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Archive for category US CLEAR & PRESENT DANGER TO PAKISTAN

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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EXPOSING TIME’S MALEVOLENT QUOTE AGAINST QUAID-E-AZAM By Commodore Tariq Majeed PN (Retd)

 

Image result for quaid-e-azam quotes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Awareness Brief–AB-03-18, Thursday, 17 May 2018, 1 Ramazan 1439

EXPOSING TIME’S MALEVOLENT QUOTE AGAINST QUAID-E-AZAM

 

Commodore Tariq Majeed PN (Retd)

 

This analytical article on a critical matter was written in May 1997 and was published in weekly The Facts International, Lahore, in its issue of June 1—7, 1997. The article’s circulation was limited to The Facts’ readers. Besides, that was 21 years—nearly a generation—ago. There was a need to bring this important matter to the knowledge of the present generation of policymakers, writers and other relevant people.

  

            A malevolent statement allegedly made by Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and said to have been quoted by a doctor who treated him in the last days of his fatal illness, was printed by the American weekly Time in its issue of December 23, 1996, in a story on the founder of Pakistan.

 

A Proven Concoction

            It immediately drew denunciation and protests from many Pakistanis who read the evidently untrue statement in Time or some of the local newspapers which had reproduced it. Several letters refuting the statement and demonstrating its falseness appeared in various newspapers.

            That the statement is a concoction had been proved indisputably as it will be further demonstrated in this study. The issue, however, cannot be left there. Time is a prominent worldwide publication. Why did it indulge in such a repugnant venture? Moreover, where exactly did that cunning canard spring from? Who all participated in the subversive scheme? These questions ought to be seriously looked into. The canard should be thoroughly exposed.

 

The Weapon of Propaganda

            In the game of power politics between nations, propaganda is used as the main weapon. Indeed, no other weapon or agent of aggression can match poisonous propaganda in its destructive effects against societies and states. Therefore, expansionist powers, aiming at imperialistic hegemony over weaker nations, extensively employ this weapon to demoralize and debilitate and thus subdue, their targets. Deception, fabrication and disinformation are a staple menu of propaganda fed to the people for such purposes.

 

As the hegemonic powers are clear about their strategic aims, they are able to plan the menu of the propaganda and its methods of dissemination years in advance. How this stream of fake or untrustworthy information is passed off as a credible and acceptable material is an intricate art in itself. The main method is to propagate the information through prominent media organs whose credibility is well-established. It has the added advantage that if anyone challenges the questionable information, the managers, drawing on the prominent image of their periodical or network, manage to overlook or deflect the criticism. This should be kept in mind while examining the malicious statement in Time’s story.

 

 

Letters Not Published

The exact words in the story, written by Carl Posey, were. “On his deathbed, according to his doctor, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the wealthy lawyer of Bombay, rendered his final judgment on his signal achievement: ‘Pakistan,’ he said, had been ‘the biggest blunder of my life’”. When I read it, I immediately wrote to Time by e-mail with the intention of not merely refuting the statement but challenging the whole episode.

The first step to know was what was Time’s source, as Posey had cleverly left the reference and even the doctor’s name out. I expected there would be other letters also disproving the statement, and the editors while publishing the letters would certainly reveal the sources to support their story. My letter, dated 27 December 1996, to the editor was as follows:

 

I am a reader of Time since 1960, and am aware of its brilliant reporting of facts and equally brilliant reproduction of concoctions and distortion of facts. Carl Posey’s report (Dec 23) that on his deathbed, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, according to his doctor, said that Pakistan had been the ‘biggest blunder of my life,’ falls in the latter skill. Mr Jinnah’s sister Fatima Jinnah, and two prominent doctors, Riaz Ali Shah and Colonel Elahi Bakhsh remained by his side till he breathed his last. None of the doctors ever quoted such a statement; neither is it mentioned in Col Bakhsh’s book, With the Quaid-e-Azam during his Last Days. Indeed, both of them and Fatima Jinnah, who wrote a book, My Brother, narrated that Mr Jinnah continued to express his love for and pride in Pakistan till the end.

 

Simultaneously, a letter countering Carl Posey’s tale with weighty reasoning was dispatched to Time by a friend of mine who used to be a student of Dr Elahi Bakhsh in late 1950s, and had heard from him many an anecdote about Quaid-e-Azam but never anything like what Time had quoted. Both of our letters were not published by Time. Subsequently, it was learnt that Time had refused to publish several other letters including one by a former Aide-de-camp to Quaid-e-Azam.

 

Time’s Tactics

            Not finding my letter in Time’s issue of January 20, 1997, which carried a few letters on the subject, I at once sent a reminder, and only then received a reply. By then, it was obvious from several indications that Time knew the statement to be disinformation and was using all kinds of tactics to camouflage its motives and deceive the protesters and the public.

 

Before looking at its reply, let us take a look at Time’s tactics. The piece of disinformation is placed at the very end, to serve as the closing words of the two-page story, “The Great Pleader for a Muslim State.” Reading through the story when you come to its end, the malevolent closing words hit you like a knock of a hammer, and all that you may have found favourable to Pakistan’s founder, in the story, fades away. The story’s writer triumphs, in the effect that he wanted to create on the readers.   

 

It is a usual practice with any standard periodical, including Time, that when its information is questioned or disproved, it reveals its own source or extends an apology. Time did not publish in its own pages the source of that statement. It disclosed the source only to individual protesters.

Time did not indicate how much mail it had received on this topic of the false quote. Normally, in such cases, it publishes several of the letters in a separate box and even cites brief comments from some of the unpublished letters. A recent example could be seen in the issue of January 27, 1997, in which the editors, after publishing 12 letters about a previous cover story, had given short excerpts from a number of the unpublished letters.

 

Posey’s story, as mentioned, did not reveal the name of the doctor who had leaked the so-called quote of the Quaid. On the other hand, the one-sentence statement was so phrased, and with such audacity, as if the writer, Carl Posey, had himself heard the statement from the doctor!

 

Its timing was perfectly calibrated. The story was printed to coincide with the birth anniversary of Quaid-e-Azam on December 25. As it was reproduced by several of the local newspapers, it was read by a large number of people. The malignant disinformation, even though disbelieved by almost everyone, created a sense of confusion and frustration among the people, at a time when they traditionally celebrate the merits and achievements of the founder of the country with a measure of pride.

 

With this story, Time also closed its special series titled “Newsmakers of the Half Century” under which it was written. The series had been started just two months earlier, with its issue of 21 October 1996, for write-ups on Time’s own selection of nine Asian leaders including Sukarno, Mao Zedong and Nehru. A comment on Quaid-e-Azam by Time in its special issue on Asia, ahead of the series, should be exposed. Donald Morrison, writing in a column, otherwise exclusively devoted to praising the weekly and its staff, made a mean swipe at Quaid-e-Azam. He claimed: “Our readers included nearly all the region’s top political and business leaders—the founding father of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, for example, who once granted a Time correspondent an interview in exchange for a subscription.” Were the facts to be dug out, this statement too will turn out to be false.

 

After its December 23 issue, which carried Posey’s story, came Time’s end-of-the-year double issue, meaning the next issue would not appear till after two weeks. That meant a week’s long delay in publication of letters protesting that false quote—which, thus, remained unquestioned in the pages of Time for that extra period.

The magazine, of course, also had a more concrete plan to deal with the letters of protest and refutation. Time, the champion of all kinds of conceivable and inconceivable human rights, including freedom of speech, equality and impartiality, had no intention of publishing them! Indeed, the editors adhered to their plan, without the least remorse.

 

Time’s Own Choice of Letters

            The editors cleverly selected just four letters, on the topic, which they published in the issue of January 20, 1997. Only one of these, from a lady in Islamabad, questions the false quote—just in one sentence! It reads: “For Jinnah to have said on his deathbed that Pakistan was his ‘biggest blunder’ flies in the face of all that has been recorded and written about the Quaid and is entirely out of character.” That was all, to represent the anger and protests over the false statement registered by many Pakistanis and the undeniable refutation of it presented to Time by some very authentic protesters!

 

The editors did not stop at that dishonest act. They employed an additional trick without any qualm. Immediately below that letter, they placed a letter which purports to sustain the canard, though the comment made is incoherent! It is by someone named Umer Pasha, from Lahore; and he is made to say:  “Time has really done justice to the tremendous personality of our great leader Mohammad Ali Jinnah. I think Jinnah knew what he was saying when he called his nation-building the biggest blunder of his life. None of the current leaders of Pakistan has the sincerity and the will to build the economy of the country.” The other two letters do not speak about the false quote and comment on some other aspects of the story.

 

Time’s Reply

            We can examine now Time’s reply to my letter. The same reply was received by a few other people, who persisted in demanding a reply to their letters. The full text of Time’s reply is as follows:

 

            Thank you for taking the time to register your reaction to our December 23 anniversary supplement about Mohammad Ali Jinnah. We were, of course, sorry to learn of your disappointment with our reporting but we do appreciate the opportunity to consider your critical perspective.

            In addressing broad-based criticism of the overall tone of our reporting, it is often difficult for us to do more than offer our assurances that we have no interest in pursuing programmatic biases in the magazine. We are certainly most sensitive to the extraordinary diversity of our audience and, naturally, we strive to apply a consistently dispassionate measure to each and every topic with which we engage.

            Having said that, we would like to speak specifically about the deathbed quote you mention. Our source was M. J. Akbar’s Nehru: The Making of India (Viking 1988). On page 433 of that biography, Akbar writes “Jinnah’s personal physician in his last days, Colonel Elahi Bakhsh, had recorded that once Jinnah, on his deathbed, blew up at Liaquat Ali Khan, who had come to see him, and described Pakistan as ‘the biggest blunder of my life’. The story was printed in Peshawar’s Frontier Post in November 1987 and quotes Jinnah as saying, “If now I get an opportunity I will go to Delhi and tell Jawaharlal Nehru to forget about the follies of the past and become friends again.” We do know that Colonel Bakhsh did not include this quote in his own memoir, With the Quaid-e-Azam during his Last Days, but that does not, in our view, mean that he may not have remembered it nonetheless and related it later to a different audience.

            In closing, we thought you might be interested to know that several letters expressing similar criticisms to yours were published in our Asian edition, where the story originally appeared. Although we were unable to include your letter as well, you can be sure that it met with an attentive audience among our editors. Again, our thanks for letting us hear from you, and best wishes.

 

Sincerely,

Winston Hunter

 

Analysis of Time’s Reply

One cannot be impressed by the “courtesies” in Time’s letter when the subject is its inaccuracies and prevarications—which is a courteous expression for lies.

            It is incorrect for the editors to say that they “have no interest in pursuing programmatic biases in the magazine.” The fact that they deliberately did not publish many letters of protest from Pakistanis disproves their statement. This itself testifies to their programmatic biases.”

            It is a lie on their part to say “that several letters expressing similar criticisms to yours were published in our Asian edition”. How could they make such a false claim against the evidence in their own magazine! There were not several but just four letters; and out of these four, only one letter expressed criticism of the quote, in just one sentence!

            The editors said they were unable to include my letter; they said the same words to others whose letters were not published. But the editors presented no reason to anyone, as to what made them ‘unable’ to publish those letters? What else could be the reason, except that the editors were afraid the readers of Time would know that the statement about Mr Jinnah was a concoction.

 

Indian Author’s Book

            From the wording of their reply, it appears that the book of the Indian author, M.J. Akbar, is Time’s main source for the quote. I found the book in Quaid-e-Azam Library, Lahore. On looking up the book, one finds that Akbar’s source for the concocted statement is none other than the Frontier Post story! Incidentally, this book on Nehru is considered of no authentic value. Even in India, it is treated with disdain, because in his adulation of his subject, Akbar became blind to Nehru’s faults losing all sense of objectivity, while the Indians from authentic literature have been learning more and more about Nehru’s moral weaknesses and political blunders. It should also be of interest to know that M.J. Akbar’s zealous devotion to the Indian National Congress surprises even the party’s own Hindu loyalists!       

 

Tracking Down the Primary Source

            Next, we come to the so-called primary source—the story in the Frontier Post. It was a bizarre situation; an unheard of the statement had found a passage into an Indian author’s book and an American weekly, and its primary source was a little-known, literally obscure newspaper!

 

            Both Time and M.J. Akbar had intentionally not mentioned the exact date of the story. I reckoned there would be some difficulty in finding the date and then the story in Frontier Post Files. It turned out I had underestimated the problem. The Frontier Post office in Lahore plainly expressed their inability to help in the matter, saying that the Lahore Edition was launched only in July 1989. A letter, followed by a reminder to the Frontier Post’s chief editor, in Peshawar, requesting his help failed to elicit any response from him.

 

            Inquiries revealed that a ‘seasoned hand’, who had spent several years at the Frontier Post and was considered a walking encyclopedia on the Peshawar daily, could be contacted in Lahore. He did prove to be ‘seasoned’. He was a diehard congressite in his political allegiance. He knew about the Frontier Post story and its author’s name, and even defended it, but said he did not know its date, and that even the year could be 1986 or 1988 and not necessarily 1987! I understood his trickery.

 

            Finding the Frontier Post Files of 1987 was another problem. It was the Dayal Singh Trust Library, Lahore, which, in this case, proved to be an asset, superior to all the other local libraries. On a day, in the month of Ramazan (1997), I spent several hours going through the Frontier Post Files of November and December 1987, but the story was not found.

 

An Intriguing Column

            However, I found two unusual features in the paper. It carried a continuous stream of subtle, and sometimes even blatant, propaganda against Pakistan and its raison d’etre ie, its reason for existence. Unfortunately, it is also a characteristic of several other dailies in our country, but the Peshawar daily topped the other papers in this respect. The second was an intriguing feature. The Frontier Post, sometime in October 1987, had initiated on the ‘City Post’ page, a special but occasional column titled “Historical Notes.” It seemed to be a technique for airing ‘new disclosures and theories’ to distort the facts about the Pakistan Movement, the Muslim League, and the leading personalities who led the movement and the party.

 

            Under that ‘special’ column, on Saturday, 12 December 1987, is a story “Quaid Wanted To Abandon Muslim League” by Al-Huma, obviously a cover name. An inscription at the story’s beginning says, “The writer of the article is a student of the history of Pakistan Movement. In 1972 he undertook a self-imposed mission of collecting information and historical evidence so as to set the historical record straight for the posterity”. Al Huma’s narrative which he says is based on an interview of Mir Ahmed Yar Khan, the Mir of Kalat, is pathetically unfit to be of any historical value. Four days later, on 16 December, the newspaper was compelled to publish a reply challenging Al-Huma and exposing his narrative to be manifestly inaccurate.

 

The mystery around the Concocted Story

            A study of that column did give a clue to finding the story. It was obvious the elusive story would be found in the “Historical Notes” on the ‘City Post’ page. But, I failed to find the story! It was eventually found by a helpful source, Hakim Naeemud Din Zuberi, the learned Director of Library, Hamdard University, Karachi, to whom I had written to help with the research.

            The story was in the paper of 25 November 1987. It was indeed on the ‘City Post’ page and in the special column, this time more grandiloquently titled as “Footnotes of History.”  It is by Mohammad Yahya Jan, and is headlined, “What Quaid’s Physician told me”.

How did I miss it? In the Frontier Post Files in the Dayal Singh Trust Library, the page was not there! It had been removed—by design.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  The Story’s Author

            An inquiry into Yahya Jan’s background revealed that his father was a brother of Dr Khan Sahib and Abdul Ghaffar Khan. They were the founders of the anti-Pakistan ‘Red Shirts’ movement. They were loyal to the Indian National Congress, deadly opposed to Pakistan. Yahya Jan had served in the pre-partition Congress régime in the Frontier Province as education minister in 1945. Yahya Jan was a tottering old man touching the debilitating age of 90 in 1987, when he ‘remembered’ to disclose something which, he said, had been told to him by Col Elahi Bakhsh 35 years before, in 1952!

 

Cleverly-Written Narrative

            At the outset, Yahya Jan says, “I cannot vouch for the truth of Col Elahi Bakhsh’s account. All I can say, with God as my witness, that this is what he told me”. Then follows a long narrative of how and what Dr Elahi Bakhsh confided to Yahya Jan and Dr Khan Sahib, in a patients’ ward in the Mayo Hospital, Lahore, where an ailing Ghaffar Khan was under treatment. Yahya Jan claims he received the information, that he had disclosed in the story, over a number of sessions of conversation with Bakhsh. On this point, he writes: “Col Elahi Bakhsh, as the superintendent of the Mayo Hospital, used to come on his rounds of the wards between 8 and 9 in the morning. He would exchange a few words and then pass on. As he got to know us better he occasionally lingered on for longer periods. Sometimes our conversation stretched out for quite a while, and their memory endures in my mind.”

 

            The narrative contains the malicious quote and a number of other preposterous statements, allegedly made by Quaid-e-Azam to Liaquat Ali Khan when the latter, accompanied by Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, called on the Quaid at Ziarat in late July 1948. The utterances are exceedingly insulting to Quaid-e-Azam, Mr Liaquat Ali Khan, Miss Fatima Jinnah, the State of Pakistan and the entire Pakistan Movement. The basis of the narrative is that Col Elahi Bakhsh was in the room throughout when Quaid-e-Azam had the exclusive meeting with Liaquat Ali Khan.

 

            According to Yahya Jan, apart from the Khan Brothers, the only person who learnt of Col Bakhsh’s account was Agha Shorish Kashmiri, a well-known journalist, to whom Yahya had passed it on. According to the narrative, Agha Shorish, apparently, had it confirmed from the doctor but then kept it to himself!  The full narrative mentions other malicious things also. Towards the narrative’s end, Yahya again swears by God, and says, “I hold myself accountable to God if I have misquoted anything Col Bakhsh said”. Swearing by God is an old ruse to make concocted statements ‘credible.’

 

Refutation of the Story

            Amongst the evidence that appeared in newspapers proving the falseness of the story, the accounts by three persons are of special significance. They are: Dr Zafar Omer, an assistant of late Col Elahi Bakhsh, Dr Ghulam Mohammad Khan, the only living doctor out of a team of four from Mayo Hospital who attended Mr Jinnah during his terminal illness in Ziarat and Quetta, and Brigadier (Retd) Noor A. Hussain, Quaid’s ADC in the last four months of his life in Karachi, Quetta and Ziarat. Excerpts from their letters which appeared in Dawn on 30 January, 26 January and 4 March 1997, respectively are reproduced below.

 

Zafar Omer, Lahore. “I was privy to most of the observations of late Col Elahi Bakhsh (about Quaid-e-Azam), because I was his assistant, and quite close to him. I never heard him mention any such remark. In fact, according to Col Elahi Bakhsh, the Quaid till the last seemed most proud of his achievement and had great hopes regarding the country”.

 

Dr Ghulam Mohammad Khan, Lahore. “I have no wish to dwell upon all the malicious and vituperative statements of the writer (of Time’s story). However, the last paragraph of his story should not go without comment. Besides other things, it states that on his deathbed Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah told his doctor that Pakistan had been ‘the biggest blunder of my life’. I happen to be the only living doctor out of a team of four from Mayo Hospital, Lahore, who attended Mr Jinnah during his terminal illness in Ziarat and Quetta. He was never left unattended—day or night—as we had adjacent bedrooms. It is absolutely unimaginable and unbelievable that a statement of such import and implication was ever made by Mr Jinnah and none of the doctors present at hand had known it for nearly 48 years till Carl Posey brought it to our notice.

            “Furthermore, late Col Elahi Bakhsh makes no mention of any such statement in his book “With the Quaid-e-Azam during his Last Days”. The statement attributed to the founder of Pakistan by Carl Posey is a figment of his own imagination. It is clear that this statement has been deliberately concocted in order to malign a great leader and the country he brought into existence, and it is obviously sponsored by the enemies of Pakistan.”

 

Brigadier (Retd) Noor Hussain, Rawalpindi. “I was the Quaid’s ADC in the last four months of his life in Karachi, Quetta and Ziarat. I cannot recollect the Quaid ever feeling or making such remarks to his doctor or anyone else, even on his deathbed, where I was present throughout.

            “I was ADC on duty when Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan arrived in Ziarat late July 1948, to see Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. After Quaid’s consent, I ushered him into the bedroom on the top floor. They exchanged greetings. Miss Jinnah came out as was the protocol for such meetings between the two. Doctor Elahi Bakhsh and Riaz Ali Shah chest specialist were not present in Quaid’s bedroom but were waiting in the Lounge on the ground Floor with us. After about 40 minutes, the PM came downstairs, met the doctors, had lunch with Miss Jinnah and ADCs and drove down to Quetta for the flight back to Karachi by PAF’s DC-3 aircraft.”

 

Miss Fatima Jinnah’s Book

            Brigadier Hussain’s eye-witness account of Liaquat Ali Khan’s call on the Quaid at Ziarat is fully corroborated by Miss Fatima Jinnah’s description of that visit in her book “My Brother”, (Karachi, Quaid-e-Azam Academy, 1987). In fact, she related that when the meeting was over, she went into the Quaid’s room and wanted to stay with him as he seemed exhausted but he insisted: “Go and eat with them, they are our guests”.

 

            From her book also, it is evident that when Mr Liaquat Ali met the Quaid, there was no one else in the room, not even she or Chaudhry Mohammad Ali, what to speak of Dr Elahi Bakhsh, who was rather a stranger to Quaid-e-Azam till then. It should be remembered that Col Elahi Bakhsh, as recorded in his book, had met Quaid-e-Azam for the first time on 24 July, and it was just around four days later that Liaquat Ali Khan and Chaudhry Muhammad Ali arrived on their visit. Indeed, Dr Bakhsh, in his own book makes no claim of having been present at that meeting; nor is there any mention, or even a hint, of that false statement in the book.

 

The Source of Concoction

            Then, where did that statement and all the other vicious utterances originate from? Who concocted the episode? To analyze this concoction one must comprehend the full dimension of the nature and aims of the psychological warfare being conducted against our country. Once that has been comprehended, then you know that this concoction is the handiwork of the schemers conducting that warfare. Needless to say, the schemers intimately know their subjects, targets, and the local conditions, and have a vast network to gain penetration and influence into the required circles. Indeed, this whole scheme, which in their terminology is called a “sting operation,” has their stamp on it. Like all the other sting operations, this one was also very meticulously planned and had been conceived a long time before it was to materialize.

c

 

            Those people, who think that there would be no harm in befriending Israel, must realize that it will not change Israeli aims. God forbid, if the rulers of Pakistan ever committed the blunder of befriending the Zionist state, they would be offering the Israelis the ideal circumstances and full freedom to realize their aims against Pakistan.  That will also invite divine punishment to Pakistan, for transgressing a divine commandment: “O you who believe! Turn not (for friendship) to people on whom is the Wrath of Allah.”  The “people” mentioned in this Quranic Verse (Surah 60:13) are the Zionist Jews who deny God and His Prophets. “They are the Party of Satan;” (Surah 58:19). They are the creators and rulers of the Zionist state of Israel.  

 

The Local Fifth Column

            Due to various reasons, a Fifth Column exists in Pakistan. Fifth Column, by definition, is “An organized body sympathizing with and working for the enemy within a country.” These people living in Pakistan have amassed wealth and they enjoy many privileges, but they readily act as agents of the Zionist Jews to harm Pakistan. Yahya Jan belonged to this band. The master schemers guided him to be the pivot in this nasty venture.

 

Final Orchestration

            The scheme of the concocted story was made by Zionist schemers. They prepared its full script, had the story printed in the Frontier Post, passed the information to M.J. Akbar and Carl Posey, none of whom, otherwise, would have known about it. The concocted story would find a permanent place in the pages of Akbar’s book and the weekly Time, long after people had forgotten the Frontier Post and Yahya Jan. For Yahya Jan, nearing the end of his life, it was the last desperate stroke of ‘revenge’ against Pakistan whose establishment he and his clan had failed to prevent.            

By November 1987, M.J. Akbar’s book was ready to go into print (it was published in 1988) and a sick, awfully aged, Yahya Jan was close to his deathbed (he died in 1989). Shorish Kashmiri had died in 1975.  A phoney newspaper had been launched since 1985 and a column “Historical Notes” had been initiated in it since October 1987. So, the plan was set for Time (a mouthpiece of Zionism) to bring out a special series in October–December 1996, on Asian ‘Newsmakers of the Half Century’; it should have a write-up on Mohammad Ali Jinnah carrying the concocted quote, and ending the series!  So, the sting operation was launched and successfully completed.  

Action for the Government

            This whole sordid affair has another deplorable aspect— an absence of any action on the part of the government or scholars in Pakistan to challenge and demolish the lies directed against Quaid-e-Azam and the creation of Pakistan. Their insensitivity and neglect were compounded. They let the Frontier Post story go unnoticed, failed to spot the inclusion of the lies in M.J. Akbar’s book, and maintained a conspiracy of silence when Time advertised the malevolent lies around the world.

           

The least the government should do now is that either the Information Ministry or the Quaid-e-Azam Academy should declare the false quote to be a concoction, and formally ask the weekly Time and the publishers of M.J. Akbar’s book to annul it from the pages of their publications. The concerned authorities should also place this article at appropriate websites on the Internet, as, besides unmasking the falseness of Time’s story, it exposes this magazine’s dishonesty in knowingly publishing a false story.   

 

The writer is an analyst of International Zionism’s schemes, particularly the schemes against Pakistan and the other Muslim Countries.

 

 

Tariq Majeed

Lahore, Pakistan

 

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The US Dictates to Pakistan: Complicating the Already Complexed Afghan War by Ishaal Zehra

The US Dictates to Pakistan: Complicating the Already Complexed Afghan War

Ishaal Zehra

 

 

 

Costs of War

Death toll from war in Afghanistan and Pakistan climbs to 173,000

Brown University Study

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The US war in Afghanistan has entered into its 17th consecutive year of dismay. It is learnt that this winter, Afghan security forces have intensified their operations against the rogue elements despite heavy snow and bitter cold instead of a usual slowdown in fighting during Afghanistan’s harsh winter tide.

Would it prove effective or not will be reckoned with time, however, the cause of fretfulness remains that even after 16 years of war, with thousands dead and innumerable wounded, it still has no clear end in sight. The summer of 2017 has been a bloody one in Afghanistan, with the death toll nearing a thousand. On the word of the United Nations, the number of civilians killed in this six-month period touched an eight-year record high.

So much so that even the senior associate at the Woodrow Wilson Center, Michael Kugelman voiced the grim reality that despite this immense sacrifice in lives and resources, the chief gains from the Afghan war’s early years have effectively been reversed.

The US has spent hundreds of billions of dollars in Afghanistan since 2001 on a war that has been subsisting on the lives of more than 2,400 American soldiers and over 31,000 Afghan civilians. Estimated number of causalities are as high as 43,362 which includes Afghan security forces, coalition troops and nearly 2,000 Contractors. Undoubtedly, what Dominic Tierney wrote in 2015 while describing the situation at home is still valid today. He said, raising the topic of Afghanistan is like mentioning mortality. There’s a profound desire to change the subject.

These figures represented the war state down to the middle of 2016. Today, in 2018, when the war continues to drag on into its 17th year, the situation is even worse. Bill Roggio, editor of FDD’s Long War Journal, confirmed in the US congressional testimony in April 2017 that “The Taliban … today holds more ground in the country since the US ousted the jihadists in early 2002”. With all the stated data and the bitter ground realities, an announcement by President Trump declaring further escalation in the war came as a total surprise for all the interest groups in the Afghan war.

 

 

The US has Resumed Drones Strikes in Pakistan Killing Two Innocent Civilians. The Militants Escaped Un-Scathed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Long War journal map assessment argues that presently Taliban controls or contests 45% of the Afghan districts. Their assessment also highlights Taliban’s rural control, a key source of insurgent strength that the US military underestimates. With all the grim statistics and unsuccessful strategies applied in the battleground, Michael Kugelman also notices that President Trump is now actually short of available options in Afghanistan. “This much is clear — there are no good options in Afghanistan,” he wrote. Regrettably, out of all the ‘no good options’, the president opted for the poorest one. He forced the bulk of his failures to Pakistan, gradually increasing the stress with toxic hate campaigns.

To serve the purpose, a systematic propaganda was initiated at the international level to accentuate Pakistan in context of harbouring terrorist and terror outfits. In line with the trump-devised policy, the two highly controversial US Congressmen, Dana Rohrabacher and Brad Sherman held up their anti-Pakistan rhetoric during the meeting of House of Representatives held in October. Brad Sherman (a staunch Jew and an active member of the Jewish lobby in the USA) purported about some fabled HR violations in Sindh, while Dana Rohrabacher (famous for working on behalf of certain Indian and Hindutva lobbies in the past also) oddly enough linked the creation of Bangladesh with the life of Muhajir community in Karachi. Quite ridiculous it was, as the creation of Bangladesh was a planned conspiracy of India which they brag about quite often. Contrariwise, the meeting of Dana Rohrabacher with Altaf Hussain and Khan of Qalat in support of Baluch separatists should be seen rather sceptically as it bears upon another conspiracy in the offing.

Toeing the line further was a US army retired colonel turned writer Lawrence Sellin who while admitting that completion of CPEC will seriously hurt the US interests, wished for an independent and secular Baluchistan which in case if not possible then at least a Baluchistan with Iranian infiltration and military action. His views are more of a conspiracy theory but can be taken for the policy thinking of military-related academia of US.

To further pressurize Pakistan, a deliberate propaganda campaign against the safety of her nuclear weapons was launched thereafter. Larry Pressler, an ex-Republican politician, is seen conforming to Hussain Haqqani declaring Pakistan a state sponsoring terrorism. Likewise, the US president dubbing Pakistan the way he did in his recent tweets was another irony of the first order.

In this transpiring war, Pakistan has rendered unique sacrifices both in terms of lives and finances while overcoming the spate of orchestrated terrorism. The country has thus far suffered more than 62,000 fatalities and a loss of over USD 123 Billion. No rhyme or reason, but with such sacrifices this kind of behaviour will not subjugate Pakistan rather make it even more resilient and objective.

George Friedman very aptly puts the US quagmire into words. “At this point, the United States is looking for an endgame in Afghanistan. It has spent 16 years fighting a war but has not yet achieved its goals. The US will no longer devote large numbers of troops because large numbers of troops failed before… The more tactical the approach, the more the US needs Pakistani cooperation”. But the question is why Pakistan should comply with US undue pressure since a US departure would leave Pakistan facing strong hostile forces across its border especially in the case where the US has already backed Indian presence in Afghanistan.

It’s time to realize that President’s Trump new policy has yielded rather negative results. Taliban are more aggressive than ever before and the area under control of Afghan National unity Government is ever decreasing. Reasons for US failures in her longest war in the history are hidden elsewhere. The US has actually failed to understand her enemy. In recent past, American Forces dropping blasphemous pamphlets in Afghanistan desecrating Kalama-e-Tayyaba is a classic example of US incompetency to understand Taliban sentiment. Also, US policies are known to be oblivious to the ground realities. Afghan official forces are suffering daily defeats and are likely to wipe out if foreign support is denied to them. Present regime’s rampant corruption, increased causalities among forces, mounting civilian causalities and the resurgence of Taliban / ISIS along with the battering relations between the two non-NATO allies is continuously keeping the Afghan situation uncertain. Believe it or not, the arrogance of President Trump is simply not allowing him to put an end to America’s longest war.

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 Refocus on Salala Attack By Sajjad Shaukat

 Refocus on Salala Attack

By Sajjad Shaukat

On 26th of November 2011, the US-led NATO forces attacked two Pakistani check-posts on Pak-Afghan border and martyred 24 Pakistani military personnel indiscriminately.

In this regard, two American Apache helicopters and two F-15 Eagle fighter jets targeted the two Pakistani posts, Boulder and Volcano, situated at Salala in the Baizai tehsil of Mohmand Agency. The airstrike was carried out in two phases.

Notably, the aerial attack was coordinated and deliberate, its second phase carried out by American forces after the Pakistan Army informed the ISAF command that their forces were attacking Pakistani troops–and despite this information, it continued.

In this context, a NATO inquiry said that both sides had made mistakes. Pakistan categorically rejected the inquiry report. It had earlier refused to be part of a joint inquiry. Top Pakistan Army officials denied the attack was unintentional.

Reacting to the Salala attack, Pakistan blocked the NATO ground lines of communication to Afghanistan and demanded an apology before the supply line would be unblocked.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pakistan’s parliament unanimously approved recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) in connection with the re-engagement with the United States. Besides other matters, the recommendations included an immediate cessation of drone attacks and infiltration into Pakistani territory, entailing some conditions regarding supply to NATO forces in Afghanistan across the country. Besides, Pakistan should seek an unconditional apology from the US on November 26, 2011, unprovoked Salala check-posts assault.

Meanwhile, some American diplomats including NATO chief had visited Islamabad and met the then Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, asking them for re-opening the NATO routes. Setting aside the American pressure, they reiterated that parliament in light of the PCNS recommendations and the Defence Committee of Cabinet would decide on the issue of NATO supply, after negotiating a new relationship with the US, based upon equality and non-violation of Pakistani territory.

Pakistan government remained firm on its stand. The NATO supply lines remained suspended for the six months in the wake of US pressure tactics.  On May 10, 2012, the United States House Armed Services Committee approved a bill, which would prohibit the preferential procurement of goods or services from Pakistan; until the “NATO supply line is reopened.”

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen suggested on May 11, 2012, that Pakistan could miss out on important talks on the future of Afghanistan, if it failed to reopen supply routes in time to secure a place at a NATO summit in Chicago on May 20-21, 2012. Indirectly, he disclosed that Pakistan would not be invited to participate in the summit.

On the other side, Prime Minister Gilani confirmed that the Defence Committee of the Cabinet would debate as to how to repair relations with America in time to attend the NATO summit in Chicago or to boycott it. While, the British Defence Minister Phillip Hamond stated that negotiations on the restoration of the NATO supply are progressing in the right direction, but Pakistan would not accept any pre-condition.

In these terms, Pak-US war of nerves accelerated due to American coercive diplomacy towards Islamabad coupled with its double game. In this regard, after the 9/11 tragedy, Pakistan joined the US war against terrorism as frontline state and Islamabad was granted the status of a non-NATO ally by Washington because of its earlier successes achieved by Pakistan’s Army and country’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) against the Al-Qaeda militants.

Within a few years, when the US-led NATO forces felt that they were failing in coping with the stiff resistance of the Taliban in Afghanistan, they started false allegations against Pak Army and ISI of supporting the Afghan Taliban. US high officials and their media not only blamed Pakistan for cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan but also continuously emphasised to ‘do more’ against the insurgents in tribal areas by ignoring the internal backlash in the country such as bomb blasts and suicide attacks which killed thousands of innocent people and personnel of the security.

The Cold War had already started between Pakistan and the United States when hundreds of CIA agents entered Pakistan under the guise of diplomats to destabilise the country. On January 11, 2011, Raymond Davis who was CIA agent killed two Pakistanis in Lahore.

Since May 2, 2011, Pak-US relations further deteriorated when without informing Islamabad, US commandos killed Osama Bin Laden in a covert military operation. Afterwards, tension intensified, as America continued its duress on Pakistan in the wake of drone attacks on FATA, while brushing aside parliament’s resolution in this respect.

Differences also increased between Islamabad and Washington, because of Pakistan’s superior agency, ISI interrupted covert activities of the so-called American diplomats. Notably, ISI thwarted the anti-Pakistan activities of the agents of Blackwater and CIA which had started recruiting Pakistani nationals who were vulnerable. In this connection, with the pre-information of ISI, Pakistan’s police and other security agencies arrested some secret agents. On many occasions, ISI helped in stopping the clandestine activities of the CIA spies who were displaying themselves as diplomats. On the information of this top spy agency, Pakistan’s establishment expelled several American spies operating in the country. On the other side, US withheld $800 million in military aid to punish its army and ISI.

It was due to the professional competence of ISI in foiling the anti-Pakistan plot that US and India including their media accelerated deliberate propaganda against ISI.

Nevertheless, in the aftermath of the November 26 incident in Mohmand Agency, Pakistan’s bold steps such as vacation of the Shamsi Airbase, boycott the second Bonn Conference and rejection of the US investigation report regarding the deliberate attack on Salala Army check-posts accelerated tension between Islamabad and Washington.

Some top American officials accused Pakistan-based Haqqani militants behind the well-coordinated attacks in Afghanistan, which occurred on April 15, 2012. US aim was to pressurise Islamabad for the restoration of the NATO transit routes.

At this juncture, it is worth mention that US government officials are confused about their goals and objectives. Rarely US high officials praised Pak sacrifices in the war on terror, sometimes, admitted that stability is not possible could in Afghanistan without the help of Pakistan.  After the withdrawal of foreign troops, sometimes, threatened Islamabad to abandon the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project and sometimes, realised that the US wants to improve its relationship with Pakistan, but at the same time, they blame Islamabad for safe-havens of militants in the country. While in connivance with India and Israel, America has been continuing its anti-Pakistan activities by supporting militancy in Pakistan and separatism in Balochistan.

Nonetheless, after the Salala incident, Pak-US war of nerves continued, it took the relationship of both the countries to the point of no return. On July 3, 2012, Defence Committee of the Cabinet permitted NATO supplies across the country to Afghanistan after the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton apologised for the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in November 2011 by American air strike on Salala check posts by saying “sorry”.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is 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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NADRAGate: The terrifying cable that should not be ignored by Waqas Ahmed

 NADRAGate: The terrifying cable that should not be ignored  

by  

Waqas Ahmed

Daily Pakistan

 

Cablegate

In 2010-11, Wikileaks released a trove of classified US govt data which consisted of communications between Washington and her embassies worldwide – this was called Cablegate. Cablegate consisted of more than 250,000 US diplomatic cables – an overwhelming amount of data. In the same year (2011) Pakistani journalists published a story about one cable of particular interest: #09ISLAMABAD1642_a, classified ‘secret’ by US govt.

There was some noise about this cable back then, but the public quickly forgot it and it remained forgotten till a few days ago when Wikileaks tweeted about it and reminded us.

This particular cable details a series of meetings held in 2009 between the then Interior Minister of Pakistan, Rehman Malik, the President of Pakistan, Asif Zardari, and the Prime Minister of Pakistan Yousaf Raza Gilani with US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano. The purpose of these meetings, from the US side at least, was to “Offer DHS assistance to enhance Pakistan’s border security and [seek] GOP views on an arrangement under which DHS would provide the Government of Pakistan (GOP) with technology to access and analyze Advance Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Record (PNR) data on passengers flying to and from Pakistan, in return for DHS getting access to the data.

What is API and PNR?

Advance Passenger Information is, in simple terms, information about the passenger who is travelling overseas. Suppose you are travelling to UAE, a country that requires API from Pakistani passengers, you will need to provide the following data about yourself prior to boarding your flight:

  • Full name
  • Passport number, issuing country, and expiration date
  • Gender
  • Date of birth
  • Nationality

This information will be connected to your PNR, which is a unique ID identifying you as a passenger on a flight. This information will be received by your destination country so they could investigate your past criminal history (if any) before they allow you in that country. To do that, they will use your API information to search their own country’s database and check if you are clean or not. Without connecting API to the database of a host country, API is useless.

United States DHS, in the cable under discussion, wanted to provide us with such a tool which would connect API to NADRA database for the purpose of analysis, and in theory give us a heads-up if a terrorist was travelling to or from our country. United States, it seems benevolently, wanted to give us this technology for free – with only one catch: they would be able to access the data from our side. And not just the data of passengers travelling from US to Pakistan or vice versa, they would be able to access data of passengers from all countries going to and from Pakistan. To make it all useful, the API technology would have to be connected to NADRA database, therefore, in a way US would also get an interface to NADRA database.

Why was US pushing for API technology?

US was pushing Pakistan to install this technology for the obvious reason that they wanted the data. It is a good rule-of-thumb to remember that if something supposedly valuable is being given to you for free, you must be doubly suspicious.

But there was something else that was going on at that time.

At that time Pakistan was in the process of phasing out an old system provided to NADRA by an American company for a similar purpose. That system was called ‘Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES)’. NADRA aimed to phase out that system by 2011 and instead install a new indigenously made one: Integrated Border Management System (IBMS).

PISCES was installed in 1999-2002, when Lt Gen (r) Moinuddin Haider was the interior Minister under Musharraf’s govt. But listen to this: While IBMS cost us around Rs421 million to implement, PISCES was free. Why?

Here is a clue: PISCES was made by US firm Booz Allen Hamilton. Booz Allen Hamilton was Snowden’s employer for those of you who can’t recall where you heard that name. Booz Allen Hamilton was an NSA contractor and that is enough to reach the conclusion that PISCES had a backdoor that allowed US to access all Pakistani data connected to it. Moinuddin Haider rubbished, at that time, any claims that PISCES had a backdoor – but in hindsight after Snowden leaks, it is highly improbable that PISCES was clean. Another clue is that US State dept wanted to give us $42 million (free) to upgrade and maintain PISCES and abandon all attempts to make something similar on our own. Here is an Express Tribune article (which was affiliated with New York Times at that time) telling us why IBMS sucks in comparison to PISCES.

The shady dealings with PPP govt

When US was pushing API on us, we were getting rid of PISCES, and I suspect, it was because of this exact reason API was being pushed on us.

How did the PPP-led govt react to that? While the behavior of PPP govt remains highly suspect, we can see in the same cable that Rehman Malik was being very slippery in his dealings with Ms. Napolitano.

According to the cable: On API/PNR, Interior Minister Malik assured the Secretary privately that the GOP wanted to be helpful, but in the meeting with his subordinates asked for information on model agreements, legal frameworks and precedents the Ministry could use to persuade those in the GOP worried about privacy rights and possible legal challenges in the courts to API/PNR data sharing. The GOP agreed to host future DHS visitors to continue discussions on API/PNR and border security. It is obvious that while Rehman Malik was being cooperative in front of US govt, he also wanted to protect his own behind and was trying to be extremely careful.

Not only that, the PPP govt at every turn tried to get something out of the US in return and in a way put a price on the private data of Pakistani citizens. In every meeting they tried to couple PNR/API issue with: Pakistani textile exports to US, non-stop PIA flights to US, and a few hundred Pakistani students receiving scholarships in the US. Rehman Malik also tried to make excuses by saying that overreaching Pakistani judiciary would never allow such a thing.

On the other hand Napolitano was even more stubborn:
Secretary Napolitano responded that the United States now wishes to deal with non-stop flights separately from the issue of API/PNR data exchange, and explained that enhanced access to API/PNR data is of direct benefit to Pakistan as well as to the United States. Prime Minister Gilani echoed Zardari’s comments on PNR, stating that, although the Interior Ministry is considering the U.S. request, to “do the whole world” will be difficult. To Gilani’s statement that Pakistan had been promised non-stop flights in return for buying Boeing aircraft in 2004, Secretary Napolitano was clear that flights will be dealt with as a separate issue, not as an exchange.

While in all these discussions the pretext is Pakistani border security, it is obvious that both parties know exactly what is going on: That US wants Pakistani data, and Pakistan, while not unwilling to provide access to that data, wants a ‘consideration’, i.e something in return. And without any potential political blowback.

Make no mistake, at no point did Rehman Malik or Gilani or Zardari say an outright “NO”. They wanted to put some sort of price on this invaluable data, something that would protect them from political repercussions. However, it seems that these discussions did not bear any fruits at that time. We don’t know the reason – there is no cable that follows up on this one.

Enter another shadowy company: International Identity Services (IIS)

On September 6, 2011 The News published a report that NADRA was out sourcing its UK operations to a private company. This news in itself would’ve been outrageous but the details were even more so: IIS was headed by an unnamed person with a criminal history. Not only that, but NADRA officials maintained that NADRA was working with the company since 2009, when in fact IIS was created the very same year, and maybe for the very same purpose.

IIS was formed in 2009, and closed its operations in just 5 years.
IIS was formed in 2009, and closed its operations in just 5 years.

There could be two reasons for such a discrepancy: Either some officials at NADRA or Interior Ministry were planning to receive kickbacks from that company made by someone close to them, or this company was a front for NSA/CIA/GCHQ. IIS, even more suspiciously, stopped its operations in 2014 – in just 5 years and disappeared off the face of this earth.

Is NADRA data safe?

In short: NO, NADRA data is not safe. Even one outsourced company or country that can access NADRA database through any interface can potentially steal the whole database. They might not even have to steal because we have people in our government, supposedly custodians of our national interests, willing to sell such invaluable national asset such as the database of the whole populace in exchange for pennies then all bets are off. We do not know, and we may never know, how much of our data has been compromised. But one thing we know for sure is that we cannot trust our government, elected or otherwise.

One thing we see in the cable is that Rehman Malik and Co, were afraid of public outrage. When this cable first surfaced, there was little to no great public backlash. If there is no adverse reaction, future governments may get bold. Let’s make sure that there is no such misunderstanding between public representatives and the public. Wikileaks has given us another chance to consider our reactions against those who claim to represent us but actually do not. Let’s give it to them.

Waqas Ahmed

Waqas Ahmed

Waqas Ahmed is Editor, Digital Media, at Daily Pakistan Global. You can reach him at waqas@dailypakistan.com.pk

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