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Pakistan’s army should go back to the barracks

By Najam Sethi

The Pakistan army’s vaulting mission to remain the most powerful actor in Pakistani politics has received irreparable setbacks in the last few years.

On the one hand, this is due to the onset of several new factors in the body politic determining the direction of political change in the future.

On the other, it reflects poorly on the ability and willingness of the army’s leadership to understand the far-reaching nature of this change and adapt to it seamlessly.

Pakistan’s future as a viable nation-state now depends on how the generals read the writing on the wall and quickly come to terms with it. Here is a checklist of recent failures that have downgraded the Pak army’s rating with Pakistanis.

(1) The army’s policy of nurturing anti- Americanism in Pakistan for leveraging its strategic relationship with the US has backfired and left it stranded in no-man’s land. It can’t let go of the US privately for purposes of economic rent and military aid extraction but it can’t embrace it publicly because of the rampant ‘Ghairat’ brigade of extremist Islamic nationalists that it has brainwashed.

(2) The army’s policy of nurturing the Afghan Taliban in private while appeasing the Pakistan Taliban in public has also backfired.

The Afghan Taliban are now negotiating directly with America while the Pakistan Taliban are waging an ‘existential’ war against the Pak army and civil society. PAK army’s relationship with the government, opposition, and media is at an all-time low.

The government has meekly folded before the army on every issue; but the army’s arrogant, intrusive and relentlessly anti government propaganda and behaviour is deeply resented.

The media is also wiser and critical about its manipulation by the army and ISI viz its Drone policy, the Raymond Davis affair and Memogate.

Question marks remain over its incompetence or complicity in the OBL affair, especially following recent revelations by former DG-ISI Ziauddin Butt that General Pervez Musharraf ‘hid’ Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad.

The murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad, followed by running threats to a clutch of independent journalists, is laid at the ISI’s door.

The ease with which terrorists have breached military security, as in the attacks on GHQ, ISI offices, military Messes, Mehran Naval Base, etc also rankle deeply.

Finally, the media is now speaking up and asking disturbing questions about the role of MI in the disappearances and torture of Baloch activists. Consequently, the media is loath to blindly follow the army’s ‘line’ on any issue any more. The PMLN, meanwhile, has gone the whole hog, openly demanding that the intrusion of the military in politics must be curtailed and the army’s overweening power cut to size.

If its ratings are falling, the army’s ability to manipulate politics to its ends is also diminishing. In the old days, the army chief was the most powerful member of the ruling troika that included the president and prime minister. Now the office of the president has lost its clout and there are two new and powerful contenders for say.

The first is the judiciary under Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudry that has unprecedentedly pushed politicians into a corner for corrupt practices and the military on the defensive for being unaccountable (the Mehrangate affair of 1990, disappearances and murder of Baloch and Taliban extremists in captivity).

The second is the electronic media that is reaching tens of millions of Pakistanis and courageously raising their consciousness. Neither will countenance any direct or indirect military intervention in politics. Recently, in a bid to salvage some wounded pride, the army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, said that defense expenditure is a mere 18 per cent of the budget and not over 50 per cent as alleged by critics like Maulana Fazlur Rahman. But the truth is that defense expenditure is about 25 per cent of the budget after hidden ‘defense’ items in government expenditures like the military’s salaries and pensions, special project allocations, etc are unveiled and supplementary grants in any budgetary year are accounted for.

More to the point, it is about 50 per cent of all tax revenues in any year, which puts a big burden on the fiscal deficit. Gen Kayani also insists that the army is not involved in quelling unrest in Balochistan. But the fact remains that the Rangers and Frontier Corps who are in charge of ‘law and order’ in the province are directly commanded by army officers who report to GHQ even though they are formally under the interior ministry.

Continue reading Pakistan’s army should go back to the barracks

NDTV – Musharraf, Kayani knew about Osama’s whereabouts: Ex-Pak army chief

Washington: Pakistani military had harboured Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden with the knowledge of former president General Pervez Musharraf, ex-army chief General Ziauddin Butt has said.

An article on the Jamestown Foundation website, which cited Butt, said that despite denials, evidence is emerging that “elements within the Pakistani military harboured Osama with the knowledge of Musharraf and Kayani”. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is the current army chief.

Ziauddin Butt, a former chief of the Pakistan army, told a conference on Pakistani-US ties in October that according to his knowledge, then director general of Intelligence Bureau, Brigadier (retd.) Ijaz Shah, had “kept Osama bin Laden in an Intelligence Bureau safe house in Abbottabad”.

Osama bin Laden was gunned down May 2 by US commandos who mounted a daring operation using stealth helicopters.

Read more at: http://www.ndtv.com/article/world/musharraf-kayani-knew-about-osama-s-whereabouts-ex-pak-army-chief-160512&cp

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» YouTube

Former Pakistan Army Chief Reveals Intelligence Bureau Harbored Bin Laden in Abbottabad

By: Arif Jamal

In spite of denials by the Pakistani military, evidence is emerging that elements within the Pakistani military harbored Osama bin Laden with the knowledge of former army chief General Pervez Musharraf and possibly current Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani. Former Pakistani Army Chief General Ziauddin Butt (a.k.a. General Ziauddin Khawaja) revealed at a conference on Pakistani-U.S. relations in October 2011 that according to his knowledge the then former Director-General of Intelligence Bureau of Pakistan (2004 – 2008), Brigadier Ijaz Shah (Retd.), had kept Osama bin Laden in an Intelligence Bureau safe house in Abbottabad. In the same address, he revealed that the ISI had helped the CIA to track him down and kill on May 1. The revelation remained unreported for some time because some intelligence officers had asked journalists to refrain from publishing General Butt’s remarks. [1] No mention of the charges appeared until right-wing columnist Altaf Hassan Qureshi referred to them in an Urdu-language article that appeared on December 8. [2]

In a subsequent and revealing Urdu-language interview with TV channel Dawn News, General Butt repeated the allegation on December 11, saying he fully believed that “[Brigadier] Ijaz Shah had kept this man [Bin Laden in the Abbottabad compound] with the full knowledge of General Pervez Musharraf… Ijaz Shah was an all-powerful official in the government of General Musharraf.” [3] Asked whether General Kayani knew of this, he first said yes, but later reconsidered: “[Kayani] may have known – I do not know – he might not have known.” [4] The general’s remarks appeared to confirm investigations by this author in May 2011 that showed that the Abbottabad compound where bin Laden was captured and killed was being used by a Pakistani intelligence agency (see Terrorism Monitor, May 5). However, General Butt failed to explain why Bin Laden was not discovered even after Brigadier Shah and General Musharraf had left the government.

General Butt was the first head of the Strategic Plans Division of the Pakistan army and the Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) under Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1990 to 1993, and again from 1997 to 1999. Sharif promoted General Ziauddin Butt to COAS after forcibly retiring General Pervez Musharraf on October 12, 1999, but the army’s top brass revolted against the decision and arrested both Prime Minister Sharif and General Butt while installing Musharraf as the nation’s new chief executive, a post he kept as a chief U.S. ally until resigning in 2008 in the face of an impending impeachment procedure.

Brigadier Shah has been known or is alleged to have been involved in several high profile cases of terrorism. The Brigadier was heading the ISI bureau in Lahore when General Musharraf overthrew Prime Minister Sharif in October 1999. Later, General Musharraf appointed Shah as Home Secretary in Punjab. As an ISI officer he was also the handler for Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was involved in the kidnapping of Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002. [5] Omar Saeed Sheikh surrendered to Brigadier Shah who hid him for several weeks before turning him over to authorities. In February 2004, Musharraf appointed Shah as the new Director of the Intelligence Bureau, a post he kept until March 2008 (Daily Times [Lahore] February 26, 2004; Dawn [Karachi] March 18, 2008). The late Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto accused Brigadier Shah, among others, of hatching a conspiracy to assassinate her (The Friday Times [Lahore], February 18-24).

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistani top military brass had serious differences on several issues. One of the most serious of these concerned Pakistan’s relations with Osama bin Laden. However, the disastrous1999 Kargil conflict in Kashmir overshadowed all of these. General Butt says that Prime Minister Sharif had decided to cooperate with the United States and track down Bin Laden in 1999. [6] According to a senior adviser to the Prime Minister, the general staff ousted Sharif to scuttle the “get-Osama” plan, among other reasons: “The evidence is that the military regime abandoned that plan.” [7] General Butt corroborates this. In his latest interview, he says that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had constituted a special task force of 90 American-trained commandos to track down Bin Laden in Afghanistan. If the Sharif government had continued on this course, this force would likely have caught Bin Laden by December 2001, but the plan was aborted by Ziauddin Butt’s successor as ISI general director, Lieutenant General Mahmud Ahmed. [8]

Arif Jamal is an independent security and terrorism expert and author of “Shadow War – The Untold Story of Jihad in Kashmir.”

Courtesy » TheJamesTown.Org

http://www.jamestown.org/programs/gta/single/?tx_ttnews[tt_news]=38819&cHash=b3da5dd4a1af2664ec4821b405dae77b

Former DG ISI Gen retd Ziauddin Butt has said Musharraf provided sanctuary to Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. DAWN TV

The language of the interview of former DG ISI is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy » DAWN News Tv – 11th Dec 2011 -p2

via » ZemTv

‘Musharraf disbanded army unit meant for Osama hunt’

Islamabad: A unit of Pakistan army commandos created to hunt Osama bin Laden was disbanded by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, former ISI chief Lt Gen (retd) Ziauddin Khwaja said. Khwaja, also known as Ziauddin Butt, said he had issued the directive for raising the unit after a meeting with Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar in Afghanistan. “We had set this unit after Mullah Omar showed his helplessness in getting to Osama,” Khwaja told The News daily. “This unit was demolished after Musharraf took over,” he said.

Courtesy: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/-Musharraf-disbanded-army-unit-meant-for-Osama-hunt-/788167/