Monday, May 23, 2011

Military Mutiny in Pakistan?

Pakistani military is a disciplined force. Its soldiers have a long history of acting in strict accordance with the orders of senior military commanders through various crises, coups, insurgencies, national emergencies, natural disasters and external hostilities the nation has seen since 1947. However, the cohesion and discipline of Pakistan's armed forces is being tested like never before, as the fears of a mutiny within the ranks are rising in the aftermath of America's Bin Laden raid in Abbottabad and PNS Mehran terrorist attacks in Karachi.

Public comments highly critical of the current military leaders by retired Pakistani military officers are just one indicator of the depth of discontent among serving officers. Among others, press reports quote retired Gen. Talat Masood as saying “It’s never good for a military of that size to have a feeling of resentment". The discovery of bin Laden, he added, “has stung them as much as it has stung the whole world.” “This is a security failure,” Shehzad Chaudhry, a retired air vice marshal, said on GeoTV. The need of the hour is to focus on the security forces and their capability, instead of on the question of who could be behind the Taliban who are attacking the Pakistani military, he said. “There is a need to develop national counterterrorism policy and bring our own house in order first.”

A recent Washington Post report talks of "seething anger in barracks across the country". The Post report mentions Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani's "town-hall-style meetings at five garrisons, where he faced barbed questions from officers about the U.S. raid".

The latest terrorist attack on PNS Mehran, a naval air base in Karachi, has only increased the fears of a massive mutiny within the military. The breach of a heavily guarded military installation and the resultant loss of life and property have yet again humiliated the military and security agencies like the ISI, and exposed them to unprecedented criticism of incompetence.

Deflecting mounting criticism by blaming America or India will no longer do. Pakistan's military and intelligence leaders must accept responsibility for their massive failures, and clean house if they wish to regain the public confidence and the support of their rank and file which they are rapidly losing.

The US must play a constructive role by encouraging reform and strengthening Pakistani military rather than contributing to its humiliation and destruction as it appears to have done recently. This is necessary to prevent the nightmare scenario of disaffected junior officers joining with the radicals to gain access to Pakistan's rapidly expanding nuclear arsenal to threaten those who oppose terror in Pakistan, Asia and the world.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Twitter Revolution in Pakistan

Pakistan's Tax Evasion Fosters Foreign Aid Dependence

Seeing Bin Laden's Death in Wider Perspective

Daily Carnage Amidst Intelligence Failures in Pakistan

Can US Aid Remake Pakistan?

ISI Rogues-Real or Imagined?

36 comments:

Irfan said...

mutiny is unlikely. there is a lot of propaganda about "embarrassment" etc. OBL raid was a projection of American power and message to Pak Mil leadership to align with American goals or else there might be other strategic cost. Am Gov probably overplayed their card and now retreating a little bit. No country can match American stealth technology. Karachi naval air base is in bad urban location and needs to be moved. As usual bharat brigade is overjoyed on supposed "embarrasment".

Mr. Indian said...

Irfan, We are overjoyed on how Pak was created for Islam and now Islam would destory it.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from Prof Anatol Lieven's "Pakistan- A Hard Country" as published by the National newspaper of UAE:

Until now there has never been a military mutiny from below. Every military coup has been carried out by the serving chief of the army staff, including Musharraf, backed by a solid majority of the high command. The loyalty of the military to its commanders is cemented by the material benefits of military service, but also by a deep conviction that it is the discipline and unity of the army that preserves Pakistan as a country.

The further down one goes in the officer corps, the more its members are lower middle class, less westernised and more religious - not surprising because the vast majority of Pakistanis are conservative Muslims. However, in the words of Tanvir Naqvi, a retired lieutenant general: "Officers suffer from the same confusion as the rest of our society about what is Islamic and what it is to be Muslim. The way I have read the minds of most officers, they certainly see this as a Muslim country, but as one where people are individually responsible to God, for which they will answer in the life hereafter, and no one should try to impose his views of religion on them. Very few indeed would want to see a Taliban-style revolution here, which would destroy the country and the army and let the Indians walk all over us."

This is a critically important point. Along with discipline and loyalty, fear of India is drummed into the Pakistani soldier from the first day he enters the military. Quite apart from the hideous internal consequences of revolution and civil war in Pakistan, fear that India would use this to crush the country is deeply felt and deeply credible.
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Given these constraints, for significant parts of the Pakistani military to mutiny, a situation would have to be created in which their obedience to the high command came into direct conflict with their feelings of personal and collective honour as Pakistani Muslim soldiers. The US raid to kill bin Laden would be such a scenario - if US troops were to turn raids into Pakistan into a regular strategy. Were that to happen, then, or so I have been told by officers at every level, sooner or later Pakistani troops would open fire on their US counterparts - and if ordered not to do so, might very well mutiny."

Sgt. Catskill, El Segundo said...

Not that you need anyone's approval, but blogs like these are crucial. Pakistan needs it's intellectuals to do some critical introspection of policies past and present.
Status quo no longer works and I actually would say it is detrimental to the armed forces and to all Pakistanis in general.
New insights are sorely needed.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on terror attack on the Pakistan Naval Station Mehran in Karachi:

The deadly 15-hour siege on Pakistan's Mehran naval airbase in Karachi on Monday was carried out by attackers with military-level training, raising suspicions they had inside help.

Questions are being asked about the security of Pakistan's vital military installations after a well-organised group of gunmen held off Pakistan's equivalent of the US Navy Seals - the Special Services Group - Navy (SSG-N) - for 15 hours.

This SSG-N is said to be the most formidable fighting force in Pakistan, but - for a few hours at least - they appeared to be at the mercy of a brazen group of fighters.

"They weren't any ordinary militants - certainly not the Taliban," said one security official, who wished to remain unnamed.

"The aim of all Taliban attacks is maximum death and destruction - these men were very focused on what they were after."
Speed and organisation

From the beginning it was clear the attackers had an intricate knowledge of the base and its vulnerable areas. They were tactically assured and the operation had clearly been long in the planning.

"They came over the wall cutting the wire on the eastern side of the base," one official told the BBC, adding that it was one of the weak points. The militants knew and exploited this - just one piece of inside knowledge they had.

"That side is just next to the runway - and the guard tower is at a distance because planes land regularly."

The first time the militants were seen was when they appeared on the runway, weapons at the ready. "The [navy] men couldn't believe their eyes," says an official.

A number of officials listed to me their observations, which reinforced the conviction that they were being confronted with a totally different kind of militant, possibly hitherto unseen:

* Military formation: One injured sailor told an official that the attackers "moved and dressed like us". The militants moved in tactical military formation and spoke in military parlance. They spoke between themselves in Urdu, as well as a foreign language.
* Clothing and equipment: The militants wore combat fatigues, according to officials - and had night vision goggles, carrying rocket propelled grenades [RPGs]. "It takes months of training for ease with the goggles, and years to be expert," one official told me.
* Tactics and a plan: One witness said that even though the militants had clear sight of them, "they ignored us... Instead, they just aimed RPGs at the two Orions [planes] parked on the tarmac." They were clearly under instructions to destroy military hardware. They also changed tactics easily and broke away in groups, which clearly had different aims.
* Crack shots: "They were excellent shots - as good as any we have," said one security official involved in the operation. They used their night vision goggles to maximum effect, witnesses say - and that was an advantage they had until the SSG-N team arrived at the scene. When the gun battle began, one security official said, it was clear that these men could "hold their own" in a firefight. The fact that they had M16 carbines and sniper rifles also set them apart.

Officials says all of this is in strong contrast to the Taliban, who adopt an equally brutal but more chaotic mode of attack. "Their best weapon is the suicide bomber - they are notoriously poor shots," one official told me.

"They were the exception to every rule of Pakistan militant tactics."

"They were also not about killing people," one official said. "It was clear they were interested in the destruction of equipment, a much more 'military' aim..

Data Cruncher said...

Is this the start of the end of Riaz's optimism about Pakistan :-)

Anonymous said...

Riaz

I think pakistani including urself must understand that why must usa do what pakistani thinks as correct or you think as correct.

USA has its own agenda, irrespective of whether it is right or wrong.

Finding of obama in the backyard ofthe military estabilishment clearly bring out the double game of pakistan before the world and usa administration would find it difficult to go kind on pakistan on assistance.

Pakistan army wants to screw india is a good idea but from usa's persepctive, it will be messing up an economy to which it is dumping military and commerical goods for its own prosoperity. It is not that usa loves india but for usa india is decent markt to dump its product. Even china for its huwai to get entry into the telecom industry of india is ready to go and play ball with delhi.

So what is required of pakistn is WALK THE TALK and not DOUBLE TALK at this point of time to redeem in the eyes of world and USA administration.

Finally beggars are not choosers and pakistan can only pipe dream of dictating terms to USA / west

Satwa gunam

Riaz Haq said...

As Pakistani Army comes under unprecedented sharp criticism by the politicians, the public and the media, here's an excerpts from an interesting piece by Vir Sanghvi on how the Indians treat Indian Army:

Equally, we will never blame the Army for anything. In 1962, we were thrashed by the Chinese but the consensus was that politicians had lost the war while our brave soldiers had done their best. The 1965 war was at best a stalemate (the Pakistanis also claimed they had won) but we treated it as a glorious victory for the Indian Army. Operation Blue Star was a fiasco. But even today, it is Blue Star we remember favourably rather than Black Thunder (conducted by the paramilitary forces to clean up the mess left behind by Blue Star), a bona fide success.

By and large, the social contract has worked. The Army has nearly always got us out of jams when we need its services. Whether it was Delhi in 1984, Bombay in 1993, or Gujarat in 2002, we needed the Army to restore order. And during the Kargil War, young officers led from the front, sacrificed their lives and displayed astonishing bravery in the service of their country.

Consequently, the army sometimes appears to live in a state within a state. Visit a cantonment and you will be struck by the contrast with the civilian part of the town or city where it is located. The roads will be broad and well-maintained, the buildings will be freshly painted, the surroundings will be clean, and an air of good manners and civility will prevail. Visit an army town (Wellington, for instance) and the contrast will be even more striking. The order and cleanliness of the cantonments serves as a contrast to the chaos and filth of modern India.

There is, however, one important aspect of the social contract that now seems to be failing. As corruption has spread in modern India, we have reluctantly accepted that most parts of our society are tainted – civil servants, the schools and even the lower judiciary. But somehow, we have always believed that the army is different.

Oh yes, we hear the stories. We hear about Generals who take kickbacks on arms deals and about officers involved in canteen purchase scandals. But because this corruption appears to be restricted to the Army itself and because we believe that it is not widespread, we are happy to look the other way.



The problem with the Adarsh scandal and the controversies over other land deals that have erupted recently is that they encroach into the civilian space. Senior army officers are seen to be conniving with politicians, bureaucrats and contractors to make millions.

Worse still, at least in the case of the Adarsh scandal, there is a cynical abuse of the social contract. When we say that we will respect and pamper the army, we do not expect senior officers to grab flats for themselves in the name of Kargil martyrs.

Earlier this week, the Army chief spoke about his resolve to cleanse his force. I am not sure he fully grasps how serious the situation is. The problem is not just that there are ‘a few bad apples’ in the army. It is that Army corruption has now spilled out into the civilian space and that Generals are making big bucks by exploiting the regard we have for the heroism of the Army and the sacrifices made by its soldiers.



If more such instances come to light, then the press will begin looking critically at the Army. The politicians will have an excuse to delve deep into the workings of the officer corps. This will give them the opportunity they need to play favourites. And the public, regretfully recognising that the Army has breached the social contract itself, will reluctantly acquiesce in the muck-raking by the press and the interference by politicians.

Once this happens, the social contract will not survive. The image of the Army will not recover. And the perfect balance we have built between the Army and the Indian people will topple over..

Haris said...

Everybody seems to have their dirty hands over Pakistan unless we begin to take control of our own destinies we will be destroyed. Pakistan has been facing evil designs from its eastern neighbor since its inception but we have overcome the odds of over a billion people. This is just a passing phase in our short history and I am sure that in a few years Pakistan will prosper like a flower in bloom

Anonymous said...

^^

That's because the army in India is under civilian control.Even in US the army was seldom blamed for Vietnam it was a political mistake.

Also the Indian army is pretty corrupt and unlike in Pakistan senior army men are regularly jailed for corruption because they are within the law not over it.

The press is already very critical of the army for its preference of foreign as opposed to domestically developed weapons.

This is in sharp contrast to the Indian Navy.So we have a ridiculous situation in which we can make aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines but not field guns because the Indian army actively sabotages trials...

vicks1980 said...

Riaz, I fully agree with the Vir Sanghvi article that you've quoted. In India, there is a tendency not to see any flaw within the Armed Forces, to give them whatever resources and money they ask for and to compare civilian institutions with them and say" All bloody civilian places are third rate; just look at how the Army does things right". It is a highly flawed attitude that we have, considering the vast Defence budget that India has, and the fact that the Army is almost totally free of all political/bureaucratic interference, unlike civilian establishments. It is high time that the Army was subjected to a more critical appraisal and its budget curtailed, especially when we have the highest absolute number of the "poor, the hungry and the illiterate", as you love to keep pointing out in just about every one of your blog posts. I believe Pakistan should do the same, given that the Army is considered more sacred than even in India. It will free up money and resources for much needed development in both countries.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excepts on Pak nuke safety from a CNBC interview:

Q: To build on that point professor Karnad many people would argue that because Pakistan’s nuclear plants and research facilities are well known in terms of their locations, they are more vulnerable, would you agree with that point?

Karnad: No, I wouldn’t at all because unlike in India and most of the countries, the entire nuclear programme in Pakistan is under the strategic plans division, GHQ, Rawalpindi. In other words, it’s entirely under army’s provision. So far as I can make out, I have been at a briefing by major general Ausaf Ali, who is the director general, plans and operations, so the man in the SPD and the way he described it you have the kind of surveillance that atleast is not there in India.

Q: In other words, their surveillance is better than India?

Karnad: It’s far stricter, their surveillance is more extensive, it is what he call cradle-to-grave surveillance and for everybody in the programme. So, I don’t think you simply cannot have the kind of possibility of people accessing nuclear materials or facilities and so on without authorization. And that’s unlikely to come, if SPD is in charge, which it is.
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Q: General Talad Masood, many people outside Pakistan point to another, presumably third, fear that radicalised member of the security agencies could pass on information to Jihadi groups after Salmaan Taseer was killed by a member of his own elite security guard. Would you rule out this possibility or would you expect that it is still a technical possibility?

Masood: Let me be honest, nothing in the world is impossible so long the nuclear weapons in the world, I am making a general statement. And that is why we all should try to move towards the elimination of nuclear weapons, which is a good goal. But having said that, whatever is humanly possible in Pakistan to take measures, to ensure the safety and security of nuclear installations and the very point that you are mentioning, which is the personal verification regime, it’s one of the best regimes that they have really put in operation.

What they do is first ofcourse they check their background. If there was any reasons for them that their background will not fit in or they are not anywhere close in the programme, anywhere a part of the programme, all the current activities of these individuals are continued to be monitored and also their state of mind and they are also subjected to psychological test. They are infact being exactly the same international standards that are applicable in the United States or for that matter in Britain or France or anywhere, though same standards are applied. There are several linkages, physical security as well as other measures.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from "Playing the China Card: Has the Obama Administration Miscalculated in Pakistan?" by Dilip Hiro, as published in The Huffingon Post:

Washington often acts as if Pakistan were its client state, with no other possible patron but the United States. It assumes that Pakistani leaders, having made all the usual declarations about upholding the “sacred sovereignty” of their country, will end up yielding to periodic American demands, including those for a free hand in staging drone attacks in its tribal lands bordering Afghanistan. This is a flawed assessment of Washington’s long, tortuous relationship with Islamabad.

A recurring feature of the Obama administration’s foreign policy has been its failure to properly measure the strengths (as well as weaknesses) of its challengers, major or minor, as well as its friends, steadfast or fickle. To earlier examples of this phenomenon, one may now add Pakistan.

That country has an active partnership with another major power, potentially a viable substitute for the U.S. should relations with the Obama administration continue to deteriorate. The Islamabad-Washington relationship has swung from close alliance in the Afghan anti-Soviet jihad years of the 1980s to unmistaken alienation in the early 1990s, when Pakistan was on the U.S. watch list as a state supporting international terrorism. Relations between Islamabad and Beijing, on the other hand, have been consistently cordial for almost three decades. Pakistan’s Chinese alliance, noted fitfully by the U.S., is one of its most potent weapons in any future showdown with the Obama administration.

Another factor, also poorly assessed, affects an ongoing war. While, in the 1980s, Pakistan acted as the crucial conduit for U.S. aid and weapons to jihadists in Afghanistan, today it could be an obstacle to the delivery of supplies to America’s military in Afghanistan. It potentially wields a powerful instrument when it comes to the efficiency with which the U.S. and its NATO allies fight the Taliban. It controls the supply lines to the combat forces in that landlocked country.

Taken together, these two factors make Pakistan a far more formidable and independent force than U.S. policymakers concede publicly or even privately.

The Supply Line as Jugular

Angered at the potential duplicity of Pakistan in having provided a haven to Osama bin Laden for years, the Obama administration seems to be losing sight of the strength of the cards Islamabad holds in its hand.

To supply the 100,000 American troops now in Afghanistan, as well as 50,000 troops from other NATO nations and more than 100,000 employees of private contractors, the Pentagon must have unfettered access to that country through its neighbors. Among the six countries adjoining Afghanistan, only three have seaports, with those of China far too distant to be of practical use. Of the remaining two, Iran -- Washington’s number one enemy in the region -- is out. That places Pakistan in a unique position.

Currently about three-quarters of the supplies for the 400-plus U.S. and coalition bases in Afghanistan -- from gigantic Bagram Air Base to tiny patrol outposts -- go overland via Pakistan or through its air space. These shipments include almost all the lethal cargo and most of the fuel needed by U.S.-led NATO forces. On their arrival at Karachi, the only major Pakistani seaport, these supplies are transferred to trucks, which travel a long route to crossing points on the Afghan border. Of these, two are key: Torkham and Chaman.

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Operated by some 4,000 Pakistani drivers and their helpers, nearly 300 trucks and oil tankers pass through Torkham and another 200 through Chaman daily. Increasing attacks on these convoys by Taliban-allied militants in Pakistan starting in 2007 led the Pentagon into a desperate search for alternative supply routes.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Washington Post story of Gen Kayani vowing to clean house:

Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, who like the civilian government has publicly expressed anger over the secret U.S. raid, was so shaken by the discovery of bin Laden that he told U.S. officials in a recent meeting that his first priority was “bringing our house in order,” according to a senior Pakistani intelligence official, citing personal conversations with Kayani.

“We are under attack, and the attackers are getting highly confidential information about their targets,” said the official, who, like others, would speak only on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter.

Pakistan’s top military brass claimed to have purged the ranks of Islamists shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Since then, the nation’s top officials have made repeated public assurances that the armed forces are committed to the fight against extremists and that Pakistan’s extensive nuclear arsenal is in safe hands.

But U.S. officials have remained unconvinced, and they have repeatedly pressed for a more rigorous campaign by Pakistan to remove elements of the military and intelligence services that are believed to cooperate with militant groups.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, on a previously unannounced visit to Islamabad on Friday, emphasized U.S. demands for greater cooperation in the war against al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other violent Islamist organizations that have taken root in Pakistan. Standing beside Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Clinton said the United States would be looking “to the government of Pakistan to take decisive steps in the days ahead.”

It is unclear how authentically committed Kayani and other top military leaders are to cleansing their ranks. U.S. officials and Pakistani analysts say support by the nation’s top military spy agency for insurgent groups, particularly those that attack in India and Afghanistan, is de facto security policy in Pakistan, not a matter of a few rogue elements.

But Kayani is under profound pressure, both from a domestic population fed up with the constant insurgent attacks and from critics in the U.S. government, who view the bin Laden hideout as the strongest evidence yet that Pakistan is playing a double game.

U.S. officials say they have no evidence that top Pakistani military or civilian leaders knew about bin Laden’s redoubt, though they are still examining intelligence gathered during the raid. Some say they doubt Kayani or Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, head of the military’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, had direct knowledge; others find it hard to believe they did not, particularly because Kayani was head of the ISI in 2005, when bin Laden is believed to have taken refuge in Abbottabad.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Wall Street Journal report on insider involvement by Pakistani military personnel in terror attacks:

ISLAMABAD—Pakistani investigators probing last week's attack by the Taliban on a naval base in Karachi have detained a former navy commando and two other people, in further signs of concern about the infiltration of radical Islamist groups into the country's armed forces.

Pakistani investigators Friday picked up Kamran Ahmed Malik, 36 years old, along with his brother, Zaib Ahmed, from a middle-class neighborhood of Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, according to security officials in the city.

Another person was earlier detained in Faisalabad, an industrial town near Lahore, and held for questioning. None of the men have been formally charged.

Mr. Malik, a former commando, was dismissed from the navy in 2003 on disciplinary grounds after serving in the force for almost ten years. He had been treated for mental disorders before being dismissed, security officials said.
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Investigators are looking into whether Mr. Malik developed a network inside the Mehran base, where he was stationed while serving in the navy.

"We are probing whether he helped the terrorists in providing the details of the base or if he was in touch with any of his former colleagues inside," a Lahore-based security official said. "We are also investigating about his possible contacts with extremist and militant groups."

Mr. Malik was suspected by Pakistani officials to have links with al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Punjab-based sectarian group linked to the Pakistan Taliban. Mr. Malik couldn't be reached for comment.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said the investigations are focusing on whether the militants had been provided help from inside.

Pakistan's navy is generally regarded as less permeated by conservative Islamic groups than other branches of the armed forces.

The push by radical groups to indoctrinate members of the armed forces with Islamist teachings, begun in earnest in the 1980s during the military rule of Gen. Zia ul-Haq, was centered largely on the army.

Other security services have been dealing with mounting radicalism. In January, the governor of Punjab province was shot dead by a member of his elite police bodyguard, who was a member of an Islamist group.

"I believe that the lower cadre of the armed forces has been infiltrated by Islamic militant groups, though at a small level till now," says defense analyst, Saad Mohammad, a retired army brigadier. "There is an urgent need to carry out screening of lower cadre and change recruitment policy."

The latest attack was the biggest yet on Pakistan's navy, which isn't on the front lines of Pakistan's war against Taliban militants, although it takes part in a U.S.-led antiterrorism naval task force in the Arabian Sea.

In the weeks before the Mehran siege, the Taliban had targeted naval buses in Karachi with roadside bombs, possibly because they provided a soft target. More commonly, militants have struck at army targets, sometimes using insiders to help carry out attacks.

The army for three years has been fighting the Pakistan Taliban in the country's mountainous northwest border regions with Afghanistan.

In October 2009, Islamic militants attacked the army's headquarters in Rawalpindi, leading to a 22-hour commando operation. It was masterminded by a militant commander who had served in the army medical corps.

Former President Pervez Musharraf twice escaped assassination bids in 2003 planned by Islamic militants in which serving army personnel were implicated.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts from a BBC report on the killing of Pak journalist Saleem Shahzad:

The funeral has taken place in Karachi of murdered Pakistani journalist Saleem Shahzad, whose body was found on Tuesday two days after he went missing.

The 40-year-old father of three vanished after leaving home in Islamabad to appear on a television talk show.

He had recently written an article about al-Qaeda infiltration into Pakistan's navy.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has condemned the murder.

Earlier a Human Rights Watch researcher said he had "credible information" that Shahzad was in the custody of Pakistani intelligence.

Mr Shahzad made a career writing about the various Islamist militant networks operating in Pakistan and warned human rights campaigners before his disappearance that he had been threatened by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). It has denied any involvement.

Journalists have held protests across Pakistan to condemn the killing, with sit-ins and marches held in Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi.
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He reported that the militant group had launched the deadly assault on the Mehran base in Karachi, the headquarters of the navy's air wing, on 22 May because talks had failed over the release of several naval personnel arrested on suspicion of links to al-Qaeda affiliates.

At least 14 people were killed and two navy warplanes destroyed.

On Monday, a former navy commando and his brother were detained for their alleged role in helping plan the raid, which embarrassed the military.

Mr Shahzad's body was found in a canal in Mandi Baha Uddin in Pakistan's northern Gujarat district.

Earlier, Human Rights Watch researcher Ali Dayan Hasan said Mr Shahzad had recently complained about being threatened by the ISI.

A senior Pakistani intelligence official told the Associated Press it was "absurd" to say that the ISI had anything to do with his death.

Mr Shahzad worked for the Italian news agency Adnkronos International (AKI) and was Pakistan bureau chief for Asia Times Online.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistani journalist Saleem Shahzad's recent death is very tragic, and any rogue terrorist-sympathizers found in Pakistan's military and ISI are the most likely culprits.

Shahzad's torture-murder should be thoroughly investigated, and perpetrators brought to justice for Pakistan's sake.

Having said that, let's recognize that all journalists in the "free world", with few exceptions, accept certain boundaries specified by their governments.

Recent Wikileaks cables were first shared by the NY times and The Guardian with their govt officials prior to publication.

Similarly, it is well known that India's mainstream media follow Indian govt's "press advice" for all news and opinions related to Kashmir, Pakistan and China.

Riaz Haq said...

There is a split in the Obama admin on CIA's drone attack campaign in Pakistan, according to the Wall Street Journal:

WASHINGTON—Fissures have opened within the Obama administration over the drone program targeting militants in Pakistan, with the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan and some top military leaders pushing to rein in the Central Intelligence Agency's aggressive pace of strikes.

Such a move would roll back, at least temporarily, a program that President Barack Obama dramatically expanded soon after taking office, making it one of the U.S.'s main weapons against the Pakistan-based militants fighting coalition troops in Afghanistan.

The program has angered Pakistan, a key ally in the fight against Islamist militants. The debate over drones comes as the two sides try to repair relations badly frayed by the shooting deaths of two Pakistanis by CIA contractor Raymond Davis in January, a wave of particularly lethal drone strikes following Mr. Davis's release from Pakistani custody in March, and the clandestine U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden on May 2.

The White House National Security Council debated a slowdown in drone strikes in a meeting on Thursday, a U.S. official said. At the meeting, CIA Director Leon Panetta made the case for maintaining the current program, the official said, arguing that it remains the U.S.'s best weapon against al Qaeda and its allies.

The result of the meeting—the first high-level debate within the Obama administration over how aggressively to pursue the CIA's targeted-killing program—was a decision to continue the program as is for now, the U.S. official said.

Another official, who supports a slowdown, said the discussions about revamping the program would continue, alongside talks with Pakistan, which is lobbying to rein in the drone strikes.

Most U.S. officials, including those urging a slowdown, agree the CIA strikes using the pilotless aircraft have been one of Washington's most effective tools in the fight against militants hiding out in Pakistan. The weapons have killed some top al Qaeda and Taliban leaders and left militants off balance in a swath of mountainous territory along the Afghan border with Pakistan where they once operated with near impunity. No one in the administration is advocating an outright halt to the program.
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The pushback by some U.S. officials against the drone program comes as U.S. diplomats and officials serving in Pakistan express dissatisfaction with what they see as the generally hostile tenor of the U.S.'s policy toward Pakistan.

These diplomats and officials say the deep vein of anti-Americanism that runs through Pakistani society forces its elected and military leaders, including army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, to distance themselves from Washington to avoid a popular backlash.

"What's worrying a lot of us is whether we're turning people who should be our natural allies into our adversaries," said a U.S. diplomat in Pakistan.

A senior U.S. official said the key is figuring out what level of drone strikes can satisfy U.S. security needs and at the same be tolerated by the Pakistanis. "I think we underestimate the importance of public opinion in Pakistan to our detriment," the official said. The Pakistanis have "a legitimate concern."

Islamabad has proposed narrowing the scope of the CIA program to target militants that have been agreed to by both sides, a Pakistani official said.


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304563104576363812217915914.html

Riaz Haq said...

Ilyas Kashmiri, a top Pakistani militant and senior Al Qaeda operative, reportedly has been killed in a US drone strike in the tribal territory of South Waziristan, according to press reports and a statement from the group he headed, reports Christian Science Monitor:

A Newsweek profile headlined “Is Ilyas Kashmiri the New Bin Laden?” said he “has the experience, the connections, and a determination to attack the West – including the United States—that make him the most dangerous Qaeda operative to emerge in years.”

A Pakistani intelligence official said Kashmiri was among nine militants killed in the strike. While identifying individuals killed in such attacks can be difficult, a fax from the militant group he was heading – Harakat-ul-Jihad al-Islami's "313 Brigade" – confirmed Kashmiri was "martyred" in the strike.

Described by U.S. officials as Al Qaeda's military operations chief in Pakistan, he was one of five most-wanted militant leaders in the country, accused in a string of attacks, including the 2008 Mumbai massacre.

Kashmiri also has been linked to last month's assault on a Pakistani naval base in Karachi.

He is also accused of masterminding several raids on Pakistan police and intelligence buildings in 2009 and 2010, as well as a failed assassination attempt against then-President Pervez Musharraf in 2003. The US Department of State says he organized a 2006 suicide bombing against the US consulate in Karachi that killed four people, including an American diplomat.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AFP report about Indian military owning land and running golf courses:

NEW DELHI — The Indian army has developed a sideline in running golf courses using government land but returning no revenue to the state, the nation's auditor claims in a damning new report.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) found that at least 32 square kilometres (12 square miles) of rent-free land had been handed to a privately-run company, Army Zone Golf, which operates 97 luxury golf courses.

The defence ministry is the largest state landowner, holding 80 percent of the 7,000 square kilometres of government land, much of it now prime real estate, according to the CAG report released Friday.

Golf memberships are being sold to present and past service personnel as well as civilians and foreign nationals, the report said, with revenue credited to a private regimental fund which could not be accessed by the auditors.

Army authorities "earn large amounts of revenue by allowing persons other than service personnel to use these facilities," the report said.

"Heavy amounts of revenues were being earned without paying any lease rent and allied charges for use of government assets," it added.

The CAG's account of the misuse of public land will add to growing worries about the military's slide into corruption following a string of recent scandals.

In January, the government ordered a 31-storey apartment block in Mumbai to be demolished after it emerged army officers and local politicians had usurped apartments originally meant for war widows.

Army Zone Golf claims to promote the sport in the armed services and runs "some of the most spectacular golf courses of India," according to its website. No one at the company responded to calls for comment from AFP.

The company's organising council includes several retired army officers, and was once headed by Joginder Jaswant Singh, former army chief of staff and now the governor of the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh.

The CAG has been instrumental in exposing mismanagement and possible fraud in the sale of telecom licences in 2008 which it said had led to a loss to the state of up to 39 billion dollars.

The telecom minister at the time, A. Raja, has since been arrested and awaits trial.

vicks1980 said...

Your AFP story about the Indian Army running golf courses is sickening. In a country where land is such a scarce asset, and where millions can never even dream of owning a small house, this is an example of criminal misuse of state resources by the defence forces. Naturally, there will be no hue and cry over this by the perenially shrieking Indian media, because the armed forces are a holy cow that cannot be touched even if there is evidence of grievous wrongdoing. That is why I believe that defence budgets must be cut, and their wide ranging powers should be cut...in both India and Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

US-NATO War Served Al-Qaeda Strategy
Thursday 9 June 2011
by: Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service, Truthout.org

Al-Qaeda strategists have been assisting the Taliban fight against US-NATO forces in Afghanistan because they believe that foreign occupation has been the biggest factor in generating Muslim support for uprisings against their governments, according to the just-published book by Syed Saleem Shahzad, the Pakistani journalist whose body was found in a canal outside Islamabad last week with evidence of having been tortured.

That Al-Qaeda view of the US-NATO war in Afghanistan, which Shahzad reports in the book based on conversations with several senior Al- Qaeda commanders, represents the most authoritative picture of the organisation's thinking available to the public.

Shahzad's book "Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban" was published on May 24 – only three days before he went missing from Islamabad on his way to a television interview. His body was found May 31.

Shahzad, who had been the Pakistan bureau chief for the Hong Kong- based Asia Times, had unique access to senior Al-Qaeda commanders and cadres, as well as those of the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistani Taliban organisations. His account of Al-Qaeda strategy is particularly valuable because of the overall ideological system and strategic thinking that emerged from many encounters Shahzad had with senior officials over several years.

Shahzad's account reveals that Osama bin Laden was a "figurehead" for public consumption, and that it was Dr. Ayman Zawahiri who formulated the organisation's ideological line or devised operational plans.

Shahzad summarises the Al-Qaeda strategy as being to "win the war against the West in Afghanistan" before shifting the struggle to Central Asia and Bangladesh. He credits Al-Qaeda and its militant allies in North and South Waziristan with having transformed the tribal areas of Pakistan into the main strategic base for the Taliban resistance to US-NATO forces.

But Shahzad's account makes it clear that the real objective of Al-Qaeda in strengthening the Taliban struggle against US-NATO forces in Afghanistan was to continue the US-NATO occupation as an indispensable condition for the success of Al-Qaeda's global strategy of polarising the Islamic world.


Shahzad writes that Al-Qaeda strategists believed its terrorist attacks on 9/11 would lead to a US invasion of Afghanistan which would in turn cause a worldwide "Muslim backlash". That "backlash" was particularly important to what emerges in Shahzad's account as the primary Al-Qaeda aim of stimulating revolts against regimes in Muslim countries.

Shahzad reveals that the strategy behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the large Al-Qaeda ambitions to reshape the Muslim world came from Zawahiri's "Egyptian camp" within Al-Qaeda. That group, under Zawahiri's leadership, had already settled on a strategic vision by the mid-1990s, according to Shahzad.

The Zawahiri group's strategy, according to Shahzad, was to "speak out against corrupt and despotic Muslim governments and make them targets to destroy their image in the eyes of the common people". But they would do so by linking those regimes to the United States.

http://www.truth-out.org/slain-writers-book-says-us-nato-war-served-al-qaeda-strategy/1307637223

Riaz Haq said...

However incompetent the military may appear after Abbottabad and PNS Mehran, it is far more competent that the corrupt and incompetent political class in South Asia.

One need only look at the differences between Cantonments and civilian communities in India or Pakistan to get a sense of who provides more competent governance.

Here's an excerpt from a piece by Indian journalist Vir Sanghvi describing Indian military:

".... the army sometimes appears to live in a state within a state. Visit a cantonment and you will be struck by the contrast with the civilian part of the town or city where it is located. The roads will be broad and well-maintained, the buildings will be freshly painted, the surroundings will be clean, and an air of good manners and civility will prevail. Visit an army town (Wellington, for instance) and the contrast will be even more striking. The order and cleanliness of the cantonments serves as a contrast to the chaos and filth of modern India."

http://virsanghvi.com/CounterPoint-ArticleDetail.aspx?ID=569

Similarly, Prof Anatol Lieven in his book "Pakistan: A Hard Country", describes Pak Army as follows:

"For the military, the image of paradise is the cantonment, with its clean, swept, neatly signposted streets dotted with antique, gleaming artillery pieces, and shaded trees....In the poorer parts of Pakistan, the contrast with civilian institutions-including those of government-is that between developed and the barely developed worlds....In the military headquarters, every staff officer has a computer. In the government offices, most ministers do not (and in many cases would not know how to use it if they did). "

Riaz Haq said...

Abbottabad and PNS Mehran are giving pause to Indian security establishment to think how they would deal with similar situation. Here's an Indian blogger Sudip Mukherjee:

1. What If India Is Attacked In Operation Geronimo Style?

Josy Joseph Times Of India Article
If someone were to sneak in and carry out a special forces raid, like the Americans did in Abbottabad to take out Osama bin Laden, the Indian response may not be very different from that of Pakistan, sources in the security establishment said.
In the wake of such a disappointing realization, the government has begun discussing ways to improve India's response mechanisms, including designating 'first responders' for such eventualities.

The Abbottabad raid is now under intense scrutiny by the security establishment at the highest levels, and by individual organizations such as intelligence agencies and the military. Each of them is studying it from their own perspective, but collectively their inputs "would help improve Indian security architecture", a senior official said.

Government at the highest levels is "seized of the reality" that Indian security response would not be very different from that of Pakistan, and is setting in motion reviews at various levels to improve its response mechanisms, a senior official involved in the exercise told. While the overall architecture of defence against intrusions is known, such as the role of IAF and Army, there are still huge gaps. What is not clear is "who would respond how and when if an Abbottabad-like intrusion" were to happen, he said.

Another official pointed out that the details of response of various agencies as soon as first shots were fired in Abbottabad are of great value to the security establishment. While the Kakul Military Academy and other security installations tightened their own security as soon as the gunshots rang out from the Abbottabad compound, there was no designated agency that was meant to reach the particular spot to take on the "intruder", the official said. Josy Joseph Times Of India Article
If someone were to sneak in and carry out a special forces raid, like the Americans did in Abbottabad to take out Osama bin Laden, the Indian response may not be very different from that of Pakistan, sources in the security establishment said.
In the wake of such a disappointing realization, the government has begun discussing ways to improve India's response mechanisms, including designating 'first responders' for such eventualities.

The Abbottabad raid is now under intense scrutiny by the security establishment at the highest levels, and by individual organizations such as intelligence agencies and the military. Each of them is studying it from their own perspective, but collectively their inputs "would help improve Indian security architecture", a senior official said.
----

2. India Prepares To Pre-empt Terror Attack On Its Air bases

'The (May 22) terror attack on Pakistan Navy air base at Mehran in Karachi was a wake-up call. In light of the incident, we are taking measures to improve security at all air bases across the country on top priority,' the Indian Air Force (IAF) chief, Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik, told reporters here on the margins of a conference here.

As the world's fourth largest air force after the US, Russia and China, the IAF has 60 operational air bases across the country under seven commands, with 170,000 personnel and 1,600 aircraft of different types, including fighters, transports and helicopters.

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.


http://blogs.rediff.com/mkbhadrakumar/2011/06/16/cia-instigating-mutiny-in-the-pakistani-army/

Riaz Haq said...

A senior officer serving in Pakistan's army has been detained for alleged contacts with a banned militant group, according to the BBC:

Pakistan's military spokesman confirmed to the BBC that Brigadier Ali Khan was being interrogated by the country's military intelligence unit.

Pakistan has banned a number of groups in recent years for supporting militancy and encouraging extremism.

Brig Ali, who is based at military headquarters, was held last month and his family told he would be home soon.

"Yes, that's correct that he is under detention and an investigation is in progress for his contacts with a proscribed organisation," Maj Gen Athar Abbas told BBC Urdu's Asif Farooqi.

He did not provide any more details about the nature of the alleged contact or the organisation the brigadier is accused of being in touch with.

"Any more details at this point in time may affect our investigation process," Gen Abbas said.
-------
This is not the first time allegations have been made about links between elements in Pakistan's military and banned organisations, including militant groups.

At least two army officers were court martialled last year for links with the banned Hizb ut-Tahrir group.

In 2004 several low-ranking military personnel were convicted in connection with attempts on the life of former President Pervez Musharraf.

Last week, Pakistan's military denied that a major was among several people who had been detained accused of being CIA informants and passing on information which helped the US track down and kill al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13853942

Riaz Haq said...

President Obama called President Zardari ahead of his planned speech announcing US troop reductions in Afghanistan, according to VOA:

U.S. President Barack Obama called his Pakistani counterpart, Asif Ali Zardari, Wednesday to discuss strained bilateral relations and the situation in the region.
`
A Pakistani statement said the two leaders agreed to take appropriate action to repair the ties between Washington and Islamabad on the basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit. It also said President Obama appreciated Pakistan's effort in the fight against militancy.

President Zardari said the fight against extremism was in Pakistan's own interest and that it had to fight it to the finish.

The two presidents also agreed on "regular contacts and interaction at appropriate levels for the resolution of issues."

Ties between the two countries worsened significantly after the May 2 raid by U.S. special forces that killed Osama bin Laden in the northern Pakistani city of Abbottabad. The military operation has embarrassed Islamabad, which was not informed beforehand of the raid.

Also Wednesday, Pakistan's army said it was questioning four more officers about suspected ties to the banned Islamic extremist group, Hizb-ut-Tahrir.

http://www.voanews.com/english/news/asia/Obama-Zardari-Discuss-Strained-US-Pakistani-Ties-124382469.html

Riaz Haq said...

McClatchy's Saeed Shah reports that according to anonymous U.S. officials, evidence seized at Osama bin Laden's Abbottabad compound reveals that the terror leader was not directly controlling al-Qaeda, and that younger al-Qaeda commanders, "did not take everything he said as right" (McClatchy). Shah also reports on the many Pakistanis arrested and quietly released after the bin Laden raid, and the AP notes the impact the incident has had on exchange programs between Pakistani and American students (McClatchy, AP). And Pakistani officials indicated that the military may soon free Brig. Ali Khan, who was arrested May 6 on suspicion of having links with the banned extremist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir (Tribune).

Riaz Haq said...

The US cost of war id $3.7 trillion and counting, reports Reuters:

If the financial costs are elusive, so too is the human toll.

The report estimates between 224,475 and 257,655 have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, though those numbers give a false sense of precision. There are many sources of data on civilian deaths, most with different results.

The civilian death toll in Iraq -- 125,000 -- and the number of Saddam's security forces killed in invasion -- 10,000 -- are loose estimates. The U.S. military does not publish a thorough accounting.

"We don't do body counts," Tommy Franks, the U.S. commander in Iraq, famously said after the fall of Saddam in 2003.

In Afghanistan, the civilian death count ranges from 11,700 to 13,900. For Pakistan, where there is little access to the battlefield and the United States fights mostly through aerial drone attacks, the study found it impossible to distinguish between civilian and insurgent deaths.

The numbers only consider direct deaths -- people killed by bombs or bullets. Estimates for indirect deaths in war vary so much that researchers considered them too arbitrary to report.

"When the fighting stops, the indirect dying continues. It's in fact worse than land mines. The healthcare system is still in bad shape. People are still suffering the effects of malnutrition and so on," Crawford said.

Even where the United States does do body counts -- for the members of the military -- the numbers may come up short of reality, said Lutz, the study's co-director. When veterans return home, they are more likely to die in suicides and automobile accidents.

"The rate of chaotic behavior," she said, "is high." (Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell, Missy Ryan, Brett Gering, Laura MacInnis and Sharon Reich; Editing by Doina Chiacu)


http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/29/usa-war-idUSN1E75R1DP20110629

Riaz Haq said...

While Bin Laden is said to have lived undetected in Abbottabad, Pakistan for 5 years until his killing by the CIA in May, Whitey Bulger, another man on FBI's 10 Most Wanted, lived undetected in the United States for 17 years until he was arrested in June, according to UK's Telegraph newspaper.

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's Ambassador in Washington, compared the two situations in a conversation with The Atlantic:

I just got off the phone with Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, who was adamant that Pakistan assisted the U.S. in locating Bin Laden, and who responded to criticism that Pakistan should have been able to locate Bin Laden by noting American law enforcement's difficulty in capturing wanted criminals inside the U.S. He made specific reference to the notorious Boston gangland figure James J. "Whitey" Bulger: "If Whitey Bulger can live undetected by American police for so long, why can't Osama Bin Laden live undetected by Pakistani authorities?" Haqqani asked. Bulger, the former head of Boston's Winter Hill gang, was added to the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List in mid-1999, two months after Bin Laden himself first appeared on the list. Haqqani continued, "The fact is, Mafia figures manage to do this sort of thing in Brooklyn, and Pakistan is a country that does not have the highly-developed law enforcement capabilities that your country possesses."

Haqqani went on to say, "President Obama has answered the question about Pakistan's role. It wouldn't have been possible to get Bin Laden without Pakistan's help. People are piling on this one, but the fact is, it is very plausible for someone to live undetected for long periods of time."


http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/05/pakistani-ambassador-america-cant-find-whitey-bulger-so-why-do-you-expect-us-to-locate-bin-laden/238156/

Riaz Haq said...

US sources say the special forces soldiers killed by the Taliban today were from the Navy Seal unit which killed Osama Bin Laden, but are "unlikely" to be the same personnel, according to the BBC:

Thirty US troops, said to be mostly special forces, have been killed, reportedly when a Taliban rocket downed their helicopter in east Afghanistan.

Seven Afghan commandos and a civilian interpreter were also on the Chinook, officials say.

US sources say the special forces were from the Navy Seal unit which killed Osama Bin Laden, but are "unlikely" to be the same personnel.

This is the largest single US loss of life in the Afghan conflict.

The numbers of those killed have now been confirmed by the Nato-led mission in Afghanistan.

The Chinook went down in the early hours of Saturday in Wardak province, said a statement from President Hamid Karzai's office.

It was returning from an operation against the Taliban in which eight insurgents are believed to have been killed.

A senior official of President Barack Obama's administration said the helicopter was apparently shot down, Associated Press news agency reports.

An official with the Nato-led coalition in Afghanistan told the New York Times the helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.

The BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Kabul says it is rare for the Taliban to shoot down aircraft.

The Taliban say they have modified their rocket-propelled grenades to improve their accuracy but that may not be true, our correspondent says.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-14430735

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from a Washington Post story indicating that Adm Mullen overstated the case when he called the Haqqanis a "veritable arm of the ISI":

U.S. officials have long accused Pakistan of providing support to the Haqqani network and allowing it to operate along the Afghanistan border with relative impunity, a charge that Pakistani officials reject.

But Mullen seemed to take the allegation an additional step, saying that the Haqqani network “acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency,” a phrase that implies ISI involvement and control.

That interpretation might be valid “if we were judging by Western standards,” said a senior U.S. military official who defended Mullen’s testimony. But the Pakistanis “use extremist groups — not only the Haqqanis — as proxies and hedges” to maintain influence in Afghanistan.

“This is not new,” the official said. “Can they control them like a military unit? We don’t think so. Do they encourage them? Yes. Do they provide some finance for them? Yes. Do they provide safe havens? Yes.”

That nuance escaped many in Congress and even some in the Obama administration, who voiced concern that the escalation in rhetoric had inflamed anti-American sentiment in Pakistan.

U.S. officials said that even evidence that has surfaced since Mullen’s testimony is open to differences in interpretation, including cellphones recovered from gunmen who were killed during the assault on the U.S. Embassy.

One official said the phones were used to make repeated calls to numbers associated with the Haqqani network, as well as presumed “ISI operatives.” But the official declined to explain the basis for that conclusion.

The senior Pentagon official treated the assertion with skepticism, saying the term “operatives” covers a wide range of supposed associates of the ISI. “Does it mean the same Haqqani numbers [also found in the phones], or is it actually uniformed officers” of Pakistan’s spy service?

U.S. officials said Mullen was unaware of the cellphones until after he testified.

Pakistani officials acknowledge that they have ongoing contact with the Haqqani network, a group founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani, who was one of the CIA-backed mujaheddin commanders who helped drive the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan in the 1980s. Now in poor health, Haqqani has yielded day-to-day control of the network to his son, Sirajuddin.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/adm-mullens-words-on-pakistan-come-under-scrutiny/2011/09/27/gIQAHPJB3K_story_1.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some interesting claims made in Financial Times about secret Zardari-Obama exchange as reported by The News:

..According to an analyst this obviously meant that President Zardari was considering firing General Kayani. The offer was sent through a prominent American citizen of Pakistani origin, investment banker and businessman Mansoor Ijaz. In an article in FT which was almost a confession, Mansoor Ijaz admitted that he received the message from a senior Pakistani diplomat and sent it to Admiral Mullen and claimed that his channel was used to “bypass the Pakistan Army and intelligence channels.”
-----------
“Gen Ashfaq Kayani, the army chief, and his troops were demoralised by the embarrassing ease with which US special forces had violated Pakistani sovereignty. Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s feared spy service, was charged by virtually the entire international community with complicity in hiding bin Laden for almost six years. Both camps were looking for a scapegoat; Mr Zardari was their most convenient target.

“The diplomat made clear that the civilian government’s preferred channel to receive Mr Zardari’s message was Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff. He was a time-tested friend of Pakistan and could convey the necessary message with force not only to President Barack Obama, but also to Gen Kayani.

“In a flurry of phone calls and emails over two days, a memorandum was crafted that included a critical offer from the Pakistani president to the Obama administration: “The new national security team will eliminate ‘Section’ S of the ISI charged with maintaining relations to the Taliban, Haqqani network, etc. This will dramatically improve relations with Afghanistan.”

“The memo was delivered to Admiral Mullen at 14.00 hours on May 10. A meeting between him and Pakistani national security officials took place the next day at the White House. Pakistan’s military and intelligence chiefs, it seems, neither heeded the warning, nor acted on the admiral’s advice.

“On September 22, in his farewell testimony to the Senate armed services committee, Admiral Mullen said he had “credible intelligence” that a bombing on September 11 that wounded 77 US and Nato troops and an attack on the US embassy in Kabul on September 13 were done “with ISI support.” Essentially, he was indicting Pakistan’s intelligence services for carrying out a covert war against the US - perhaps in retaliation for the raid on bin Laden’s compound, or perhaps out of strategic national interest to put Taliban forces back in power in Afghanistan so that Pakistan would once again have the “strategic depth” its paranoid security policies against India always envisioned.

“Questions about the ISI’s role in Pakistan have intensified in recent months. The finger of responsibility in many otherwise inexplicable attacks has often pointed to a shadowy outfit of ISI dubbed “S-Wing”, which is said to be dedicated to promoting the dubious agenda of a narrow group of nationalists who believe only they can protect Pakistan’s territorial integrity.

“The time has come for the US State Department to declare S-Wing a sponsor of terrorism under the designation of “foreign governmental organisations”. Plans by the Obama administration to blacklist the Haqqani network are toothless and will have no material impact on the group’s military support and intelligence logistics; it is S-Wing that allegedly provides all of this in the first place. It no longer matters whether ISI is wilfully blind, complicit or incompetent in the attacks its S-Wing is carrying out. S-Wing must be stopped...........


http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=9493&Cat=13

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Times of India story on "Aalu Anday", a satirical music video gone viral on Youtube:

NEW DELHI: When the music video of "Aalu Anday", an unsparing song that lampoons Pakistan's top politicians and generals from Ashfaq Kayani to Zia-ul-Haq, from Nawaz Sharif to Imran Khan, was released last month, it immediately became an internet sensation.

But the bitingly satirical number was merely the latest in a long chain of similar popular anti-establishment tracks by other well-known Pakistan singers and groups such as Shehzad Roy, Junoon and Laal who have laughed at and lambasted the high and mighty across the border.

"We are the silent majority of Pakistan who are speaking up now. We are not trying to give solutions, but only trying to create an environment where things can be discussed openly," says 27-year-old Ali Aftab Saeed, a band member of Beygairat Brigade, the Lahore-based 'political rock' band who created Aalu Anday. Incidentally, the three band members (Daniyal Malik and 15-year-old guitarist Hamza Malik being the other two) are self-confessedly 'hardcore' RD Burman fans and Anurag Kashyap admirers.

A little courage in the heart and a guitar in hand go a long way in expressing notes of dissent across the border. The Beygairat Brigade's act is the latest in a tradition where singers and satirists have routinely ridiculed and castigated politicians in their music and lyrics. In 2008, singer Shehzad Roy courted controversy with Laga Reh, a hard-hitting track attacking the establishment.

Earlier Sufi-rock band Junoon faced censorship for songs like Ehtesaab, which hit out at political corruption and was banned by the Pakistani state TV. Now, bands such as Laal have joined the party providing music to the fiery protest poetry of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Habib Jalib, known for producing art out of defiance. TV channels refused to play their song, Jhooth ka uncha sar, said to be "too anti-army" in sentiment.

"In the beginning Pakistani bands used music to express dissent because other avenues of communication were closed to them. When you are in a repressive environment you naturally find other ways to communicate and music became that outlet. Nowadays things are much more open, but I think the association between music and free speech remains," says satirist and stand-up comic Saad Haroon.

In a country racked by terrorist violence and extreme disillusionment with the state, humour not only works as a form of subversion but also as relief and release.

The identity of Beygairat Brigade is constructed as an antithesis to what they call the "ghairat brigade" (honor brigade): political analysts and TV show hosts who have taken it upon themselves to uphold the honor of the Pakistani state as they understand it.


http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/In-Pakistan-protest-music-is-a-tradition/articleshow/10562389.cms

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a PakistanToday story on HuT's campaign against voting and democracy:

The banned outfit Hizbut Tahrir (HT) has started its campaign across the country to convince people not to participate in elections and join hands with the outlawed organisation for the unification of Muslim world as a single state under the leadership of Sheikh Ata Abu Rishta.
The campaign has been started in almost all parts of the country and the HT activists have started holding public gatherings and corner meetings to convince people on a point that democracy was against Islam.
The intelligence agencies have started operation against the HT and arrested two of its activists from outside a mosque for distributing leaflets among the worshipers and preaching them not to participate in elections.
Through the leaflet, the banned outfit invited people to join hands with them to abolish democracy from Pakistan and establish caliphate.
The leaflet reads further, “Muslims have not been stung merely twice, but countless times by the current system in Pakistan. Each time new faces come through coup or election, the people curse the old faces. However, only after a while, the new faces appear even uglier and more despised than the older faces. The current system is incapable of looking after the affairs of the people and securing the rights that Allah guaranteed humankind, regardless of their race, language, gender or religion.”
It reads further, “Pakistan's current system is a continuation of the British rule occupation that abolished Islamic rule in the Indian subcontinent in the first place. Even though the Muslims shed their pure blood to establish Pakistan in the name of Islam, it was the British Parliament that created Pakistan’s initial legislation under its Indian Independence Act of 1947.”
“It is democracy, designed by and inherited from the colonialist kufr that separates our ummah from Islam and its ruling system of khilafah, whether in Pakistan, Egypt or Turkey, Tunisia or Indonesia. The claim that yet more elections within this system would bring change of system is a lie made to secure this system from abolition,” it also reads.
“It is the Khilafah alone that ensures our education, foreign policy, economy, judiciary, consultation; accounting and removing of rulers are all according to Islam,” the leaflet adds.
Talking to Pakistan Today, a leader of HT confirmed that they had started a campaign across the country for abolishment of democracy and establishment of khilafah in Pakistan.
“We will hold public gatherings, corner meetings and door-to-door campaign to boycott the elections as the democracy is un-Islamic,” he added.


http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2013/04/14/news/national/hizbut-tahrir-campaigns-against-democracy-polls/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's wikileaks.org leaked emails of intelligence analysts at Stratfor about "journalist" Saleem Shahzad:

On Monday February 27th, 2012, WikiLeaks began publishing The Global Intelligence Files, over five million e-mails from the Texas headquartered "global intelligence" company Stratfor. The e-mails date between July 2004 and late December 2011. They reveal the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal's Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defence Intelligence Agency. The emails show Stratfor's web of informers, pay-off structure, payment laundering techniques and psychological methods.

Re: Pakistan Journalist Vanishes: Is the ISI Involved?
Released on 2012-03-08 09:00 GMT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the question, though, is still who did it.

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

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


https://wikileaks.org/gifiles/docs/16/1644311_re-pakistan-journalist-vanishes-is-the-isi-involved-.html