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Archive for category US CLEAR & PRESENT DANGER TO PAKISTAN

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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PAKISTANI MATA HARI NUCLEAR SPY STORY : Brig Imtiaz reveals 30-year-old secret By: Rauf Klasra

Brig Imtiaz reveals 30-year-old secret

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 then 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.

 

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 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 whose 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 treason 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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If US Betrays Pakistan’s Trust Again, Redress May Not Be Possible

America is preparing to leave Afghanistan at the mercy of a lame government and an army of questionable loyalty.

The search for “good” Taliban is on in Afghanistan; the U.S. has announced that no action is to be taken against those who are not a threat to the U.S., including Mullah Omar.

The United States has said that after Jan. 2, 2015, the U.S. Army will not take any action against Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders in Afghanistan if they pose no direct threat to the United States. Addressing a press conference in Washington, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said that the U.S. will not operate against anyone simply on the basis of their being Taliban members. Nevertheless, he used the occasion to clarify that those who fight will not be spared by any means. Kirby emphasized that any Taliban who operate against the U.S. or against its Afghan partners will automatically fall within the scope of the U.S. military operation.

Addressing the final news conference for the year last Friday, President Barack Obama reassured the American public that he is committed to his promise to end the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan at the end of 2014. Obama said that in less than even two weeks, the U.S. mission that has continued in Afghanistan for more than 13 years will come to an end. However, Obama gave full permission to his troops to combat extremists in the event of their becoming direct threats to the U.S. or to Afghan forces.

After 9/11, America’s enemies in this region were al-Qaida and the Taliban. The U.S. and its allies needed Pakistan’s cooperation in confronting these enemies, cooperation which Pakistan provided. With this cooperation, and with the use of modern arms and trained armies, the U.S. and its allies totally crushed Afghanistan. Ammunition and iron rained down on the land of Afghanistan, and land forces also employed their talents and weaponry to the full extent. Thousands of al-Qaida members and Taliban were killed, and at the same time, hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens were also killed, including children, old people and women. In the words of America, it broke the back of al-Qaida.

The Taliban were removed from power but could not be eliminated. They still exist as a force in Afghanistan and some other countries, and the U.S. has even carried out direct, as well as indirect and secret, negotiations with them at times. Although the U.S. stayed in Afghanistan for 13 years with full pomp and power, it could not realize its desire to completely eliminate the Taliban; nor could it persuade the Taliban to cooperate with the Afghan government. Now that a big part of the U.S. Army will be leaving Afghanistan in about a week and a half, without coffins, the Americans are hoping that the Taliban who continued to confront them for 13 years will start behaving like good children and pledge allegiance to Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah. This is not simply an illusion or a misconception on the part of the U.S., but inane thinking. The Taliban maintain a hold in many areas of Afghanistan and influence in several others; they are simply lying in wait for the U.S. and its allies to leave Afghanistan — when they can implement their plan to occupy Kabul.

Despite the presence of tens of thousands of military experts and their operations, the governments of the previous Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, and current President Ashraf Ghani have remained weak in most areas other than in cities such as Kabul. At the beginning of the coming year, following evacuation of NATO forces from Afghanistan, the government of Ashraf Ghani will have to face severe problems despite having full or partial authority in different regions. Perhaps the U.S. and the Afghan administrations are relying on the 150,000 members of the [Afghan] National Guard. But these are the very U.S.-trained soldiers who carried out dozens of attacks on their American teachers. It is possible that tomorrow these U.S.-trained soldiers will be seen standing in support of the Taliban in the same way that the army of President Hafizullah Amin joined the Taliban following the Russian evacuation.

The U.S. defeated Russia with help from Pakistan; it then took the route home, leaving Afghanistan in a state of anarchy and leaving Pakistan suffering to this day from the ill effects of its actions. Had the U.S. restored peace in Afghanistan by establishing a strong government there, the hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees would not still be a weight on Pakistan after 35 years. As it did in the past, the U.S. is once again leaving Afghanistan without any planning. Pakistan today is in the grip of terrorism and lawlessness that is stronger than any it experienced in the past. Pakistani Taliban — products of the Afghan[istan] War — have turned the whole country into an ammunition pile.

On Dec. 16 these terrorists, carrying out the worst example of brutality and barbarity in human history, bathed hundreds of children in dust and blood at the Military Public School in Peshawar. According to the brutal terrorists, this was retaliation for operation Zarb-e-Azb, being conducted by the Pakistani army to eliminate the terrorists. Following this incident, the whole country united under the Nawaz Sharif government for the elimination of terrorists. The prime minister lifted restrictions on the death penalty to be effective immediately. So far there have been six executions, while gallows have been constructed in prisons for more.

After the Peshawar incident, the government immediately called a conference of parliamentary parties in an effort to form a working group that would reach a consensus regarding a strategy. Yesterday, this group agreed on eight recommendations including the establishment of military courts and repatriation of Afghan refugees. The prime minister was briefed about these recommendations and, in this context, has called a meeting of parliamentary parties to approve an action plan based on the working group’s recommendations. The meeting will be attended by political leaders, including Imran Khan.

Along with execution of terrorists, the Pakistani army is conducting rapid operations in which 200 terrorists were killed within a week and twice the number arrested. In the most recent action in Karachi, 13 terrorists belonging to al-Qaida and the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban were killed in confrontations; arms and suicide jackets were recovered from them. About 300 suspected terrorists were arrested in operations carried out in Mansehra and Islamabad.

Pakistan helped the U.S. with its heart and soul in the war against terrorism, as a result of which, the flames of warfare that were extinguished in Afghanistan have started flaring up in Pakistan. Until yesterday, the U.S. was placing pressure on Pakistan to take evenhanded action against those who posed a danger to Pakistan as well as those who did not pose a danger to Pakistan, without discrimination. Now the U.S. is in search of “good” Taliban in Afghanistan.

Whether the matter relates to Pakistan or to Afghanistan, “good” Taliban are those who give up arms. Taking the position that we will not confront those who are not confronting us is equivalent to deceiving oneself. This thinking is no different from saying that “you cannot use your weapons; but if your reservations lead you to wield arms, then we will also retaliate.” Prior to the U.S. invasion, the nature of the Taliban position in Afghanistan was no different from this; they had not hurt U.S. interests and even bin Laden had not stood up with his gun in Afghanistan. Still, the U.S. placed a price of $10 million on Mullah Omar’s head. In light of the U.S. statement today, how would the U.S. treat him if he makes an appearance at the beginning of next year, decorate him with garlands?

America is preparing to leave Afghanistan at the mercy of a lame government and an army (the [Afghan] National Guard) of questionable loyalty. Further, the fire of terrorism is blazing in Pakistan. Should the U.S. once again leave Pakistan without its friendship and support — as it has done in the past — then Pakistan will eventually emerge from the morass after it faces difficulty. However, its trust in the U.S. will be finished and it will not wish to cooperate with the U.S. ever again. It is possible that in only a few months following evacuation, the U.S. will be in need of Pakistan’s cooperation in Afghanistan.

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Hillary laughs when Pak woman compares US to never-satisfied mother-in-law

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The search for “good” Taliban is on in Afghanistan; the U.S. has announced that no action is to be taken against those who are not a threat to the U.S., including Mullah Omar.

The United States has said that after Jan. 2, 2015, the U.S. Army will not take any action against Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders in Afghanistan if they pose no direct threat to the United States. Addressing a press conference in Washington, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said that the U.S. will not operate against anyone simply on the basis of their being Taliban members. Nevertheless, he used the occasion to clarify that those who fight will not be spared by any means. Kirby emphasized that any Taliban who operate against the U.S. or against its Afghan partners will automatically fall within the scope of the U.S. military operation.

Addressing the final news conference for the year last Friday, President Barack Obama reassured the American public that he is committed to his promise to end the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan at the end of 2014. Obama said that in less than even two weeks, the U.S. mission that has continued in Afghanistan for more than 13 years will come to an end. However, Obama gave full permission to his troops to combat extremists in the event of their becoming direct threats to the U.S. or to Afghan forces.

After 9/11, America’s enemies in this region were al-Qaida and the Taliban. The U.S. and its allies needed Pakistan’s cooperation in confronting these enemies, cooperation which Pakistan provided. With this cooperation, and with the use of modern arms and trained armies, the U.S. and its allies totally crushed Afghanistan. Ammunition and iron rained down on the land of Afghanistan, and land forces also employed their talents and weaponry to the full extent. Thousands of al-Qaida members and Taliban were killed, and at the same time, hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens were also killed, including children, old people and women. In the words of America, it broke the back of al-Qaida.

The Taliban were removed from power but could not be eliminated. They still exist as a force in Afghanistan and some other countries, and the U.S. has even carried out direct, as well as indirect and secret, negotiations with them at times. Although the U.S. stayed in Afghanistan for 13 years with full pomp and power, it could not realize its desire to completely eliminate the Taliban; nor could it persuade the Taliban to cooperate with the Afghan government. Now that a big part of the U.S. Army will be leaving Afghanistan in about a week and a half, without coffins, the Americans are hoping that the Taliban who continued to confront them for 13 years will start behaving like good children and pledge allegiance to Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah. This is not simply an illusion or a misconception on the part of the U.S., but inane thinking. The Taliban maintain a hold in many areas of Afghanistan and influence in several others; they are simply lying in wait for the U.S. and its allies to leave Afghanistan — when they can implement their plan to occupy Kabul.

Despite the presence of tens of thousands of military experts and their operations, the governments of the previous Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, and current President Ashraf Ghani have remained weak in most areas other than in cities such as Kabul. At the beginning of the coming year, following evacuation of NATO forces from Afghanistan, the government of Ashraf Ghani will have to face severe problems despite having full or partial authority in different regions. Perhaps the U.S. and the Afghan administrations are relying on the 150,000 members of the [Afghan] National Guard. But these are the very U.S.-trained soldiers who carried out dozens of attacks on their American teachers. It is possible that tomorrow these U.S.-trained soldiers will be seen standing in support of the Taliban in the same way that the army of President Hafizullah Amin joined the Taliban following the Russian evacuation.

The U.S. defeated Russia with help from Pakistan; it then took the route home, leaving Afghanistan in a state of anarchy and leaving Pakistan suffering to this day from the ill effects of its actions. Had the U.S. restored peace in Afghanistan by establishing a strong government there, the hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees would not still be a weight on Pakistan after 35 years. As it did in the past, the U.S. is once again leaving Afghanistan without any planning. Pakistan today is in the grip of terrorism and lawlessness that is stronger than any it experienced in the past. Pakistani Taliban — products of the Afghan[istan] War — have turned the whole country into an ammunition pile.

On Dec. 16 these terrorists, carrying out the worst example of brutality and barbarity in human history, bathed hundreds of children in dust and blood at the Military Public School in Peshawar. According to the brutal terrorists, this was retaliation for operation Zarb-e-Azb, being conducted by the Pakistani army to eliminate the terrorists. Following this incident, the whole country united under the Nawaz Sharif government for the elimination of terrorists. The prime minister lifted restrictions on the death penalty to be effective immediately. So far there have been six executions, while gallows have been constructed in prisons for more.

After the Peshawar incident, the government immediately called a conference of parliamentary parties in an effort to form a working group that would reach a consensus regarding a strategy. Yesterday, this group agreed on eight recommendations including the establishment of military courts and repatriation of Afghan refugees. The prime minister was briefed about these recommendations and, in this context, has called a meeting of parliamentary parties to approve an action plan based on the working group’s recommendations. The meeting will be attended by political leaders, including Imran Khan.

Along with execution of terrorists, the Pakistani army is conducting rapid operations in which 200 terrorists were killed within a week and twice the number arrested. In the most recent action in Karachi, 13 terrorists belonging to al-Qaida and the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban were killed in confrontations; arms and suicide jackets were recovered from them. About 300 suspected terrorists were arrested in operations carried out in Mansehra and Islamabad.

Pakistan helped the U.S. with its heart and soul in the war against terrorism, as a result of which, the flames of warfare that were extinguished in Afghanistan have started flaring up in Pakistan. Until yesterday, the U.S. was placing pressure on Pakistan to take evenhanded action against those who posed a danger to Pakistan as well as those who did not pose a danger to Pakistan, without discrimination. Now the U.S. is in search of “good” Taliban in Afghanistan.

Whether the matter relates to Pakistan or to Afghanistan, “good” Taliban are those who give up arms. Taking the position that we will not confront those who are not confronting us is equivalent to deceiving oneself. This thinking is no different from saying that “you cannot use your weapons; but if your reservations lead you to wield arms, then we will also retaliate.” Prior to the U.S. invasion, the nature of the Taliban position in Afghanistan was no different from this; they had not hurt U.S. interests and even bin Laden had not stood up with his gun in Afghanistan. Still, the U.S. placed a price of $10 million on Mullah Omar’s head. In light of the U.S. statement today, how would the U.S. treat him if he makes an appearance at the beginning of next year, decorate him with garlands?

America is preparing to leave Afghanistan at the mercy of a lame government and an army (the [Afghan] National Guard) of questionable loyalty. Further, the fire of terrorism is blazing in Pakistan. Should the U.S. once again leave Pakistan without its friendship and support — as it has done in the past — then Pakistan will eventually emerge from the morass after it faces difficulty. However, its trust in the U.S. will be finished and it will not wish to cooperate with the U.S. ever again. It is possible that in only a few months following evacuation, the U.S. will be in need of Pakistan’s cooperation in Afghanistan.

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Frontline state mortified at anti-terror summit by Salim Bokhari

Frontline state mortified at anti-terror summit

 

Humiliating the royal way | Ready-to-speak Nawaz not invited to address Riyadh moot | Trump names India among terror victim states, skips Pakistan | Iran bashed at forum

Frontline state mortified at anti-terror summit

RIYADH – Something has gone terribly wrong. This is the only way one can describe what happened to Pakistani delegation headed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the Arab-Islamic-American summit held in the Saudi capital on Sunday.

The popular sentiment among the majority of Pakistani media delegation was that of a total humiliation of the sole Muslim nuclear power because not only there was no mention of Islamabad’s role against global terrorism but also the prime minister of the ‘frontline state’ was denied the opportunity to put forth its point of view.

Representatives of some minion states were allowed to speak that have not even tasted a shred of the kind of carnage faced by Pakistan, which however has turned the tide on terror in an unprecedented episode of courage, commitment and sacrifice that no other participant of the 35-state summit could even think of offering for world peace.

 

 

“The nations of Europe have also endured unspeakable horror. So too have the nations of Africa and even South America. India, Russia, China and Australia have been victims,” US President Donald Trump said in his keynote address, skipping the name of Pakistan – which lost over 70,000 civilians and more than 6,000 of its valiant soldiers to terrorism.

The mention of India among the list of terror victims was more pinching as it comes at a time Islamabad, through spy-terrorist Kalbhushan Jadhav’s case at International Court of Justice, is trying to convince the world of New Delhi’s role in fanning terror.

Terming India a victim of terrorism was also a deeply painful insult to innocent, unarmed Kashmiris who are fighting for their just cause of liberating their land from the oppressive India and facing worst kind of state terrorism at the hands of its armed forces.

Joining Muslim Nato fires back!

An even bigger setback for Pakistan’s foreign policy came when both Trump and Saudi King Salman – the most influential pair – turned the summit into a launching pad against Iran, the leader of the Shia Muslims that shares a 909 km long border with Pakistan, whose around 20 percent population is Shia by faith.

Accusing Saudi Arabia’s regional rival of fuelling “the fires of sectarian conflict and terror”, Trump called for isolating Tehran. “Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate it,” Trump said.

Saudi King Salman in his speech called Iran “the spearhead of global terrorism” and called for containing it. “We did not know terrorism and extremism until the [Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini revolution reared its head [in Iran],” he said.

Pakistan has joined the 34-nation KSA-led military alliance ‘against terrorism’ and the government allowed its celebrated ex-army chief Raheel Sharif to head alliance’s rapid deployment forces – despite fierce opposition at home.

The move was opposed by almost all opposition parties over fears that the so-called ‘Muslim NATO’ could eventually turn out to be an alliance of Sunni Gulf states against Shia Iran and bring Islamabad into the vortex of transnational Sunni-Shia conflict.

The cold-shoulder attitude of King Salman to Pakistani delegation was particularly hurtful. Some diplomats were of the view that since Pakistan refused to send its troops to fight against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen, it might have annoyed the Saudi monarchy.

Though both Trump and King Salman also called for defeating Sunni terrorist state-cum-organistaion of Islamic State (ISIS), it was clear that Iran and its allies are going to be the main target of this new battle in the name of terrorism.

Interestingly, it is none other than the US and the KSA [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] which are thought to be the creators of Al-Qaeda and ISIS.

Trump goes Bush

Trump, who would spit venom against Muslims during his election campaign and who is now living up to his words by pursuing anti-Muslim policies, urged Muslim leaders to take a stand against religious extremism, describing this struggle as a “battle between good and evil” – a catchphrase made popular by former US Present George W Bush.

He also conveniently overlooked the state terrorism perpetuated by the successive Israeli regimes, particularly that of Benjamin Netanyaho – who had told the then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that he would continue to butcher and slaughter Palestinian men, women and children.

Mr Trump also avoided criticising his Saudi hosts and assembled leaders of Arab and Islamic nations on any human rights violations in their countries – a clear break from the practice of his predecessor Barack Obama.

Prime Embarrassment!

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, earlier on his special flight, spent nearly two and a half hours consulting his comrades-in-arms preparing and finalising his speech that he thought he would deliver at the summit.

Also, the members of the media delegation were given to understand that after checking against delivery, the speech would be released to accompanying journalists. But now, the prime minister or his staff will carry that speech folder back home.

Later, neither Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz nor any other responsible person was available to explain why the prime minister was denied the opportunity to speak to the participants of the summit, for which a Saudi minister only last week visited Islamabad and extended the invitation to PM Sharif.

It was also quite strange that though there was almost no possibility of a Sharif-Trump meeting, the Foreign Office, back at home, kept hyping it up. In the end, let alone the meeting, we were even not invited to let the others know how we think about the fight against terrorism.

Pakistan was essentially the most important Muslim country after Saudi Arabia in terms of leadership of the Muslim Ummah and the leading state in terms of fight against global terrorism, but the treatment meted out to us here in Riyadh made us feel like we are pitiful losers.

A painful day for journalists

The moment the Saudi monarch closed the summit the media persons started receiving frantic calls from their offices back home in Pakistan with questions like: what has happened, how it happened, why it happened?

One of the frequently asked questions was: “Do we have a Foreign Office? But no one had any reasonable answer to this query.

This is understood that after the summit was over the prime minister must have remained engaged in remaining activities, including proceeding to the Moatamarat for groundbreaking ceremony of World Centre against Extremisms.

All said and done, for Pakistani journalists it was a dreadful day – the one full of disappointment and hurt. In the evening, every single one of us was returning to his hotel room from the Conference Centre with a heavy heart.

Trump slams Iran in first foreign speech

Agencies add: US President Donald Trump in his speech to dozens of leaders of Muslim countries in Saudi Arabia, lashed out at Iran and softened his tone on Islam by rejecting the idea of a battle between religions.

“This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it. This is a battle between good and evil,” Trump said in his 30-minute speech.

The address was the centrepiece of Trump’s visit to Riyadh, which started on Saturday with the announcement of billions of dollars in trade deals with Saudi Arabia and continued Sunday with the speech and a series of meetings with Arab leaders.

The visit is the first leg of an eight-day foreign tour – Trump’s first as president – that will take him on Monday to Israel and then the Palestinian territories and on to Europe.

‘Drive them out!’

His speech sought to rally Islamic leaders behind a renewed push to tackle extremism, with Trump urging religious leaders to condemn violence and governments of Muslim countries to make further efforts to end support for extremists.

“Of course, there is still much work to be done. That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds.”

He focused on the financing of extremist groups, and announced plans for a US-Gulf agreement to “prevent the financing of terrorism called the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center, co-chaired by the United States and Saudi Arabia”.

Advance excerpts of the speech had Trump using the term “Islamist terrorism” – an apparent softening in tone – but the president veered off-script in the delivered speech.

Trump appealed to Muslim nations to ensure that “terrorists find no sanctuary on their soil”, and announced an agreement with Gulf states to combat financing for extremists.

“A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and drive out the extremists. Drive them out! Drive them out of your places of worship! Drive them out of your communities!” Trump said.

The president made no mention of human rights during his visit, and in the speech insisted: “We are not here to lecture — we are not here to tell other people how to live.”

In another move sure to please his hosts, Trump accused Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Shia Iran of fuelling “the fires of sectarian conflict and terror”.

“Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate it,” Trump said.

He said, “The [Iran] government that gives terrorists safe harbour, financial backing… The regime that is responsible for so much instability in that region. I am speaking of course of Iran. From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms and trains terrorists, militias and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region… It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this very room.”

Trump held Iran responsible for training armed groups in the wars in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, but drew a clear distinction between the “richness and culture” of the Iranian people and the government in Tehran.

Some 35 heads of state and government from Muslim-majority countries were in Riyadh for the Arab Islamic American Summit, mainly from Sunni states friendly to Saudi Arabia.

The United States is leading a coalition battling IS, a Sunni Muslim militant organisation, in Syria and Iraq, and Trump said he would hold a press conference “in about two weeks” to give an update on how the US is faring in the battle.

On refugees, he praised Lebanon and Turkey for accommodating Syrians fleeing war at home: “This region should not be a place from which refugees leave but to which newcomers flock.”

Trump said Arab and Muslim countries had suffered the deadliest toll of radicalism.

He asked: “Behind every pair of eyes is a soul that yearns for justice and years for peace. Today billions of faces are now looking at us, waiting for us to act on the great questions of our time. Will we be indifferent in the face of evil?”

Trump concluded with the “promise that America will not seek to impose our way of life on others but to outstretch our hands.”

Trump’s speech was touted as a major event – along the lines of a landmark address to the Islamic world by Obama in Cairo in 2009.

It was especially sensitive given tensions sparked by the Trump administration’s attempted travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority nations and his previous remarks, including a 2015 statement that “Islam hates us”.

Reacting to Trump’s address, the Council on American Islamic Relations said “one speech cannot outweigh years of anti-Muslim rhetoric”, and called for “concrete actions… to reset relations with the Muslim world”.

US-KSA deals

Trump was welcomed warmly in Saudi Arabia, where he and first lady Melania Trump were given an extravagant reception by the Saudi royal family.

The first day saw the announcement of hundreds of billions of dollars in trade deals, welcome news for Trump as he faces mounting troubles at home.

Among the agreements was an arms deal worth almost $110 billion with Saudi Arabia, described as the largest in US history.

Trump proudly declared the first day of his visit “tremendous”.

On Sunday he held a series of meetings with other Arab leaders, including Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and Bahrain’s King Hamad.

Warm talks with ‘friend’ Sisi

The meeting with Sisi — an avowed fan of the president — was especially warm, and Trump said he would “absolutely” be putting Egypt on his list of countries to visit “very soon”.

Trump referred to Sisi as “my friend” and Sisi said the US president was “capable of doing the impossible”, to which Trump responded: “I agree!”

Trump even complimented Sisi on his footwear, saying: “Love your shoes. Boy, those shoes. Man…”

Trump, who travels on Monday to Israel and the Palestinian territories before visiting the Vatican, Brussels and Italy for NATO and G7 meetings, is taking his first steps on the world stage as he faces increasing scandal at home.

The past week has seen a string of major developments in Trump’s domestic woes, including the announcement that James Comey, the former FBI chief fired by Trump, has agreed to testify publicly about Russian interference in the US elections.

Reports have also emerged that Trump called Comey “a nut job” and that the FBI has identified a senior White House official as a “significant person of interest” in its probe of Russian meddling.

Iran sees US ‘milking’ Saudis of $480b

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted on Sunday that the United States may be “milking” Saudi Arabia of $480 billion after Washington signed major deals with Tehran’s Gulf rival.

“Iran – fresh from real elections – attacked by @POTUS in that bastion of democracy & moderation. Foreign Policy or simply milking KSA of $480B?” Zarif tweeted.

It was the first Iranian reaction to US President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, and comes after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s re-election to a second term.

Earlier, Zarif advised President Trump to discuss how to avoid another September 11 attack with the Saudi hosts of his first official visit abroad, Zarif wrote in an editorial published on Sunday.

“(Trump) must enter into dialogue with them about ways to prevent terrorists and takfiris from continuing to fuel the fire in the region and repeating the likes of the September 11 incident by their sponsors in Western countries,” Zarif wrote for the website of the London-based Al Araby Al-Jadeed news network.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 22-May-2017 here.

 
 

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