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Pasha should go – New York Times Editorial

– A Pakistani Journalist’s Murder

After the Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad was murdered in May, suspicion fell on Inter-Services Intelligence, the country’s powerful spy agency. Mr. Shahzad reported aggressively on the infiltration of militants into Pakistan’s military and had received repeated threats from ISI. Other journalists said they, too, have been threatened, even tortured, by security forces.

Now the Obama administration has evidence implicating the ISI in this brutal killing. According to The Times’s Jane Perlez and Eric Schmitt, American officials say new intelligence indicates that senior ISI officials ordered the attack on Mr. Shahzad to silence him. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed on Thursday that Pakistan’s government “sanctioned” the killing, but he did not tie it directly to ISI. The murder will make journalists and other critics of the regime even more reluctant to expose politically sensitive news. The ISI is also proving to be an increasingly dangerous counterterrorism partner for the United States.

After Mr. Shahzad’s killing, ISI insisted it had no role, contending the death would be “used to target and malign” its reputation. The ISI and the army, which oversees the intelligence agency, were once considered Pakistan’s most respected institutions. Now they are sharply criticized at home for malfeasance and incompetence.

There is evidence that they were complicit in hiding Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad and that the ISI helped plan the Mumbai attack in 2008. They failed to prevent the recent attack on a naval base in Karachi. Mr. Shahzad disappeared two days after publishing an article suggesting the attack was retaliation for the navy’s attempt to crack down on Al Qaeda militants in the armed forces.

It’s not clear how high up the culpability for Mr. Shahzad’s murder goes — or whether there are any officials left in the ISI or the army who have the power and desire to reform the spy agency. President Asif Ali Zardari and his government, while not implicated in these heinous acts, have been a disappointment, largely letting the military go its own way. They need to find Mr. Shahzad’s murderers and hold them accountable. And they must find the courage to assert civilian control over security services that have too much power and are running amok.

Mr. Zardari needs to speak out firmly against abuses, insist on adherence to the rule of law and join his political rival, Nawaz Sharif, in pressing the security services to change. That can start by insisting on the retirement of Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the ISI chief, and the appointment of a more credible successor.

The United States needs to use its influence to hasten Mr. Pasha’s departure. It should tell Pakistan’s security leadership that if Washington identifies anyone in ISI or the army as abetting terrorists, those individuals will face sanctions like travel bans or other measures. The ISI has become inimical to Pakistani and American interests.

Courtesy: → The New York Times

Source → http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/08/opinion/08fri2.html?_r=1

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[For more details → DAWN.COM → NYT asks Pak Govt to remove ISI Chief. – U.S. conforms evidence of ISI ordering the killing of Saleem Shehzad.]

New York Times: Seized Cell phone Suggests Bin Laden Link to Pakistani Intelligence

– Seized Phone Offers Clues to Bin Laden’s Pakistani Links

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The cellphone of Osama bin Laden’s trusted courier, which was recovered in the raid that killed both men in Pakistan last month, contained contacts to a militant group that is a longtime asset of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, senior American officials who have been briefed on the findings say.

The discovery indicates that Bin Laden used the group, Harakat-ul-Mujahedeen, as part of his support network inside the country, the officials and others said. But it also raised tantalizing questions about whether the group and others like it helped shelter and support Bin Laden on behalf of Pakistan’s spy agency, given that it had mentored Harakat and allowed it to operate in Pakistan for at least 20 years, the officials and analysts said.

In tracing the calls on the cellphone, American analysts have determined that Harakat commanders had called Pakistani intelligence officials, the senior American officials said. ….

Read more: The New York Times

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More details: BBC urdu

Army chief wanted more drone support

Kayani requested Admiral Fallon to provide “continuous Predator coverage of the conflict area” in South Waziristan.

In meeting with US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen over March 3-4, 2008, Kayani was asked for his help “in approving a third Restricted Operating Zone for US aircraft over the FATA.” The request – detailed in a cable sent from the US Embassy Islamabad on March 24 – clearly indicates that two ‘corridors’ for US drones had already been approved earlier.

By Hasan Zaidi

KARACHI: Secret internal American government cables, accessed by Dawn through WikiLeaks, provide confirmation that the US military’s drone strikes programme within Pakistan had more than just tacit acceptance of the country’s top military brass, despite public posturing to the contrary. In fact, as long ago as January 2008, the country’s military was requesting the US for greater drone back-up for its own military operations. ….

Read more : DAWN

Pakistan and the US: beyond the tailspin – Dr Mohammad Taqi

Excerpt:

The military events surrounding Senator Kerry’s Pak-Afghan visits suggest that the US is not about to blink first. The question remains whether the Pakistani establishment will pull back from the brink

So, he surrendered to parliament. Or did he? The Pakistani government’s minister for information would have one believe that he did. But General Ahmed Shuja Pasha may actually be recalling Julius Caesar’s words: veni, vidi, vici! The only difference is that when Caesar claimed ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’, he was reporting to the Roman Senate about his swift military victory over Pharnaces II of Pontus. However, for all practical purposes, General Pasha and the security establishment’s triumph is on the domestic front. For now, they seem to have vanquished parliament quite successfully. Like Molly Bloom in James Joyce’s Ulysses, the PPP, PML-Q and the MQM threw themselves into the military’s arms with a fervent “…and yes I said yes I will Yes”. The PML-N’s chiding notwithstanding, Generals Pasha and Ashfaq Kayani had their cake and got to eat it too.

The well-choreographed Pasha tamasha in parliament and the events preceding and after it has left the Pakistani parliament weaker than ever before. Many of us never had any illusions about the security establishment’s tall tale that the civilians should take charge of foreign and security affairs. But anyone who still had a doubt about the ones calling the shots need not look any further than the US Senator John Kerry’s very first stop on his visit to Pakistan this week. Despite his recent tame requests for the prime minister to convene parliament to discuss the Osama bin Laden fiasco, General Kayani did not find anything wrong with Senator Kerry seeing him before meeting the civilian leadership. A simple change in the visiting senator’s itinerary could have been requested — and very likely accepted by the guest — but it was not. Well, so much for the military’s newfound love for parliament’s supremacy. But one must give credit where it is due. A bakery-running enterprise may not be a fighting force but it could be pretty deft at politics.  ….

…. No matter how Pakistan spins it, the tailspin in its relationship with the US and the world at large cannot be reversed by returning the stealth H-60 Blackhawk’s tail. The Pakistani brass is way too familiar with the words “peanuts” when describing a disproportionately minuscule response to tectonic shifts in geopolitics. Osama bin Laden’s lair, less than a mile away from the Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul, is not a pinprick that the world, let alone the US, would forget so easily. The Pakistani parliament may have been duped with it, but there is every indication that the US Congress and the White House consider the ‘intelligence failure’ excuse an insult to their intelligence.

Senator Kerry’s soft but measured tone indicates that the Pakistani brass still has some time, perhaps through July, to make serious amends but all options, including moving the UN, remain on the table. The senator also seems to have spelt out some of the bare-minimum metrics for any rapprochement. Pakistan’s position vis-à-vis Mullah Omar and his Quetta Shura on the one hand and the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) and its various incarnations on the other, will certainly determine the future relationship between Pakistan and the world at large. But if the senator’s visit to Khost — across from North Waziristan — is any indication, the dismantling of the Haqqani network is at the top of the confidence-building agenda. The military events surrounding Senator Kerry’s Pak-Afghan visits suggest that the US is not about to blink first. The question remains whether the Pakistani establishment will pull back from the brink. Unlike the Pakistani parliament, the UN Security Council may actually be difficult to conquer.

To read complete article: Daily Tiems

Osama’s Death & Civil-Military Row

Nawaz Answered Government’s SOS & Rushed Back to the Country; Osama’s Death & Civil-Military Row; Who Asked Mark Siegel to Publish Write Up by Zardari?

By Aijaz Ahmed

Islamabad: The May 2 Abbottabad operation, which resulted in the discovery and murder of world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama Bin Laden at the hands of US Navy SEALs has brought the civil-military relationship in Pakistan to a new low. The mistrust between the two has increased manifold. It is feared that the imbroglio may end up in the pack up of another democratic dispensation.

Observers are unanimous that the country’s civilian leadership was stunned at the news and couldn’t respond quickly to it but they are really surprised at the response or the lack of it by the military leadership. They feel that the military hierarchy’s behavior was quite perplexing. They were remarkably silent and seemed quite oblivious in the first few days after the US operation as if nothing had happened. Later they mishandled the issue in the media and attempted to undermine the political leadership. That raises concerns of the people about junta’s intentions towards the democratic government.

Sources in the power corridors have confided to this scribe that the civilian leadership is taking many questions into account so as to regroup and formulate a counter strategy. Every single move by the army chief and other military top men is being minutely watched and analyzed. The civilian leadership is quite unhappy over the recent statement of top ranking military leadership regarding the government in its post Osama briefing to media and anchorpersons. The address of Army Chief General Kayani to Garrison Officers at three top cantonments has also caused concern amongst the civilian leadership through which an impression was given that the civilians are ineffective and it is they who are making damage control efforts despite a huge understanding on the issue between the President, Prime Minister and the Army Chief, sources maintained.

The civilian leadership sincerely intends to control the damage but for many reasons it is clueless and directionless, sources observed adding that every effort of independent inquiry was thwarted and blocked by the military, thus an inquiry under Adjutant General has been constituted. How come a serving subordinate will be able to conduct an independent inquiry against his immediate bosses, asked a sitting minister however adding that everybody will have to wait for the outcome of the inquiry being conducted by army itself.

On the other hand civilians are trying to get answers of many questions including the one that whether or not they have been ditched by the intelligence networks. The people also want an answer to the question if OBL’s presence in Abbottabad was in the knowledge of the relevant agencies and military leadership.

Meanwhile, sources observed that a sizeable number of the civilians seriously believed that they have been ditched. A serious question is being raised in view of the recent statements by some neighbors pointing out that when they heard the blast after the helicopter crash, they tried to approach OBL’s compound but they were stopped by some guards speaking Urdu.

These statements, in view of some sources, clearly indicate that an earlier report carried by Indus Herald that some soldiers were provided for outer cordon was correct. This also indicates that a section of Pakistani establishment knew about a US strike, but they might not be privy to the details of the proceedings.

A section of media and politicians are also looking for an answer to the question that if the operation was done in total dark and without a prior information of Pakistan, then how come the people who have been arrested after the operation from the compound did not escape although they got at least 15 minutes before the arrival of any Pakistani security personnel? Hamza bin Laden is believed to have taken the advantage of the time gap and ran away from the scene as reported by the British media is quite a good evidence in support of the above argument.

The president and the other PPP leaders wanted an independent inquiry to be held, but they had to accept the decision by military leadership as desired by Army Chief sources said adding that the powers that be asked civilians to stay away from the damage control efforts and they will be the ones who will be responsible to take on the situation and control the damage, but the situation deteriorated with every passing day. However, the military leadership was not happy with the way some TV channels sparked debate and took them to task with strong words and allegations of incompetence and negligence.

It is also said that the president has been advised that besides the inquiry announced by the military leadership, an independent parliamentary inquiry commission with presence of opposition leader Ch. Nisar, and some of the top retired judges must be set up. However, the sources observed that the government would be packed up if such an inquiry were established. It is also believed that the president is willing to set up such an inquiry with Army Chief and other military leadership on board.

Meanwhile, a section of media is probing an allegation that the officers in KPK were asked not to leave their station and stay in before the operation and all mobile phones of the uniformed officers were blocked on May 01. However this story has not been confirmed by any reliable source.

On the other hand, sources in the PML-N have confided to this scribe that Mian Nawaz Sharif responded to a May-Day call by the government through unconventional means and rushed to Pakistan. The government wanted to block Ch. Nisar’s cynical criticism. Mian Nawaz Sharif on the first day of his top leadership meeting strongly supported the idea of a demand of resignation of both Army Chief and the ISI Chief, a demand that didn’t get much response earlier. He according to the sources has assured the PPP that any attempt to subvert the Constitution and dislodge the civilian rule will be resisted with full force. At a press conference after the two-day PML-N meeting Mian Nawaz Sharif rejected the inquiry set up by military and demanded a Judicial Commission to look in the matter. He severely criticized the military establishment. ….

Read more : Indus Herald

Af-Pak: a peace to end all peace —Dr Mohammad Taqi

Excerpt:

The continued aggressive posturing by the Pakistani establishment, albeit this time with a full civilian façade and on the pretext of seeking peace in Afghanistan, indicates that the already dysfunctional relationship between the US and Pakistan is literally on the rocks

“After the ‘war to end war’, they seem to have been pretty successful in Paris at making a ‘peace to end peace’” –Field Marshal Sir Archibald Wavell.

Lord Wavell, a commander of the British forces in the Middle East and later a Viceroy of India, had been commenting on the treaties bringing World War I to an end and the future shape of the post-Ottoman Middle East, but the mad dash towards ‘peace and reconciliation’ in the Pak-Afghan region over the last two weeks suggests that after a decade-long war, we too may be in for more turbulence, not tranquillity.

The very connotations of the terms truth, peace and reconciliation make it nearly impossible to say anything critical of — let alone contradicting — the process. But when the inimitable host of VOA’s Pashto service, Rahman Bunairee asked me last week to comment on President Asif Ali Zardari’s remarks in Turkey about opening up of a Taliban diplomatic office there, I found it difficult not to be cynical about the whole drama. “Since when does the president have such clout to determine Pakistan’s foreign policy, especially vis-à-vis Afghanistan,” I responded. Thinking of Wavell’s words, I added that what appears now to be a solution to a problem will likely be the mother of many larger problems to follow. President Zardari was speaking for the Pakistan Army and the so-called peace proposal — the diplomatic street address for the Taliban included — had been drafted in Rawalpindi. The civilians may have been acting it out, but the script is unmistakably Khaki. ….

…. In the Afghan memory, Pakistan, for three decades, has been part of the problem, not the solution. Each time that Pakistan has ‘sponsored peace’ there, rockets have rained on Kabul. Pakistan has miscalculated the Afghan and the US readiness to accept it as a partner in peace and the Gilani-Kayani-Pasha delegation to Kabul is being seen as a too-clever-by-half move to shoulder out the legitimate stakeholders. Unless Pakistan comes clean on the jihadist terrorists it harbours, any peace it sponsors will mean an end of all peace.

To read full article : Daily Times