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Archive for category US INFILTRATION OF PAKISTAN AGENCIES & COMMISSIONS

United States’s Relations with Pakistan – Inam Khawaja

United States’s Relations with Pakistan

By

Inam Khawaja

 

The history of Pakistan’s relations with United States of America shows that since the signing of the ‘Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement’ on May 19, 1954 and the signing of ‘Mutual Security: Defense Support Assistance Agreement” on January 11, 1955 Pakistan has not violated any provision of these Agreements and has been an honest ally of  USA. The US on the other hand has time and again acted directly against Pakistan’s interests.

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  1)   In October 1955 US let down Pakistan with respect to promised military aid reference telegram from the Consulate General at Lahore to the Department of State of Oct. 4, 1955 quote:-

 Pouching dispatch on talk with General Ayub who says US let us down on military aid to Pakistan likely be exposed in Consembly with result various Mid-East countries will take ‘I told you so’ attitude on [or?] argument “You cant trust Americans”

Says his face now red re contentions he made to King Saudi Arabia who personally warned in Pindi in 1954 “Americans can’t be trusted”. Says he also “had certain knowledge” that Shah of Iran felt the same way and so he Ayub sent an emissary to convince Shah USA different from British.”  (refer page 444, Foreign Relations, 1955-1957, Volume VII)

2)   In October 1962 US sent George Ball (Under Secretary of State) to Pakistan along with Duncan Sandys (Minister Commonwealth Relations UK) and put pressure on President Ayub to stop the planned military action by Azad Kashmir Army to capture Akhnur thus cutting off land route of Kashmir with India. (At that time India was being badly mauled in its war with China).

 

3)   In 1965 US placed an embargo on arms sales to Pakistan and choose not to provide Pakistan with military support as pledged in the 1959 Agreement of Cooperation.

4)   In April 1979 the United States suspended all economic assistance to Pakistan over concerns about Pakistan’s nuclear program.

 

5)   It may be noted that Military sales and economic aid was resumed in 1981 after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979. On October 1, 1990 US   again suspended all military sales and economic assistance by applying the Pressler Amendment. Furthermore it totally abandoned Afghanistan and even closed its Embassy in Kabul.

 

6)   In May 1998 when India conducted Nuclear tests USA put pressure on Pakistan not to conduct nuclear tests and when Pakistan went ahead and carried out nuclear tests USA imposed stringent economic sanctions on Pakistan.

 

After the demolishing of the World Trade Centre on 11, September 2001 Musharraf  naively in his Commando bravado  made verbal agreements with US and provided military bases, flight corridors, cooperation with CIA to arrest and hand-over Al-Qaeda operatives, induction of US troops in Pakistan ostensibly for training,  transport of provisions through Pakistan for US forces in Afghanistan etc. In fact he should have let the Foreign Office to do the negotiation which was headed by Raiz Khokar an experienced and able Foreign Secretary.  

USA has been fighting in Afghanistan since October 2001 now almost thirteen years, the longest war in their history. There are over 130,000 US and allied troops in Afghanistan. This is no different from Soviet Union which had about the same number of troops and after nine years threw in the towel and left Afghanistan in February 1989. The US and its allies are in the same situation and have finally decided to leave by the end of this year. However instead of accepting their failure they continue to blame Pakistan about insurgents in North Waziristan. This is exactly what the US Army did after their failure in Vietnam when General Westmoreland blamed Laos and Cambodia for allowing their territory to be used by the Viet Cong. However the difference is that at that time Nixon was the President, Kissinger was the Secretary of State (a man of great vision and intellect) and Helms was the Director of CIA, all very powerful and intelligent civilians who saw the failure of the army and extracted US out the unpopular Vietnam war which was in any case not in American interest.

In contrast today there is a President who is beset with an economy in doldrums, Susan Rice the National Security Advisor and General Petraeus the Director of CIA. Petraeus has come to this post after his military failure as Commander of ISAF and US forces in Afghanistan.  Furthermore, Panetta has moved up from head of CIA (after the failure of CIA in Afghanistan) to the post of Secretary Defense. True to form to cover up their dismal failure in Afghanistan both militarily and politically the Pentagon and CIA are now blaming Pakistan.

One would like to ask Mr. Panetta as to what his CIA was doing while the Taliban traveled from the so called ‘bases’ in North Waziristan  to Kabul travelling about 200 Km in Afghanistan? Why were they not interdicted while they travelled 200 Km with the weapons, ammunition, explosives and their other gear? How and from where they acquired the vehicles they used in the attacks? The fact is that the Taliban are very much based in Afghanistan where they have popular support which provides them with safe houses, stores for weapons, transport, ammunition and explosives which interestingly are all of US origin.

It is time that the US accepts the facts and faces the hard truth that their thirteen year war in Afghanistan is a total failure both politically and militarily. The nationalist Islamic Taliban is stronger than in 2001 and the Americans have not been able to win the hearts and minds of the Afghans. Their attempt to split the Taliban through Rabbani ended in his assassination. Taliban have survived over a decade of American onslaught both militarily and politically and today they are stronger and far better organized than they were in 2001. They have the support of over 60 percent of the Afghans. The recent Taliban attacks on the Intercontinental Hotel and on the fortified US Embassy and the twenty two hour firefight in the heart of Kabul was actually their message to the Americans to prove and demonstrate their presence and support in Kabul.  It is time the US exit Afghanistan with an understanding with the Taliban rather than blaming Pakistan or ISI.

According to the survey taken by Pew Research Centre of USA only 11 percent Pakistanis had a favourable view of USA that is 89 percent Pakistanis were opposed to USA. It is significant that this survey was taken before Salala attack it must have significantly increased since then.

The recent threats to Pakistan by top American officials have to be taken most seriously by us. It would be disastrous to take them lightly and consider it an effort to just put pressure on us to take action against loyal Pakistani citizens in North Waziristan. It is speculated by some that there is a very strong view that if a decision is taken to act according to American dictate there is a possibility of a split in the forces. One needs to evaluate if this is the American’s real intention because this could provide them an excuse to act against our nuclear assets. One US think tank has recently proposed the development of a US-Indian nexus for this purpose.

After a break of about three years the US Pakistan strategic dialogue has started with a statement by Kerry; “It remains essential for the United States and Pakistan to continue to find avenues of cooperation on counter-terrorism, on nuclear security.” 

Pakistan finds US obsession with our nuclear security sinister especially in view of their silence on Israel’s nuclear assets.

The people of Pakistan are firmly behind their Armed Forces. Every political party is united in its resolve to stand firmly against those American dictates which are against our national interest. The people of Pakistan know what their national interest is and we do not need American advice on this matter.

Karachi, January 28, 2014.

 

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Differing perceptions

Differing perceptions

 

Asif Haroon Raja

 

Terrorism in Pakistan is the outcome of backup support provided by USA, India and Afghanistan to TTP and its affiliated groups in the northwest and to BLA, BRA and BLF in the southwest. While foreign agencies fund, equip and provoke the terrorists to strike civil and military targets in Pakistan so as to create bedlam, the liberals and section of media on the payroll of outside powers keep instigating the government and Army to keep fighting war on terror till the elimination of each and every terrorist. Those preaching peace and suggesting dialogue with militants are termed as Taliban lovers and insane.

 

Pro-fight elements consider drone a useful weapon to kill terrorists hiding in far off places and go to the extent of claiming that residents of FATA love drones and view drones as a good deterrent against terrorists. Pro-peace groups on the other hand see drone as the biggest obstruction in the way of peace and say that people of FATA, particularly women, children and elderly people have contracted mental diseases because of hovering drones. They feel that the US purposely uses this weapon to trigger terrorism and scuttle peace process. They quote examples of Nek Muhammad killed by a drone soon after he signed a peace deal, Bajaur seminary struck by a missile in October 2006 when peace deal was about to be inked, pro-talks TTP leader Waliur Rahman droned on May 30, 2013, Hakeemullah killed by a drone on November 1, 2013 when he had consented to take part in peace talks.

 

Anti-talks lobbies are making hue and cry as to why the government is insisting to hold talks with the TTP when its new leader Fazlullah has categorically stated that there will be no talks and has threatened to avenge the death of Hakeemullah. They argue that it is pointless to hold talks with Fazlullah who has a history of breaking deals and had soaked Swat in blood. Those favoring talks counter their arguments by saying that the security forces have been fighting the militants for over a decade without achieving any results and in the process, civilians, Army, police have suffered heavy losses and Pakistan has lost over $100 billion. They say, other than Sri Lankan and Colombian insurgencies, no insurgency could be resolved anywhere in the world through force and ultimately had to rely on dialogue to end the conflict. They quote the example of US military supported by military contingents from 48 countries having used excessive force for over 12 years has finally decided to quit and is seeking dialogue with the Taliban to arrive at a political settlement.      

 

Within Pakistan, perceptions on various issues are viewed differently. There is unending debate concerning Quaid-e-Azam, whether he was a secular or Islam Pasand. Opinions differ whether Pakistan should be an Islamic or a secular State. We are not clear whether the US is a friend or foe and should we or should we not remain tied to the apron strings of USA for times to come. We are unclear whether war on terror is our or someone else’s war, whether we should continue to fight or end it. Same is the position taken on drones, whether they are useful or harmful, and whether they violate Pakistan’s sovereignty or not. While majority view India arch enemy of Pakistan which cannot be trusted, movers of Aman ki Asha view differently and keep highlighting the benefits of friendship with India. They advocate grant of MFN status to India as well as road access through Wagah border to Afghanistan and Central Asia.

 

The opponents argue that until and unless India settles core issues of Kashmir, Siachin, Sir Creek and water, India should be kept at a distance. They say that India has been cleverly extracting concessions from Pakistan without giving anything in return and that friendship should be on reciprocal basis. Opinion differs over Kalabagh dam so very vital for the existence of Pakistan. Nationalists in KP and in Sindh dogmatically oppose construction of the dam well knowing that India is building large numbers of dams over the three rivers of Chenab, Jhelum and Indus to turn Pakistan into a wasteland.                                                

 

Peddlers of hate and destruction have all along striven to impose Shariah upon others using coercive, cruel and violent methods. Instead of reforming the society by endearing to influence the wayward and weak Muslims and guiding them to become practicing Muslims through preaching and demonstrating strength of character, honesty, tolerance, amiability, generosity and humility, the militants have been resorting to cruelty and terrorism to terrorize the people and force them to accept their brand of Islam, which they project is the real Islam.

 

While the militants condone their aggressive acts under the cover of religion, saying they have a noble agenda of establishing Shariah in the country, the deprived class groaning under the weight of poverty and insecurity and fed up of arrogance of proud pursed elites, tend to overlook the acts of militants. The religious and politico-religious leaders as well as religious scholars sympathize with the cause of militants since they too yearn for Shariah. Those driven by ignorance, or half-baked knowledge of Islam, or fear, believe that the extremist groups have taken up militancy in order to get rid of anti-poor western systems of governance and justice, and to usher in real Islam in Pakistan for the betterment of the downtrodden. While doing so, they ignore the fact that over 40,000 innocent people have died at the hands of militants, and the whole social fabric has been severely traumatized. Very few pick up courage to speak out that Islam preaches peace, tolerance, brotherhood, fraternity and shuns violence, bigotry and bloodshed.

 

Sectarianism is another curse which has created bad blood between Shias and Sunnis. Extremist groups of each group declare the other Kafirs. Civil-military relations often remain tense. The politicians and pseudo intellectuals hate Army and miss no opportunity to degrade its image. However, for every natural and manmade calamity the rulers and the people look toward the Army and the Army always live up to their expectations. Army handles the monumental tasks with utmost efficiency and at the peril of their lives.

 

While drone is choice weapon of USA, suicide attack is the choice weapon of militants. Pakistan has suffered the most at the hands of suicide bombers. This phenomenon crept into Pakistan in 2002 and started to peak after Lal Masjid operation in 2007 and recorded 78 attacks in 2009. Groups involved in this heinous practice are TTP, Asmatullah Muawia and Qari Zafar groups of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, 313 Brigade of late Ilyas Kashmiri, Badar Mansoor group of Harkatul Mujahideen, Qari Saifullah and Amjad Farooqui groups of Harkatul Jihadul Islam, Lal Masjid Brigade, TNSM, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Jamaatul Furqan, Jaishul Islam, Fidayeen-e-Islam, Abdullah Azam Shaheed Brigade. TTP’s late Qari Husain, cousin of late Hakeemullah Mehsud, earned the title of Ustad-e-Fadayeen. TTP spokesman Azam Tariq is on record having stated that ‘Our Ulema have termed suicide attacks as an elite form of Jihad, which has made the Mujahideen invincible’.    

 

It is, however, heartening to note that the Ulema belonging to Wafaqul Madaras are now unanimous in declaring suicide attacks as un-Islamic. All religious leaders do not subscribe to violence and say that Quran clearly spells out that murder of one innocent human being is equivalent to murder of entire humanity. Saudi Arabia’s grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh has recently stated that killing oneself is a grave crime and a grave sin and those who kill themselves with explosives are criminals and are moving fast to hell. His categorical verdict must have put TTP leaders on the back foot and compelled them to ponder over whether it was right to train teenage boys as suicide bombers and deceivingly making them believe that no sooner they will blow themselves up, they will be welcomed by Hoors and taken to paradise. Misusing the name of Islam, the trainers have been exploiting the poverty of the boys hailing from downtrodden class and misleading them to kill Muslims.

 

Being the oldest and most respected religious political party of the country, it is the responsibility of Jamaat-e-Islami chief to remove ambiguity and show the clear path as enshrined in Holy Quran rather than adding to the existing chaos and confusion by siding with the misled. Wafaqul Madaras should also play its role in forbidding every tom, dick and harry claiming to be guardian of Islam from issuing mischievous Islamic decrees like the one related to Shahadat. Gory practice of suicide attacks and all forms of terrorism and that too against own brethren must end now. Dialogue is the route to peace and tranquility. The government should not only strive to bridge divides within the society, but also focus on creating sectarian harmony and enforcing law for all sectarian groups to prevent recurrence of Rawalpindi tragedy on last 10th Muharram.   

 

The writer is a retired Brig and a defence analyst. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

 

 

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Foe in the garb of a friend

Foe in the garb of a friend

 

Asif Haroon Raja

 

Pakistan has offered huge sacrifices to fight the menace of global war on terrorism (GWOT). It suffered exceptionally serious losses in terms of human resource victims, devastation of valuable property, impulsive political instability, bursting social disorder, divisive mindset, and poor law and order situation leading to creation of threatening environment filled with sense of fear and uncertainty in the country. More than 40,000 innocent people lost their lives while many were incapacitated or rendered disabled. Security forces of Pakistan were made the direct target of terrorism and their capacity to prevail upon the militants was frequently challenged by its own citizens.

 

friend-or-foePakistan has lost over $ 100 billion in fighting the war. Damage caused to road network on which NATO containers have been moving since 2001 is above Rs 100 billion. Pakistan charges a paltry sum of $250 per container. Despite all this Pakistan remained committed to the cause of fighting the menace of terrorism and participated actively in GWOT to eliminate the terrorists. Pakistan deserved appreciation for all such sacrifices and sufferings and deserved to be praised for playing a positive role in the ugly mess created by GWOT imposed upon Pakistan by USA. Unfortunately the same has not been adequately done by the concerned quarters. Rather, Pakistan has been made the butt of criticism, ridicule and penalization. 

 

Al-Qaeda as a terrorist organization was hardly known in Pakistan till US declared openly that 9/11 attacks on World Trade Centre were undertaken by Al-Qaeda. The group known as Al-Qaeda was organized by Osama bin Laden (OBL) who was an ordinary Jihadi volunteer from Saudi Arabia, having passion for participating in Islamic Jihad against Russian occupational forces in Afghanistan. He was indoctrinated by CIA experts to choose Islamic Jihad as the main purpose of his life. He cooperated with CIA in their efforts to launch operations against Soviets in Afghanistan and till then was a pious warrior enjoying respect and prestige among US planners.

 

But no sooner Russia was defeated in Afghanistan; the US changed colors and ditched the Jihadists in Afghanistan. They were termed as non-state actors dangerous for the world peace. US officials, especially CIA started treating them with disparagement and derision. US invasion of Iraq in 1992 impelled OBL to readjust his mindset and to reorient the direction of its outfit ‘Al-Qaeda’. The rift between US and OBL led to fateful event of 9/11.

 

The US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 and occupied it with its full wherewithal and military weight but failed to make correct moves to apprehend OBL. Hence, OBL took advantage of faulty US policies through a method of exploitation. He appealed to the Muslim world to oppose USA that had occupied Afghanistan illegally like the Russians and urged the Muslims to wage a Jihad against occupation forces. Anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim policies pursued by Bush led administration heightened anti-Americanism within the Muslim world and propelled Jihadi Muslims towards OBL. His sympathizers gradually grew in numbers in every Muslim country including Pakistan. 

 

One of the major tasks assigned to the US led coalition in Afghanistan was to kill and capture Al-Qaeda leaders operating inside Afghanistan and some parts of Pakistan. Al-Qaeda had virtually turned into a perilous outfit capable of inflicting serious losses to coalition forces in Afghanistan. Pakistan took some difficult strategic decisions and offered full cooperation to capture the world most dangerous and treacherous terrorists associated with Al-Qaeda. Pak Army deployed its sizeable force to be engaged in anti-terrorist operations. Pakistan Army and paramilitary forces prepared plans to conduct operations against Al-Qaeda elements in the most sensitive and volatile region of Pakistan’s tribal areas (FATA), where powerful armies of Great Britain and Soviet Russia were once defeated at the hands of tribal Lashkars.

 

Pakistani government’s decision to provide support and make efforts to capture Al-Qaeda terrorists, resulted in a very severe backlash of terrorists associated with Al-Qaeda. They turned against the State of Pakistan and targeted its security forces, high officials, key communicators, and civil society including innocent women/children, peace loving people busy in their business or prayers in the mosques. Even funerals were not spared. Pakistani support and efforts, however, proved fruitful and many key commanders of Al-Qaeda were apprehended or killed during operations. It was not possible to break the backbone of Al-Qaeda without the significant support offered by Pakistan and efforts made by ISI to apprehend well over 400 Al-Qaeda elements.

 

Since Pakistani authorities had taken a strategic decision to cooperate with US led coalition to fight the menace of terrorism, therefore, their top priority was to locate and apprehend OBL. Unfortunately, OBL found sympathizers inside Pakistani soil and succeeded in having a facility to covertly live inside Pakistan. The killing / apprehension of OBL would have exulted both Pakistan and USA, but US leaders preferred to create an atmosphere of mistrust and betrayal for reasons best known to them. The US and western public opinion builders and international media leveled serious allegations against Pakistan. This also created political and institutional turmoil inside Pakistan spreading misgivings among civil-military leadership and agitating the civil society to raise the questions of violation of sovereignty of Pakistan by US raiders.

 

Had Pakistani officials / ISI known about the presence of OBL inside Pakistan they would have reacted positively to apprehend / kill him to save such chaos which led to lingering court probes. Pakistan as a responsible country was cooperating in US led war on terrorism and had shown substantial results by killing and apprehending vital Al-Qaeda terrorists. It was not an option for Pakistan to hide OBL, as alleged by USA and others and get embarrassed. Had it been so, ISI would not have given a vital lead to CIA which helped the latter to locate OBL’s whereabouts in Abbottabad.   

 

In the backdrop of intelligence failure and poor performance of NATO military commanders at tactical level, US led coalition forces in Afghanistan had suffered stunning setbacks. In an effort to cover up their failures, CIA opted to marginalize ISI and act unilaterally to get hold of the most wanted man single-handed and claim victory. CIA wanted to take all the credit for hunting OBL without any support from any other agency. Capturing/ killing OBL unilaterally would have assured invincibility of USA’s military might and professional competence of CIA.

 

In their short sightedness and high motivating pulse to claim full credit of OBL killing, they overlooked the actual implications. As the world witnessed later on, the outcome of such insensible approach proved dicey. Pakistan and its spy agency was not only callously blamed openly for supporting the terrorists but also made responsible for hiding OBL inside Pakistan. The US leadership created an environment of mistrust and cynicism having lasting scars, thus destroying the spirit of coalition to collectively fight the menace of terrorism. Blame game played by US leaders / field commanders helped them to cover up their failures in GWOT but overall loss / defeat in the effort against terrorism has not been realized.  

 

The US leadership was so stunned with the information of a high value target like OBL in Pakistan that they forgot all the norms of diplomacy and all the requirements of a sovereign State. They ordered their Navy SEALs to cross the border, violate the sovereignty of Pakistan and go for the attack. This was totally unlawful and illegitimate. Wisdom failed to guide the US arrogance that in the international politics such actions amount to intimidation of other independent States and that the reaction might be very perilous. Fortunately, Pakistani side kept their cool despite internal tumult and nothing happened. On the other hand, the US leadership left no stone unturned in converting the crisis into an extremely dangerous situation.  

 

It becomes too painful and unbearable when one’s own friend deceives barefacedly using mischievous tricks. People of Pakistan, government officials, Pak Army and ISI were at grave pains when they found that they have been misled, misinformed and betrayed by their own allies especially USA and its spy agency CIA who not only violated the sovereignty of Pakistan by intruding into its territory without permission but also for creating a situation in which Pakistan stood blameworthy and culpable for hiding OBL inside Pakistan. Public opinion went against Pakistan and there was an internal turmoil leading to serious political instability the impact of which still goes unabated. No doubt US action proved that a foe in the garb of a friend bashed us badly.

 

After killing Osama in Abbottabad on May 2, 2011 by US Navy Seal Team Six, the US claimed his body was buried at sea of the USS Carl Vinson in accordance with Islamic tradition. Fred Barton challenged this claim by saying that the body was flown in a CIA plane to Dover and onward to Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Maryland. This institution mysteriously closed on September 15, 2011.  (Email sent by Barton to Wiki leaks on March 6, 2012). Other than so many stories published with regards to the death of OBL in December 2001 at Tora Bora, or in 2005, and some stating that it was OBL double that was killed on May 2, many all over the world including Americans believe that US SEALs operation in Abbottabad against OBL was a false flag operation aimed at undermining Pakistan Army and ISI and to give a boost to flagging image of US Army and CIA. The CIA operated drones are now brazenly violating Pakistan’s sovereignty, but the US still claims that it is a friend of Pakistan.    

 

The writer is a retired Brig, defence analyst and columnist. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

 

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What Does Drawing Down the Afghan War Mean For the US Drone War in Pakistan?

What Does Drawing Down the Afghan War Mean For the US Drone War in Pakistan?

John Glaser, November 21, 2013

Here’s an uncomfortable reality: the Obama administration’s decision to recommit to the war in Afghanistan and surge U.S. military forces in his first term was made largely to allow for continued U.S. drone attacks in neighboring Pakistan.

The hundreds of billions of dollars put towards counter-insurgency and nation building were in large part a sideshow for the U.S.’s main objective, to secretly bomb a nearby country with which it was not at war. The Afghans who have suffered and died under brutal U.S. occupation didn’t suffer and die for their own country’s security or foreign-imposed “democratic” institutions, but rather to provide for another, separate, legally questionable war in Pakistan that they had nothing to do with. That’s really saying something.

But now that the Washington is on the cusp of signing an agreement that will govern 10,000 (give or take) U.S. forces in Afghanistan for at least the next decade, the question of what will happen with the drone war in Pakistan is a pertinent one.

U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan have climbed down significantly from their peak in the first years of Obama’s presidency (down by almost 40 percent, by some counts). But this does not mean the drone war in Pakistan is over. Just yesterday, a U.S. strike hit an Islamic school and killed 6 people (as always, “alleged terrorists”).

So what does the proposed status of forces agreement with Afghanistan say about the drone war? It says that the United States “has pledged not to use Afghan territory or facilities as a launching point for attacks against other countries.”

Micah Zenko, of the Council on Foreign Relations, gives his take:

Since 2011, when Islamabad kicked the last remaining CIA personnel and contractors out of Pakistani airbases, all U.S. drone strikes have been flown from airbases across the border in Afghanistan. If the United States keeps its pledge and Afghanistan actually enforces the agreement (both big ifs), there is no other plausible alternative host-nation from which the United States would receive permission to conduct drone strikes into northwest Pakistan. Armed drones flying from U.S. naval platforms are a few years away, but the distance from the Arabian Sea to the FATA is significant, posing greater operational risk to drones themselves, and also potentially further exacerbating anti-U.S. sentiment in Pakistan by overflying populated areas.

I had predicted in March 2012 that this scenario could emerge. It is possible that continued U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan will be tacitly accepted by Karzai’s successor in exchange forbags of CIA cash, and the estimated three billion dollars in overt funding for Afghan security forces. Yet, enforcing sovereign host-nation basing rights, overflight rights, shutter control, and constrained rules of engagement are part of the normal behavior of an independent, sovereign country, which Afghanistan might finally be.

Truthfully, the ‘proximity to a war zone’ justification for U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan was thrown out the window once the U.S. ramped up another drone war in Yemen. But the key point is having a host-nation from which to launch the drones, which the U.S. apparently doesn’t have for Pakistan without Afghanistan.

So what it comes down to is whether the U.S. and Afghanistan keep their word. I don’t know about you, but I’m sufficiently reassured when the world’s most corrupt semi-state and the world’s military hegemon with a history of writing its own rules make a promise.

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The US is after Haqqani network

The US is after Haqqani network

 

Asif Haroon Raja

 

It seems that the US has renewed its efforts to disrupt and dismantle Haqqani network (HN). After the suicide attack on Camp Chapman of CIA in Khost on December 30, 2009, CIA carried out aggressive drone campaign against HN under Jalaluddin Haqqani in Khost and his son Sirajuddin in North Waziristan (NW). HN was banned by USA since it was considered a big threat in Eastern Afghanistan and Kabul. Almost every day drone strike was launched to target HN leaders. From January 2010 onwards, the US began mounting pressure on Pakistan to launch a major operation in NW to eliminate safe havens of HN. Gen David Petraeus, Commander US-NATO forces in Afghanistan made his planned operation in Kandahar conditional to an operation in NW. The US ignored Pakistan’s pleas that Pak Army had undertaken three major operations in Swat, Bajaur and SW in 2009 and was over stretched and couldn’t afford to pullout additional forces from eastern border because of Indian threat.

In the wake of increased attacks in and around Kabul in 2011 including high profile targets inside highly fortified Kabul in September, the then CJCSC Admiral Mike Mullen declared HN as the veritable arm of ISI. In order to force Pakistan to launch an operation in NW, western border was heated up in April 2011 with the help of fugitive Fazlullah who had fled from Swat in July 2009. The US military is still obsessed with HN and has lately stepped up its efforts to incapacitate this outfit. Jalaluddin’s youngest son Omar Haqqani was killed in Khost in 2008 in a combat, while other two sons Badruddin and Mohammad were killed by drones in NW in 2009 and August 2013 respectively. Recently, the fourth son Dr. Naseeruddin Haqqani was murdered in Islamabad on November 11, 2013. Possible suspects are CIA, Afghan NDS and Fazlullah.

The reason why Fazlullah is one of the suspects is that in last October it was reported in the media that Fazlullah’s base of operation in Kunar had been uprooted by the Taliban after inflicting heavy casualties. The reason behind the attack in all probability was that Fazlullah controlled by foreign agencies was deliberately impeding peace process in Pakistan. It was reported that Fazlullah died in the attack. However it transpired later on that he survived. Being highly vindictive, he swore to take revenge from HN, which he suspected had attacked his base at the behest of ISI to avenge the death of Maj Gen Sanaullah Niazi, martyred in Upper Dir on September 15th. His patrons too encouraged him to avenge the deadly attack. Since it was not possible for him to harm HN in Khost or in NW, he planned to go for a soft target to convey a strong message to Jalaluddin to keep his hands off him. Fazlullah tasked his men in Swat region to keep Dr Naseeruddin under surveillance and kill him whenever opportunity came their way. Naseeruddin was not involved in militancy and was leading a quiet life with his family in Islamabad since long.

No sooner Sartaj Aziz gave good news to the nation on November 20 that the US has assured Pakistan that there will be no drone strikes while talks are in progress, a seminary in Thal Tehsil of Hangu District where young children were imparted religious training was struck by a drone on November 21. The missiles fired from a Reaper struck the two rooms of a nine-room Madrassa run by Afghan cleric Qari Nurullah. It was yet another blow delivered to HN, since one of its key leaders Maulana Hameedullah was among the six Afghan clerics killed. The US claimed that three members of HN including Sirajuddin were regular visitors of this seminary.  This admission was a clear indication that the US is after HN and may have been involved in Naseerudin’s murder as well. Latest strike was more dangerous than the previous ones since it took place in settled area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Interior Minister Nisar dubbed USA as untrustworthy since assurance had also been given to Nawaz Sharif when he met Obama in Washington on October 23, but was not honored.

CIA must have stepped up its efforts to locate and gun down the surviving son Sirajuddin based in NW to debilitate HN. The reason why the US has got after HN is its linkage with Pakistan. There is no denying the fact that of all the Afghan factions, HN is closest to Pakistan and farthest from Northern Alliance, Karzai, USA and India. Influence over HN enables Pakistan to have a say in Afghan conundrum and figure out prominently in the US calculations.         

Deaths of Hakimullah, Naseeruddin and Hameedullah and arrest of Latif Mehsud by US Special Forces in Afghanistan and appointment of Fazlullah as new chief of TTP are significant events which have impacted Pakistan’s position. Latif who was a close confidante and deputy of Hakeemullah is a valuable asset in the hands of USA. He was arrested at a time when TTP was sharply divided between pro-peace and anti-peace groups and Latif was among the latter group. Not only he must have divulged the program of visit of Hakeemullah to Dandey Darpakhel to hold peace talks which enabled CIA to kill him on November 1, he must have by now disclosed all the details concerning TTP’s command structure, logistic, communication and intelligence systems, hideouts, pro-and anti-US members of TTP Shura and Council, their alliances with local and foreign groups, sources of funding and procurement of weapons and explosives, factories producing IEDs and suicide jackets, aims and objectives and their system of motivation, recruitment and training. In addition, requisite information about HN must also have been extracted from him. That is the reason CIA is achieving rapid successes in targeting HN leading lights.         

Information accessed from Latif about Shura members deciding the selection of next chief must have helped CIA to influence them. Each one must have been warned that their fate would be no different than Hakeemullah if they had their own way. Changed circumstances have made it possible for CIA, NDS and RAW to further tighten their grip over TTP and its new leader residing in Kunar as well as on Faqir Muhammad and Khalid Khurasani, the two TTP leaders of Bajaur and Mehmand Agencies respectively who too are absconders and staying in Afghanistan. The three agencies are now in a better position to manipulate the working of TTP to their advantage and to the disadvantage of Pakistan.

Another possible change that seems to be in the offing is the centre of gravity of TTP shifting from FATA to settled areas of KP with depth resting in Kunar and Nuristan. Other than Bajaur and Mehmand tribal agencies, within Provincial Administered Tribal Area (PATA), areas that may become hotter could be Dir, Buner, Malakand, Swat, Shangla, Chitral and Swabi. Area up to Mardan and Nowshera may get affected. This shift in emphasis will be owing to the new Ameer hailing from Swat and his deputy Khalid belonging to Swabi. Increased militancy in settled areas would facilitate USA to employ drones in turbulent areas. Our nuclear facilities would therefore become more vulnerable.  

After successfully scuttling the peace process with the help of drones and terrorist attacks, the US can now bargain with Pakistan from a position of strength and can say that if Pakistan wants peace with TTP, it will have to play its role in ensuring peace in Afghanistan by bringing HN leaders on the negotiating table and convincing them to agree to US terms and conditions. The US will keep the cards of TTP and drones and continue playing them to keep Pakistan in line.

The situation has taken a slightly different turn after blockade of NATO supply routes in Peshawar by KP government led by Imran Khan on November 23 in protest against drone strike in Hangu. Imran has been the leading opponent of drones and has singled out drone as the major reason of terrorism in Pakistan and the main impediment in the way of peace. Last time supply routes were blocked in late November after Salala tragedy. The blockade remained enforced for about seven months but Pakistan couldn’t extract anything better from USA when new MoU was inked in July 2012. No apology was rendered, or an assurance given that repeat of 26 November like vandalism would not take place in future. Our demands of raising the transit fee to $5000 per container and stopping drone attacks were not met. It is to be seen how Pakistan government plays its cards now when the US posing as friend refuses to sheath the drone and is bent upon thwarting reconciliation process.  

The writer is a retired Brig, defence analyst and columnist. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

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