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Archive for category US Interference in Balochistan

Propaganda against the Army and ISI was part of the US agenda

Gen Beg warns of Egypt-like change in Pakistan

Propaganda against the Army and ISI was part of the US agenda

Proposes three-point formula to normalise situation

April 22, 2014    ASHRAF MUMTAZ

  LAHORE  – Former Army chief Gen Mirza Aslam Beg on Monday proposed a three-point formula to normalise the tense civil-military relations, warning the government of an Egypt-like change in case urgent steps were not taken in accordance with his suggestions.

He proposed a three-point formula to normalise the situation

1. high treason case against Gen Pervez Musharraf should be dropped and he should be allowed to go abroad;

 2.Pemra should ensure that no TV channel telecasts programmes that undermine the prestige of the army; and

 3. ministers or other leaders should be barred from speaking against the people who defend the country even at the cost of their lives. 

Talking to The Nation, he said the civil setup would face no threat and the situation would normalise within no time if the government acted in the light of his suggestions. Otherwise, he said, a military general would take over, just like Gen El-Sisi did in Egypt, and the United States would support the change for its own interests.

Gen Beg was of the firm view that the Constitution would not be able to block a military intervention if the rulers did not give the army its due respect. “ZulifikarAli Bhutto had said the 1973 Constitution would bury martial laws, but it was the martial law that buried Bhutto”.

Critical of the flawed decision-making process of the present government, Gen Beg said the rulers did not properly calculate the likely negative fallout of their policies. According to him, the government takes decisions first and thinks later. As a result, its damage control measures don’t yield results. 

Gen Beg said the army was like a family and Gen Musharraf was its former head. The way he was insulted created unrest in the rank and file which forced Gen Raheel Sharif to issue a statement that army will defend its honour and dignity. Compared to the anger of the soldiers, Gen Raheel’s statement was ‘very soft’ however, he claimed.

He said it was after Gen Raheel’s statement all government functionaries had gone on defensive and they were offering explanations that they did not want to insult the army. Such people should have been careful before issuing derogatory statements, said Gen Beg.

The army, he said, would not tolerate the way Gen Musharraf was being singled out for trial. Similarly, he said, the former president-COAS could not be held responsible for ‘high treason’ as what he was accused of having done did not fall in this category. A treason charge on a former army chief was just not tolerable.

Making a strong plea for permission to Gen Musharraf to go out of Pakistan, Gen Beg said if a man like Hussain Haqqani could be allowed to leave the country despite a very serious charge against him, why the former president-COAS couldn’t be given a similar treatment.

Explaining his argument that the US would support a general in power in Pakistan at a time when it was leaving Afghanistan after 13 years’ stay in Afghanistan, Gen Beg said the US always felt more comfortable in dealing with one man rather than an elected parliament.

He said when the US interest called for a change in Pakistan because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, it got Zulfikar Ali Bhutto eliminated and brought Gen Zia to the fore. Likewise, the US supported Gen Musharraf when its interests in Afghanistan so demanded.

According to Gen Beg, had a political government been in power in Pakistan in 2001, the US would not have got the kind of ‘facilities’ in Pakistan that Gen Musharraf had allowed them. Replying to a question, the former COAS said the US had deep penetration in all departments of Pakistan and it could bring about a political change at any time of its choice.

“I don’t say that Gen Raheel Sharif is going to become Gen El-Sisi (by overthrowing the political government), but a lot can happen”. 

He alleged that the propaganda against the army and ISI was part of the US agenda as it was the most effective way of creating tensions between the civil and military leadership. “The higher the tension, the easier the change”, Gen Beg said.

 

Reference

 

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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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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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Thwarting All Peace Processes

Thwarting All Peace Processes

                                                        

By

 

Sajjad Shaukat

                                             

In the recent months, Pakistan made strenuous efforts to advance peace talks with India in order to resolve all issues, especially Kashmir dispute, while it took several positive steps to improve relations with Afghanistan. Similarly, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ahmad Khan decided to begin negotiations with all the Taliban groups, particularly Hakimullah Mehsud, Chief of the Tahreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). But, all these efforts received a greater blow due to anti-Pakistan developments, aimed at thwarting all the peace processes which were essential for the stability of Pakistan as well as the whole region.

In this regard, Pakistani prime minister’s foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz who visited New Delhi to attend the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), held a meeting with Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on November 12, this year to defuse tension at the Line of Control (LoC) and to restore the peace process. Sartaj Aziz also met the Hurriyat leaders of Kashmir. However, statements issued by their related-ministries said that both the diplomats reviewed bilateral relations in a constructive and forward looking manner, and pledged to settle all issues.

420448249_2ffe1c990eQuite contrarily, in a strong message, Salman Khurshid stated that he told the Sartaj Aziz that his decision to meet Hurriyat leaders in New Delhi was “insensitive” and “counterproductive.” While keeping pressure on Pakistan, Khurshid explained that he gave “benefit of doubt” to Islamabad by telling them that “the conditions of the dialogue cannot be met till there is peace and tranquility on the LoC. He also allegedly said that Islamabad has been using delaying tactics in relation to the Mumbai 26/11 terror attacks trial.

Recently, tension arose between Pakistan and India when Indian military conducted a series of unprovoked firings across the LoC, and international border in wake of war-like strategy which still continues. While, Indian military high command failed in producing dead bodies of alleged terrorists who had crossed the LoC from Pakistan to Indian-occupied Kashmir. The ground realities proved that it was just propaganda against Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and Pak Army, as indicated by the Indian media, Congress Vice-president Rahul Gandhi and leaders of the Hindu fundamentalist party, BJP.

Besides new pretension of the LoC violations, in the past too, New Delhi availed various crises to suspend the process of Pak-India talks. For example, in 2002, under the pretension of terrorist attack on the Indian parliament, India postponed the dialogue process. Again, in 2008, India suspended the ‘composite dialogue’ under the pretext of Mumbai terror attacks which were in fact, arranged by its secret agency RAW.

In the recent past, the Indian former officer of home ministry and ex-investigating officer Satish Verma disclosed that terror-attacks in Mumbai and assault on the Indian Parliament were carried out by the Indian government to strengthen anti-terrorism legislation.

In fact, under the cover of LoC accusations, India seeks to create obstacle in the way of the new peace process with Pakistan so that Pak-Indian concerned issues, especially main dispute of Kashmir remain unresolved.

Most alarming aspect is that Indian duress on Islamabad regarding LoC is part of other related moves against Islamabad because India, US and Afghanistan have been playing double game with Pakistan through their secret agencies, as some latest incidents in our country have proved.  

In this context, leader of Haqqani Network, Nasiruddin Haqqani who was on US list of global terrorists was killed by unidentified gunmen on November 10 in Islamabad. Some sources suggest that CIA and RAW are behind the death of Nasiruddin, as the Haqqanis have never struck inside Pakistan because they have been waging a war of liberation in Afghanistan.
Taliban's area of influence

MAP PUBLISHED BY INDIAN PROPAGANDISTS

 

 

The main aim of assassinating him is to sabotage the Pak-Afghan peace process, making both countries acutely vulnerable to disruption by the militant groups—and to castigate Pakistan’s major role in any future Afghan peace deal with the Haqqanis.

In this connection, opposition leader, Syed Khurshid Shah of the PPP said on November 14, “killing of Nasiruddin Haqqani is a conspiracy against Pakistan and no government institution is involved in this murder.”

Similarly, when the TTP Chief Hakimullah Mehsud was killed by the US drone strikes on November 1, leaders of the ruling and opposition parties including prominent figures and Unlmas (Religious scholars) took the event as a plot to thwart the peace process with the militants.  In this context, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar openly pointed out that that killing of Hakimullah Mehsud in the US drone attack was a conspiracy to sabotage peace talks with the Taliban. He added that his death was, in fact, a fatal blow to the peace process in the region.

On the other side, the TTP new Chief Maulana Fazlullah dismissed the proposed peace negotiations with the government as a “waste of time”, and vowed to target the prime minister, chief minister, chief of army staff and corpse commanders. During Swat and Malakand military operations, Fazlullah fled Swat and took shelter in Afghanistan.

Well-established in Afghanistan, with the tactical support of the US, in connivance with Indian RAW and Afghan spy service, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) and Pakistan-based TTP, Maulana Fazlullah—and these foreign agencies have been conducting target killings, bomb blasts, suicide attacks, beheadings, assaults on civil and military personnel, installations and forced abductions including ethnic and sectarian violence. By sending heavily-equipped militants in Pakistan, these entities are also assisting Baloch separatists.

Particularly, the captured TTP leader Latifullah Mehsud by US Special Forces (USF) in Afghanistan confessed that Afghanistan and India were waging proxy wars in Pakistan, and terrorist attacks on Gen. Sanaullah Khan Niazi in Upper Dir, at Peshawar Church, in Qissa Khawani Bazar and elsewhere had been planned by Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies.

Now, Pakistan is facing multi-faceted challenges internally and externally, arranged by the anti-Pakistan enemies, as followed by a deliberate propaganda to destabilize and denuclearize it. So, these external entities also intend to thwart all the peace processes to further weaken Pakistan through their collective sinister designs.    

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

Email: sajjad_logic@yahoo.com

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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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