercover in Afghanistan for weeks before detonating a bomb at a CIA base.

The attack at Forward Operating Base Chapman was the worst against US intelligence officials since the US embassy in Beirut was bombed in 1983.

The Washington Post quotes two former US government officials as saying that the alleged bomber lured the CIA officers into a meeting with a promise of new information on al-Qaeda's top leadership.

The reports named him as Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, a 36-year-old al-Qaeda sympathiser from Zarqa, Jordan, arrested by Jordanian intelligence over a year ago.

The CIA has declined to comment on the reports.

Jordanian intelligence believed they had brought Humam al-Balawi over to their side and sent him to Afghanistan to infiltrate al-Qaeda, US network NBC says.

His specific mission was thought to be tracking down al-Qaeda's number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

According to Western intelligence officials quoted in the reports, Humam al-Balawi called his handlers last week to arrange a meeting at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost, where he said he would relay urgent information about Zawahiri.

Once inside the base, the reports say, he blew himself up killing seven CIA employees and his handler, whom Jordanian media have named as Ali bin Zeid.

Questions were raised after the bomb was detonated in the base's gym last week about how the attacker could have managed to pass through security.

The Washington Post says he was picked up in a car outside the base and driven in without being thoroughly searched.

A US official, also a former CIA employee, told the Associated Press news agency that such people were often not required to go through full security checks, in order to help gain their trust.

"When you're trying to build a rapport and literally ask them to risk [their lives] for you, you've got a lot to do to build their trust," he said.

Drone base

A Taliban spokesman quoted on al-Jazeera's website said Humam al-Balawi was a double agent who had misled Jordanian and US intelligence services for a year.

Forward Operating Base Chapman, a former Soviet military base, is used not only by the CIA but also by provincial reconstruction teams, which include both soldiers and civilians.

The airfield is reportedly used for US drone attacks on suspected militants in neighbouring Pakistan.

The CIA has not released the names of the officials killed nor details of their work because of the sensitivity of US operations.

But the head of the base, reported to be a mother-of-three, was among those killed.

The BBC's Mark Mardell in Washington says the CIA will be deeply embarrassed that the bomber was able to work so closely with the agency and with such high level officials.

anoop said...

"know you think China is about to explode into chaos."

Nope. I do not think so at all. In India there is a pressure valve called elections and that is why even the people usually calm down after a while. Now, the people in West Bengal are really miffed with the CPM govt and they will vote them out in the next election. That is how it works. I dont want to go into why they are unpopular and all that. But, there is a pressure valve.
That pressure value absent in China.. I dont see China breaking down at all. I see social unrest. Like there are social unrests in all the major regions of the world. China has colourful society too and there will be regions ignored and remote and kept away from the world's eyes.

I am not hoping for you to understand the relief you get when you vote out a inefficient govt as you are from Pakistan. I am even doubtful if you have participated in ANY election or have voted!

I am 23 years old and have thrown out an unpopular State govt and brought back a effective Central govt to power. I dont expect any Pakistani citizen to understand the feeling of triumph. There are gifts of democracy.

I'll give you another example of democracy working. Lalu Prasad Yadav ruled Bihar for 15 years. He and his corrupt govt was responsible for making Bihar the poorest state in India. You can fool people only so many times. As a result people voted for Nitish Kumar considered to be Mr.Clean and efficient. Look at the progress he has done in few years.

Within 4 years he has made Bihar one of the fastest growing states in India. People have reposed faith in him by voting for him in Parliamentary elections. Out of 29 seats he won a massive 27 seats. That is staggering considering he was toothless 4 years ago. Lalu won 2 seats. People are happy in Bihar. They are happy with Democracy.

Riaz Haq said...

anoop: "People are happy in Bihar. They are happy with Democracy."

Biharis are happy with democracy? Are you insulting the intelligence of the poor, illiterate people of Bihar who are voting with their feet to get out of that hell hole? Or for that matter all of India?

The village of Akhopur is in the district of Siwan in Bihar, India- from where about 75,000 people work in the Gulf. Most work as masons, helpers, carpenters, fitters and drivers, according to a recent story by the BBC.

They often labor in abysmal conditions with little or no facilities, but many say they can at least earn a living since opportunities back home are non-existent.

In Akhopur and neighboring villages of Bindusar, Orma and Khalispur, every household has at least two people working in the Gulf.

In the wake of recent Dubai troubles, the flow of returnees is ever growing, raising fear of rising hunger and poverty in resurgent India.

There are an estimated 4.5 million Indian workers in just the GCC countries, about half of them in the UAE, according to the Financial Times.

The current difficulties in Dubai are exposing India's vulnerability to the possible economic collapse in the Gulf region. The fears are deepening about the loss of some of the remittances, worth about $27bn a year, accounting for over 50% of total remittance inflows, from the Gulf to India. The United Arab Emirates is also one of India’s most important export destinations, accounting for about $17.5bn in trade or 10 per cent of India’s merchandise exports.

In spite of repeated tales of horror by Indian workers, the Islamic Gulf nations remain a powerful magnet for Indians seeking a way out of abject poverty and deprivation at home.

anoop said...

How do you gauge people's mood? In a Democracy its through elections. I just told you how the election went in Bihar.
Please read the whole article in the link I provided. I'll provide you that again. See all the innovative schemes a democratically elected Govt has given the people. And, the faith the people have in him is shown by the number of seats he won. Convincing about the long term positives is impossible for anyone from a non-democratic country. But, never impossible.
I'll quote some of the passages in the article that I liked and reinforces my belief in democracy.
1)Aware that no meaningful development can take place if the infrastructure is below par and law and order situation bad, the state government embarked on an ambitious mission to tone up the two sectors. Thus, while a mere 318 kms of roads could be built in 2004-05, 2,418 kms of roads were constructed in 2008-09. And while only 316 bridges could be constructed between 1975 and 2005, some 400 bridges have been built since the advent of this government.
2)The affable, soft-spoken chief minister has also made concerted efforts to improve the educational, health and infrastructure sectors. In the educational field, the emphasis has been on persuading girls and boys to go to school. He kicked off two ambitious projects — Mukhyamantri Poshak Yojana and Mukhyamantri Cycle Yojana — to convince parents about sending their daughters back to schools. All girl students above Class VIII were given free uniforms and a bicycle each. “The result has been remarkable. The drop-out rate among high school girl students has come down dramatically from 25 lakh to 10 lakh. So successful has the programme been that it’s now being extended to boys,’’ Bihar CM pointed out.

The government has simultaneously recruited 1 lakh teachers to attain a 1:40 ratio, meaning one teacher for every 40 students. Schools in villages, which had become dilapidated because of the years of neglect, have been re-built and renovated.
3)Among Mr Kumar’s biggest achievement, is the move to empower women — an experiment that is now being replicated in other states. Soon after assuming power, the state government decided to reserve 50 per cent of the seats in panchayats and the urban local bodies for women. The decision was hailed as a “revolutionary” step aimed at involving women in the decision-making process, and giving a voice to them in the political system.

I'll tell you about another growth story of another state next time. Democracy rocks..

Riaz Haq said...


In a poor, illiterate and backward country like India (or Pakistan), where the entire political system and bureaucracy are rotten to the core, democracy can at best be a facade, a scam that takes from people rather than deliver anything to them.

Not withstanding an eyewash like a road here or a small development project there, Indian democracy continues to be a failed experiment that keeps people poor, hungry and backward.

As to Pakistan, it is also a democracy like India, a miserable failure in the absence of a well-educated electorate.

I know you've been completely brainwashed into believing in Indian democracy, but you are not going to be able to persuade me to its merits, because there are none.

So let's just agree to disagree.

Anonymous said...

Riaz: you are not going to be able to persuade me to its merits, because there are none.

Wow! That's an interesting assertion. I hope it's the result of intellectual exhaustion. If not - all I can say is wow!

Anoop: thanks for the link on Bihar. Not surprising from Nitish Kumar though. He (and Sudhir Kumar) turned the Indian Railways into the economic juggernaut it is today -before Laloo took all the credit. Guys like Nitish Kumar, Praful Patel and - yes - Narendra Modi are worth their weight in gold.

My wife's in India with one of our kids. Flew from Chennai to Delhi. But they're traveling from Delhi to Amritsar by Shatabdi Express - Rs 1000 per person each way for a 6-hour top-of-the-line ride. Compare with the airlines - Rs 6000 each way for a 1 hour flight. Couldn't imagine the railways ever competing on cost and efficiency with the airlines before Nitish Kumar (and Laloo - to his credit).

anoop said...


Yes. Railways have improved a lot in the past years and they are generating huge profits.. Indian Railways is the largest employer in the world and this makes it even sweeter. Lalu wizened up after he lost the Bihar elections to Nitish and wanted to show himself as pro-development. This is what democracy brings to the table. After stabilization the politicians compete to be productive.

I am not surprised with your dissatisfaction with democracy. You are making a grave mistake by comparing India and Pakistan. India has been a democracy for 63 years now. Pakistan has NOT been a democracy EVER. I am sorry, I dont consider democracy minus Civilian Supremacy democracy a Democracy. I am sure you have never voted in your life as you can count the number of times Pakistan has held free and fair election with your fingers.
You see poverty in India because that is what you want to see and are interested in. You never care to see the growing India because it does not contribute material for your blog. When I show you something you dismiss it as if it were an aberration. I am talking about the Poorest state in India.

Few more links from the same site(About Bihar) for your enjoyment.

If you think Democracy is not the right thing for Pakistan then you've got your wish. Pakistan is not,not ever has practiced democracy. Pray, tell me what kind of System do you prefer?
You can always suggest Communist Govt on the lines of China but that can never happen as the Mullahs will never allow a God-less system or a belief to rule the country. How about on the lines of other Arab states? Oh wait Pakistan doesn't have Royals. But, it certainly has had Generals who have had enjoyed more power than any Kind/Queen can hope for.

What kind of System is really suited for Pakistan?? Zaid Hamid and likes and Urdu Press suggests you can find the answer in Quran but they never talk about specifics. Hope you are not one who agrees with them.

Another question. Was US the richest country ever since it got established 200 years ago as a democracy? If had just fought Civil war and had no infrastructure. It embraced democracy and look where it is now!
In the Information age out job is easier than that and India has grown tremendously in the past 63 years especially the last 20-25 years.
I dont know how old you are but I like and wish you to live for atleast 20 more years to witness the growth story of India. Jot down all your Human Indices data and other relevant data so that you can really compare with the data you will get after 20 years. I cannot convince you about merits of democracy but time will certainly teach you. That is for sure.

Riaz Haq said...

anoop: "Was US the richest country ever since it got established 200 years ago as a democracy? If had just fought Civil war and had no infrastructure. It embraced democracy and look where it is now!"

I think your comments show a total misunderstanding of US democracy. The US was not a real democracy until after it ended slavery and became industrialized in late 1800s, the constitution and the bill of rights notwithstanding.

Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of the US used to say "Masses are asses" and insisted on a democracy that excluded a large number of Americans from voting. The right to vote was restricted to white males owning property, and everyone else was not allowed to vote.

In the ante-bellum South, there were many more slaves than white males. It was essentially a feudal society of the worst kind.

The native Americans were killed in large numbers, and many more, such as the Cherokees, were forced by President Jackson to move in contravention of the US Supreme Court orders.

Anonymous said...

The US was not a real democracy until after it ended slavery and became industrialized in late 1800s, the constitution and the bill of rights notwithstanding.

The US has never been a democracy. Actually there is no large democracy on the planet today. The US, and most of the 200 other nation states (India, Pakistan included) are republics. The governments in most republics tend to be democratically elected. The difference is not academic - it's fundamental.

With that out of the way, yes, the US was not inclusive. But it was the same system of democratically elected representatives (in particular, Lincoln) who ensured male adult franchise - white AND black. If my recall ain't faulty, Lincoln still do the deed for women though. That had to wait till the dawn of the 20th century. Long story short, the ability to self-correct is the hallmark of the slow plodding system commonly known as "democracy". Churchill - no fan of his - talked about it being the worst system till one considered the alternatives.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting NPR interview of former CIA agent and chief bin Laden hunter in Afghanistan Michael Schueur who says:

1. Double agents today can be deadly. They don't just feed bad intelligence to their CIA handlers, they can literally blow up in your face, as the Jordanian doctor did in Khost at FOB Chapman.

2. Difference between Russian recruits and al Qaeda recruits is that the Russians hated the Soviet communist system and admired the Americans. They thought of the Communist party bosses as just a bunch of gangsters looking out for themselves. The al Qaeda recruits, on the other hand, are very well-educated, wealthy and committed and include doctors, engineers and sons of wealthy individuals like Zawahiri and bin Laden, who gave up their comforts and wealth to fight for their cause.

3. US presidents are not telling the truth about Afghanistan. The Afghans see us as foreign occupiers and infidels in their land. Without the help of the Afghans, the Taliban and al Qaeda could not mount the resistance they do in Afghanistan.

Anonymous said...

Aus wins Sydney test. I thought at last Pak would win after 10 continous defeat. But hey Pak team can always surprise everyone.

Anonymous said...

"Aus wins Sydney test. I thought at last Pak would win after 10 continous defeat. But hey Pak team can always surprise everyone."

the decline of our cricket team is consistent with the decline of Pak in all spheres of life, from economy, peace to education. What we are seeing as new talent is very substandard.

Our new generation seem to be more interested in following Zaid Hamid's career than that of Imran Khan.

Riaz Haq said...


It was shocking to see how Pakistani cricket team managed to retrieve defeat from the jaws of victory against Australia in Sydney test. It was clearly a failure of leadership.

As to Imran Khan vs Zaid Hamid, I think they are both on the same side of the Pakistani political spectrum as far as I know.

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's a story about Helen Thomas' persistence in seeking answers on the core question as to "why do they want to harm us?"

After Obama briefly addressed L'Affaire Abdulmutallab and wrote "must do better" on the report cards of the national security schoolboys responsible for the near catastrophe, the President turned the stage over to counter-terrorism guru John Brennan and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

It took 89-year old veteran correspondent Helen Thomas to break through the vapid remarks about channeling "intelligence streams," fixing "no-fly" lists, deploying "behavior detection officers," and buying more body-imaging scanners.

Thomas recognized the John & Janet filibuster for what it was, as her catatonic press colleagues took their customary dictation and asked their predictable questions. Instead, Thomas posed an adult query that spotlighted the futility of government plans to counter terrorism with more high-tech gizmos and more intrusions on the liberties and privacy of the traveling public.

She asked why Abdulmutallab did what he did.

Thomas: "Why do they want to do us harm? And what is the motivation? We never hear what you find out on why."

Brennan: "Al Qaeda is an organization that is dedicated to murder and wanton slaughter of innocents... They attract individuals like Mr. Abdulmutallab and use them for these types of attacks. He was motivated by a sense of religious sort of drive. Unfortunately, al Qaeda has perverted Islam, and has corrupted the concept of Islam, so that he's (sic) able to attract these individuals. But al Qaeda has the agenda of destruction and death."

Thomas: "And you're saying it's because of religion?"

Brennan: "I'm saying it's because of an al Qaeda organization that used the banner of religion in a very perverse and corrupt way."

Thomas: "Why?"

Brennan: "I think this is a - long issue, but al Qaeda is just determined to carry out attacks here against the homeland."

Thomas: "But you haven't explained why."

Neither did President Obama, nor anyone else in the U.S. political/media hierarchy. All the American public gets is the boilerplate about how evil al Qaeda continues to pervert a religion and entice and exploit impressionable young men.

There is almost no discussion about why so many people in the Muslim world object to U.S. policies so strongly that they are inclined to resist violently and even resort to suicide attacks.

Masadi said...

Israel is a colonial outpost in the Middle East (created in order to control the resource rich area through war generated dictatorships) that has been given a Jewish face for the purpose of maintainability in the area through solidarity building among Jews, by pitting them against Arabs. It has absolutely nothing to do with being a homeland for the Jews, except as manipulation. The same corporations that were helping Hitler eliminate the Jews later wholeheartedly supported the creation of Israel as if they had miraculously discovered God.

This colonial outpost's creation is historically linked to WASPS (the British colonials and later the U.S. power elite). Giving this outpost a Jewish face has served two functions for these elite:

1. Maintainability through Jewish population solidarity for perpetual war against the Arabs, something that an Arab outpost like Kuwait or the UAE could not have achieved because the underlying population would have rebelled, bringing to naught any Arab based colonial outpost that was created.

2. Scapegoating the Jews so that the blow-back of such inhumane policies written in Washington and translated into fact by the Israeli elite are seen by Arabs as being "caused by the Jews", which will have grave consequences for the Jewish population in the long run given how the Arabs are being victimized in the most barbaric and inhumane manner by these elite, now for over half a century.

The conflict has more to do with the political economy of the current world system dominated by the U.S. and not religion per se. However, if a real religious face to the conflict is to be located (given the religious preferences of the perpetrators and victims), the following is the most accurate picture:

A war started and perpetuated by the WASPS (White Anglo Saxon Protestant Christians), scapegoating the Jews and victimizing the Muslims.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ABC News report about US military weapons in Iraq:

Coded references to New Testament Bible passages about Jesus Christ are inscribed on high-powered rifle sights provided to the U.S. military by a Michigan company, an ABC News investigation has found.

The sights are used by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the training of Iraqi and Afghan soldiers. The maker of the sights, Trijicon, has a $660 million multi-year contract to provide up to 800,000 sights to the Marine Corps, and additional contracts to provide sights to the U.S. Army.

U.S. military rules specifically prohibit the proselytizing of any religion in Iraq or Afghanistan and were drawn up in order to prevent criticism that the U.S. was embarked on a religious "Crusade" in its war against al Qaeda and Iraqi insurgents.

One of the citations on the gun sights, 2COR4:6, is an apparent reference to Second Corinthians 4:6 of the New Testament, which reads: "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

Other references include citations from the books of Revelation, Matthew and John dealing with Jesus as "the light of the world." John 8:12, referred to on the gun sights as JN8:12, reads, "Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Trijicon confirmed to that it adds the biblical codes to the sights sold to the U.S. military. Tom Munson, director of sales and marketing for Trijicon, which is based in Wixom, Michigan, said the inscriptions "have always been there" and said there was nothing wrong or illegal with adding them. Munson said the issue was being raised by a group that is "not Christian." The company has said the practice began under its founder, Glyn Bindon, a devout Christian from South Africa who was killed in a 2003 plane crash.

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"

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...

Here's a USA Today report about US looking for Wikileaks founder for leaking secret videos about alleged misconduct by US personnel resulting in civilian deaths in Afghanistan (and probably Pakistan, Iraq and elsewhere):

More intrigue involving the whistle-blower site WikiLeaks and "secret" documents and combat video allegedly passed by Army Spc. Bradley Manning, who was arrested at his base in Iraq three weeks ago. (On Deadline flagged this story earlier in the week.)

The Daily Beast reports that Pentagon investigators are trying to track down Julian Assange, the elusive Australian-born founder of WikiLeaks, who they believe is preparing to publish several years of State Department cables allegedly passed by the 22- year-old Manning, now being detained in Kuwait. The cables contain "information related to American diplomatic and intelligence efforts in the war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq," and they could do "serious damage to national security" if made public, government officials told the Beast.

But even if they find him, it's not clear what they could do to stop publication.

Daniel Ellsberg says Assange "is in danger." And he should know: Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers, which exposed the government's secret plans for the Vietnam War. The Nixon administration called him "the most dangerous man in America." (Ellsberg was hunted, arrested, tried and convicted, but the Supreme Court overturned the verdict in a landmark ruling against government secrecy.)

Meanwhile, Wired's Threat Level blog, which broke the Manning story, is reporting that Assange, who has no permanent home, is arranging Manning's legal defense and says Manning is no spy.

Assange, who first gained notoriety as a computer hacker, canceled an appearance today at an International Reporters and Editors conference in Las Vegas.

Keep an eye on this fascinating story.

Riaz Haq said...

The ISI is hated by Pakistan's enemies mainly because it is the best at what it does in terms of protecting Pakistan interests. Some in the CIA, RAW and Mossad show a natural professional jealousy and envy of the ISI....and they try and slander it as often as they can through their friendly media and its blind followers.

Here's a website "" that ranks as ISI #1 intelligence agency in the world...followed by MOSSAD, MI6, CIA, MSS, BND, FSB, DGSE, RAW and ASIS.

Here's what the website says about ISI:

Formed 1948
Jurisdiction Government of Pakistan
Headquarters Islamabad, Pakistan
Agency executive Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, PA Director General

With the lengthiest track record of success, the best know Intelligence so far on the scale of records is ISI. The Inter-Services Intelligence was created as an independent unit in 1948 in order to strengthen the performance of Pakistan’s Military Intelligence during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. Its success in achieving its goal without leading to a full scale invasion of Pakistan by the Soviets is a feat unmatched by any other through out the intelligence world. KGB, The best of its time, failed to counter ISI and protect Soviet interests in Central Asia. This GOLD MEDAL makes it rank higher than Mossad. It has had 0 double agents or Defectors through out its history, considering that in light of the whole war campaign it carried out from money earned by selling drugs bought from the very people it was bleeding, The Soviets. It has protected its Nuclear Weapons since formed and it has foiled Indian attempts to attain ultimate supremacy in the South-Asian theatres through internal destabilization of India. It is above All laws in its host country Pakistan ‘A State, with in a State’. Its policies are made ‘outside’ of all other institutions with the exception of The Army. Its personnel have never been caught on camera. Its is believed to have the highest number of agents worldwide, close to 10,000. The most striking thing is that its one of the least funded Intelligence agency out of the top 10 and still the strongest.

anoop said...

ISI is #1. Congratulations, Riaz. You must be proud.

Oh.. You know what that 'dimwit' Kamran Shafi says about ISI being number 1?

This: "There is an email doing the rounds that tells us that our ISI is the best intelligence agency in the whole wide world. The ranking of the world’s intelligence agencies according to this email is as follows: our very own ISI (and more strength to it, I say), Mossad (Israel), MI-6 (UK), the CIA (US), MSS (China), BND (Germany), FSB (Russia), DGSE (France), RAW (India) and ASIS (Australia). Two immediate questions come to mind. If the ISI is really as good as it is made out to be, how come our country is in the state it is in? Second, if RAW is as bad as to be the 9th worst intelligence agency in the world, how come it can pull off actions as diverse as bombing Data Darbar and R.A. Bazaar in Lahore and Lahore cantonment respectively; arming and provisioning Baloch separatists; and attacking our Ahmadi brothers in their mosques in Lahore? Could it be that RAW is not as bad as the list would have us believe, and the ISI not that good?

Jokes aside, however, we must ask the hard questions and also make demands of our agencies, paid as they are from our taxes and revenue. The very first is to say to them to please secure our own country first and then attempt to project Pakistani power across our borders, say in Afghanistan. It is to say, please use all the significant resources at your command — the list referred to also tells us that the ISI has up to 10,0000 (I kid you not) operatives worldwide — to at the very least open the Thal-Parachinar road so that the poor people who live in Parachinar do not have to get to their homes via Kabul, Afghanistan.

May I say please, sirs, sort out the criminal terrorists in your own country before you attempt to broker peace between Karzai and (some of) the Taliban. May I say please, sirs, if you cannot secure your own country how can you possibly have the gall to boss the neighbourhood around? Look inwards, sirs, at the veritable mess this poor country is in and do something about it. Surely you know that the last time the Parachinar road was opened, 10 men and six women were killed and eight men (all of them our Shia brothers and sisters, please note) were taken as hostages. At least find out where these poor hostages are, and have them released. Surely being number one you can do it."

How unpatriotic. Especially on Pakistan's independence day I bring you the news of this traitor. I hope ISI will remain number 1 for a long, long, long, long time to come. Nobody protects its citizens like it does.

anoop said...

Check out all the nut jobs in the comments section in the link that Riaz has graciously put up.

I wonder if the people from BRIC or any other developed country will feel so 'proud' of its intelligence agency in the manner that these nut jobs do. I know everyone is proud but these guys are at a different level altogether. Combined with all the Islamist fanaticism BS it is pretty funny.

Riaz Haq said...


The more you and your fellow Indian bigots attack ISI, the more convincing is the argument that the ISI must be doing something right.

Although they are nor perfect, I do wish the ISI well in their noble mission to protect Pakistan from its ill-wishers and enemies around the world.

anoop said...

According to the dictionary bigot is "One who is strongly partial to one's own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ."

If taking sides is bigotry and arguing the truth is bigotry then, yes, I am a bigot.

But, what have you to counter what Kamran Shafi says?

You have yourself talked of how RAW is virtually controlling Afghanistan, arming balochis, funding TTP, bla bla bla bla.. Too bad its in the 9th place. Well, I think it has to step up its game, I suppose.

This "My-Intelligence-agency-is-better-than-yours" game is foolish. As Kamran Shafi points out its about how many lives you save not take.

To its credit ISI has been a pain in the back to India. Considering RAW has the breakup of 1971 of Pakistan behind its back, it would be pretty hard for ISI to match RAW's feat. Well, I am just trying to score points here. I believe Pakistanis themselves broke up their country. It would be idiotic to say otherwise. Infact, its the Army,which controls the ISI, which broke Pakistan. So, if ISI has to do its job it has to take care of the army which is not possible.

I guess if killing Indians in India and Afghanistan is ISI's mandate then it is doing its job well. You must be proud.

Happy Independence day, Riaz.

Riaz Haq said...

anoop: "You have yourself talked of how RAW is virtually controlling Afghanistan, arming balochis, funding TTP, bla bla bla bla.. Too bad its in the 9th place. Well, I think it has to step up its game, I suppose."

There are dozens of very effective intelligence agencies in the world. 9th place is a great ranking for RAW...anything in top 10 is very good.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a poll published by about Pakistani anger at US drone attacks in FATA:

The CIA can kill militants all day long. If the drone war in Pakistan drives the local people into al Qaeda’s arms, it’ll be failure. A new poll of the Pakistani tribal areas, released this morning, suggests that could easily wind up happening. Chalk one up for drone skeptics like counterinsurgent emeritus David Kilcullen and ex-CIA Director Michael Hayden.

Only 16 percent of respondents to a new poll sponsored by the drone-watchers at the New America Foundation say that the drone strikes “accurately target militants.” Three times that number say they “largely kill civilians.”

CIA director Leon Panetta, by contrast, has staunchly defended the drone program as meticulously targeting terrorists. In a war that depends heavily on perceptions, it’s a big discrepancy.

There’s more bad news for Panetta and his boss in the White House. A plurality of respondents in the tribal areas say that the U.S. is primarily responsible for violence in the region. Nearly 90 percent want the U.S. to stop pursuing militants in their backyard and nearly 60 percent are fine with suicide bombings directed at the Americans. That comes as NATO accelerates incursions into Pakistan. Just this morning, it announced that a pursuit of insurgents in Afghanistan’s Paktiya Province led to a U.S. helicopter shooting at the militants from Pakistani airspace. Enraged Pakistani officials responded by shutting down a critical NATO supply line into Afghanistan.

Whatever NATO says, very few in the tribal regions are inclined to believe the U.S. is in Afghanistan and occasionally in Pakistan to fight terrorism. They think the U.S. is waging “larger war on Islam or… an effort to secure oil and minerals in the region.”

On the brighter side, wide majorities in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas disapprove of al Qaeda (over three-quarters), the Pakistani Taliban (over two-thirds) and the Afghan Taliban (60 percent). There’s also strong support for the Pakistani army: almost 70 percent want the army to directly confront al Qaeda and the Taliban in the region; 79 percent say they wouldn’t mind if the tribal area were run by the army.

Now for the qualifiers. Polling in the conflict-heavy tribal areas is a dicey proposition. A survey last year of the tribal areas published in the Daily Times found that almost two-thirds of respondents wanted the U.S. drone campaign to continue. So either support for the drones has bottomed out or there’s significant methodological discrepancies. The Pakistani firm that actually conducted the new poll of 1000 respondents across 120 FATA villages, the Community Appraisal and Motivation Programme, has polled the area for years.

Read More

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report by a Washintington journalist Wayne Madsen alleging that Blackwater is behind TTP attacks in Pakistan:

WMR has learned from a deep background source that Xe Services, the company formerly known as Blackwater, has been conducting false flag terrorist attacks in Pakistan that are later blamed on the entity called “Pakistani Taliban.”

Only recently did the US State Department designate the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistani Taliban, a terrorist group. The group is said by the State Department to be an off-shoot of the Afghan Taliban, which had links to “Al Qaeda” before the 9/11 attacks on the United States. TTP’s leader is Hakimullah Mehsud, said to be 30-years old and operating from Pakistan’s remote tribal region with an accomplice named Wali Ur Rehman. In essence, this new team of Mehsud and Rehman appears to be the designated replacement for Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri as the new leaders of the so-called “Global Jihad” against the West.

However, it is Xe cells operating in Karachi, Peshawar, Islamabad and other cities and towns that have, according to our source who witnessed the U.S.-led false flag terrorist operations in Pakistan. Bombings of civilians is the favored false flag event for the Xe team and are being carried out under the orders of the CIA.

However, the source is now under threat from the FBI and CIA for revealing the nature of the false flag operations in Pakistan. If the source does not agree to cooperate with the CIA and FBI, with an offer of a salary, the threat of false criminal charges being brought for aiding and abetting terrorism looms over the source.

The Blackwater/Xe involvement in terrorist attacks in Pakistan have been confirmed by the former head of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), General Hamid Gul, according to another source familiar with the current Xe covert operations. In addition, Pakistani ex-Army Chief of Staff, General Mirza Aslam Beg, reportedly claimed that while serving as president, General Pervez Musharraf approved Blackwater carrying out terrorist operations in Pakistan. Blackwater has been accused of smuggling weapons and munitions into Pakistan.

Earlier this year WMR reported that ”intelligence sources in Asia and Europe are reporting that the CIA contractor firm XE Services, formerly Blackwater, has been carrying out ‘false flag’ terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, Somalia, the Sinkiang region of China, Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq, in some cases with the assistance of Israeli Mossad and Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) personnel . . . A number of terrorist bombings in Pakistan have been blamed by Pakistani Islamic leaders on Blackwater, Mossad, and RAW. Blackwater has been accused of hiring young Pakistanis in Peshawar to carry out false flag bombings that are later blamed on the Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan. One such bombing took place during the Ashura procession in Karachi last month. The terrorist attacks allegedly are carried out by a secret Blackwater-XE/CIA/Joint Special Operations Command forward operating base in Karachi. The XE Services component was formerly known as Blackwater Select, yet another subsidiary in a byzantine network of shell and linked companies run by Blackwater/Xe on behalf of the CIA and the Pentagon. On December 3, 2009, the Pakistani newspaper Nawa-i-Waqtreported: ‘Vast land near the Tarbela dam has also been given to the Americans where they have established bases for their army and air forces. There, the Indian RAW [Research and Analysis Wing] and Israeli Mossad are working in collaboration with the CIA to carry out extremist activities in Pakistan.’”

Riaz Haq said...

Faisal Shehzad, the passionate but thankfully incompetent Times Square bomber, is an example of a genuine terror plot not created by FBI informants. Here is how he rationalized his involment to a judge in New York, as reported in The Guardian:

After several questions, (Judge) Cedarbaum asked, "Why do you want to plead guilty?"

"I want to plead guilty and I'm going to plead guilty 100 times forward because until the hour the US pulls its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan and stops the drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen and in Pakistan and stops the occupation of Muslim lands and stops Somalia and Yemen and in Pakistan, and stops the occupation of Muslim lands, and stops killing the Muslims and stops reporting the Muslims to its government, we will be attacking US, and I plead guilty to that.
"Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan," he said uncertainly. "I… with them, I did the training to wage an attack inside United States of America."

"I see. How to make a bomb or how to detonate a bomb? What were you taught?"

"The whole thing: how to make a bomb, how to detonate a bomb, how to put a fuse, how many different types of bombs you can make." ...

"Is there a particular Taliban?" Cedarbaum asked at one point.

"Well, there are two Talibans; one is Taliban Afghanistan, the other is Taliban Pakistan. And I went to join the Taliban Pakistan."

"I see. Has that always been there?"

"It recently… they… the organisation was made… was made, like, six years ago when the first time Pakistan took a U-turn on the Taliban Afghanistan, and obviously the tribal area in Pakistan is the… was the harbouring for the mujahideen fighting in Afghanistan. So the Pakistan took a U-turn and they became allied with US and they went against the Taliban and start fighting and killing them. So during that time, the Afghan Taliban made a group to encounter the Pakistan government forces, and that's when Taliban Pakistan came into being. Six years ago, maybe."
... And he chose Times Square on a Saturday night so he could maximise the mayhem? "Yes. Damage to the building and to injure or kill people. But again, I would point out one thing in connection to the attack, that one has to understand where I'm coming from, because this is… I consider myself a mujahid, a Muslim soldier. The US and the Nato forces, along with 40, 50 countries, has attacked the Muslim lands. We… " Cedarbaum interrupted: "But not the people who were walking in Times Square that night," she said slowly. "Did you look around to see who 'they' were?"

"Well, the people select the government. We consider them all the same. The drones, when they hit…"

"Including the children?" the judge interrupted Shahzad once again.

There was a long pause.

"Well, the drone hits in Afghanistan and Iraq," he finally said, "they don't see children, they don't see anybody. They kill women, children, they kill everybody. It's a war, and in war, they kill people. They're killing all Muslims."

"Now we're not talking about them; we're talking about you."

"Well, I am part of that. I am part of the answer to the US terrorising the Muslim nations. I'm avenging the attacks because the Americans only care about their people, but they don't care about the people elsewhere in the world when they die. Similarly, in Gaza Strip, somebody has to go and live with the family whose house is bulldozed by the Israeli bulldozer. There's a lot of aggression…"

"In Afghanistan?"

"In Gaza Strip."

"I see."

"We Muslims are one community. We're not divided."

"Well, I don't want to get drawn into a discussion of the Qur'an."

Riaz Haq said...

Excerpts from Australian analyst Brian Cloughly's piece posted by Prof Juan Cole on his blog Informed Comment:

In Pakistan most of the killing of civilians by US drone-fired missiles goes unrecorded. There is no doubt many of the 100 drone strikes this year have killed some very nasty people, but it would be ridiculous to claim there have been no civilian casualties. The attacks take place in remote areas of the country, and the dead are rarely seen by independent witnesses. But the slaughter of his fellow citizens by US missiles is not a cause for concern to Pakistan’s President Zardari who is reported in Bob Woodward’s ‘Obama’s Wars’ as telling the Director of the CIA in 2008 that “Collateral damage worries you Americans. It does not worry me.”
But there is not only butchery in the drone campaign ; there is colossal damage being done to Pakistan, with massive propaganda advantage to insurrectionists, extremists, thugs and anarchists of all descriptions. The country is in ferment and on the edge of social disaster. There could hardly be a worse time for the US, in concert with an unpopular, corruption-struck and feeble government, to carry on blitzing.

The US has achieved control and lost credibility. But the government of Pakistan has lost both. That’s collateral damage, too.

anoop said...

Regarding Brian Cloughly assessment, why should US be blamed when Pakistan Army is willingly ignoring the Drone Strikes? Even, providing logistical support to those drone strikes, like with the Shamsi Airbase. It is even said Drones take off off that very Airbase.

So, Pakistan army has blessed this operation. So, lets not pretend everything is America's fault.

If the Pakistani army doesn't care about Civilian life, the life of their own citizens, the life Pakistani Army is supposed to protect at all cost, then why on Earth should America care.

Wikileaks have shown that even the Civilian Administration doesn't care about Civilian life. The situation is really hopeless.

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...

There is a strong suspicion in Pakistan that the arrested man operating under the pseudonym "Raymond Davis" is either a CIA or JSOC operative, probably a Navy Seal commando, conducting covert war in Pakistan on behalf of US interests.

JSOC is of particular concern, because JSCO commandos will likely be deployed to relieve Pakistan of its nuclear arsenal if and when the US decides to do.

It is believed that there are hundreds of Raymond Davises in Pakistan who operate from FOBs (Forward Operating Bases) in Pakistan's major cities.

This suspicion is reinforced by credible reports by Jeremy Scahill in the Nation that Blackwater and other contractors have been working with US special forces JSOC on American forward operating bases (FOBs), like the one in Khost, in various parts of Pakistan, including Karachi, on "snatch and grabs" of high-value targets and other sensitive actions inside and outside Pakistan. The US FOBs in the region are known to recruit and create an informants network, as confirmed by the accounts of what happened with suicide bombing and killing of CIA agents at Khost FOB in Afghanistan.

Riaz Haq said...

The court case of Lahore killings by an American may be determined on very narrow legal grounds of diplomatic cover for the man going by the name of "Raymond Davis".

But the larger issue of impunity for such American "security contractors" will not go away.

I think this incident will force the Pakistani (and US) govt to deal with it more honestly under public pressure.

Riaz Haq said...

The American who shot dead two men in Lahore, triggering a diplomatic crisis between Pakistan and the US, is a CIA agent who was on assignment at the time, according to The Guardian newspaper. Here are some excerpts:

Based on interviews in the US and Pakistan, the Guardian can confirm that the 36-year-old former special forces soldier is employed by the CIA. "It's beyond a shadow of a doubt," said a senior Pakistani intelligence official. The revelation may complicate American efforts to free Davis, who insists he was acting in self-defence against a pair of suspected robbers, who were both carrying guns.
The Pakistani government is aware of Davis's CIA status yet has kept quiet in the face of immense American pressure to free him under the Vienna convention. Last week President Barack Obama described Davis as "our diplomat" and dispatched his chief diplomatic troubleshooter, Senator John Kerry, to Islamabad. Kerry returned home empty-handed.
A third man was crushed by an American vehicle as it rushed to Davis's aid. Pakistani officials believe its occupants were CIA because they came from the house where Davis lived and were armed.

The US refused Pakistani demands to interrogate the two men and on Sunday a senior Pakistani intelligence official said they had left the country. "They have flown the coop, they are already in America," he said.

ABC News reported that the men had the same diplomatic visas as Davis. It is not unusual for US intelligence officers, like their counterparts round the world, to carry diplomatic passports.
But Washington's case is hobbled by its resounding silence on Davis's role. He served in the US special forces for 10 years before leaving in 2003 to become a security contractor. A senior Pakistani official said he believed Davis had worked with Xe, the firm formerly known as Blackwater.

Pakistani suspicions about Davis's role were stoked by the equipment police confiscated from his car: an unlicensed pistol, a long-range radio, a GPS device, an infrared torch and a camera with pictures of buildings around Lahore.

"This is not the work of a diplomat. He was doing espionage and surveillance activities," said the Punjab law minister, Rana Sanaullah, adding he had "confirmation" that Davis was a CIA employee.

A number of US media outlets learned about Davis's CIA role but have kept it under wraps at the request of the Obama administration. A Colorado television station, 9NEWS, made a connection after speaking to Davis's wife. She referred its inquiries to a number in Washington which turned out to be the CIA. The station removed the CIA reference from its website at the request of the US government.

Some reports, quoting Pakistani intelligence officials, have suggested that the men Davis killed, Faizan Haider, 21, and Muhammad Faheem, 19, were agents of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency (ISI) and had orders to shadow Davis because he crossed a "red line".
Tensions between the spy agencies have been growing. The CIA Islamabad station chief was forced to leave in December after being named in a civil lawsuit. The ISI was angered when its chief, General Shuja Pasha, was named in a New York lawsuit related to the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Although the two spy services co-operate in the CIA's drone campaign along the Afghan border, there has not been a drone strike since 23 January – the longest lull since June 2009. Experts are unsure whether both events are linked.

Davis awaits his fate in Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore. Pakistani officials say they have taken exceptional measures to ensure his safety, including ringing the prison with paramilitary Punjab Rangers. The law minister, Sanaullah, said Davis was in a "high security zone" and was receiving food from visitors from the US consulate.

Riaz Haq said...

Following the story in The Guardian story yesterday, both NY Times and Washington Post are now confirming that the American operating as "Raymond Davis" is a US spy working under cover.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's more on "Raymond Davis" case in today's Wall Street Journal:

WASHINGTON—The American detained in Pakistan in the killing of two armed men was working secretly in the country for the Central Intelligence Agency, U.S. officials say.

The disclosures about Raymond Davis, a former Army Special Forces soldier who worked as a contractor in Pakistan for the CIA, might complicate U.S. efforts to secure his release and exacerbate growing tensions between between U.S. and Pakistani intelligence agencies. Pakistani intelligence officials say they weren't informed by the U.S. about Mr. Davis's role with the CIA and warned that ties may have been damaged beyond repair by the case.
A senior official with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, said Pakistan wasn't initially aware Mr. Davis was working for the CIA. The official said he believes the U.S. could be using other undeclared operatives like Mr. Davis as a way of circumventing visa restrictions imposed by Islamabad on the U.S. spy agency. The ISI's decision to reveal Mr. Davis's CIA ties reflect Pakistani anger over U.S. conduct in the case. Comments last week by CIA Director Leon Panetta that relations between the two agencies were among "the most complicated" he has ever seen also rankled the ISI.

"We didn't even know about him," the ISI official said. "We don't know how many Raymond Davises there could be running around."

The CIA has "acted with arrogance toward ISI which has resulted in weakening the relationship on which it is entirely dependent," the senior ISI official added. "Irrespective of the commonality of objectives in this war on terror, it is hard to predict if the relationship will ever reach the level at which it was prior to the Davis episode."
According to excerpts from a preliminary Pakistani police report obtained by U.S. officials and shared with The Wall Street Journal, the two dead Pakistani men were found with pistols, live rounds and five stolen cell phones. According to police documents, one of the dead Pakistani men had "cocked his pistol and pointed it towards [the] American."

Little is known about where Mr. Davis has traveled in Pakistan on behalf of the CIA. He arrived in Lahore as a short term contractor for the CIA in January 2010, but U.S. officials say he has done multiple tours as a security employee for the agency over the past four years.

Police in Lahore say eyewitnesses who recognize his photo remember seeing him late last year in a northern suburb of the city where Afghan refugees live.

Senior police officers in Lahore have said Mr. Davis is likely guilty of murder even though they have yet to formally charge him. They deny the men were planning to attack Mr. Davis and say they may have been armed because of a feud in which one of the men's elder brothers had recently been killed.

U.S. officials say such comments by police officials leading the investigation mean Mr. Davis is unlikely to get a fair hearing if the case goes to trial.

Mr. Obama, in his first comments on the incident last week, said Mr. Davis is covered by a 1961 treaty on diplomatic immunity to which the U.S. and Pakistan are both signatories. U.S. officials said Mr. Davis's status working with the CIA in no way diminishes his right to immunity.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a shocking report in The Express Tribune about the possible involvement of "Raymond Davis" with the terrorists of the Pakistani Taliban, the TTP:

“The Lahore killings were a blessing in disguise for our security agencies who suspected that Davis was masterminding terrorist activities in Lahore and other parts of Punjab,” a senior official in the Punjab police claimed.

“His close ties with the TTP were revealed during the investigations,” he added. “Davis was instrumental in recruiting young people from Punjab for the Taliban to fuel the bloody insurgency.” Call records of the cellphones recovered from Davis have established his links with 33 Pakistanis, including 27 militants from the TTP and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi sectarian outfit, sources said.

Davis was also said to be working on a plan to give credence to the American notion that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are not safe. For this purpose, he was setting up a group of the Taliban which would do his bidding.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is an excerpt from an EU Times report on serious allegations of nuclear proliferation against "Raymond Davis":

While all eyes in the West are currently trained on the ongoing revolution taking place in Egypt, Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) is warning that the situation on the sub-continent has turned “grave” as it appears open warfare is about to break out between Pakistan and the United States.

Fueling this crisis, that the SVR warns in their report has the potential to ignite a total Global War, was the apprehension by Pakistan of a 36-year-old American named Raymond Allen Davis (photo), whom the US claims is one of their diplomats, but Pakistani Intelligence Services (ISI) claim Raymond Davis is a spy for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Most ominous in this SVR report, though, is Pakistan’s ISI stating that top-secret CIA documents found in Davis’s possession point to his, and/or TF373, providing to al Qaeda terrorists “nuclear fissile material” and “biological agents” they claim are to be used against the United States itself in order to ignite an all-out war in order to reestablish the West’s hegemony over a Global economy that is warned is just months away from collapse.
Today, as the US Department of Homeland Security has just issued a grim warning that the threat of terror strike on America is at a higher level than it has been since September 11, 2001, and the WikiLeaks release of secret US government cables reveals that al Qaeda is on the brink of using a nuclear bomb, a new President stands between his people and the CIA warmongers with the only question being will he protect them like Kennedy did?

The answer to that question, sadly, appears to be “no” as new information recently obtained by US journalists show that not only has Obama failed to discipline those CIA officers who have led the United States to near total collapse, he has promoted them in numbers never before seen in history.

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.
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.

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.

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 a Guardian Op Ed by Geoff Simons, author of Drone Diplomacy, on expanding use of drones for target killings from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Libya:

President Obama's authorisation of the use of missile-armed drones is a further escalation of the Libya conflict that is sure to result in yet more civilian casualties (Obama sends in Predator drones to help Misrata, 22 April). The evidence is overwhelming that drone usage in Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere massively increases "collateral damage". On 6 May 2002 a drone killed 10 Afghan civilians in a car convoy. On 5 January 2006 a drone targeting al-Qaida's Ayman al-Zawahiri blew up a house in Pakistan. He wasn't there and eight civilians were killed. A week later a Predator ordered into action from CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, destroyed three houses in Demadola, Pakistan, killing 22 civilians, including five women and five children.

On 19 May 2009 a drone attacked homes of villagers in North Waziristan thought to be aiding insurgents, killing 14 women and children. On 2 December 2010, Conflict Monitoring Centre in Islamabad issued a report charging that the US was deliberately ignoring Pakistani civilian deaths (2,043 over five years) caused by drones. On 23 January 2011, after 13 more civilians were killed, 2,000 tribesmen in North Waziristan held a protest against drone missile strikes.

In May 2010 Philip Alston, UN special representative on extrajudicial executions, highlighted the prevalence of a "PlayStation" mentality among drone operators in the US, in effect playing video games with distant and depersonalised targets. Alston, a professor of law at New York University, said: "I'm particularly concerned that the US asserts an ever-expanding entitlement to target individuals across the globe ... an ill-defined licence to kill without accountability."

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 an Indian analyst MK Bhadrakumar on the CIA penetration and military mutiny in Pakistan:

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

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

What are the objectives behind the NYT story? In sum, any whichever way we look at it, they all are highly diabolic. One, US is rubbishing army chief Parvez Kayani and ISI head Shuja Pasha who at one time were its own blue-eyed boys and whose successful careers and post-retirement extensions in service the Americans carefully choreographed fostered with a pliant civilian leadership in Islamabad, but now when the crunch time comes, the folks are not “delivering”. In American culture, as they say, there is nothing like free lunch. The Americans are livid that their hefty “investment” has turned out to be a waste in every sense. And. it was a very painstakingly arranged investment, too. In short, the Americans finally realise that they might have made a miscalculation about Kayani when they promoted his career.
The instability in the region may suit the US’ geo-strategy for consolidating its (and NATO’s) military presence in the region but it will be a highly self-centred, almost cynical, perspective to take on the problem, which has dangerous, almost explosive, potential for regional security. Also, who it is that is in charge of the Pakistan policy in Washington today, we do not know. To my mind, Obama administration doesn’t have a clue since Richard Holbrooke passed away as to how to handle Pakistan. The disturbing news in recent weeks has been that all the old “Pakistan hands” in the USG have left the Obama administration. It seems there has been a steady exodus of officials who knew and understood how Pakistan works, and the depletion is almost one hundred percent. That leaves an open field for the CIA to set the policies.

Riaz Haq said...

US designing new creatures to join predator drones, according to NY Times:

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio — Two miles from the cow pasture where the Wright Brothers learned to fly the first airplanes, military researchers are at work on another revolution in the air: shrinking unmanned drones, the kind that fire missiles into Pakistan and spy on insurgents in Afghanistan, to the size of insects and birds.

The base’s indoor flight lab is called the “microaviary,” and for good reason. The drones in development here are designed to replicate the flight mechanics of moths, hawks and other inhabitants of the natural world. “We’re looking at how you hide in plain sight,” said Greg Parker, an aerospace engineer, as he held up a prototype of a mechanical hawk that in the future might carry out espionage or kill.


From blimps to bugs, an explosion in aerial drones is transforming the way America fights and thinks about its wars. Predator drones, the Cessna-sized workhorses that have dominated unmanned flight since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, are by now a brand name, known and feared around the world. But far less widely known are the sheer size, variety and audaciousness of a rapidly expanding drone universe, along with the dilemmas that come with it.

The Pentagon now has some 7,000 aerial drones, compared with fewer than 50 a decade ago. Within the next decade the Air Force anticipates a decrease in manned aircraft but expects its number of “multirole” aerial drones like the Reaper — the ones that spy as well as strike — to nearly quadruple, to 536. Already the Air Force is training more remote pilots, 350 this year alone, than fighter and bomber pilots combined.


A Tsunami of Data

The future world of drones is here inside the Air Force headquarters at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., where hundreds of flat-screen TVs hang from industrial metal skeletons in a cavernous room, a scene vaguely reminiscent of a rave club. In fact, this is one of the most sensitive installations for processing, exploiting and disseminating a tsunami of information from a global network of flying sensors.

The numbers are overwhelming: Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the hours the Air Force devotes to flying missions for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance have gone up 3,100 percent, most of that from increased operations of drones. Every day, the Air Force must process almost 1,500 hours of full-motion video and another 1,500 still images, much of it from Predators and Reapers on around-the-clock combat air patrols.
Large or small, drones raise questions about the growing disconnect between the American public and its wars. Military ethicists concede that drones can turn war into a video game, inflict civilian casualties and, with no Americans directly at risk, more easily draw the United States into conflicts. Drones have also created a crisis of information for analysts on the end of a daily video deluge. Not least, the Federal Aviation Administration has qualms about expanding their test flights at home, as the Pentagon would like. Last summer, fighter jets were almost scrambled after a rogue Fire Scout drone, the size of a small helicopter, wandered into Washington’s restricted airspace.

The pressures on humans will only increase as the military moves from the limited “soda straw” views of today’s sensors to new “Gorgon Stare” technology that can capture live video of an entire city — but that requires 2,000 analysts to process the data feeds from a single drone, compared with 19 analysts per drone today.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of an Op Ed by former Indian diplomat K. Bhadrakumar published in The Hindu:

It all goes back to the detention of the U.S. intelligence operative and former army man, Raymond Davis, in Lahore in January in circumstances that are not still quite clear. At any rate, ever since Mr. Davis' detention in January, the U.S.-Pakistan relationship has been in disarray. Mr. Davis was kept under detention for two months and subjected to intense grilling. It stands to reason that the Pakistani authorities got to know all that they wanted to know and were afraid to ask their American allies for quite some time about the gamut of their covert activities in Pakistan — vis-à-vis insurgent groups and the Pakistani military and security establishment. The chilling truth is that U.S. President Barack Obama personally intervened to get Mr. Davis released but Pakistan held on to him for yet another month in an extraordinary display of defiance. Suffice to say, the alchemy of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship has since changed almost unrecognisably — from both ends.

Pakistan promptly began acting on Mr. Davis' revelations and drew the famous “red lines” — asking the U.S. (and the British) military personnel to leave; demanding that the U.S. cease its covert operations on Pakistani soil; insisting that future cooperation in intelligence should be based on explicit ground rules. In short, Pakistan understood that the U.S. had gone about establishing direct talks with the Taliban, keeping it out of the loop. A fundamental contradiction has arisen. Pakistan's cooperation in the U.S.-led war — starting from the seminal understanding reached between the two countries following the crucial visit by Secretary of State Colin Powell to Islamabad on October 16, 2001 — has been predicated on the American pledge that Islamabad would be a key player in any Afghanistan settlement and Washington would accommodate Pakistan's legitimate security interests.

But then, the war has transformed, the regional environment has changed and U.S.' priorities have changed. What began as a Texan-style revenge act against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington is today imbued with the hidden agenda of the U.S.' regional strategies. It has become imperative for the U.S. to deal directly with the Taliban and not through intermediaries. Admittedly, the U.S. is looking for an end to the war and is willing to accommodate the Taliban, provided the latter acquiesces to its military bases in Afghanistan.

However, Washington has factored in that after the Davis affair, there is no way Pakistan would cooperate with a U.S. strategy to establish a permanent military presence in Afghanistan. Put simply, Pakistan can never trust the U.S.' intentions and Washington is aware of that. Thus was born the U.S. counterstrategy to turn the table on Pakistan. The sudden pullout of U.S. troops from Pech valley in the province of Kunar in eastern Afghanistan began on February 15 while Mr. Davis was under detention, and it was completed in two months' time. What followed since then was entirely predictable — various insurgent groups ranging from the Afghani and Pakistani Taliban, Hizb-i-Islami, al-Qaeda affiliates and the Lashkar-e-Taiba have consolidated their safe haven in Kunar. Unsurprisingly, the U.S. intelligence has already made contacts with some of them. Therefore, what began happening since May along the Durand Line can be aptly described as a “low-intensity war” against Pakistan.

Cross-border attacks, shelling, terrorist strikes and wanton destruction have become a daily occurrence. Armed groups come down from Kunar and neighbouring provinces to attack Pakistani forces, which retaliate with artillery fire; ....

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistanis seek prosecution of CIA legal counsel for authorizing drone strikes, according to The Guardian:

Campaigners against US drone strikes in Pakistan are calling for the CIA's former legal chief to be arrested and charged with murder for approving attacks that killed hundreds of people.

Amid growing concern around the world over the use of drones, lawyers and relatives of some of those killed are seeking an international arrest warrant for John Rizzo, until recently acting general counsel for the American intelligence agency.

Opponents of drones say the unmanned aircraft are responsible for the deaths of up to 2,500 Pakistanis in 260 attacks since 2004. US officials say the vast majority of those killed are "militants". Earlier this week 48 people were killed in two strikes on tribal regions of Pakistan. The American definition of "militant" has been disputed by relatives and campaigners.

The attempt to seek an international arrest warrant for Rizzo is being led by the British human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith of the campaign group Reprieve, and lawyers in Pakistan. The lawyers are also building cases against other individuals, including drone operators interviewed or photographed during organised press facilities.

A first information report, the first step in seeking a prosecution of Rizzo in Pakistan, will be formally lodged early next week at a police station in the capital, Islamabad, on behalf of relatives of two people killed in drone strikes in 2009. The report will also allege Rizzo should be charged with conspiracy to murder a large number of Pakistani citizens.

Now retired, Rizzo, 63, is being pursued after admitting in an interview with the magazine Newsweek that since 2004 he had approved one drone attack order a month on targets in Pakistan, even though the US is not at war with the country.

Rizzo, who was by his own admission "up to my eyeballs" in approving CIA use of "enhanced interrogation techniques", said in the interview that the CIA operated "a hit list". He also asked: "How many law professors have signed off on a death warrant?"

Rizzo has also admitted being present while civilian operators conducted drone strikes from their terminals at the CIA headquarters in Virginia.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a article describing US Navy Seals raids in Pakistan as routine:

U.S. special operations forces have regularly and “surreptitiously” slipped into Pakistan in recent years, raiding suspected terrorist hideouts on Pakistani soil. The team that killed Osama bin Laden — those guys alone had conducted “10 to 12″ of those missions before they hit that infamous compound in Abbottabad.

In a remarkable story for this week’s New Yorker, Nicholas Schmidle puts together the most detailed picture so far of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. But the most combustible component of the explosive article might be the disclosure that U.S. commandos sneak into Pakistan on the regular.

Over the last week, current and one-time top officials have debated the wisdom of the U.S. launching unilateral strikes in places like Pakistan. Former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told a gathering of security professionals in Aspen that the attacks weren’t worth the local antipathy they generated. Retired Gen. Doug Lute, who oversees Afghanistan and Pakistan strategy at the White House, admitted that there was a major “humiliation factor.” But he told the conference that now was the time to “double down” on the raids, with al-Qaida in disarray. “We need to go for the knockout punch.”

Most people in the audience assumed Lute was talking about additional drone attacks. Perhaps Navy SEALs would deliver the hit, instead.

In many minds, that decisive blow landed last May, when Navy SEALs took out the world’s most wanted terrorist. Schmidle’s piece confirms much of what we already knew about the bin Laden raid: yes, they used a stealthy spy drone and a radar-evading Black Hawk and a particularly ferocious dog; yes, bin Laden was unarmed; yes, the SEALs found his porn.

But Schmidle reveals tons of new details, too. One SEAL bear-hugged bin Laden’s wives, to keep them from detonating suicide vests (an unnecessary precaution, it turns out). The commandos considered tunneling into the compound — until overhead imagery showed that the water table would prevent any digging. At least three of the SEALs were part of the operation that rescued Maersk Alabama captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates.

Since the bin Laden raid, the government of Pakistan claimed it was kicking dozens of U.S. military trainers out of the country. Islamabad made noises about shutting down a base from which U.S. drones took off. Generally, relations between the two countries have gone into the toilet.

But the drone attacks haven’t let up. Will the special operations raids continue, as well? Or was the bin Laden operation the final mission?

One side note: at last week’s Aspen Security Forum, Special Operations Command chief Adm. Eric Olson refused again and again to answer questions about the bin Laden raid. Too much had been disclosed already. “For the special operations community, the 15 minutes of fame lasted about 14 minutes too long,” Olson said. But the admiral – who oversaw the mission, is responsible for all special operations forces, and almost certainly approved Schmidle’s access to his troops – did offer one thought: the raid was routine. A “dozenish” of these kill-or-capture missions were launched every night, mostly in Afghanistan. “Eleven went left,” Olson noted, “one went right.”

Interestingly, a senior Defense Department official talking to Schmidle used almost identical language. “Most of the missions take off and go left,” he said. “This one took off and went right.” Perhaps it’s not so bad if those 15 minutes last another second or two longer.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report in The Hill on Ron Paul's criticism of US policy in Pakistan:

GOP presidential hopeful Ron Paul said Sunday that the U.S. military is inciting a civil war in Pakistan.

The Texas Republican said the civilian casualties resulting from the Pentagon's drone attacks over Pakistan and other countries only create more enemies at the expense of homeland security.

"Sometimes they miss and sometimes there's collateral damage. And every time we do that, we develop more enemies," Paul said on Fox News Sunday.

"We're dropping a lot of drone missile/bombs in Pakistan and claim we've killed so many, but how about the innocent people [who have] died? Nobody hears about that. This is why the people of Pakistan can't stand our guts and why they disapprove of their own government," he said.

"We're bombing Pakistan and trying to kill some people, making a lot of mistakes, building up our enemies, at the same time we're giving billions of dollars to the government of Pakistan," he added. "We're more or less inciting a civil war there, so I think that makes us less safe.

"For everyone you kill, you probably create 10 new people who hate our guts and would like to do us harm."

The eight-term Republican reiterated his calls for a $1 trillion cut in federal spending in year one if he reaches the White House, and rejected the notion that those reductions could undermine the country if programs like medical research and development (R&D) are eliminated.

"If you take all these resources out of the hands of the government, that doesn't mean the money isn't going to be spent. It means that the individuals are going to be spending it," he said.

"You would have much more R&D and it would be better directed if investors and the market makes these decisions, because believe me, the politicians and the bureaucrats aren't smart enough to know what you should be investing in."

Paul also weighed in on the sexual harassment allegations dogging fellow-GOP presidential contender Herman Cain, saying the focus on the scandal "dilutes the real debate."

"The media's blown that way out of proportion," Paul said. "I don't like these distractions."

Riaz Haq said...

Guardian report on yet another innocent victim of US drone attacks in Pakistan:

Last Friday, I met a boy, just before he was assassinated by the CIA. Tariq Aziz was 16, a quiet young man from North Waziristan, who, like most teenagers, enjoyed soccer. Seventy-two hours later, a Hellfire missile is believed to have killed him as he was travelling in a car to meet his aunt in Miran Shah, to take her home after her wedding. Killed with him was his 12-year-old cousin, Waheed Khan.

Over 2,300 people in Pakistan have been killed by such missiles carried by drone aircraft such as the Predator and the Reaper, and launched by remote control from Langley, Virginia. Tariq and Waheed brought the known total of children killed in this way to 175, according to statistics maintained by the organisation I work for, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

The final order to kill is signed allegedly by Stephen Preston, the general counsel at the CIA headquarters. What evidence, I would like to know, does Mr Preston have against Tariq and Waheed? What right does he have to act as judge, jury and executioner of two teenage boys neither he nor his staff have ever met, let alone cross-examined, or given the opportunity to present witnesses?

It is not too late to call for a prosecution and trial of whoever pushed the button and the US government officials who gave the order: that is, Mr Preston and his boss, President Barack Obama.

There are many people whom I know who can appear as witnesses in this trial. We – a pair of reporters, together with several lawyers from Britain, Pakistan and the US – met the victim and dozens of other young men from North Waziristan for dinner at the Margalla hotel in Islamabad on Thursday 27 October. We talked about their local soccer teams, which they proudly related were named for Brazil, New Zealand and other nations, which they had heard about but never visited.
The next morning, I filmed young Tariq walking into a conference hall to greet his elders. I reviewed the tape after he was killed to see what was recorded of some of his last moments: he walks shyly and greets the Waziri elders in the traditional style by briefly touching their chests. With his friends, he walks to a set of chairs towards the back of the hall, and they argue briefly about where each of them will sit. Over the course of the morning, Tariq appears again in many photographs that dozens of those present took, always sitting quietly and listening intently.

Tariq was attending a "Waziristan Grand Jirga" on behalf of drone strike victims in Pakistan, which was held at the Margalla hotel the following day. As is the Pashtun custom, the young men, each of whom had lost a friend or relative in a drone strike, did not speak. For four hours, the Waziri elders debated the drone war, and then they listened to a resolution condemning the attacks, read out by Mirza Shahzad Akbar, a lawyer from the Foundation for Fundamental Rights. The group voted for this unanimously.

Neil Williams, a volunteer from Reprieve, the British legal charity, sat down and chatted with Tariq after the jirga was over. Together, they traveled in a van to the Pakistani parliament for a protest rally against drone strikes led by Imran Khan, a former cricketer, and now the leader of the Tehreek-e-Insaaf political party.

The next day, the group returned home to Waziristan. On Monday, Tariq was killed, according to his uncle Noor Kalam.

The question I would pose to the jury is this: would a terrorist suspect come to a public meeting and converse openly with foreign lawyers and reporters, and allow himself to be photographed and interviewed? More importantly, since he was so easily available, why could Tariq not have been detained in Islamabad, when we spent 48 hours together? ....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an LA Times piece on "who reviews the kill list" for US drone strikes:

When it comes to national security, Michael V. Haydenis no shrinking violet. As CIA director, he ran the Bush administration's program of warrantless wiretaps against suspected terrorists.

But the retired air force general admits to being a little squeamish about the Obama administration's expanding use of pilotless drones to kill suspected terrorists around the world — including, occasionally, U.S. citizens.

"Right now, there isn't a government on the planet that agrees with our legal rationale for these operations, except for Afghanistan and maybe Israel," Hayden told me recently.

As an example of the problem, he cites the example of Anwar Awlaki, the New Mexico-born member of Al Qaeda who was killed by a U.S. drone in Yemen last September. "We needed a court order to eavesdrop on him," Hayden notes, "but we didn't need a court order to kill him. Isn't that something?"

Hayden isn't the only one who has qualms about the "targeted killing" program. The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), has been pressing the administration to explain its rules for months.

In a written statement, Feinstein said she thinks Awlaki was "a lawful target" but added that she still thinks the administration should explain its reasoning more openly "to maintain public support of secret operations."

As Hayden puts it: "This program rests on the personal legitimacy of the president, and that's dangerous."

There has been remarkably little public debate about the drone strikes, which have killed at least 1,300 people in Pakistan alone since President Obama came to office. Little debate inside the United States, that is. But overseas, the operations have prompted increasing opposition and could turn into a foreign policy headache.

It's odd that the Obama administration, which came into office promising to be more open and more attentive to civil liberties than the previous one, has been so reluctant to explain its policies in this area. Obama and his aides have refused to answer questions about drone strikes because they are part of a covert program, yet they have repeatedly taken credit for their victories in public. After months of negotiations, Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. won approval from the White House to spell out some of the administration's legal thinking in the Awlaki case. But his statement, originally promised for last month, has been delayed by continued internal wrangling.

When it is issued, officials said, the statement is likely to add a few details to the bare-bones rationale the administration has offered in a handful of public statements and court proceedings. The administration has said that strikes against suspected terrorists are justified for two reasons: First, that Al Qaeda is at war with the United States, which makes any participant in Al Qaeda operations an enemy combatant; and second, that anyone directly involved in terrorist plots against Americans poses an "imminent danger" to U.S. security....,0,876903.column

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
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:

i don't think we're going anywhere with this SSS thing, though it is
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

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

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

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.

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....

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.";cbsCarousel

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times story on Obama's "kill list":

Nothing else in Mr. Obama’s first term has baffled liberal supporters and confounded conservative critics alike as his aggressive counterterrorism record. His actions have often remained inscrutable, obscured by awkward secrecy rules, polarized political commentary and the president’s own deep reserve.

In interviews with The New York Times, three dozen of his current and former advisers described Mr. Obama’s evolution since taking on the role, without precedent in presidential history, of personally overseeing the shadow war with Al Qaeda.

They describe a paradoxical leader who shunned the legislative deal-making required to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, but approves lethal action without hand-wringing. While he was adamant about narrowing the fight and improving relations with the Muslim world, he has followed the metastasizing enemy into new and dangerous lands. When he applies his lawyering skills to counterterrorism, it is usually to enable, not constrain, his ferocious campaign against Al Qaeda — even when it comes to killing an American cleric in Yemen, a decision that Mr. Obama told colleagues was “an easy one.”

His first term has seen private warnings from top officials about a “Whac-A-Mole” approach to counterterrorism; the invention of a new category of aerial attack following complaints of careless targeting; and presidential acquiescence in a formula for counting civilian deaths that some officials think is skewed to produce low numbers.

The administration’s failure to forge a clear detention policy has created the impression among some members of Congress of a take-no-prisoners policy. And Mr. Obama’s ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron P. Munter, has complained to colleagues that the C.I.A.’s strikes drive American policy there, saying “he didn’t realize his main job was to kill people,” a colleague said.
Dennis C. Blair, director of national intelligence until he was fired in May 2010, said that discussions inside the White House of long-term strategy against Al Qaeda were sidelined by the intense focus on strikes. “The steady refrain in the White House was, ‘This is the only game in town’ — reminded me of body counts in Vietnam,” said Mr. Blair, a retired admiral who began his Navy service during that war.

Mr. Blair’s criticism, dismissed by White House officials as personal pique, nonetheless resonates inside the government.

William M. Daley, Mr. Obama’s chief of staff in 2011, said the president and his advisers understood that they could not keep adding new names to a kill list, from ever lower on the Qaeda totem pole. What remains unanswered is how much killing will be enough.

“One guy gets knocked off, and the guy’s driver, who’s No. 21, becomes 20?” Mr. Daley said, describing the internal discussion. “At what point are you just filling the bucket with numbers?”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece by Noam Chomsky titled "Somebody Else's Atrocity":

In his penetrating study “Ideal Illusions: How the U.S. Government Co-Opted Human Rights,” international affairs scholar James Peck observes, “In the history of human rights, the worst atrocities are always committed by somebody else, never us”—whoever “us” is.

Almost any moment in history yields innumerable illustrations. Let’s keep to the past few weeks.

On May 10, the Summer Olympics were inaugurated at the Greek birthplace of the ancient games. A few days before, virtually unnoticed, the government of Vietnam addressed a letter to the International Olympic Committee expressing the “profound concerns of the Government and people of Viet Nam about the decision of IOC to accept the Dow Chemical Company as a global partner sponsoring the Olympic Movement.”

Dow provided the chemicals that Washington used from 1961 onward to destroy crops and forests in South Vietnam, drenching the country with Agent Orange.

These poisons contain dioxin, one of the most lethal carcinogens known, affecting millions of Vietnamese and many U.S. soldiers. To this day in Vietnam, aborted fetuses and deformed infants are very likely the effects of these crimes—though, in light of Washington’s refusal to investigate, we have only the studies of Vietnamese scientists and independent analysts.

Joining the Vietnamese appeal against Dow are the government of India, the Indian Olympic Association, and the survivors of the horrendous 1984 Bhopal gas leak, one of history’s worst industrial disasters, which killed thousands and injured more than half a million.

Union Carbide, the corporation responsible for the disaster, was taken over by Dow, for whom the matter is of no slight concern. In February, Wikileaks revealed that Dow hired the U.S. private investigative agency Stratfor to monitor activists seeking compensation for the victims and prosecution of those responsible.

Another major crime with very serious persisting effects is the Marine assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah in November 2004.

Women and children were permitted to escape if they could. After several weeks of bombing, the attack opened with a carefully planned war crime: Invasion of the Fallujah General Hospital, where patients and staff were ordered to the floor, their hands tied. Soon the bonds were loosened; the compound was secure.

The official justification was that the hospital was reporting civilian casualties, and therefore was considered a propaganda weapon.

Much of the city was left in “smoking ruins,” the press reported while the Marines sought out insurgents in their “warrens.” The invaders barred entry to the Red Crescent relief organization. Absent an official inquiry, the scale of the crimes is unknown.

If the Fallujah events are reminiscent of the events that took place in the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica, now again in the news with the genocide trial of Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic, there’s a good reason. An honest comparison would be instructive, but there’s no fear of that: One is an atrocity, the other not, by definition.

As in Vietnam, independent investigators are reporting long-term effects of the Fallujah assault.

Medical researchers have found dramatic increases in infant mortality, cancer and leukemia, even higher than Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Uranium levels in hair and soil samples are far beyond comparable cases.

One of the rare investigators from the invading countries is Dr. Kypros Nicolaides, director of the fetal-medicine research center at London’s King’s College Hospital. “I’m sure the Americans used weapons that caused these deformities,” Nicolaides says.

The lingering effects of a vastly greater nonatrocity were reported last month by U.S. law professor James Anaya, the U.N. rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece from WSW on Jimmy Carter's NY Times Op Ed:

Ex-US president indicts Obama as assassin
27 June 2012

A column published Monday in the New York Times by Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States, constitutes an extraordinary indictment of the Obama administration for engaging in assassinations and other criminal violations of international law and the US Constitution.

Titling his column “A Cruel and Unusual Record,” Carter writes: “Revelations that top officials are targeting people to be assassinated abroad, including American citizens, are only the most recent, disturbing proof of how far our nation’s violation of human rights has extended.”

Referring to the infamous provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), signed into law by Obama on December 31 of last year, Carter writes: “Recent legislation has made legal the president’s right to detain a person indefinitely on suspicion of affiliation with terrorist organizations or ‘associated forces,’ a broad, vague power that can be abused without meaningful oversight from the courts or Congress.” He goes on to refer to “unprecedented violations of our rights” through warrantless wiretapping and electronic data mining.

Elaborating on the US drone strikes, the former president adds, “Despite an arbitrary rule that any man killed by drones is declared an enemy terrorist, the death of nearby innocent women and children is accepted as inevitable… We don’t know how many hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed in these attacks, each one approved by the highest authorities in Washington. This would have been unthinkable in previous times.”

Carter’s column appeared on the same day that Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations testified before the UN Human Rights Commission, denouncing US drone attacks on his country in which “thousands of innocent people, including women and children, have been murdered.” He said that in 2010 alone, 957 Pakistanis were killed.

Carter goes on to indict the administration for the continued operation of the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where, he notes, out of 169 prisoners “half have been cleared for release, yet have little prospect of ever obtaining their freedom,” and others “have no prospect of ever being charged or tried either.”

In the few cases where prisoners have been brought before military tribunals, he notes, the defendants “have been tortured by waterboarding more than 100 times or intimidated with semiautomatic weapons, power drills or threats to sexually assault their mothers.” He continues: “Astoundingly, these facts cannot be used as a defense by the accused, because the government claims they occurred under the cover of ‘national security.’”
Twelve years after the stolen presidential election of 2000, the central lesson of that crucial episode in American political life has been driven home ever more forcefully: there exists within the US corporate and political establishment no significant constituency for the defense of democratic rights and constitutional methods.

The unprecedented gulf between a ruling financial oligarchy and the masses of working people—which has grown uninterruptedly throughout this period—is wholly incompatible with such rights and such methods.

Carter’s words are a warning. The threat of an American police state and the use of the murderous methods employed by US imperialism abroad against the working class at home is real and growing. The working class must prepare accordingly, mobilizing its independent political power against the capitalist profit system from which these threats arise.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts og a Guardian story on US drones targeting rescuers in Pakistan's FATA region:

attacking rescuers (and arguably worse, bombing funerals of America's drone victims) is now a tactic routinely used by the US in Pakistan. In February, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism documented that "the CIA's drone campaign in Pakistan has killed dozens of civilians who had gone to help rescue victims or were attending funerals." Specifically: "at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims." That initial FBI report detailed numerous civilians killed by such follow-up strikes on rescuers, and established precisely the terror effect which the US government has long warned are sown by such attacks:

"Yusufzai, who reported on the attack, says those killed in the follow-up strike 'were trying to pull out the bodies, to help clear the rubble, and take people to hospital.' The impact of drone attacks on rescuers has been to scare people off, he says: 'They've learnt that something will happen. No one wants to go close to these damaged building anymore.'"

Since that first bureau report, there have been numerous other documented cases of the use by the US of this tactic: "On [4 June], US drones attacked rescuers in Waziristan in western Pakistan minutes after an initial strike, killing 16 people in total according to the BBC. On 28 May, drones were also reported to have returned to the attack in Khassokhel near Mir Ali." Moreover, "between May 2009 and June 2011, at least 15 attacks on rescuers were reported by credible news media, including the New York Times, CNN, ABC News and Al Jazeera."

In June, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, said that if "there have been secondary drone strikes on rescuers who are helping (the injured) after an initial drone attack, those further attacks are a war crime." There is no doubt that there have been.

(A different UN official, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism, Ben Emmerson, this weekend demanded that the US "must open itself to an independent investigation into its use of drone strikes or the United Nations will be forced to step in", and warned that the demand "will remain at the top of the UN political agenda until some consensus and transparency has been achieved". For many American progressives, caring about what the UN thinks is so very 2003.)

Riaz Haq said...

Here's NY Times on Pak civilian victims of US drone strikes:

A new report on targeted killing by C.I.A. drones in Pakistan’s tribal area concludes that the strikes have killed more civilians than American officials have acknowledged, alienated Pakistani public opinion and set a dangerous precedent under international law.

The report, by human rights researchers at the Stanford and New York University law schools, urges the United States to “conduct a fundamental re-evaluation of current targeted killing practices” including “short- and long-term costs and benefits.” It also calls on the administration to make public still-secret legal opinions justifying the strikes.

Human rights groups have previously reached similar conclusions, and the report draws heavily on previous reporting, notably by the Bureau for Investigative Journalism in London. But the study is among the most thorough on the subject to date and is based on interviews with people injured by drone-fired missiles, their family members, Pakistani officials, lawyers and journalists.

Research is difficult on the ground in Pakistan’s dangerous tribal regions, where militant groups are situated and most drone strikes occur, and the law school teams did not visit them. They did, however, meet in Pakistani cities with 69 people who had been injured in strikes, witnessed strikes or surveillance drones, or had relatives who were witnesses. The report includes excerpts from interviews with a dozen witnesses.

Sarah Knuckey, a veteran human rights investigator who led the N.Y.U. team, said she was particularly struck by the pervasive anxiety that residents of the tribal area described as a result of hearing drones buzzing overhead and knowing that a strike could come at any time. She said Pakistani journalists and humanitarian workers who work in the area described the same fear.

She also noted the pattern of second drone strikes after initial strikes, evidently targeting rescuers and relatives responding to a site. One humanitarian organization, which she said the authors agreed not to name for security reasons, told them its policy is to wait at least six hours after a drone strike before visiting the site.

American officials, including President Obama, have strongly defended the drone strikes, arguing that the remotely piloted aircraft are by far the most precise weapon for eliminating terrorists. They have said that both militants and Pakistani officials have exaggerated the number of civilian deaths.

Many experts on Al Qaeda believe that the strikes have hugely weakened the core Qaeda organization in Pakistan, though some believe that the backlash against the strikes has probably drawn some new recruits to the terrorist network. Many military experts support the government’s claim that using conventional airstrikes or troops on the ground to attack terrorist compounds would be likely to kill far more civilians than the drones have.

The full report, “Living Under Drones: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians from U.S. Drone Practices in Pakistan,” whose main authors are Ms. Knuckey, from N.Y.U., and James Cavallaro and Stephan Sonnenberg, of Stanford, and an accompanying video by the filmmaker Robert Greenwald, can be found here:

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Wired magazine story on CIA drone strikes in FATA, Pakistan:

The sixth U.S. drone strike in Pakistan in 2013 has killed at least eight people, as if to announce the impending arrival at the CIA of the drone campaign’s chief advocate.

About 19 miles east of Mirin Shah, the main city in the tribal province of North Waziristan, at least one missile fired by a U.S. Predator or Reaper hit a compound Monday night, killing an alleged, unnamed “foreign tactical trainer” for al-Qaida, according to Pakistani intelligence sources talking to Reuters. Another strike hit the nearby village of Eissu Khel, the Long War Journal reports. In addition to the alleged al-Qaida member, at least seven others were killed and three more were injured.

While the statistical sample is small, it’s starting to sound like the drone campaign over Pakistan is ticking back up after a recent decline. A trio of drone-fired missile strikes between Wednesday and Thursday killed a Pakistani Taliban commander and at least 19 others. Another on Sunday reportedly killed another 17 people, bringing the estimated death toll in this young year to 35.

The U.S. launched 43 drone strikes in Pakistan in 2012, according to the tally kept by the New America Foundation, reflecting a two-year downward trend from 2010′s high of 122 strikes. The average time in between strikes last year was 7.7 days. But eight days into 2013, there have already been six deadly drone strikes, for reasons that remain unclear. It’s worth noting that senior Obama administration officials recently reversed their earlier rhetoric that the U.S. was on the verge of defeating al-Qaida and have returned to describing a protracted shadow campaign.

The drone strikes are likely to play a central role in the Senate confirmation hearing of John Brennan, the White House counterterrorism official whom President Obama nominated Monday to lead the CIA. Brennan, a CIA veteran, has been at the center of the drone campaign in Obama’s first term, even providing Obama with the names of suspected militants marked for a robotic death.

But even if the White House doesn’t know a target’s name, he can still be marked for death. Obama has provided the CIA with authority to kill not only suspected militants, but unknown individuals it believes follow a pattern of militant activity, in what it terms “signature strikes.” The drone program has killed an undisclosed number of civilians. A recent study conducted by Center for Civilians in Conflict and Columbia Law School’s human-rights branch explored how they’ve torn the broader social fabric in tribal Pakistan, creating paranoia that neighbors are informing on each other and traumatizing those who live under the buzz of Predator and Reaper engines. Those traumas are raising alarm bells from some of the U.S.’ most experienced counterterrorists.

Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former chief of the Joint Special Operations Command and the NATO war in Afghanistan, has been publicly ambivalent on the drones for months. In July, he told an elite audience at the Aspen Ideas Festival about how a drone spotted an Afghan man “digging in the ground” at night, leading his forces to order a deadly helicopter attack on the presumption the man was burying a bomb. McChrystal later learned that tilling soil at night is a tradition among Afghan farmers, and the dead man posed no threat.

The retired general went further in a Monday interview with Reuters’ David Alexander. “The resentment created by American use of unmanned strikes … is much greater than the average American appreciates,” McChrystal said. “They are hated on a visceral level, even by people who’ve never seen one or seen the effects of one.”

Brennan’s nomination is renewing the national discussion about drone strikes. ....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's BBC on how US drones are operated remotely with satellite links:

Two of the medium-sized drones currently in use in Afghanistan and Pakistan are the MQ-1B Predator and the MQ-9 Reaper.

These strange-looking planes carry a wealth of sensors in their bulbous noses: colour and black-and-white TV cameras, image intensifiers, radar, infra-red imaging for low-light conditions and lasers for targeting. They can also be armed with laser-guided missiles.

Each multi-million dollar Predator or Reaper system comprises four aircraft, a ground control station and a satellite link.

Although drones are unmanned, they are not unpiloted - trained crew at base steer the craft, analyse the images which the cameras send back and act on what they see.
How drones work

The base may be local to the combat zone or thousands of miles away - many of the drone missions in Afghanistan are controlled from Creech air force base in Nevada, USA - although take-off and landing are always handled locally.

The MQ-1B Predator (formerly called the RQ-1 Predator) was originally designed as an aircraft for intelligence-gathering, surveillance, identifying targets and reconnaissance.

However, since 2002 it has been equipped with two Hellfire II missiles, meaning it can strike at a range of up to 8km (five miles).

By contrast, the newer MQ-9 Reaper was conceived as a "hunter-killer" system.

It can carry four Hellfire missiles and laser-guided bombs such as Paveway II and GBU-12.

Its cruise speed is 370kph (230mph), much faster than the 217kph (135mph) of the Predator which is more vulnerable to being shot down at low altitudes - although the drones would usually be flown above the range of most of the weapons available to the Taliban.
Future craft

The US Army revealed in December that it was also developing new helicopter-style drones with 1.8 gigapixel colour cameras, which promised "an unprecedented capability to track and monitor activity on the ground".

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a VOA report on Chinese killer drones:

China's acknowledgment earlier this week that it considered using a drone strike on foreign soil to target a major Burmese drug trafficker wanted in the killings of 13 Chinese sailors highlights Beijing's increasing capacity in unmanned aerial warfare. It also foreshadows the dangers of a burgeoning global drone race.

Liu Yuejin, director of the Public Security Ministry's anti-drug bureau, told the state-run Global Times newspaper Monday the plan called for bombing drug lord Naw Kham's mountain hideout in northeastern Burma using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to end a months-long manhunt.

China's top drug tsar told the newspaper the drone strike option was eventually passed over to try to capture Naw Kham alive, which finally occurred last April in a joint Chinese-Laotian operation. But his comments reveal that China is weighing targeting killings seriously.

Beijing is becoming more willing to project power outside China, moving away from its previous policy of non-interference in international affairs, according to Peter Dutton, director of the China Maritime Studies Institute at the U.S. Naval War College.
Another issue is proliferation and skyrocketing demand. While the United States has traditionally exported unmanned drones to only a few of its closest allies, Chinese companies are now seen as an increasingly reliable and cheap supplier.

Dozens of countries have bought or built their own UAVs, primarily for surveillance, and military planners see them as extremely effective, both for reconnaissance and as weaponized attack vehicles.

"The problem is that this technology is becoming so widely available and so cheap, that I think it is only a matter of time before countries with far smaller militaries, countries with far less responsible regimes, are in a position where they want to use these technologies as well," Vladeck said.

American military contractors have been lobbying the government to loosen export restrictions and tap into foreign markets for unmanned aircraft.

In 2010, U.S.-based General Atomics received approval to sell early, unarmed versions of the Predator drone to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, among other countries in the Middle East and Latin America.

Top drone exporter Israel has sold its aircraft to a variety of countries, including Nigeria, India and Russia.

Regional tension

One of the Chinese drones unveiled at the annual Zhuhai air show in November has a range of more than 3,200 kilometers, and the Japanese military recently documented an unmanned vehicle flying near some Chinese naval vessels on a training exercise near Okinawa.

With tensions heating up between the two countries over disputed islands in the South China Sea, Japanese media reports have indicated the new government in Tokyo wants to purchase a small number of advanced U.S. Global Hawk high-altitude surveillance drones.

While both sides claim the unmanned aircraft will be used for reconnaissance, experts warn adding armaments is relatively easy, and the possibility for regional drone clashes cannot be discounted.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's NY Times blog post by Huma Yusuf on conspiracy theories in Pakistan:

As the security situation in Pakistan continues to deteriorate, trading conspiracy theories has become the new national pastime. Nothing is more popular on the airwaves, at dinner parties or around tea stalls than to speculate, especially about American activities on Pakistani soil.

According to many Pakistanis, the C.I.A. used a mysterious technology to cause the devastating floods that affected 20 million people in 2010. Washington had the teenage champion for girls’ education, Malala Yousafzai, shot as part of a campaign to demonize the Pakistani Taliban and win public support for American drone strikes against them. The terrorists who strike Pakistani targets are non-Muslim “foreign agents.” Osama bin Laden was an American operative.

The Pakistani penchant for conspiracy theories results from decades of military rule, during which the army controlled the media and the shadowy Inter-Services Intelligence agency controlled much of everything else. The lack of transparency and scarcity of information during subsequent democratic rule has further fueled rumors.

Mostly, however, conspiracy theories persist because many turn out to be true.

A few years ago, Pakistan’s independent media denounced the presence in Pakistan of C.I.A. agents and private security firms like Blackwater. While U.S. and Pakistani government officials denied any such infiltration, private television channels broadcast footage of the homes of Westerners, allegedly Blackwater agents. One right-wing newspaper, The Nation, even named one Wall Street Journal correspondent as a C.I.A. spy, forcing him to leave the country.

For a time liberal Pakistanis condemned this as a witch hunt and decried poor journalistic ethics. But soon the international media disclosed that Blackwater was in fact operating in Pakistan at an airbase in Baluchistan used by the C.I.A.

Then it was revealed that the American citizen who shot and killed two Pakistanis in Lahore in January 2011 — an American diplomat, the U.S. government claimed initially — turned out to be a C.I.A. agent, just as many conspiracy theorists had surmised.

And what about those U.S. drone strikes targeting militants in Pakistan’s tribal belt? It turns out those suspicious Pakistanis were right to imagine that their own government was complicit. That became clear when, in November 2011, to protest a NATO airstrike that killed Pakistani soldiers near the border with Afghanistan, the Pakistani government ordered the C.I.A. to leave the Shamsi airbase in Baluchistan, from where the drone attacks were being launched.

Other rumors concern India, Pakistan’s long-time rival. Zaid Hamid, a jihadist-turned-policy analyst, alleges that the Indian spy agency R.A.W. funds and arms the Pakistani Taliban. Some Pakistani officials accuse New Delhi of facilitating the separatist insurgency in Baluchistan.

This paranoia was confirmed this week by Chuck Hagel, the new U.S. secretary of defense. A video clip from 2011 that circulated during his confirmation hearings shows Hagel claiming that India uses Afghanistan as a “second front” against Pakistan and “has over the years financed problems for Pakistan on that side of the border.”

The allegation outraged the Indian government and undermined liberal Pakistanis who believe India wants a stable Pakistan and support improved bilateral ties. Meanwhile, of course, it validated those conspiracy mongers who have long warned that India wants to culturally subsume, colonize or destroy Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on UN finding US drone strikes in Pakistan illegal:

...Ben Emmerson spent much of the week in Pakistan soliciting the views of senior government and elected officials about the drone strikes, part of his ongoing effort to investigate the relatively new method of targeted killing. He said in a statement on Friday that he also met with representatives of the tribal areas of western Pakistan that have borne the overwhelming brunt of the drone campaign. The officials underscored to Emmerson that Pakistan doesn’t consent to the U.S. drone effort, and denied extending the tacit consent that its military — with whom Emmerson did not consult — has previously provided.

“As a matter of international law the U.S. drone campaign in Pakistan is therefore being conducted without the consent of the elected representatives of the people, or the legitimate Government of the State,” Emmerson, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism, said in the statement. “It involves the use of force on the territory of another State without its consent and is therefore a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.”

Emmerson’s statement is carefully worded. He portrays himself as conveying Pakistan’s concerns, rather than vouching for their particulars. But it’s still the strongest statement yet by an international official calling for an end to a campaign of targeted killing that briefly flared back up earlier this year. And to call the strikes an unwarranted violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty is tantamount to saying the U.S. is waging a war of aggression.

“The Pashtun tribes of the FATA area have suffered enormously under the drone campaign,” Emmerson’s statement continues, referring to the tribal areas. “It is time for the international community to heed the concerns of Pakistan, and give the next democratically elected government of Pakistan the space, support and assistance it needs to deliver a lasting peace on its own territory without forcible military interference by other States.”

If the drone strikes continue into the next Pakistani government, Emmerson warned, the U.S. drone effort could further destabilize the nuclear power, undermining a key U.S. strategic goal at the heart of the drone strikes. He urged patience with a Pakistani military effort to eradicate al-Qaida’s allies in the tribal areas — one that official Washington has long since written off as unserious.

Significantly and subtly, Emmerson raised doubts over repeated U.S. claims that the targeting efforts behind the drones kill terrorists and spare civilians. Last month, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a staunch drone advocate, claimed that the drones kill only “single digits” worth of civilians annually. Many of the CIA’s strikes, termed “signature strikes,” kill people believed to fit a pattern of extremist behavior, rather than killing specific, known terrorists.


“In discussions with the delegation of tribal Maliks from North Waziristan the Special Rapporteur was informed that drone strikes routinely inflicted civilian casualties, and that groups of adult males carrying out ordinary daily tasks were frequently the victims of such strikes,” Emmerson continued. “They emphasized that to an outsider unfamiliar with Pashtun tribal customs there was a very real risk of misidentification of targets since all Pashtun tribesmen tended to have similar appearance to members of the Pakistan Taliban, including similar (and often indistinguishable) tribal clothing, and since it had long been a tradition among the Pashtun tribes that all adult males would carry a gun at all times. They considered that civilian casualties were a commonplace occurrence and that the threat of such strikes instilled fear in the entire community.”...

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.
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.
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.
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 ...

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Washington Post report on US black budget targeting Pakistan for extra concerns and greater surveillance:

The $52.6 billion U.S. intelligence arsenal is aimed mainly at unambiguous adversaries, including al-Qaeda, North Korea and Iran. But top-secret budget documents reveal an equally intense focus on one purported ally: Pakistan.

No other nation draws as much scrutiny across so many categories of national security concern.

A 178-page summary of the U.S. intelligence community’s “black budget” shows that the United States has ramped up its surveillance of Pakistan’s nuclear arms, cites previously undisclosed concerns about biological and chemical sites there, and details efforts to assess the loyalties of counter­terrorism sources recruited by the CIA.

Pakistan appears at the top of charts listing critical U.S. intelligence gaps. It is named as a target of newly formed analytic cells. And fears about the security of its nuclear program are so pervasive that a budget section on containing the spread of illicit weapons divides the world into two categories: Pakistan and everybody else.

The disclosures — based on documents provided to The Washington Post by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden — expose broad new levels of U.S. distrust in an already unsteady security partnership with Pakistan, a politically unstable country that faces rising Islamist militancy. They also reveal a more expansive effort to gather intelligence on Pakistan than U.S. officials have disclosed.

Beyond the budget files, other classified documents provided to The Post expose fresh allegations of systemic human rights abuses in Pakistan. U.S. spy agencies reported that high-ranking Pakistani military and intelligence officials had been aware of — and possibly ordered — an extensive campaign of extrajudicial killings targeting militants and other adversaries.

Public disclosure of those reports, based on communications intercepts from 2010 to 2012 and other intelligence, could have forced the Obama administration to sever aid to the Pakistani armed forces because of a U.S. law that prohibits military assistance to human rights abusers. But the documents indicate that administration officials decided not to press the issue, in order to preserve an already frayed relationship with the Pakistanis.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council said the United States is “committed to a long-term partnership with Pakistan, and we remain fully engaged in building a relationship that is based on mutual interests and mutual respect.”...

Riaz Haq said...

In an open society, it's very easy for #US #CIA covert operatives to penetrate and corrupt it. #democracy #Pakistan

Riaz Haq said...

Unlike Imran Khan and other Khans in Pakistan, US truly follows Pashtunwali code: Settle scores by killing those who kill Americans. America has neither forgotten nor forgiven TTP for bombing and killing CIA officers FOB in Khost and then attempting Times Square bombing.

Riaz Haq said...

Legitimizing of double standards is the West's idea of the "new liberal imperialism" in post-modern world as proposed by British diplomat Robert cooper....It's ok to play by different rules in developing world than at home.

Riaz Haq said...

Identifying targets for the lethal American drone attacks in Pakistan was always dangerous. Then al Qaeda created its own strike force to target the informants.
PESHAWAR, Pakistan—Half a dozen men sit on the floor in a grimy rented storefront in the crowded Khyber Bazaar. A bottle of locally brewed liquor chills in a water cooler in the corner, a Pepsi bottle next to it for mixing. A Bollywood soundtrack plays in the background. It’s a farewell party for Allah Noor, who has spent the last five years identifying targets in rural Pakistan for U.S. drone strikes.

Noor, as we’ll call him, is tall and wiry. Now in his early thirties, his cheeks are sunken from smoking too much hash. He hasn’t slept in the same place two nights in a row ever since a U.S. drone killed Maulvi Nazir, his former boss, on Jan. 2, 2013. “After that,” he says, “I realized the government is playing a double game.”

“Sometimes I hide in Karachi, or in Rawalpindi, or Hyderabad, or other places. Now I have a visa for the UAE, and I fly out at 9 a.m. tomorrow.” If he doesn’t escape Waziristan soon, there may be a price on Noor’s head.

There is a saying in North Waziristan: The people there are stuck “between drones in the sky, and daggers on the earth.”

Ever since jihadis set up shop in North Waziristan in 2001, the region has become a battleground for a war between Pakistan, Afghanistan, the United States, and a potpourri of groups with sometimes overlapping agendas. Some groups, like the one led by Maulvi Nazir, once had a truce with Pakistan, agreeing to focus on toppling the Afghan government and reestablishing Taliban rule there. Others, like the Tehrike e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) vowed to topple the Pakistani state itself. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of foreign fighters—Arabs, Central Asians, even Chinese Uighurs—flocked to North Waziristan, each bringing his own global struggle with him.

In June, Pakistan launched an all-out military offensive in the region, ostensibly to evict all the militants from the area. The army claims to have killed more than a thousand. In the meantime, more than a million people fled the region.

Even before the current military operation though, Pakistan had more than 140,000 troops stationed in FATA, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, including many in North Waziristan. It felt the impact of most of almost three quarters of the 387 drone strikes that have hit the country. The very fact that so many troops co-existed with so many militants meant some kind of complicated alliances were afoot.

Locals like Noor knew of those alliances firsthand.

The city of Miran Shah, for example, was subjected to a nighttime curfew for years. Pakistani helicopter gunships regularly struck targets in the countryside nearby, as American drones circled overhead taking out high-value targets. One drone fired missiles, while three others tracked the target. None of this would have been possible if Pakistan did not clear the airspace in North Waziristan. Pakistani troops even fought off militants attempting to reach the wreckage of drones that had crashed.

Riaz Haq said...

#Obama kept looser rules for #dronestrikes in #Pakistan #Weinstein #LoPorto via Wsj Properties​

These so-called “signature” strikes have been responsible for killing more al Qaeda leadership targets than strikes directly targeting high-value leaders, especially in Pakistan, where the group’s leadership can be difficult to find, current and former U.S. officials said.

The Jan. 15 strike that killed Messrs. Weinstein and Lo Porto was a signature strike.

Under a classified addendum to the directive approved by Mr. Obama, however, the CIA’s drone program in Pakistan was exempted from the “imminent threat” requirement, at least until U.S. forces completed their pullout from Afghanistan.

The exemption in the case of Pakistan means that the CIA can do signature strikes and more targeted drone attacks on militant leaders who have been identified without collecting specific evidence that the target poses an imminent threat to the U.S. Being part of the al Qaeda core in Pakistan is justification enough in the Obama administration’s eyes.
To track the al Qaeda leader’s movements, and to make sure nobody else was hiding inside the compound, the CIA used the drone’s heat sensors, which can detect the unique heat signature of a human body. These sensors and others are typically used to meet the “near-certainty” standard.

The only heat signature inside the compound detected before the Jan. 15 strike was of the al Qaeda leader, the officials said.

After the compound was destroyed, drones overhead watched as six bodies were pulled from the rubble. The heat sensors and other intelligence had showed only four. They didn’t see any evidence at the time to suggest who the two additional bodies were, but didn’t think they were Westerners based on how the bodies were treated after the strike.

In early February, the U.S. intercepted communications by militants saying two Western hostages had been killed. CIA officials brushed aside suggestions the deaths came from a drone strike, pointing instead to the possibility that a Pakistan military operation might have been the responsible.

Riaz Haq said...

"The reason for the unusually intense, largely critical coverage of drone killings yesterday is obvious: the victims of this strike were western and non-Muslim, and therefore were seen as actually human"

Riaz Haq said...

Would #Turkey be justified in kidnapping or drone-killing #Gulen in #Pennsylvania? #TurkeyCoupAttempt by @ggreenwald

TURKEY’S PRESIDENT RECEP Tayyip Erdogan places the blame for this weekend’s failed coup attempt on an Islamic preacher and one-time ally, Fethullah Gulen (above), who now resides in Pennsylvania with a green card. Erdogan is demanding the U.S. extradite Gulen, citing prior extraditions by the Turkish government of terror suspects demanded by the U.S.: “Now we’re saying deliver this guy who’s on our terrorist list to us.” Erdogan has been requesting Gulen’s extradition from the U.S. for at least two years, on the ground that he has been subverting the Turkish government while harbored by the U.S. Thus far, the U.S. is refusing, with Secretary of State John Kerry demanding of Turkey: “Give us the evidence, show us the evidence. We need a solid legal foundation that meets the standard of extradition.”

In light of the presence on U.S. soil of someone the Turkish government regards as a “terrorist” and a direct threat to its national security, would Turkey be justified in dispatching a weaponized drone over Pennsylvania to find and kill Gulen if the U.S. continues to refuse to turn him over, or sending covert operatives to kidnap him? That was the question posed yesterday by Col. Morris Davis, former chief prosecutor of Guantánamo’s military commissions who resigned in protest over the use of torture-obtained evidence:

That question, of course, is raised by the fact that the U.S. has spent many years now doing exactly this: employing various means — including but not limited to drones — to abduct and kill people in multiple countries whom it has unilaterally decided (with no legal process) are “terrorists” or who otherwise are alleged to pose a threat to its national security. Since it cannot possibly be the case that the U.S. possesses legal rights that no other country can claim — right? — the question naturally arises whether Turkey would be entitled to abduct or kill someone it regards as a terrorist when the U.S. is harboring him and refuses to turn him over.

The only viable objection to Turkey’s assertion of this authority would be to claim that the U.S. limits its operations to places where lawlessness prevails, something that is not true of Pennsylvania. But this is an inaccurate description of the U.S.’s asserted entitlement. In fact, after 9/11, the U.S. threatened Afghanistan with bombing and invasion unless the Taliban government immediately turned over Osama bin Laden, and the Taliban’s answer was strikingly similar to what the U.S. just told Turkey about Gulen:

Riaz Haq said...

Information Operations: It Takes a Thief

At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday on foreign cyber threats to the U.S., there were several references to the saying that “people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.” The point, made by DNI James Clapper, was that the U.S. should not be too quick to penalize the very espionage practices that U.S. intelligence agencies rely upon, including clandestine collection of information from foreign computer networks.

But perhaps a more pertinent saying would be “It takes a thief to catch a thief.”

U.S. intelligence agencies should be well-equipped to recognize Russian cyber threats and political intervention since they have been tasked for decades to carry out comparable efforts.

A newly disclosed intelligence directive from 1999 addresses “information operations” (IO), which are defined as: “Actions taken to affect adversary information and information systems while defending one’s own information and information systems.”

“Although still evolving, the fundamental concept of IO is to integrate different activities to affect [adversary] decision making processes, information systems, and supporting information infrastructures to achieve specific objectives.”

The elements of information operations may include computer network attack, computer network exploitation, and covert action.

See Director of Central Intelligence Directive 7/3, Information Operations and Intelligence Community Related Activities, effective 01 July 1999.

The directive was declassified (in part) on December 2 by the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel, and was first obtained and published by

Riaz Haq said...

Meet 'The Brothers' (Dulles Brothers) Who Shaped U.S. Policy, Inside And Out

Stephen Kinzer on NPR Radio

On the Dulles' ability to overthrow regimes in Iran and Guatemala but not in Cuba or Vietnam

They were able to succeed [at regime change] in Iran and Guatemala because those were democratic societies, they were open societies. They had free press; there were all kinds of independent organizations; there were professional groups; there were labor unions; there were student groups; there were religious organizations. When you have an open society, it's very easy for covert operatives to penetrate that society and corrupt it.

Actually, one of the people who happened to be in Guatemala at the time of the coup there was the young Argentine physician Che Guevara. Later on, Che Guevara made his way to Mexico and met Fidel Castro. Castro asked him, "What happened in Guatemala?" He was fascinated; they spent long hours talking about it, and Che Guevara reported to him ... "The CIA was able to succeed because this was an open society." It was at that moment that they decided, "If we take over in Cuba, we can't allow democracy. We have to have a dictatorship. No free press, no independent organizations, because otherwise the CIA will come in and overthrow us." In fact, Castro made a speech after taking power with [Guatemalan President Jacobo] Árbenz sitting right next to him and said, "Cuba will not be like Guatemala."

Now, [Vietnamese Communist leader] Ho Chi Minh was not establishing an open society ... the fact is, he had a dictatorship, he had a closed, tyrannical society, and that made it much more difficult for the CIA to operate. So we find this irony that if [Prime Minister of Iran Mohammad] Mossadegh and Árbenz had been the tyrants that the Dulles brothers portrayed them as being, the Dulles brothers wouldn't have been able to overthrow them. But the fact that they were democrats committed to open society made their countries vulnerable to intervention in ways that Vietnam and particular North Vietnam then were not.

On how things might have been different had the Dulles brothers not intervened

It's quite possible, even likely, had the Dulles brothers not been [in Vietnam] or had acted differently, there never would've been an American involvement in Vietnam at the cost of a million lives and more than 50,000 Americans. Guatemala wouldn't have suffered 200,000 dead over a period of 35 years in the civil war that broke out after they intervened in Guatemala and destroyed democracy there. Iran fell under royal dictatorship and then more than 30 years of fundamentalist religious rule as a result of the Dulles brothers' operations. Had they not intervened in Iran we might've had a thriving democracy in the heart of the Muslim Middle East. ...

So you look around the world and you see these horrific situations that still continue to shake the world, and you can trace so many of them back to the Dulles brothers.

Riaz Haq said...

Wikileaks: Pakistani journalists Ahmad Zuberi and Talat Husain work for Stratfor, a US CIA front.

I'd like to send the signed pdf back to Mr Zuberi. Is that OK with you?
I'll cc you of course.

-----Original Message-----
From: Kamran Bokhari []
Sent: Saturday, October 31, 2009 3:33 PM
To: 'Meredith Friedman'
Subject: RE: News services

Hi Meredith,

Here is the revised draft of the MoU from Ahmad A. Zuberi, Managing
Director of Recorder Television Network. His email address is

As indicated in the MoU, Syed Talat Hussain, Executive Director, News &
Current Affairs (my source) will be the PoC on behalf of AaJ TV. His email
address is

Once you have the final draft with George signature's ready, email it to
Zuberi and cc Talat and myself. Asif A. Zuberi, CEO of Recorder Television
Network will sign it and send it back. Let me know if you have any



Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network
From: "Meredith Friedman"
Date: Tue, 27 Oct 2009 12:28:09 -0500
Subject: RE: News services

Good news - will look for the adjusted version - pls cc me on your next
email to him so he knows who I am and I can get the agreement signed here.
I'm VP of Communications.

From: Kamran Bokhari []
Sent: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 1:22 PM
To: Meredith Friedman
Subject: Re: News services
Meredith, Aaj TV's CEO, Ahmad Zuberi, has signed off on the agreement. He
has made some minor adjustments to the draft such as the deal will be with
Business Recorder Group (parent company of Aaj TV). Waiting on him to send
the adjusted version back to me. Will forward once I get it.

Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network
From: "Meredith Friedman"
Date: Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:17:49 -0500
Subject: RE: News services

That's great Kamran.

From: Kamran Bokhari []
Sent: Wednesday, October 21, 2009 12:11 PM
To: Meredith Friedman
Subject: Re: News services
Hi Meredith,

Sounds great but dtill waiting on the approval from the CEO of Aaj TV.
let you know as soon as I hear from my contact.



Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

From: Kamran Bokhari []
Sent: Monday, October 19, 2009 3:29 AM
To: Meredith Friedman
Subject: Re: News services
Hi Meredith,

I just got out of a meeting with the top director dealing with news and
current affairs at Aaj TV and he at his level is extremely interested in
forming the relationship we are seeking. I shared with him a generic
of the sample MoU (minus the details of APA), which he has sent to his
principals at their corporate headquarters in Karachi. He expects them to
sign off on it. We will know in about 24 hours. If we can get this deal
them it will be perfect because Aaj has the best quality of information
it comes to geopolitical developments. They have a great source network in
the areas we are interested in: NWFP, FATA, Baluchistan, Kashmir, army,
intelligence, nuclear establishment, Afghanistan, and Iran. Aaj produces
best quality news and analyses. Will let you know as soon as I hear back
from my contact.



Riaz Haq said...

Ex-CIA officer arrested after US spy network is exposed in China
It was one of the worst intelligence failures for years

Andrew Buncombe New York @AndrewBuncombe a day ago


Last spring, The New York Times reported that as many as 20 US intelligence assets had been killed by China since 2010, destroying years worth of intelligence efforts in the country. One operative was allegedly shot and killed in front of his colleagues and his body left in the car park of a government building as a warning to others.

US officials described the losses as “one of the worst” intelligence breaches in decades, comparing it to the number of assets lost in the Soviet Union in the 1980s and 1990s, when two prominent US assets worked as double agents for the Soviets. Officials said the breach has destroyed years of network-building within the country.

The arrest of Mr Lee come as China is looking to increasingly spread its international influence – economically, diplomatically and militarily. At the same time, the US, under the America First strategy adopted by Donald Trump, appears to be retreating from many areas, such as the environment and international security, it once led.


A former CIA officer has been arrested and charged as part of an alleged espionage scandal investigators claim resulted in the collapse of the US spying network in China and the deaths or imprisonment of up to 20 agency informants.

Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 53, a naturalised US citizen, was arrested earlier this week after arriving at JFK International Airport in New York. Mr Lee, who currently lives in Hong Kong, appeared in court and was charged with illegally retaining classified records, including names and phone numbers of covert CIA assets.

Mr Lee, who served in the US Army from 1982-86, joined the CIA in 1994 and worked as a case officer trained in covert communications, surveillance detection, and the recruitment and the handling of assets.

“[Mr] Lee began working for the CIA as a case officer in 1994, maintained a Top Secret clearance and signed numerous non-disclosure agreements during his tenure at CIA,” according to a statement released by the US Department of Justice.

The arrest of Mr Lee, who has not offered a plea, is said to have marked the culmination for more than five years of intense counter-espionage operation launched by the FBI. That investigation was established in 2012, two years after the CIA started losing assets in China.

Reports in the US media said investigators were initially unsure whether the agency had been hacked by the Chinese authorities or whether the losses were the result of a mole.

According to an eight-page affidavit, Mr Lee, who left the CIA in 2007 and has been working for a well-known auction house, travelled from Hong Kong to northern Virginia, where he lived from 2012 to 2013 – apparently having been lured there with a fake job offer.

When he flew to Virginia, the FBI obtained a warrant to search Mr Lee’s luggage and hotel room. The court documents say agents found two small books with handwritten notes containing names and numbers of covert CIA employees and locations of covert facilities.

Mr Lee left the US in 2013 after being questioned on five different occasions by FBI agents. He never mentioned his possession of the books containing classified information, say the court documents.

The FBI affidavit makes no allegations of espionage against Mr Lee, only alleging illegal retention of documents. Any conviction on that offence carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.