Hatchet Jobs and Cover Ups


I don’t usually agree with Ansar Abbasi, but when someone is right…they’re right. The Jang columnist recently wrote about the problems caused by intelligence agencies operating with complete lack of oversight. Little could he know how his thesis would be proven correct over the next few days as story after story added damning evidence against agencies.

After years of denials, ISI is finding itself facing new charges of support the 26/11 terrorist attack. Former CIA director Michael Hayden has now publicly revealed ISI’s involvement in his new book. The ex-US intelligence chief says that he was personally told of ISI’s involvement by none other than the DG-ISI Shuja Pasha.

“We had no doubt that the attack was the work of LeT, and there was mounting evidence that preparation for and direction of the attack took place from within Pakistan, where LeT enjoyed the protection and support of ISI,” Mr. Hayden said.

Pasha, who had come to ISI only a few weeks earlier and had no previous intelligence experience, came to the U.S. on Christmas Day and spent most of the next afternoon in his office.

“He worked carefully from notes. His investigation had revealed that some former ISI members were involved with Lashkar-e-Taiba [no surprise there]. Pasha admitted that these unspecified [and still uncaptured] retirees may have engaged in some broad training of the attackers, but he was characteristically vague about any detailed direction the attackers had gotten during the attack via cell phone from Pakistan,” Mr. Hayden wrote in the book.

This admission comes the same day that PM’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz admitted that one of the mobile numbers linked to Pathankot attackers was traced to Jaish-e-Mohammad headquarters in Bahawalpur. Once again, this admission comes after security officials strongly denied any links between the ISI-supported militants group and the terrorist attack.

These revelations follow a third shocking admission. Yesterday, former DG-FIA Tariq Khosa wrote a damning piece that exposed the entire ‘memo-gate’ saga as a drama written by GHQ and directed by ISI to neuter the civilian government.

With these three revelations facing us now, we should think about Tariq Khosa’s words of warning.

No heads rolled after the OBL raid; no one had the courage to ask the military elite some tough questions.

The establishment has acquired the art of turning its strategic follies to triumphs. It is this deep state that has curtailed and trimmed democracy, ensuring the country stays rigged in favour of a small but self-aggrandising elite. And until that changes, democracy in Pakistan will remain imperiled.

26/11, Pathankot, ‘Memogate’. These can all be categorised with other strategic blunders: Osama bin Laden living in the shadows of PMA Kakul. Kargil fiasco. Operation Searchlight. The list goes on and on and on. We have allowed agencies to operate with no oversight because they claim it is a matter of ‘national security’. But it is exactly this that has made the nation less secure. Agencies failed policies and strategies have made our neighbors suspect us and have allowed extremism to grow unchecked into the monster that we face today. To paraphrase Tariq Khosa: “Until that changes, Pakistan will remain imperiled.”

Washington Summit: Ships Passing In The Night

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif meeting with Barack Obama at the White House

Before he left Washington, a journalist friend in America wanted to speak with the Prime Minister to get his thoughts on how he thought the high-level meetings had gone. He was turned away, though, told that the Prime Minister was very busy and didn’t want to be disturbed. Through a cracked doorway, though, he could see the PM sitting alone and thinking, a somber expression on his face. He looked not like a man who had just engaged in political talks of global importance, but a businessman who had just left a meeting where he was told that his partners were no longer interested in doing business with him. My friend left the Prime Minister with this thoughts.

One wonders if Nawaz Sharif dreaded the visit from the very beginning. After all, his visits with American Presidents as Prime Minister have not been comfortable, historically. His last visit was in 1999 when he landed with a desperate request for President Clinton to save us from the Kargil disaster that eventually landed him in exile as overly ambitious military officers once again played the coup card against the ‘bloody civilians’. As his plane took off from Pakistan last week to carry him to Washington while bullets flew along the Line of Control, did the Prime Minister have a sinking feeling of deja vu?

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Kargil 2.0?

Location of fighting Shala Bhata

A few weeks ago I suggested that while all focus has been on the debate over peace talks with TTP, an operation with serious repercussions for national security was quietly taking place on the Line of Control in Kashmir. I asked at the time, Is Nawaz once again being cornered by ISI/Jihadis? Despite statements made to international media and meetings held across Pakistan, the media has largely ignored these developments, choosing instead to roll out the same old faces to repeat the same old anti-India rhetoric that we have heard since long. While we were distracted, though, new developments have continued to take place, with worrying prospects for peace.

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Is Nawaz Once Again Being Cornered By ISI/Jihadis?

Nawaz Sharif

It’s obvious that Mian Nawaz learned a lot from his last term as Prime Minister, but there’s one place where he seems to have a blind spot, and this blogger can’t help but wonder if he isn’t feeling a certain sense of deja vu. The place I am speaking of, of course, is none other than Kashmir, that idyllic land that ultimately led to the premature downfall of his last government.

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The General’s Amnesia

Pervez Musharraf

Gen Musharraf has been on yet another whirlwind media tour trying to impress the Americans. It doesn’t seem to be working. His appearance on the Jon Stewart show earlier this week found him staring while the anchor termed him a liar to his face. Yesterday he arrived at ‘Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars’, an American think tank to present his show to Washington officials. Whether he realised it or not, however, the think tank presented the speech on a live broadcast and a video of the speech can be streamed from their website.

Musharraf started his speech with a history lesson, and it is one that we can learn a lot from. Not because what he said was true, but because what he said was a warped telling of history that reveals much about the way these old men view the world. For example, did you know that “the situation in Pakistan was perfectly normal until 1979”?

This is important because to Musharraf, religious militancy did not exist until it was introduced during the jihad against Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The General knows better. He knows that religious sentiment was whipped against Bengalis as kaffirs in order to get troops to fight against their Muslim brothers. He knows that the 1974 proceedings against Ahmadis were a direct result of religious unrest.

When the original constitution was written in 1956 reflected the vision of Pakistan that Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah expressed in his address of 11 August 1947 when he stated that, “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”

Such religious tolerance did not sit well with groups like Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam and Jamaat-i-Islami and these groups demonstrated against minorities. Articles 260(3)(a) and (b) were introduced in 1974 – well before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

And this is not the only historical amnesia that was revealed during the General’s speech. According to Musharraf, in the 1990s dozens of mujahideen groups sprouted from the ground due to popular support and public sympathy for the liberation of Kashmir. Once again, the role of military in organising, training, and arming these groups was conveniently left out of the discussion.

Similarly, the General claims that it was not until the Americans pulled out of Afghanistan in 1989 that any anti-American sentiments existed in Pakistan. Really! And so to General Musharraf, the US Embassy in Islamabad was not attacked and burned in 1979. And this attack that never took place certainly had nothing to do with the fact that US cut military aid in April 1979 for the third time under the 1977 Symington Amendment due to concerns about Pakistan’s nuclear programme.

Perhaps it is because Musharraf has such a poor grasp on history that he has taken to announcing from American microphones that he will return to Pakistan on 23 March 2012 to stand for elections. He says if he is elected he will do everything the same as he did before. Asked if he could do anything over from the past what would it be, Musharraf could not remember Kargil. He had forgotten how he sacked the judiciary. He said that before he left office his popularity was 84 per cent so he does not have to reinvent the wheel! His historical amnesia has wiped out the uncomfortable images of people celebrating in the streets and distributing sweets when he left. Gen Musharraf may have forgotten the past, but we remember.

Nobody wants to go back to the way things were in the past. We’re looking to go forward. Musharraf can’t understand this because he is from the past, and his view of the world is warped by historical amnesia.