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Archive for October, 2018

Prospects of Taliban-US peace talks by Brig Gen(R) Asif Haroon Raja

Prospects of Taliban-US peace talks

 

Asif Haroon Raja

 

17 years have gone by but so far there are little prospects for the longest war in Afghanistan to come to an end. Lilliputians have paralyzed the Gulliver and brought a standoff in the war. Neither side is in a position to defeat the other. Since time is on the side of the Taliban, a change is discernible in the jingoistic mindset of the US administration under Donald Trump over the last six months. Both the military and civil American leaders are talking of peace which is something new and unique since so far their outlook toward Afghanistan has been to derive an outcome of their choice by using excessive force. All these years, the successive regimes of George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Trump sought to defeat the Taliban on the battlefield, forcing them to surrender their arms, bring them to the negotiating table and then compel them to sign the US dictated peace treaty and arrive at a political settlement.

  

Governed by geo-economics interests, George Bush had initiated the war on terror after 9/11. After occupying Afghanistan in November 2001, ignoring demographic factor he installed Northern Alliance heavy regime and sidelined the majority Pashtuns. In May 2003, Iraq was occupied under trumped-up charges and a Shia regime installed. Torture dens like Bagram prison, Abu Gharaib and Guantanamo Bay functioned unchallenged. Bush used force throughout his 8-year rule and it was during his rule that the apparently defeated Taliban after regrouping had started striking the occupying forces and Afghan forces (ANSF) fiercely. Likewise, Iraqi resistance forces in league with Al-Qaeda gave a tough time to the invaders.  

 

Besides the two-front war, the US in collaboration with India and the puppet regime in Kabul had opened a third front against Pakistan which it had declared as an ally, a frontline state and non-NATO ally to fight terrorism. The US and its strategic allies had opted for a secret covert war against Pakistan to extract its nuclear teeth and make it a compliant state. When the militancy in Afghanistan was pushed into Pakistan in 2003/04, the latter had to deploy 100,000 security forces in FATA to combat foreign paid terrorists in FATA. Baluchistan was also heated up in the same timeframe. The troop numbers have now increased to about 200,000 in the northwest.

 

CIA spread its outreach to Eastern Europe and colour revolutions started in the Baltic States during Bush time. China-US and Russia-US rivalry picked up momentum. Blackwater was used in Iraq.

 

From 2004 onwards Indo-US-Afghan nexus embarked upon a coordinated and sustained vicious propaganda campaign against Pakistan to supplement covert operations through proxies. Major accusations were: Nuclear proliferation, unsafe nuclear program, Pak Army and ISI in cahoots with militant groups are rogue outfits, Al-Qaeda headquartered in South Waziristan. Later on, it was accused of not doing enough. Do more mantra was aimed at weakening Pakistan from within.      

 

Once Obama took over in January 2009, he closed the Iraq front and carried out two troop surges in 2009 under his Af-Pak policy in order to let ISAF under Gen McChrystal and ANSF to quell the Al-Qaeda and Taliban threat. ISAF strength rose to 1, 50,000. The proxy war in FATA and settled areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was stepped up forcing Pakistan to launch military operations in Malakand Division, Swat, Bajaur, South Waziristan and other agencies of FATA in 2009-10. Black Water was inducted in Pakistan in 2008/09 to fan terrorism in urban centres. Quetta Shura was added in the list of accusation in 2011. Pakistan was blamed for terrorism in Afghanistan and Kashmir.

 

Obama brought in drones to target militants in Afghanistan and Waziristan. He also opened fronts in Libya, Yemen, Syria, Tunisia, Egypt, Somalia, Niger, and Sudan through Arab Spring. ISIS phenomenon took birth in Iraq, Syria and other Middle East (ME) countries in his tenure. Regime change in Ukraine was masterminded by CIA, which impelled Russia to capture Crimea and to support resistance forces in Eastern Ukraine. Russian air force stepped into Syrian war in September 2015 during Obama time. The only de-escalating step taken by Obama regime was the nuclear deal with Iran in July 2015 which averted a warlike situation in the ME. 

 

When troop casualties of occupying forces in Afghanistan doubled in 2009 and 2010, Obama was forced to announce a drawdown plan starting July 2011 and ending it by December 2014. During this period, not only the Taliban remained aggressive and maintained a dominating edge in southern and eastern Afghanistan, the ISAF faced increased suicide and post-stress disorder cases as well as green over blue attacks. Occupying troops indulged in atrocities through night raids and air war.

 

As a result, Obama initiated a political prong in 2011 and resorted to the strategy of fight and talk and to divide the Taliban. Efforts were made to separate Haqqanis under Jalaluddin and his sons from Taliban under Mullah Omar and pitch former against the latter but failed. No worthwhile results accrued from backdoor parleys because of the insincerity of the US and its allies and the insistence of USA that talks should be between the Taliban and the Kabul government only. This was unacceptable to the Taliban who viewed the Karzai and later the Ghani regimes as collaborators and illegitimate.

 

In 2011, Raymond Davis incident, followed by US Navy Seals raid in Abbottabad and Apache helicopters attacks on military posts in Salala dipped Pak-US relations to the lowest ebb, forcing Pakistan to cut off military relations and close the NATO supply lines for 8 months. Washington had to apologize to normalize the relations.  

 

In June 2013, a political office of Taliban was set-up at Doha. When the drawdown was nearing completion, the Pentagon, CIA, Israel, India and Kabul regime prevailed upon Obama and forced him to sign another bilateral agreement with the unity regime in Kabul managed by John Kerry to leave behind a Resolute Support Group (RSG) of 5-6000 to provide training, technical assistance, counter-terrorism and air support to ANSF.

 

 

The security situation in Afghanistan began to deteriorate after the departure of the bulk of ISAF troops and the Taliban gained total control over 47% of the country’s districts from where they could strike targets in all parts of the country.

 

In June 2014, Operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched by Pak Army in North Waziristan which dismantled all the bases of foreign-sponsored TTP and other militant groups totalling over 60, flushing them out of FATA. Although the major demand of USA was fulfilled, it was, in reality, a setback for the schemers as far as their ulterior designs against Pakistan were concerned.

 

In 2015, quadrilateral peace talks were initiated by the US, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan and Pakistan were asked to use its influence and make the Taliban agree to talk. When Islamabad arranged the talks in July that year and scheduled another meeting in the same month which would have surely made a breakthrough, the spoilers in Afghanistan scuttled the peace process by announcing the death of Mullah Omar. They didn’t want to negotiate from a weaker wicket.

 

Pakistan made another attempt when the Taliban were under the leadership of Mullah Akhtar Mansour. But the latter was killed by a US drone in Baluchistan in May 2016, thereby demolishing the peace process.

 

The US wants the Taliban to compromise and accept the US-drafted democracy and constitution, share power as a junior partner, disallow use of Afghan territory by foreign terrorists and to maintain friendly relations with the USA. 

 

The Taliban under Haibatullah Akhundzada have continued with their offensive drive to free their homeland from foreign occupation, regain the seat of power they were deprived of, and restore Islamic system of governance.

 

Like Bush, Obama kept its tilt toward India and visited India twice skipping Pakistan. All big deals with India like civil nuclear agreement, strategic partnership, missile deal, logistics, strategic communications and maritime security agreements were signed with India during Obama’s tenure. The two US leaders have been instrumental in enhancing the presence and influence of India in Afghanistan.  

 

When Trump took over power in January 2017, the US was no more a great country. It had lost its prestige owing to failures in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, unipolarism had given way to multi-polarism, and the USA had become the most hated nation in the Muslim world because of its anti-Muslim agenda. Instead of taking steps to call off the war on terror, he sheathed the political prong, increased the troop level of RSG to 18000, and gave a signal for a fresh military push against the Taliban to shore up ANSF.

 

At the same time, while announcing his new Afghan policy in August 2017, he put the whole blame of instability in Afghanistan upon Pakistan, and not only accused it of providing safe havens to the HN and Afghan Taliban but also supporting them. Since then, Pakistan is on notice and there is no letup in his belligerence. Punitive steps have been taken to compel Pakistan to do more. These include disinformation campaign, threats, suspension of reimbursement of CSF, putting Pakistan in the grey list, suspending military training, and directing IMF not to provide loans for repaying loans to China or for CPEC, provoking India and Afghanistan to step up hostile acts against Pakistan.

 

Trump has earned the hostility of Russia, China, Turkey, Iran, North Korea, Mexico and Pakistan, and has made NATO and EU resentful.    

         

Over one year has lapsed but the US military and ANSF have failed to turn the tide in their favour. Taliban have now started fighting battles in provincial capitals Lashkargah, Ghazni, Farah, Zabul, Uruzgan and Kunduz. Kabul and Bagram have been attacked repeatedly. They now control about 65% of the territory. While the Taliban have expressed their desire to hold talks and that too with the US only, they are not desperate for talks. They know that the wind is blowing in their favour.

 

Ashraf Ghani has been offering unconditional talks since last February and reportedly offered them control over four provinces in southern Afghanistan. Without peace holding of parliamentary elections in coming October will be problematic.   

 

The US, on the other hand, is desperate for peace since the ANSF lacking in fighting spirit and rived in discipline problems cannot defeat or even contain the Taliban, and are in disarray. The unity government is tumbling due to inner rift, inefficiency, corruption and unpopularity. The RSG is fast losing heart and is feeling insecure. The general public has now started holding protest marches asking the foreign troops to quit. Home pressure is building on Trump asking him to exit from the quagmire of Afghanistan at the earliest since it has become a drain on country’s economy. The TTP created by Indo-US-Afghan nexus to defeat Pak military is in tatters. In anger, Fazlullah was killed in June 2018. India which has been made a leading player has abstained from helping in reversing the dipping fortunes of the USA in Afghanistan. The US has lost its leverage over Pakistan after closing the taps of military aid and training. Pakistan has refused to get intimidated and is veering towards China and Russia.

 

The prospects for peace talks brightened when a 3-day ceasefire was religiously implemented on the occasion of Eidul Fitr in June. The two warring opponents mingled and embraced each other and took selfies. The effectiveness of the truce during which the Taliban laid down their arms, and then resumed fighting after the truce signalled how much control the Taliban leaders have over their fighters. 

 

It was under such distressful circumstances that the US agreed to hold preliminary direct talks with Taliban at Doha for the first time on July 28 to find a way out for restoring peace. Its willingness indicates the urgency to end the conflict. This comedown is seen as a diplomatic victory for the Taliban. The latter is no more solely dependent upon Pakistan since Russia, China, Iran, Qatar are supporting them. Moscow had invited the Taliban, US and Kabul for peace talks, but the latter two declined. Increased interest of Russia in Afghan affairs is another factor which is impelling the USA to patch up with Taliban.   

 

The second direct talks are likely to be held this month, in which the issue of release of Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay will be discussed to create an amiable atmosphere. The Taliban are showing flexibility in their stance by not insisting on occupying forces to withdraw first and then hold talks. They now want a firm timetable of withdrawal and do not agree to retention of even a single military base as desired by the USA. They would certainly seek a larger role in the future government.

 

One of the major reason for Russia and Iran to support the Taliban is the presence of Daesh (Khurasan) under Wilayat Khurasan (WK) who were brought and settled in Nangarhar and married with Jamaat-al-Ahrar by CIA-RAW in 2014 to fight the Taliban as well destabilize Pakistan. Russia and Iran are also opposed to the US-led reconciliation. Central Asian Republics (CARs) are also wary of Daesh who have an international agenda.

 

Having seen the fate of Syria at the hands of Daesh, the Taliban are also desirous of peace and are seeking the cooperation of other regional countries. They are suffering since 1978 and have learnt lessons and would not like to commit old mistakes and get isolated in the world comity. They also do not want the recurrence of 1991-94 like civil war, or Syria like conditions and like to have a peaceful transition of power. They have given an assurance that unlike al-Qaeda and Daesh, they have no international agenda. They opened communications with Russia, China and Iran which enabled them more avenues of arms supplies to continue with their freedom struggle with greater vigor. But the fact is that no one wants the US to pull out abruptly and ignites another civil war.

 

Notwithstanding the desire for peace by Haibatullah, it must not be overlooked that he has opponents within the Taliban movement who are opposed to him and to peace talks. Rahbari Shura and HN have little appetite for peace talks. Quetta Shura leaders particularly WK linked with HN oppose Haibatullah. It is owing to internal strife that Haibatullah wants to consolidate his position and negotiate from a position of strength after achieving major victories in the battlefield. He aims at capturing a provincial capital. It was with this end in view that big efforts were made to capture Kunduz and Lashkargah and lately Ghazni. While the Taliban have the capability to capture a city but do not have the capacity to retain it as had been seen in Kunduz.

 

The US was at ease as long as Kabul, provincial capitals, strategic communication lines and its eight military bases were safe. Attacks on Kabul and other capitals have unnerved the military forces. What is most worrisome for the US is that it is losing on all counts and finds itself in a nutcracker situation. It can neither afford to exit as a defeated superpower nor can it stay for long. It has lost the war but is not acknowledging it and badly wants a face-saving formula. It can exit only through Pakistan and not via the northern network which is no more available to ship out heavy baggage. The US is faring poorly on all other fronts including the domestic front where Trump has become highly unpopular. Both Pakistan and Taliban are defiant and holding their ground.

 

Judging from the mood of new Pakistan in which the civil-military leadership have come on one page, it cannot rule out the fast emerging possibility of Pakistan slipping out of its hands and shifting to Russo-Sino camp, which could be joined by Iran and Turkey, both antagonist to the USA. The US has realized that the ANSF has become a liability, and Ghani-Abdullah unity government is not delivering.

 

The only tangible factor which has handicapped the Taliban from capturing and retaining the captured cities is the air factor. The US fears the possibility of Russia giving surface-to-air missiles to the Taliban to counter air threat. Ever growing Russo-US rift over Syria and Ukraine is turning the possibility into a reality. That will be doomsday for the occupiers and collaborators.

 

Last but not the least, CPEC has come up as a hissing cobra for both USA and India, which would not only smash their global ambitions and isolate them, but also strengthen their foes China and Pakistan.     

 

While Indo-US-Afghan nexus had yet to absorb the shocks of near demise of TTP, and Pakistan’s decision to repatriate Afghan refugees, the trio got another shock when Pakistan undertook the construction of 830 km fence, and over 400 border forts, along some of the world’s harshest terrain – the Pak-Afghan border last year. Work is expected to be completed by 2019. Why would Pakistan exert such monumental effort, allocating thousands of troops and required logistics for this undertaking? Perhaps Pakistan grows weary of waiting for other ‘vested’ interests to fulfil their promises. It is strange that the US, the Afghan regime and India are objecting instead of assisting to prevent the alleged cross-border infiltration from both sides. Obviously, it would block the covert war.

Finding itself cornered with very little room to manoeuvre, it appears that Washington has now decided to make one last attempt to secure its mercantile interests in the region at a low cost. To this end, it has once again appointed former American ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad in the USA as a special envoy of Af-Pak region. He served as an ambassador in Kabul for 5 years during Karzai rule and he had great influence over Karzai and his administration. Being a Pashtun, he has had access to key areas and had developed a relationship with Mujahideen leaders including Hikmatyar during the occupation of Afghanistan by Soviet troops. He has an ill reputation of inflicting extreme torture and excesses upon the Afghan Pashtuns.

 

It seems another plan has been hatched as a last resort to re-enact the reign of terror in Afghanistan. After inducting Daesh, the US is actively considering to induct Black Water in Afghanistan and hand over security duties to it and kill key leaders of the Taliban. Eric Prince has already undertaken two visits to Kabul. Blackwater was initially inducted in Afghanistan during his last tenure and he had a big hand in the persecution and slaughter of militant Pashtuns.

 

Khalilzad and Blackwater coming together once again may not be a coincidence and possibly a repeat action could be in the offing. Khalilzad wants to regain contacts with old Mujahideen leaders and also help Hikmatyar in winning the election and in paving the way for the exit of US troops and formation of a new regime. He is likely to play a role in the next presidential election and possibly in bringing Karzai and his team back in the saddle.

 

From the above, it is evident that the US is not interested in peace since it wants to extract mineral resources of Afghanistan and Central Asia and to accomplish its agenda of denuclearizing Pakistan. India is also anti-peace since it wants to retain its presence to encircle Pakistan and to gain access to CARs through Pakistan’s land corridor. The Kabul government is also not keen since it knows it will crumble and ANSF will splinter soon after the exit of occupying forces.

 

Peace talks are a ruse to throw wool into the eyes of the world. Had the US been sincere in arriving at a viable political settlement, it should have accepted the basic demands of Taliban such as freeing of prisoners, putting them off the blacklist, allowing them freedom of movement, unfreezing their accounts, curtailing human rights abuses and making them a stakeholder. Peace talks could be a deception to widen the existing rift within the Taliban and exploit it by pitching WK against Haibatullah.

 

Similarly, the US should not have distrusted and maltreated Pakistan because, without its wholehearted cooperation, peace is not possible. It should have acknowledged its huge sacrifices in a war it didn’t ask for, nor did it initiate. It should have lauded the efforts of Pakistan, the only country in the region to turn the tide against militancy – despite heaviest odds. It should not have prioritized Indian interests in Afghanistan over ours and pressured Pakistan to grant land access to India for trade with Afghanistan/CARs.   

 

The US must not forget that in the war against the Soviets in the 1980s, America spent billions of dollars destroying the region but practically did nothing to rebuild much of the destroyed basic infrastructure, forcing millions of Afghan refugees to flee to Pakistan where, according to UNHCR reports, approximately 1.38 million registered and one million unregistered remain sheltered to this day. The US callously overlooks the human and financial sacrifices Pakistan has made, including 70,000 war-related civilians and security forces injured or killed; and a financial loss of $ 120 million. 

Stable, peaceful and friendly Afghanistan is vital for Pakistan since it frees Pakistan of twin threat to its security and plays a part in dictating our relations with the US and India. It is with this end in view that earnest efforts have been made to appease the US-installed regime in Kabul which have so far borne no fruit mainly due to the role of spoilers. FM Qureshi visited Kabul on Sept 15 with the hope of melting the ice. He seems satisfied saying the visit was ‘advantageous’.     

 

Taking a cue from the frivolous statement of the US Ambassador in Kabul, Pakistan should remain vigilant that in its enthusiasm to melt the ice, it shouldn’t barter away national interests. Any concession to India regarding trade corridor should be linked with the resolution of Kashmir dispute and end to clandestine operations against Pakistan by India. 

What should be understood by Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah is that the war is unwinnable, and the only way to end the war is through a negotiated settlement with the Taliban. Pakistan can play a constructive role in the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and is in the best position to bring all sides together and work for a détente.

Pakistan’s efforts will be fruitful only if its sacrifices and good work are acknowledged and spoilers are kept aside. Except for India and Kabul regime and some hawks in US administration/Senate that have constantly poured scorn on Pakistan out of malice, the world comity including UNSC Monitoring Team, Global Terrorism Index and others have heaped praises.   

Pakistan will have to promote its counter-narrative cogently to convince the world that it played a lead role in the war on terror, was the biggest victim of terrorism, and has achieved the best results.

Pakistan should remain watchful of the designs of Indo-US-Afghan nexus, be prepared to take on the emerging threats of Daesh and Black Water, speed up fencing and return of refugees, deal effectively with internal enemies promoting foreign agenda and find ways and means to deal with the catastrophic effects of hybrid war attacking the homogeneity of the society.  

 

Factionalism within Taliban leadership and vested interests of the spoilers preclude the possibility of a big breakthrough in peace talks in 2018.

 

The writer is a retired Brigadier, a war veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, takes part in TV talk shows and seminars. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

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How a jilted Karachi woman saved Pakistan N-programme! by Rauf Klasra

 

 

 

Posted by Strategic Plans Division Pakistan on Thursday, October 8, 2015

 

How a jilted Karachi woman saved Pakistan N-programme

 Thursday, May 28, 2009

By Rauf Klasra

ISLAMABAD: As the nation celebrates the eleventh anniversary of Pakistan’s nuclear tests today (May 28), a shocking 30-year-old secret has been exposed. It reveals how a young woman college lecturer, feeling betrayed after a romance with a nuclear scientist of the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP), had given a lead to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in 1978, which in turn had led to the dramatic arrest of 12 Pakistani scientists and engineers, planning to sabotage Pakistan’s nuclear sites at the behest of a superpower.

The startling spy ring was exposed by this female college lecturer of a Karachi Memon family to the then head of ISI Sindh Brig Imtiaz Ahmed (Operation Midnight Jackals fame), only because she wanted revenge from her lover for being unfaithful. The expose led to the arrest of Pakistani scientists who were later given death and life imprisonment sentences by the special tribunal set up by the then president General Ziaul Haq. 

Brig (retd) Imtiaz Ahmed broke his silence of over 30 years to share this amazing operation with The News on the eve of the 11th annual celebration of Pakistan going nuclear. He said that while many people take credit for saving our nuclear programme, no one actually knows how an unsung jilted girl had actually ended up saving Pakistan’s nuclear project out of sheer vengeance.

Brig (retd) Imtiaz Ahmed served as director in charge Internal Security ISI for several years in Islamabad and later director-general Intelligence Bureau (IB) in the first government of Nawaz Sharif. The then prime minister Benazir Bhutto had put him in jail for about three years on charges of being part of the operation to oust her in 1989 during her first government. Later, General Musharraf also put him in jail for four years till his acquittal by the Lahore High Court. He is the only spymaster of Pakistan who was jailed for eight years, after serving 15 years in the ISI and the IB.

Brig Imtiaz recalled that as a lieutenant colonel he was posted as chief ISI Sindh in 1978. One day he received a telephone call from the sister of A K Brohi, who was a psychologist in Karachi. She informed him that she was treating a female young patient who was suffering from a disease called “secret concealment” wherein a patient could not be cured unless he or she shared this secret with someone.

The lady doctor had confessed to Brig Imtiaz that she had failed to make the girl reveal the secret and thought maybe he could help her. He then went to meet the woman at the clinic. She was very beautiful and had done her Masters in English Literature and was teaching at a local college.

After some initial talk, the woman finally told him that she was carrying a very dangerous secret with her but made it clear that she would not share it even if she was killed. She told him that she knew very well that the intelligence people were not trustworthy, as they usually use the people and they don’t care what had happened to them. Brig Imtiaz told her that if she was not ready to trust him, then he was ready to arrange her meetings with the then DG ISI General Riaz Mohammad (uncle of MNA Shahid Khaqan Abbasi). But, she refused. Brig Imtiaz did not lose heart and told her that he could arrange her meeting with General K. M. Arif who was then chief of staff to Gen Zia. When she refused again, as a last resort Brig Imtiaz offered to take her to meet President Gen Zia to share this strange secret which had made her life a living hell. But, the woman did not agree to any of these names to share her dangerous secret as she feared she might be killed.

According to Brig Imtiaz, he could have easily picked her up and kept her in a safe house for a few days in isolation to make her reveal the secret but he did not adopt this traditional style of the intelligence officers. For a few days, according to his own version, Brig Imtiaz grappled with the dilemma of whether to wait or to just pick her up and try extracting information through traditional methods.

Image result for strategic assets of pakistan

 

 

 

It was during these days that one day while on his way to Clifton and driving by the consulate of a superpower, he saw a red colour Mazda car bearing a private number plate going inside at a very fast speed but he never really gave it another thought. But later, when he was sitting with the man in Clifton whom he had gone to meet, all of a sudden, his mind started working and he thought of the same red Mazda car and how it was allowed inside the consulate within a few seconds. He immediately ordered his men to stay vigilant outside the consulate and keep a tab on the car when it came out. But the red Mazda did not come out of the consulate building till late at night. Next morning, he went to his office and took out the Karachi metropolitan map and divided it into eight sectors. He gave motorcycles and cars to his ISI people with the directions to keep on roaming in these eight sectors all the time and note the registration numbers of all such red Mazda cars which were very few in those days. This exercise continued for a month but there was no big success. He kept on checking the registration numbers of red Mazda cars but no suspect was found.

One day, he got a red Mazda number which was rented out to someone from a Tariq Road showroom. One Rafique Munshi had rented that car. He had also given his address to the showroom. He was living in Garden East in MPA hostel in a suite. When the credentials of Munshi were checked, Brig Imtiaz came to know that he was working in the KANUPP as an engineer. The brigadier was immediately reminded of the female lecturer and went to meet the Memon lady. He again called the sister of Dr A K Brohi and requested her to arrange a meeting with her patient.

During the meeting, he suddenly asked the lady whether she knew Munshi. As he uttered the name, she started weeping. It took her a while to regain her composure but then she started sharing the secret which she was not ready to share earlier. She admitted that she and Munshi had been class fellows at Karachi University. Both had a serious love affair and he had promised to marry her. She said that they had also developed an illicit sexual relationship. But then he suddenly disappeared from Karachi and she could not trace him anywhere.

After four long years, he suddenly resurfaced in Karachi and was a totally changed man. Before going into hiding, he was a poor guy, but now he was loaded with dollars and leading a luxurious life. She also saw the photograph of a very beautiful foreign girl in his wallet. She then admitted to the Brigadier that she was still dating Munshi but felt betrayed and cheated as she believed he had spoiled her life. She told Brig Imtiaz that she was thinking to take revenge from him but then she could not dare because it might have also harmed her.

Then the secret broke. The woman told him that one day when Munshi left for his office, he left his safe open. She looked at the half-open safe and could not resist the temptation to check its contents. She was startled to see piles of dollars inside along with some official secret files. These papers were related to Pakistan’s nuclear sites and installations. This information was enough for Brig Imtiaz to proceed further as he understood the nature of the secret the woman was carrying with her for so many months and becoming sick in the process.

He asked her to help him get a key to Munshi’s suite so that he could himself inspect the stuff. She provided him with the alternate key. With the help of a 70-year-old key-making expert Brig. Imtiaz managed to open the foreign made safe and made copies of documents which were primarily questions and the answers related to Pakistan’s nuclear sites and the people working there.

Obviously, Engineer Munshi was working for the secret agency of a superpower which used to provide him questions and he used to give them the replies to those questions related to the nuclear programme. This was the same man who was seen taking his red Mazda car inside the foreign consulate. Brig Imtiaz did not touch the dollars and kept putting the documents back after making copies. He now wanted to capture the whole gang, as he came to know through the papers that the agents of this secret agency of a superpower were also present in Kahuta and other important installations where the nuclear programme was being executed. 

Munshi was simply playing the role of an agent between the foreign secret agency and Pakistani scientists working at those installations. After a labour of ten months and armed with necessary information, the matter was then brought to the notice of DG ISI Riaz Mohammad.

In the meantime, Brig Imtiaz came to know through those secret communications through papers that Munshi was to meet a foreign secret agent at Hawkes Bay Karachi to hand over some documents. He decided to arrest them red handed. He only took his driver along. When the two were exchanging documents, he tried to arrest them; and to his surprise, the agent shot at him but missed. But he, along with his driver, overpowered them and shifted them to a safe house. 

Soon they had the names of 12 other officers at Kahuta and other places who were part of this plan to sabotage the nuclear sites. According to the plot, these nuclear scientists and engineers working on the payroll of a secret agency were to develop huge technical sabotage of the programme to an extent that it could not have been repaired or fixed for some years to come. They all were arrested from various places in the light of information given by Brig Imtiaz. 

It was revealed that actually, the foreign secret agency had deputed five handlers from Washington to deal with the nuclear programme of Pakistan. These five foreign handlers included two girls, one of those photos was seen by the heartbroken girlfriend of Munshi which made her jealous and she decided to take revenge.

Brig Imtiaz was immediately called to Islamabad to give a briefing to General Ziaul Haq The five handlers were immediately told to leave Pakistan and General Zia was said to have called the president of this superpower to register a protest that how his country’s secret agency had tried to sabotage Pakistan’s nuclear programme. Zia was said to have expressed extreme displeasure over this espionage of nuclear programme. But, the president of that superpower was said to have requested Zia not to make it a public issue as it might tarnish his country’s image and Zia obliged him.

A special tribunal was set up to try all those Pakistani scientists and engineers on high treasons charges. The ringleader Munshi was sentenced to death while others were awarded life sentences by the court. But one fine morning, much to his shock, Brig Imtiaz learned that President Zia had commuted the death penalty of Munshi on the recommendation of a top Sindhi leader in exchange for his political support to the Zia regime.

After the arrest of Munshi, Brig Imtiaz met the lady lecture whose tip had led to unfold this international conspiracy against Pakistan nuclear programme. She was devastated and feeling very depressed as she told the ISI officer that she loved Munshi dearly but as he had betrayed her she could not spare him. 

The woman had managed to take her revenge from her lover while Brig Imtiaz was happy to unearth such a big conspiracy for which he was later decorated with a Tamgha-e-Basalat by the president of Pakistan for his services to the nation.

“Listen, almost 30 years have passed since this incident, but till date I can’t forget how a heartbroken woman’s commitment to herself to take revenge from her lover had led to the unfolding of this secret, which, if not shared, might have deprived Pakistan of its nuclear assets and we might not be celebrating this day,” remarked Brig Imtiaz while lost in the memories of the past.

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Change

Change

Dr Farrukh Saleem

October 7, 2018

Corruption is “the abuse of public office for private gain (the World Bank’s definition)”. A couple of years ago, the World Bank estimated that public procurement in Pakistan amounted to 19.8 percent of GDP or $60 billion a year.

Lo and behold, estimates of ‘leakages’ in this $60 billion-a-year business vary from a low of 30 percent to a high of 60 percent. Lo and behold, the ‘leakages’ amount to a low of $18 billion a year to a high of $36 billion a year.

Mohammad Khalid Javed, the founding managing director of Pakistan’s Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA), said: “we do not need any borrowings from the World Bank or the IMF if we can save this money”.

Imagine: according to the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, released by the US Department of State, the practice of money laundering cost Pakistan more than $10 billion a year. Yes, $10 billion a year multiplied by 10 years would mean $100 billion.

Now let’s do some simple math: our gross external financial need this year is $26 billion while the ‘leakages’ in public procurement are potentially more than that. So, we have a potential surplus. Our external debt is $95 billion while the past 10-year money-laundering cost stands at a potential $100 billion. So, we have a potential surplus. Conclusion: Minus ‘leakages’ and minus money laundering, we are a surplus country.

The real tabdeeli (change) is: For the first time in Pakistan’s rather chequered financial history, we have a prime minister whose top priority is anti-corruption. The real tabdeeli is: For the first time in Pakistan’s rather chequered legal history, we have a chief justice whose top priority is anti-corruption. The real tabdeeli is: For the first time in Pakistan’s 71-year long history, the head of our government and the head of our Supreme Court share the same agenda.

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This is the real tabdeeli: For the first time in the Federal Investigation Agency’s rather chequered 43-year-long history, the agency is in the process of unearthing the biggest money laundering scam in the history of Pakistan. And the details of the scam are startling: the number of fake bank accounts so far unearthed amount to 77; the number of individuals named stand at 334 (including ex-president Asif Ali Zardari); and money that has been laundered potentially amounts to hundreds of billions.

This is the real tabdeeli: The modus operandi of money launderers is out in the open: political and bureaucratic actors facilitated by bankers open fake bank accounts. The two then dole out contracts worth hundreds of billions to their favourite contractors. In return, contractors deposit hundreds of billions into the fake bank accounts. A moneychanger walks in and black money is transferred to Dubai. Funds are then transferred out of Dubai to buy properties in London and elsewhere.

The big picture: The once-dreaded MQM no longer holds Karachi hostage. The PML-N failed to form a government in Punjab. The PPP leadership’s wrongdoings are out for everyone to see.

It is true that the FIA’s conviction rate is 6.6 percent. It is true that NAB lacks the capacity to prosecute white-collar criminals. It is true that powerful public-office holders are far from being convicted. It is also true that powerful money launderers have yet to be convicted. But the tabdeeli has begun.

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad.

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The Sharifs –Yet Another Scandal—— SEE HOW CROOKS & CRIMINALS OPERATE IN PAKISTAN

The Sharifs –Yet Another Scandal.

SEE HOW CROOKS & CRIMINALS OPERATE IN THIS COUNTRY

Do watch this. It is a brief talk on the latest scandal, which has yet to unravel fully, which involves the melt down of Abraaj, a company begun by Mr Arif Naqvi, “to do good in the world.”
But inevitably wherever some “good” is to be done, the name of the Sharif brothers, being the “Shareefs” they are, happens to creep in.
In the present case, Mr Naqvi apparently enlisted the help of the Sharif brothers to palm off K-electric, one of his ailing enterprises to the Chinese. For their assistance the Sharifs, having international reknown on account of their great charitable works, were offered 20 million dollars as a contribution from Mr Naqvi to one of their “charities”! 
This “goodness” was averted from being consummated because another “goodness”, the Panama Scandal, showed up its ugly head just about the time this 20 million dollars was to exchange hands.
What a crying pity that sometimes even the Lord is constrained to cringe and recoil from certain acts of “charity”!

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US QUAGMIRE IN AFGHANISTAN: The US  is Reviving Talks with the Afghan Taliban without Pre-conditions By Sajjad Shaukat

The US  is Reviving Talks with the Afghan Taliban without Pre-conditions

By

Sajjad Shaukat

When first time the US decided talks with the Afghan Taliban in 2012, the same was conditional, as America had demanded that before any deal, violence against Afghan people must stop and the Taliban must cut ties to Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. She seeks to distinguish between Al-Qaeda-related fighters and Afghan insurgents—good and bad Taliban.

 

Afterwards, with the backing of the US, an office of the Taliban was opened in Qatar. After the Tokyo conference on Afghanistan, held in earlier July 2012, efforts to convince the Taliban for talks with the Kabul government had been expedited and Pakistan was requested to play an important task. In this regard, during the tripartite meeting in Kabul on July 19, 2012, the then British Prime Minister David Cameron and the former Afghan President Hamid Karzai met Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and reiterated Islamabad’s assistance for durable peace and stability in Afghanistan. They fully backed Pakistan to help arrange meetings between Afghan officials and Taliban representatives.

 

 

 

 

There were also reports that the US and the national security adviser to the Afghan President Karzai contacted the Taliban and had a secret dialogue with them. However, in a bid to win Taliban’s support for reconciliation, President Karzai had called upon their leader Mullah Omer to take part in the elections. On the other side, the Taliban were willing to resume talks with America but had refused dialogue with Karzai whom they consider colonial puppet.

 

Earlier, the Qatar-based talks with America were suspended because the ex-US President Barack Obama did not release five Taliban detainees to participate in peace negotiations as a pre-condition by the Taliban.

 

However, America along with other Western countries was fully supporting Karzai-led regime to commence peace deal with the Afghan Taliban with the help of Pakistan. While on the other side, top officials of America, Afghanistan and India, including their media continued blame game against Pakistan by accusing its security agencies of cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan—and support to the Taliban. They set aside the fact that US-led NATO forces had failed in coping with the resistance of the Afghan Taliban who is fighting a war of liberation against the occupying forces. In fact, America and other NATO countries wanted to make Pakistan a scapegoat of their defeat in Afghanistan.

 

 

 

 

 

In fact, when any terror attack occurs in Afghanistan, America, India and puppet rulers of Afghanistan shift the blame game towards Pakistan. The US has also accused Iran and Russia of assisting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Particularly, the main purpose of Washington was not only to pacify their people and justify the unending war in Afghanistan but also to fulfil the secret strategic designs against Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran.

 

Notably, on May 31, 2017, a massive truck bombing of the Afghan capital’s diplomatic section killed more than 150 people and injured hundreds of others, including foreigners. Taliban denied responsibility for the terror attack. But, Afghanistan’s intelligence service accused the Haqqani network by saying that a Taliban-affiliated group in Pakistan, carried out the attack. Addressing the conference-the “Kabul Process on Peace and Security Cooperation”, held in Kabul on June 6, 2017, which was attended by representatives from 26 countries and international organizations, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani criticized Pakistan for a lack of cooperation in promoting Afghan peace and alleged that Taliban insurgents are using sanctuaries on Pakistani soil to wage the insurgency in Afghanistan.

 

In the same speech, President Ghani offered peace talks to the Afghan Taliban by reiterating his preconditions such as recognition of the Afghan constitution, continuity of the reforms of educating and advancing the rights of women, and renunciation of violence and linkages with terrorist groups.

 

A Taliban spokesman rejected Ghani’s offer of a peace dialogue by stating that it is another attempt to endorse and prolong the foreign occupation of Afghanistan.

 

In the recent past, when the US-led NATO forces failed in coping with the stiff resistance of the Afghan Taliban in wake of the continued attack on their installations and Afghan forces, they have decided to revive peace talks with the Taliban without pre-conditions.

 

At present, the Afghan situation is witnessing new trend as all sides favour dialogue option and agree that there is no military solution. Pakistan has long been insisting on dialogue as only viable option to end Afghan quagmire.

 

In this respect, the US State Department has recently appointed experienced statesman Ambassador Khalilzad as an adviser for Afghanistan. During the recent visit of Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to America, Zalmay Khalilzad has also held a meeting with him. Both the leaders expressed positivity about a dialogue based Afghan peace process.

 

Pakistan has assured the US of its full support for peace talks with the Afghan Taliban, as this was in line with the policy of the government and in the best interest of Islamabad. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was addressing a news conference after having talks with the US delegation which was led by the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

 

In this connection, the State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said on October 3, this year: “US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pressed Afghanistan’s Taliban to come to the table to end the long-running war as he called on Pakistan to play a supportive role. Pompeo met in Washington with the foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, in the latest US outreach to the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan, a longtime advocate of a negotiated settlement with insurgents. Pompeo appreciated Pakistan’s support for political reconciliation in Afghanistan and for peace in the neighbourhood…The top US diplomat, who met PM Imran last month in Islamabad, “emphasised the important role Pakistan could play in bringing about a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan Pompeo “agreed that there was momentum to advance the Afghan peace process and that the Afghan Taliban should seize the opportunity for dialogue”.

 

On the other hand, there are also reports that the Taliban have held talks with the Afghan Government in Saudi Arabia. Reported talks were related to a ceasefire during upcoming parliamentary elections in Afghanistan, to be held on October 20, this year. It is considered that the peaceful elections cannot be conducted in Afghanistan without the Taliban’s cooperation. Taliban have refuted the talks. Saudi Arabia is seeking a role to replace Qatar where the Taliban hold a political office. Russia has also emphasized for an Afghan solution based on negotiations between all sides.

 

Again, it is notable that Islamabad has long been insisting on talks to end the Afghan crisis through dialogue. All the regional players including Russia, Iran and even China have also been favouring this approach. In these terms, the visit of the Foreign Minister Qureshi to the US has been a success in which he has assured the international community about Pakistan’s pragmatic and positive support on all issues including that of Afghanistan. The visit has also resulted in melting the ice between Washington and Islamabad.

 

In this context, under the caption, “Study Finds Americans Feel U.S’s Involvement Has ‘Failed’, Afghan-based website Tolonews said on October 7, 2018: “A Washington-based research centre Pew has found that most American’s feel that the US’s second longest war–Afghanistan, after 17 years has failed…On the 17th anniversary of the US’s involvement in Afghanistan, 49% of Americans say their country has failed to win the war. The report is an eye-opener for those who have been supporting Trump’s policy of increasing military pressure to win the war in Afghanistan. In fact, the policy has resulted in a huge spike in losses of both Afghan defence forces as well as in the civilian causalities. The reverses in battleground have forced Trump administration to pursue the option of dialogue with Taliban which was advocated since long by Pakistan….Pakistan has given clear stance in recent days declaring an Afghan-led dialogue as the only option to bring peace in the region. Pakistan has offered its fullest cooperation in pursuance of peace. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has strongly rejected the military option and advocated dialogue to end the Afghan quagmire. A new survey by Pew also supports Pakistan’s stance for a durable solution. New development has once again indicated about positive Pakistani role” (Afghanistan Times and other news agencies also reported).

 

Reuters reported on October 8, 2018, “The Taliban directed Afghans to boycott upcoming parliamentary elections and demanded a complete withdrawal of foreign forces as the only solution to end the 17-year-old war as they ramped up attacks in strategic provinces. The statement from the hardline Islamic militant group coincided with the visit of top U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad {Rabidly anti-Pakistan}, who has been appointed to lead peace efforts with the Taliban. Khalilzad met President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul to discuss ways to hold Afghan-led peace talks with the Taliban…With less than two weeks to go before the long-delayed elections, the Taliban and Islamic State have stepped up attacks across the country…“Peace is a holy process, and the U.S. government and people are united with the Afghan government and people in this process,” Khalilzad was quoted by Ghani’s office in a statement as saying. Khalilzad is scheduled to visit Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar this week as he seeks to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table.”

 

Nevertheless, in the recent past, after the visit of the US Secretary of State Pompeo to Islamabad and visit of Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Qureshi to America, positive change has occurred between the strained relations of the US and Pakistan. Now, ties between the two countries are improving rapidly. Positive change in Pak-US relationship has resulted in positive change between Afghan-Pakistan ties. Therefore, Kabul has re-opened Pakistan consulate in Jalalabad.

 

These developments clearly show that now the US has realized that without Islamabad’s help, she cannot achieve durable peace and stability in Afghanistan. Otherwise, the US-led NATO forces will remain entangled in that war-torn country. Hence, with the support of Pakistan, unlike the previous conditional dialogue, the US is reviving talks with the Afghan Taliban without pre-conditions.

 

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is the author of the book: the US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

 

Email: sajjad_logic@yahoo.com

 

                          

 

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