Tag Archives: Shamsi

Zardari and the Generals’ consensus

By Praveen Swami

Pakistan’s civilian rulers seem to have averted a possible coup with a little help from inside the army itself.

Eight weeks ago, as rumours of an imminent coup swirled around Islamabad, few seemed to doubt democratic rule in Pakistan would soon be marched before a firing squad.

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the United States, had been recalled to face charges of conspiring to sack top military officials. There was even talk of a treason trial targeting President Asif Ali Zardari himself — with Mr. Haqqani as the Army’s star witness.

Events since, however, haven’t quite panned out as hardline Pakistani generals might have anticipated: instead of capturing power, the army has found itself in retreat.

Mr. Zardari, Pakistani media have reported, is almost certain to deny the Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, an extension to serve until 2013 — a blow directed at Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and a sign of civilian confidence.

In November, Pakistan’s military had shut down the Shamsi airbase, used to stage United States drone attacks against Islamist insurgents: actions intended to distinguish them from political rulers too-willing to please the United States. Last month, though, drone strikes resumed — directed by United States intelligence officers located at the Shahbaz airbase near Abbottabad.

Politicians have become increasingly defiant of ISI authority: even Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, who has long shied away from controversy, warned against efforts to run “a state within a state”.

The Generals’ consensus

LONG held together by a Generals’ consensus on the direction Pakistan ought to head in, the army now seems divided as never before. Last month, at a January 13 meeting of the corps commanders conference, where Gen. Kayani briefed generals on the evolving political crisis , he ran into unexpected in-house resistance, leading to a 10-hour debate.

The toughest questioning, a Pakistani government source privy to the discussions told The Hindu, came from Lieutenant-General Tariq Khan — the commander of the Mangla-based 1 corps, and a veteran of counter-insurgency operations who is considered among the most competent of the army’s commanders

Gen. Khan, the source said, made clear the army was unprepared to take power, and demanded to know how the army chief intended to resolve the still-unfolding showdown with the civilian governments. He noted that the army had no coherent plan to address its increasingly-fragile relationship with the United States, too. Backed by other key officers, like Gujaranwala-based XXX corps commander Raheel Sharif, Gen. Khan pushed for the army to pull back from the brink.

Ever since the killing of military ruler Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in 1998, the corps commanders conference has been a key instrument of what Mr. Haqqani once described as “military rule by other means”. The resistance faced by Gen. Kayani within the institution is, therefore, of great significance.

Ever since he took office, Pakistan’s army chief had worked to rebuild the army’s relationship with the jihadist groups it had patronised for decades. Terrorism in Pakistan, he argued, had come about because the country had become enmeshed in the United States’ war against jihadists in Afghanistan. Building peace, he argued, necessitated reviving this relationship — even at the cost of ties with the United States.

In 2008, Gen. Pasha delivered an off-the-record briefing to journalists, where he described Tehreek-e-Taliban commanders Baitullah Mehsud and Maulana Muhammad Fazlullah — responsible for hundreds of killings in Pakistanas “patriots”.

Following the raid that claimed Osama bin Laden last year, Mr. Pasha put the case for an aggressive anti-United States line to Pakistani legislators: “At every difficult moment in our history”, he said “the United States has let us down. This fear that we can’t live without the United States is wrong.

Gen. Kayani’s line, the government’s decision not to allow his spymaster to serve on suggests, no longer represents the army’s institutional consensus.

The path to peace he envisaged involved costs the army isn’t willing to pay.

Political resurgence?

Continue reading Zardari and the Generals’ consensus

Kiyani puts gun on the parliament’s shoulder!

NATO supply resumption: Parliament to make final decision, says Kayani

By Zahid Gishkori

JACOBABAD: Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has categorically said for the first time that parliament reserves the right to decide on resumption of Nato supplies.

Speaking to reporters at the Shamsi Airbase on Monday, he said that the final decision on whether Nato supplies will be allowed to pass through Pakistan for forces based in Afghanistan will be made by the Parliamentary Committee on National Security.

Kayani and Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman, chief of air staff, took members of the media to airbase in Jacobabad to formally announce that the Shamsi Airbase is now under the control of the Pakistan Air Force. The US, which used the airbase for drone attacks in Afghanistan and possibly those in Pakistan, was told to vacate the base by Pakistan in the aftermath of the November 26 Salala checkpoint attack.

The army chief said that Pakistan and US are cooperating on defence operations and Pakistani officials are taken into confidence whenever bordering areas are to be attacked.

Asked if the F-16 aircraft that Pakistan recently received from the US can down American drones, Suleman said that the PAF does not want any such situation to arise where this capability will have to tested. …

Read more » The Express Tribune

Institute for Defence Studies & Analysis (idsa) – Pakistan Military’s Desire to Slip Into The Driving Seat Once Again

By P. K. Upadhyay

Excerpt;

Some very strange developments seem to be unfolding in Pakistani politics. A political dogfight between the civilian and military leaderships has been unheard off in the country’s history so far. The generals never had to air their differences with the political masters in the public as they are doing at present. When faced with a ‘defiance’ of their writ at any stage, the generals have always taken over power after booting-out the civilian government. …..

…. Then why this time around is General Kayani not able to push out the President and Prime Minister ….

….. Nawaz Sharief’s efforts to fish in troubled waters as also to move closer to the Army’s position on ‘Memogate’ ….

….. It was clear that the Army was reluctant to assume power and, at the same time, also reluctant to let the Zardari-led PPP government continue. It appears to have chosen the judicial route to hound out the government. Apparently, a deal between the Army and the Chief Justice of Pakistan allowed not just a renewed focus on the old National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) cases against Zardari and others, but also the setting up of a four-judge judicial enquiry into Memogate ….

…. Why is this unprecedented and uncharacteristic spat between the Army and the civilian government continuing? Apparently, the United States is a factor. Although, for the record, the US Administration and Pentagon had dismissed the memo to Mullen, they seem to have quietly acted on it by heavily leaning on the Pakistan Army. Despite the recent breakdown in their relationship, the US military still has a considerable hold over the Pakistan Army …..

…. Why is this unprecedented and uncharacteristic spat between the Army and the civilian government continuing? Apparently, the United States is a factor. Although, for the record, the US Administration and Pentagon had dismissed the memo to Mullen, they seem to have quietly acted on it by heavily leaning on the Pakistan Army. Despite the recent breakdown in their relationship, the US military still has a considerable hold over the Pakistan Army in the form of continuing supply of spares and other vital equipment, apart from training and intelligence cooperation. The Americans could have conveyed to Kayani and company that ousting the civilian regime in a coup would mean a total break in links, including the supply of spares and other wherewithal. The Pakistan Army cannot resist this pressure, since without using US supplied armour and attack helicopters, it cannot continue its operations against the Taliban in FATA or the Baluchi rebels in Baluchistan. Another inhibiting factor for Kayani and his generals could be the extent of penetration of the Army by jehadi elements. For sometime now, there appears to be a lull in clashes between Islamic radicals and the Army. While a let-up in US drone strikes (after the handing over of the Shamsi airbase) appears to be a significant facilitating factor for this lull, it cannot be the key trigger for it. The possibility of a JUI (F) brokered truce between the Army and Taliban should not be ruled out. The Army wants to preserve this truce for the present and, therefore, is reluctant to rock the boat by staging a coup at this juncture. It possibly fears that in case it ousts the Zardari government and becomes all powerful, that may have some destabilizing impact on the current truce with the Taliban. Lastly, Kayani and other senior generals may still not be out of the shock they suffered from the violent outbursts of junior officers after the Abbottabad raid. They recognize that the younger lot of Pakistan Army Officers does not come from traditional sections of the society known for its contempt for ‘civilians’ and their ways. These officers are the off-spring of former JCOs/NCOs of the military, as also the urban middle and lower middle classes, and may be harbouring a strong antipathy towards the bourgeois attitudes of their superiors.

This, however, does not mean that Kayani and company are going to let the Zardari-Gilani combine continue to spite them. Army backed judicial action against the regime is a strong possibility. ….

To read complete article » Institute of Defence Studies & Analysis (idsa)

http://www.idsa.in/idsacomments/PakistanMilitaryDesiretoSlipIntoTheDrivingSeatOnceAgain_PKUpadhyay_130112

Solve the Pakistan problem by redrawing the map – By M. CHRIS MASON – Globe and Mail

Relations between the United States and Pakistan have reached an all-time low. The Khyber Pass is closed to NATO cargo, U.S. personnel were evicted from Shamsi airbase and Pakistani observers have been recalled from joint co-operation centres.

Much more importantly, senior officials in Washington now know that Pakistan has been playing them false since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and understand that Pakistan was sheltering Osama bin Laden a few hundred yards from its version of West Point. The recent shelling of Afghan troops inside Afghanistan by the Pakistani army, and the NATO counterstrike, cleared in error by Pakistan, has further embarrassed the Pakistani military.

Continue reading Solve the Pakistan problem by redrawing the map – By M. CHRIS MASON – Globe and Mail

Shamsi Air base – By Air Marshal Ayaz A Khan (R)

The disused Bhandari airstrip 200 miles south of Quetta in Balochistan was gifted to Shiekh Zahid Al-Nahyan the ruler of Abu Dhabi by the government of Pakistan in the 1990’s. The airstrip called Shamsi was developed by Emirates Shieks into a jet capable airfield , and was used for falcon hunting of rare Bustards in Balochistan. It was leased out to US Central Intelligence Agency in 2001 by UAE with President Musharraf’s approval, and was developed by the United States Air Force as a military air base in great secrecy for bombing of Afghanistan. CIA occupation of the base clearly had his approval. General Pervez Musharraf as President should have comprehended the long time strategic implications of handing over Shamsi air base to Washington! Development of of Shamsi for clandestine operations was kept a highly guarded secret, and Chief Minister Magsi and even Corps Commander were not allowed to visit it, when it was being developed for Drone operations and construction of the required infrastructure for this purpose was taking place. There is no evidence on record that the UAE government handed over Shamsi to the CIA for Drone operations. I was general Musharraf who handed over Shamsi and allowed US Air Force operations against Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants from some other PAF bases including the Shahbaz Air Base. ….

Read more » Defence Journal

http://www.defencejournal.com/2011-7/index.asp

Tensions High Between U.S. and Pakistan After Strike – New York Times

Tensions Flare Between U.S. and Pakistan After Strike

By SALMAN MASOOD and ERIC SCHMITT

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistani officials said on Saturday that NATO aircraft had killed at least 25 soldiers in strikes against two military posts at the northwestern border with Afghanistan, and the country’s supreme army commander called them unprovoked acts of aggression in a new flash point between the United States and Pakistan.

The Pakistani government responded by ordering the Central Intelligence Agency to vacate the drone operations it runs from Shamsi Air Base, in western Pakistan, within 15 days. It also closed the two main NATO supply routes into Afghanistan, including the one at Torkham. ….

Read more » The New York Times

US rejects demand to vacate Shamsi base

WASHINGTON / ISLAMABAD: The US is rejecting demands from Pakistan that American personnel abandon a military base used by the CIA to stage drone strikes against militants, US officials told Reuters.

US personnel have not left the Shamsi air base and there is no plan for them to do so, said a US official familiar with the matter. “That base is neither vacated nor being vacated,” the official said. The information was confirmed by a second US official.

On Wednesday, federal Minister for Defence Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar said that US had been asked to stop using the base for drone strikes and vacate it. ….

Read more → DAWN.COM