Tag Archives: counterterrorism

US says can’t confirm if Pakistan banned JuD, Haqqani Network

ISLAMABAD – In a recent development, the National Counterterrorism Authority (Nacta) has removed the list of proscribed organisations from its official website, which is being seen as an attempt to add more confusion to the ongoing debate whether Haqqani Network and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) have been banned or not.

Under the National Action Plan (NAP) on Counterterrorism, the government has declared Nacta a focal point to coordinate all efforts to end terrorism in the country.
Some two weeks back at least till January 10, Nacta’s official website had an updated list of proscribed organisations, but now this has been removed on the directions of the high-ups of the Ministry of Interior, sources privy to the development revealed.

Amid some media reports in this regard, the US State Department, in its recent statement, said that it did not have confirmation from Pakistan about banning the Haqqani Network or JuD.

On the Nacta’s website, National Internal Security Policy (NISP) which was announced last year by the incumbent government with great pomp and show has been uploaded that also contains list of proscribed organisations.
There is main link of NISP at the home page of Nacta’s website and a sub-link of the list of proscribed organisations under this main link.
“The Nacta officials have delinked the list of proscribed organisations under the pressure of the bosses of the Ministry of Interior,” official sources confirmed.

The Nacta did this when some sections of the media started reporting that the government had decided to ban JuD, a charity organisation run by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, and a militant organisation, Haqqani Network.
The move is significant ahead of President Obama’s visit to India starting from next Sunday as the US had been asking Pakistan to ban both the organisations as these were responsible for terrorist activities in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.

According to Nacta’s ‘List of Proscribed Organisations’ that now has been removed from the official website, there are 62 proscribed organisations in the country and 10 are facing financial sanctions due to the ban imposed by UNSC’s Sanctions Committee in 2008 through a UN resolution.

The Supreme Court, the other day, also suggested to the government to make public the list of banned organisations in the interest of public.

Interior Additional Secretary Muhammad Asghar Chaudhry on January 20 told Senate Standing Committee on Interior that JuD and Haqqani Network had not been banned.
Prior to this, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, in its last press conference, had avoided to answer a question about the ban on JuD and Haqqani Network.
The Foreign Office, the other day, added more confusion to the ongoing debate as it gave a vague answer while replying to a question about banning JuD and Haqqani Network.
The Foreign Office, in its reply, focused more on the procedural matters rather than replying to the specific question.

According to the NAP Implementation Progress Report of the Ministry of Interior, a comprehensive analysis/assessment review is underway to identify how many of the proscribed organisations are active, working under other names and/or more importantly how many of them have an armed wing, operating inside or outside the country.

Special correspondent adds from Washington: The United States backs Pakistan’s commitment to taking steps without discrimination against the terrorist groups operating on its soil, but it has no confirmation about the banning of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Haqqani Network, a State Department spokesperson said Friday.

“We recognise that Pakistan is working through the process of implementing measures to thwart violent extremism, including the National Action Plan.
We don’t have any confirmation of specific steps,” State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters in Washington when asked about the reported ban on the two militant outfits.

Psaki noted that Islamabad has made clear in statements that it is in Pakistan’s own interest to take steps against all militant groups and explicitly not to differentiate between such groups.
“We support this commitment and believe it is essential to address terrorism and stop recurrence of the attacks like that on the Peshawar schoolchildren,” she remarked during a conference call.

Read more » The Nation
See more » http://nation.com.pk/editors-picks/24-Jan-2015/nacta-removes-list-of-banned-outfits-from-website

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Win the war not just the battle

By Ayesha Siddiqa

It seems that Pakistan is set on the path of becoming a country where all critical decisions will be either taken or influenced by the military, and the civilian leadership will merely fill in the blank or be the guinea pig to go after when someone is needed to blame. The security apparatus might as well be in charge since the combined leadership, irrespective of party affiliation and relative respectability, politely hummed and hawed and accepted military courts as fait accompli. It is almost humorous to think of parties who claim to have agreed to the solution after being promised that these courts will not be used against them, or that their use will be controlled. An even sadder fact is that barring the enlightened civil society, which understands the long-term impact of such developments, the bulk of civil society, or even the general public in certain parts of Pakistan, has a ‘can’t-be-bothered’ attitude towards democracy, which they now consider to be of secondary importance. In the words of an acquaintance, “First, let’s have security and we will take care of democracy later.” The obvious problem with this system is that responsibility will be divided and one wouldn’t know who to blame.

Continue reading Win the war not just the battle

Top-secret U.S. intelligence files show new levels of distrust of Pakistan

By Greg Miller, Craig Whitlock and Barton Gellman

The $52.6 billion U.S. intelligence arsenal is aimed mainly at unambiguous adversaries, including al-Qaeda, North Korea and Iran. But top-secret budget documents reveal an equally intense focus on one purported ally: Pakistan.

No other nation draws as much scrutiny across so many categories of national security concern.

A 178-page summary of the U.S. intelligence community’s “black budget” shows that the United States has ramped up its surveillance of Pakistan’s nuclear arms, cites previously undisclosed concerns about biological and chemical sites there, and details efforts to assess the loyalties of counter­terrorism sources recruited by the CIA.

Pakistan appears at the top of charts listing critical U.S. intelligence gaps. It is named as a target of newly formed analytic cells. And fears about the security of its nuclear program are so pervasive that a budget section on containing the spread of illicit weapons divides the world into two categories: Pakistan and everybody else.

The disclosures — based on documents provided to The Washington Post by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden — expose broad new levels of U.S. distrust in an already unsteady security partnership with Pakistan, a politically unstable country that faces rising Islamist militancy. They also reveal a more expansive effort to gather intelligence on Pakistan than U.S. officials have disclosed.

The United States has delivered nearly $26 billion in aid to Pakistan over the past 12 years, aimed at stabilizing the country and ensuring its cooperation in counterterrorism efforts. But with Osama bin Laden dead and al-Qaeda degraded, U.S. spy agencies appear to be shifting their attention to dangers that have emerged beyond the patch of Pakistani territory patrolled by CIA drones.

“If the Americans are expanding their surveillance capabilities, it can only mean one thing,” said Husain Haqqani, who until 2011 served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States. “The mistrust now exceeds the trust.”

Beyond the budget files, other classified documents provided to The Post expose fresh allegations of systemic human rights abuses in Pakistan. U.S. spy agencies reported that high-ranking Pakistani military and intelligence officials had been aware of — and possibly ordered — an extensive campaign of extrajudicial killings targeting militants and other adversaries.

Read more » The Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/top-secret-us-intelligence-files-show-new-levels-of-distrust-of-pakistan/2013/09/02/e19d03c2-11bf-11e3-b630-36617ca6640f_story.html

Moderate Muslims Must Oppose Islamism

By  M. Zuhdi Jasser

The terror attacks in Boston, perpetrated by the Tsarnaev brothers, have finally come to an end with the capture of the younger brother Dzhoakhar in Watertown on Friday evening. One hopes that Dzhoakhar survives just long enough to tell us whether he was working with any foreign or domestic Islamist groups before he hopefully meets the same fate of his victims. Our nation will certainly be resilient, and we cannot let terrorists achieve their goals of unraveling our society.

Perhaps Boston’s terror may finally be the impetus to begin the long overdue process of retooling America’s current counterterrorism strategies. Since 9-11, except for the Fort Hood massacre, we have been fortunate enough to avoid the kind of devastation and loss of life that we saw this week in Boston. That was certainly not for a lack of trying by our enemies, with over 300 arrests on terrorism charges since 9-11. Of these, over 80 percent were Islamists. I’ve said it before — after 9-11, after Fort Hood, and after Times Square, this is a Muslim problem that needs a Muslim solution.

The Tsarnaev brothers prove that the current Homeland Security “whack-a-mole” strategy is severely limited and rather flawed. The United States must address head-on the ideology of political Islam, which is the root cause of Islamist terrorism.

As details emerge about the identity and ideologies of the Tsarnaev brothers, it should quickly become clear that these individuals did not go to sleep one night normal American Muslims and wake up the next day al-Qaeda jihadists putting together pressure-cooker bombs. Their pathway towards radicalization will now be obvious to those who honestly connect the dots in retrospect. Far more important now is that leading reform-minded American Muslims, along with the U.S. government, the media, and academe, begin to confront and dissect the early stages of radicalization (Islamism), not just the last one (violent extremism).

Despite our devotion to our faith, I and other leading anti-Islamist Muslims were vilified by Muslim Brotherhood legacy groups in America, along with their choir on the left, for participating in Representative Peter King’s (R., N.Y.) hearing in Congress on American Muslim radicalization and the central role of Islamism. I believe history will show Chairman King’s hearings to be prescient. I was also vilified by those same groups for my role in narrating the documentary The Third Jihad, which happened to open with an illustrative scene from the terror in Beslan, Russia, in September 2004, when militant Chechnyan Islamists killed 334 civilians, 186 of them children, after a two-week standoff. The 2008 documentary was about the threat of militant Islamism to the West and the need for anti-Islamist Muslims to counter that threat. How many attacks like that suffered by the people of Boston this week must we see before we recognize the need to drill down against the separatism of the global movement of political Islam and their dreams of an Islamic state?

Continue reading Moderate Muslims Must Oppose Islamism

US wants tougher Pakistani action against Haqqanis

By:

WASHINGTON: The Obama administration expressed renewed frustration with Pakistan on Tuesday, urging its reluctant counterterrorism ally to break remaining links between its security services and the Haqqani network and stem the flow of bomb-making material into Afghanistan.

A State Department report credited Pakistan’s government with taking action against al-Qaida last year, even though the United States acted unilaterally in the commando operation that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. It called Islamabad’s attempts weaker when it came to snuffing out groups such as the Haqqani network and Laskhar e-Taiba. …

Read more » DAWN.COM

India must go for covert action in Pakistan, says book – Zee News

Delhi: If Pakistan doesn`t stop backing terrorists acting against India, New Delhi must pay back Islamabad in the same coin, says a scholarly book on Indian counterterrorism strategy.

“Indian policymakers need to critically evaluate whether in fact a `strong and stable Pakistan` is in India`s interest,” says Prem Mahadevan in “The Politics of Counterterrorism in India” (I.B. Tauris).

Suggesting that the entire basis of Indian counterterrorist policy might need to be re-examined, the 297-page book says that New Delhi should take a unilateral two-pronged approach against pan-Islamist jehad.

While implementing domestic security reforms, the book says, the “more productive approach could be to take the counterterrorist offensive inside Pakistan itself“.

“This would be a daring move, requiring considerable political courage to initially be implemented.

“Once started, however, it has the potential to exert a strong deterrent effect upon the ISI (Inter Services Intelligence agency) and Pakistani jehadists.”

According to the author, a senior researcher at the Centre for Security Studies in Zurich, India`s failure to declare Pakistan a long-term adversary, “whose covert operations need to be reciprocated, has left Indian citizens vulnerable to further terrorist attacks”.

Mahadevan quoted former RAW chief K. Sankaran Nair as saying: “If what Pakistan does within our borders exceeds our capacity to control it, then we must take the fight to their doorstep. There is no question.”

The Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) is India`s external intelligence agency.

The book says: “Strikes against terrorist masterminds, including `rogue` or `freelance` ISI officials, would thus be an integral component of an ideal Indian counterterrorist policy.”

Continue reading India must go for covert action in Pakistan, says book – Zee News

Pakistan – Extremism: a tool or a problem? – Marvi Sirmed

The Interior Ministry has recently banned some of the Difa-i-Pakistan Council (DPC) leaders from entering Islamabad, but the DPC has responded to the ban by its firm commitment to hold the rally in Aabpara. This is ironic, as the venue of the DPC’s promised rally is also the fountainhead of state power

Continue reading Pakistan – Extremism: a tool or a problem? – Marvi Sirmed

Pluralism on trial in Pakistan

Haqqani vision of a tolerant nation integrated into the world community aligns with Pakistani and US interests

By Farahnaz Ispahani

As US-Pakistani relations plunge to new depths, Americans need to look beyond media reports on tactical issues such as aid and counterterrorism. The direction Pakistan takes will be of great strategic significance to the world.

The manner in which my husband, former Pakistani ambassador Hussain Haqqani, is being treated in our homeland reflects the shrinking political space ….

Read more » gulfnews.com

Sen. John McCain and Graham warn Pakistan about killing US troops

STATEMENT BY SENATORS McCAIN AND GRAHAM ON PAKISTAN

December 5, 2011 – Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) today released the following statement on Pakistan:

“We fully appreciate the importance of U.S. relations with Pakistan, which we believe can serve U.S. national security interests. The cross-border air action that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers was unfortunate and unintentional, and we are confident that the investigation being conducted by NATO and the U.S. military will clarify the circumstances of this terrible tragedy. We join the President and our colleagues in once again expressing our deep condolences to those who lost loved ones.

The Pakistani government’s response to these events, however, has been deeply troubling and has added to the continued deterioration of our relationship. In recent days, the government has prevented NATO supplies from entering Afghanistan through Pakistan. It has ordered U.S. intelligence officers to leave the country and disrupted their work on important national security matters. And it has boycotted an international conference in Bonn, Germany that supports peace in Afghanistan.

“If these actions were not concerning enough, there were reports just this morning that the Pakistani government has allegedly decided to suspend all bilateral agreements related to counterterrorism, as part of a broader review of Pakistan’s political, diplomatic, and military relations with the United States. Such steps by the Pakistani government would mark a new low for our relationship.

“The United States has been incredibly patient with Pakistan. And we have been so despite certain undeniable and deeply disturbing facts. Most importantly, Pakistani army and intelligence officials continue to support the Haqqani Network and other terrorist groups in Pakistan that are killing U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and the vast majority of the material used to make improvised explosive devices used against U.S. forces in Afghanistan originates from two fertilizer factories inside Pakistan.

“The time has come for the United States to fully review its relations with Pakistan. We must assess the nature and levels of our support for Pakistan. In particular, all options regarding U.S. security and economic assistance to Pakistan must be on the table, including substantial reductions and stricter standards for performance. Most of all, U.S. policy toward Pakistan must proceed from the realistic understanding that certain actions of Pakistan’s military are contributing to the death and injury of our men and women in the military and jeopardizing our national security interests.

“In light of what could be an entirely new relationship with Pakistan, the United States and our allies must develop contingency plans to ensure the continued logistical support necessary for our military operations in Afghanistan.”

Courtesy » http://mccain.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressOffice.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=10974d5c-9375-faca-6f92-4026304d9334

Pakistan’s Military Faces New Questions After Raid

By SALMAN MASOOD

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Battered by the fallout of the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden, Pakistan’s army and navy chiefs came under fire again from analysts and raucous political talk shows for lapses in security that allowed militants to storm Karachi’s naval base, leading to a 16-hour standoff that ended Monday.

Journalists and retired service members repeatedly questioned how the militants could have breached the security of the naval base. The Navy chief, Admiral Nauman Bashir, was particularly pilloried for denying there was any security lapse when he spoke to journalists in Karachi after the attack.

The frenzied questioning on all of Pakistan’s news channels was an indication of the shock that the attack on Karachi’s naval base has caused around the country, still reeling from the scandal of the killing of Bin Laden on May 2, and the questions it further raises about the ability of Pakistan’s military establishment to safeguard its vital assets and nuclear installations.

The Pakistani military has come under unusual criticism for allowing Bin Laden to live for five years near the top military academy in Abbottabad, a small city about 70 miles from the capital, Islamabad, and the latest attack was seen as yet more proof of the parlous state of Pakistan’s armed forces.

“The repeated failure of the Pakistani security forces to preempt terrorist activity has demoralized not only the Pakistani soldiers, sailors, and airmen, but has also severely dented the reputation of the three services in the eyes of the people they are expected to defend” wrote Javed Husain, a security analyst on the website of DAWN daily newspaper. “Worse still, the servicemen and the people have begun to see the terrorists as ten feet tall.”

The attack would have serious repercussions not only for the military but also for the security and unity of the country, Arif Nizami, editor of Pakistan Today, a Lahore based daily, warned on another show. The Pakistan Navy was a relatively weak flank and could be easily targeted, he said.

Hamid Mir, the influential host of Capital Talk on GEO TV, even dared criticize the military for its handling of previous attacks by militants. The attack in Karachi was similar in scale and seriousness to the 2009 storming by militants on the army general headquarters in Rawalpindi, and could have been avoided if there had been a public enquiry into the earlier attack, he said.

Mr. Mir said he feared an inquiry could be initiated against him or anyone else who raised this question. He has long advocated that Pakistan should not side with the United States, but he has also denounced the Taliban.

The attack in Karachi comes as the Chief of the Army Staff, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, has been indicating in private meetings with senior editors and defense analysts over recent days that he wanted to improve morale and dispel the impression of incompetence of the armed forces by redoubling efforts against terrorism and insurgency.

Reflecting the overriding concern the Pakistan military has about its nuclear weapons program, General Kayani repeatedly emphasized that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons were safe from any attack or foreign intervention, according to one analyst who was present at one of the meetings.

The general added that Senator John Kerry gave him assurances during his visit to Pakistan last week that the United States is not interested in seizing Pakistan’s nuclear weapon. Senator Kerry told him he was ready to write down with his own blood that America was not interested in Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, he said.

In an indication of the divide in Pakistani society, commentators differed in their reactions to the 16-hour battle, with some urging political and military leaders to come together on a united counterterrorism policy to combat militancy, while others repeated familiar anti-American, anti-Indian theories, calling for a change in foreign policy and relations with the United States as the way to end the violence.

The conflicting narratives were evident in a talk show on DUNYA TV Monday afternoon with the hosts repeating conspiracy theories but some of their guests speaking more plainly.

Much of the reaction to the attack on its southern port, Karachi, also revealed Pakistan’s deep seated insecurity and sense of vulnerability regarding its longtime rival, India.

“This is a security failure,” Shehzad Chaudhry, a retired air vice marshal, said on the show. The need of the hour was to focus on the security forces and their capability, instead of focusing on the question that who could possibly be behind those Taliban, who are attacking Pakistani military, he said. “There is a need to develop national counterterrorism policy and bring our own house in order first.”

Talat Masood, a retired Lt. Gen and defense analyst, said on the same show: “We should not go into self denial. This insurgency is against you. They want to destabilize the state of Pakistan.”

Yet many commentators remain reluctant to criticize the powerful military establishment in Pakistan and tend to fall back on repeating conspiracies that the world is out to destabilize Pakistan and remove its nuclear weapons by force.

Pakistanis, on the whole, are unwilling to accept the idea that their own Muslim brothers based in the tribal areas are responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Pakistanis since 9/11,” said Arif Rafiq, a political analyst based in Washington in an interview. …..

Read more : The New York Tiems

Obama administration is divided over future of U.S.-Pakistan relationship

By Karen DeYoung and Karin Brulliard

Two weeks after the death of Osama bin Laden, the Obama administration remains uncertain and divided over the future of its relationship with Pakistan, according to senior U.S. officials.

The discovery of the al-Qaeda leader in a city near Pakistan’s capital has pushed many in the administration beyond any willingness to tolerate Pakistan’s ambiguous connections with extremist groups. After years of ineffective American warnings, many U.S. officials are concluding that a change in policy is long overdue.

Those warnings are detailed in a series of contemporaneous written accounts, obtained by The Washington Post, chronicling three years of often-contentious meetings involving top officials of both countries. Confirmed by U.S. and Pakistani participants, the exchanges portray a circular debate in which the United States repeatedly said it had irrefutable proof of ties between Pakistani military and intelligence officials and the Afghan Taliban and other insurgents, and warned that Pakistani refusal to act against them would exact a cost.

U.S. officials have said they have no evidence top Pakistani military or civilian leaders were aware of bin Laden’s location or authorized any official support, but his residence within shouting distance of Pakistani military installations has brought relations to a crisis point.

Some officials, particularly in the White House, have advocated strong reprisals, especially if Pakistan continues to refuse access to materials left behind by U.S. commandos who scooped up all the paper and computer drives they could carry during their deadly 40-minute raid on bin Laden’s compound.

“You can’t continue business as usual,” said one of several senior administration officials who discussed the sensitive issue only on the condition of anonymity. “You have to somehow convey to the Pakistanis that they’ve arrived at a big choice.”

“People who were prepared to listen to [Pakistan’s] story for a long time are no longer prepared to listen,” the official said.

But few officials are eager to contemplate the alternatives if Pakistan makes the wrong choice. No one inside the administration, the official said, “wants to make a fast, wrong decision.”

Every available option — from limiting U.S. aid and official contacts, to unleashing more unilateral ground attacks against terrorist targets — jeopardizes existing Pakistani help, however undependable, in keeping U.S. enemies at bay. Military success and an eventual negotiated settlement of the Afghanistan war are seen as virtually impossible without some level of Pakistani buy-in.

“The fact of the matter is that we’ve been able to kill more terrorists on Pakistani soil than just about anyplace else,” President Obama said last week on CBS’s “60 Minutes.” “We could not have done that without Pakistani cooperation.”

For now, the administration is in limbo, awaiting Pakistan’s response to immediate questions about bin Laden and hoping it will engage in a more solid counterterrorism partnership in the future.

That outcome seems increasingly in doubt. In Pakistan, officials’ pledges following the bin Laden raid that Pakistan would never let its territory be used for terrorist strikes against another country have turned to heated accusations of betrayal by the United States. ….

Read more : Washington Post

Pakistan after bin Laden

Humiliation of the military men

Civilian leaders and the United States put pressure on the beleaguered generals

AMERICA’S killing of Osama bin Laden on May 2nd brought with it a rare chance to ease the Pakistani army’s unhealthy grip on the country’s domestic and foreign affairs. The generals have floundered since the raid in Abbottabad, unsettled by accusations of complicity with bin Laden or, if not, then incompetence. It has not helped that video clips show bin Laden apparently active as al-Qaeda’s leader in his last years.

Pakistanis cannot agree what is more shocking, that bin Laden had skulked in a military town so close to the capital, Islamabad, or that Americans nipped in to kill him without meeting the least resistance. Either way, they know to blame the humiliated men in uniform. Columnists and bloggers even call for army bosses to fall on their swagger sticks.

Ashfaq Kayani, the now sullen-faced head of the armed forces, and his more exposed underling, Ahmad Shuja Pasha, who runs the main military spy outfit, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI), are unused to such cheek. Their spokesmen have fumbled to come up with a consistent line. They have claimed both that Pakistan abhorred America’s attack and helped to bring it about. Army inaction on the night was because someone forgot to turn on the radar, or because it only worked pointing east at India. And General Pasha would, and then certainly would not, fly to America to smooth things over.

That disarray gave elected leaders a chance. Neither President Asif Zardari nor Yusuf Raza Gilani, the prime minister, deludes himself that he is really in charge. Nor do outsiders. Just after they had killed bin Laden, the Americans first telephoned General Kayani, not the president. In the past year both Generals Kayani and Pasha have had their spells in office extended beyond their usual terms, without a squeak from the brow-beaten civilians.

The armed forces scoop up roughly a quarter of all public spending and large dollops of aid, with no proper oversight, says Ayesha Siddiqa, a defence analyst. They also run big firms, employ over 500,000, grab prime land for retired officers, set foreign and counterterrorism policies and scotch peace overtures to India. They are racing to expand a nuclear arsenal beyond 100 warheads—Pakistan will soon be the world’s fifth-biggest nuclear power and has been a chief proliferator.

Civilian silence thus spoke volumes. Rather than try to defend the army, both elected leaders found pressing needs to be out-of-town. …

Read more : The Economist

Demanding Answers From Pakistan

By ZALMAY KHALILZAD

SINCE the 9/11 attacks, Pakistan has behaved toward the United States as both friend and adversary — and gotten away with it. The latest evidence of its duplicity is the revelation that Osama bin Laden lived for years in a house near Pakistan’s national military academy and a local branch of its intelligence service without any evident interference.

Even before the American raid last week on Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan had a huge credibility problem. It provides arms and safe haven for Afghan insurgent groups and pays their commanders to carry out attacks, but denies doing so.

Continue reading Demanding Answers From Pakistan

Pakistan’s feeble denial

Excerpt:

…. And from Abbottabad the Star’s Rick Westhead reports that some locals believed the compound belonged to a relative of the Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, or a drug dealer. Others reportedly thought Hizbul Mujahedeen, a Kashmiri militant group, was using it.

Given rumours that the site  housed Al Qaeda terrorists, Taliban bigwigs, Kashmiri militants and drug barons, why didn’t the ISI move in on bin Laden? How can he have lived there for years?

The world can debate whether U.S. forces were justified in killing bin Laden, and the extent to which the U.S. should air gruesome evidence of the raid. But one thing is clear: “It’s inconceivable that bin Laden did not have a support system in the country,” as U.S. President Barack Obama’s top counterterrorism official said. Who ran that support network? Who built the compound? Who brought bin Laden in? Who supplied him all these years? If not people with links to the security services, then who? Or were the security services playing a double game, as they have in the past?

This is a credibility issue for Zardari and his top military and intelligence chiefs. They have some explaining to do, and there’s a lot at stake. Since 9/11 Pakistan has received $20 billion in U.S. assistance, and relies on billions more each year from other countries. It owes the World Bank and other lenders $54 billion, and needs foreign help to service those loans and get new ones. If world opinion sours on Pakistan, the effects could be harsh.

For years, Pakistani officials denied bin Laden was hiding there. The U.S. raid exploded that untruth. Now they say they have no idea where Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar and other insurgents may be. How credible is that? And how hard are they looking?

Courtesy: Toronto Star

U.S.-Pakistani Tensions Rise After Bin Laden Raid

Tensions Rise as U.S. Officials Press Pakistan for Answers

By STEVEN LEE MYERS and JANE PERLEZ

WASHINGTON — Tensions between the American and Pakistani governments intensified sharply on Tuesday as senior Obama administration officials demanded answers to how Osama bin Laden managed to hide in Pakistan, and the Pakistani government issued a defiant statement calling the raid that killed the Al Qaeda leader “an unauthorized unilateral action.”

John O. Brennan, the top White House counterterrorism adviser, said there were many questions about how the sprawling compound “was able to be there for so many years with Bin Laden resident there and it didn’t come to the attention of the local authorities.”

“We need to understand what sort of support network that Bin Laden might have had in place,” Mr. Brennan said during an interview with ABC on Tuesday.

The suspicions have intensified efforts by some members of Congress to scale back American aid to Pakistan, or cut it entirely, as lawmakers described Pakistan as a duplicitous ally undeserving of the billions of dollars it receives each year from Washington.

Still, Obama administration officials and some members of Congress seemed determined to avoid the kind of break in relations ….

Read more : The New York Times