Drigh Road or Shara-e-Faisal? – Dr Mohammad Taqi

The secular leaders have abdicated all foreign and security policy-related matters pertaining to the establishment but WikiLeaks suggest that privately they keep venting their spleen to the US diplomats about it

“I keep six honest serving-men,

(They taught me all I knew);

Their names are What and Why and When,

And How and Where and Who” — Rudyard Kipling.

Another week, another tragedy: the series of unfortunate events has no end. But each catastrophe, no matter how enormous, is matched with a conspiracy theory of even bigger proportions. The predilection for gossip and intrigue to explain away the existential threats has morphed from a national pastime to the national creed. The fear of mirrors appears to have robbed this nation of the last vestiges of objectivity.

But first things first: no matter how spectacular the attack on the Pakistan Naval Station (PNS) Mehran, far greater remains the sacrifice of the men of Pakistan’s armed forces who laid down their lives in the line of duty. Lieutenant Yasir Abbas and his comrades, martyred while wrestling back the control of PNS Mehran, deserve a collective bow from this nation. May their souls rest in peace.

It would have been highly desirable if the top civil and military leaders had deemed it their responsibility to attend the funeral of these heroes, for boosting the rapidly plummeting morale, if not to send a message to the terrorists. In a country where vicious killers like Mumtaz Qadri are garlanded for the most heinous acts, such omissions are literally a dereliction of duty on the part of the civil and military leadership. For our part, we can only offer our deepest condolences to the bereaved families to whom we shall remain ever indebted.

The leadership’s ambivalence points towards our real dilemma. While the killers and their supporters are absolutely clear about their objectives and how to achieve them, the state seems to be clueless and rudderless. From an absolute denial to dodging accountability, those at the helm come up with the lamest possible excuses: foreign hand a la American-Indo-Zionist agents unleashing a reign of terror on one of the oldest military establishments of the subcontinent. Is it possible? Well, theoretically it is. But if such is the case then perhaps someone needs to turn in a cap, pips, baton and a belt.

However, even if the blame for a security lapse or breach is affixed justly and all questions are answered appropriately, it may only satisfy the what, when, where, who and how of the event. A military investigation would likely focus on the methods and weaponry used by the attackers and the response of the security agencies. From a tactical perspective this could certainly be very helpful in hardening and thus safeguarding any potential targets. But from a strategic standpoint, unless one seeks an answer to the why, all inquiries, no matter how impartial, will remain meaningless and lead to dead ends. The domestic, regional and international implications of any such attack are myriad and it is imperative that lessons are drawn, and swiftly at that. But it would be impossible to formulate a response without clearly identifying the enemy and determining its motive. And that is where it becomes tricky.

India or the US may be looking at the PNS Mehran attack with glee but there is absolutely nothing strategic that they gain from two P-3C Orion aircraft being destroyed. The psychological impact of audacious attacks on iconic targets is a tactic in asymmetrical — not conventional — warfare. The al Qaeda-Taliban have announced not only their viability through this attack but it perhaps marks the arrival of Saif-al-Adel, who had masterminded a similar attack in Riyadh, as al Qaeda’s new leader. And nothing induces recruitment of cadres than a high profile retribution for bin Laden’s killing.

Pakistani right-wing politicians like Imran Khan and Munawar Hassan would have one believe that everything was hunky-dory in Pakistan till the big bad US rolled into Afghanistan in 2001. They would go blue in the face talking about the dollars that bankrolled the anti-Soviet mujahideen. But they conveniently gloss over the fact that Saudi Arabia matched the US dollar-for-dollar to help Pakistan create the jihadist monster. That great patron of jihadist pan-Islamism, General Ziaul Haq, consummated the tying of the knot with the Saudis by rechristening many cities and places in Pakistan. The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) base Drigh Road thus became the PAF base Shara-e-Faisal in 1977. (Arabic word ‘Shara’ and not the Persian ‘Shahrah’, was used for the road). The PNS Mehran is an extension of that same PAF base Drigh Road.

However, this is not just where the selective amnesia ends. These ultranationalists and their cohorts in the media, who are projecting them 24/7 into our living rooms, take great pains to avoid pointing a finger towards the jihadists, especially the ones who are predominantly India-oriented. Parallels are being drawn between the PNS Mehran attack and the one on the GHQ in 2009, which is a partial truth. The first such attack that had showed a high level of strategic vision through an erudite choice of high profile target and deployment of sophisticated tactics was on the Red Fort, Delhi, on December 22, 2000, carried out by the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT). Subsequent attacks, including on the Indian parliament, Mumbai, Sri Lankan cricket team, Manawan Police Academy, the Pakistani GHQ and several in Afghanistan have the fingerprints of the assorted jihadist franchises affiliated with al Qaeda.

But people like Imran Khan who leads sit-ins attended by members of banned terrorist outfits, whose lieutenants are seen literally holding hands with Hafiz Saeed of Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), and who makes it a point to visit every major madrassa from where the jihadist leadership has graduated, can hardly be blamed for protecting their ilk. These obscurantists will continue to weave webs of lies and deceit that perpetuate not just the confusion in the general public’s mind but make an already perfidious enemy even more nebulous.

While the pro-Taliban leaders led by Imran Khan have been steadily building a neo-jihadist narrative, the secular leadership has been missing in action. The secular leaders have abdicated all foreign and security policy-related matters pertaining to the establishment ….

Read more : Daily Times

The cost of Pakistan’s double game

By Daud Khattak

Excerpt:

…. Yet even after militants were allowed to settle in the tribal areas with little resistance from the Pakistani state, the tribesmen were (and are still) told that it was because of U.S. drone strikes that these “holy warriors” fled to their areas. Hence, each missile against foreign militants or their Pakistani counterparts increased the potential number of militants flowing in and fueled rising anti-Americanism in Pakistan, serving the short-term political interests of pro-Taliban elements in the country’s security establishment, while allowing the army to play on anti-American sentiment domestically while still occasionally offering militants to the United States, either for arrest or targeting by drones, as a sign of good faith and in order to maintain a steady flow of military aid.

Recent history provides ample room for suspicion that the relationship between militants and the Pakistani military or intelligence agencies continues. Some key points should lead informed observers, for instance, to suspect some knowledge of slain al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s presence in the highly-secured cantonment town of Abbottabad among Pakistani intelligence officials. For instance, the structure of the house is very different from the rest of the buildings in the area, and that plus the barbed wires atop its 18 to 20 feet high boundary walls would have likely drawn some suspicion to the compound’s residents.

The compound is located less than a kilometer from Pakistan’s Kakul Military Academy. Security officials, who keep a strict watch on anyone entering and living in a cantonment zone, somehow managed to miss the compound, which sticks out from the others around it. The Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani even visited the Kakul Academy less than 10 days before the May 2 raid, something that was undoubtedly preceded by security officials combing the nearby areas for any suspicious people or activities, as is the standard practice for such visits. Additionally, locals told the writer that three gas connections were provided to the house within a few days after its construction, which otherwise takes weeks if not months. But again, no alarm was raised.

Additionally, groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Sipah-e-Sihaba Pakistan (SSP) continue to operate openly despite being nominally banned. Indeed, locals I have spoken with in Kurram agency blame Pakistani intelligence for bringing the Sunnis against the Shi’a there, simply to show the world that Pakistan is heading towards de-stabilization and only U.S. and international support can save the society from becoming radical (not to mention the benefit accrued by the Haqqani network, who now have space to operate if their North Waziristan sanctuary is compromised). And a brief look at some of the militants operating in Pakistan currently raises questions about how they have been able to implant themselves and continue operating.

For instance, is it believable that Khyber agency-based militant and former bus driver Mangal Bagh, a warlord with no more than 500 volunteers, can operate just 15 kilometers away from Pakistan’s 11 Corps headquarters in the town of Bara, kidnapping people from Peshawar and other parts of the country, attacking powerful tribal elders, ministers, and journalists from Khyber agency, attacking NATO supply convoys, and carrying out public attacks and executions? Maulana Fazlullah, a leading warlord in the Swat Valley, a man who was once a chair-lift operator on the Swat River, became the most powerful commander in the area in a span of two years, with little government opposition. When the military conducted an operation in Swat upon the request of the secular Pashtun nationalist Awami National Party (ANP) government in Khyber-Puktunkhwa, Fazlullah somehow managed to break a cordon of 20,000 soldiers backed by helicopters and jets to escape. And in Bajaur, Taliban commander Faqir Muhammad’s forces were “cleared” in 2008, but though hundreds of thousands of locals were displaced, their houses destroyed, their crops burnt and their cattle killed, Faqir Muhammad continues to leave peacefully in the agency.

And those who rose up to confront the Taliban received little protection from the government. When the ANP, after coming into power in Khyber-Puktunkhwa, raised its voice against the Taliban, party leader Asfandyar Wali Khan was attacked by a suicide bomber inside his house in his hometown of Charsadda. Since then, the party leadership has lived in Islamabad. The party’s spokesman and Information Minister Mian Iftikhar’s son was killed by armed men close to his house last July. Mian Iftikhar and another outspoken minister of the KP government, Bashir Bilour, escaped several attempts on their lives; Asfandyar Wali Khan’s sister Dr. Gulalay, who is not involved with party politics, was attacked in Peshawar, and ANP lawmaker Alam Zeb Khan was killed in a bomb attack in the same city, before finally the party leadership and members were forced to stop their vocal opposition to the militants.

To read complete article: Foreign Policy

via Wichaar

Foreign fighters massing in Pakistan tribal region to launch attacks in Afghanistan

Foreign fighters are massing in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas as they prepare to launch attacks across the border on international troops in Afghanistan, according to an al-Qaeda member captured by Nato.

By Rob Crilly, Islamabad

The Moroccan man, who was captured earlier this month, has told interrogators how he helped fighters enter Afghanistan.

“After his capture the facilitator provided details about his personal travel from Germany,” said a statement from the International Security Assistance Force.

“He also observed foreigners from many countries converging in Pakistan to conduct attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan.” Ten insurgents died during the exchange of fire. Passports from France, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were found among the bodies. ….

Read more :  Telegraph.co.uk

via Wichaar

Wikileaks: Pakistani Military Taught to Dislike US

by Wichaar Desk

Leaked U.S. diplomatic cables accuse the Pakistani military of purposefully trying to instill anti-Americanism in many of its top officers.

The 2008 cables obtained by the WikiLeaks website and other media organizations discusses classes for military officers at Pakistan’s National Defense University.

In one cable, a U.S. military officer who attended classes at the military university said the lecturers would teach the officers information that was heavily biased against America.

The American officer said that one guest lecturer, whom he described as a Pakistani one-star general, “claimed the U.S. National Security Agency actively trains correspondents for media organizations.” Other lecturers, he said, “thought the CIA was in charge of U.S. media.”

The American officer also said students in the classes shared “many of the biases prevalent in the Muslim world, “including a belief that the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on New York and Washington were part of a “Jewish conspiracy.”

In contrast, he said the Pakistani instructors and students were adamant in their approval of all things Chinese. ….

Read more : Wichaar