During 1999 Ansar Abbasi was Praising General Musharraf Martial Law regime's "Alleged Reforms" when Ansar Abbasi used to be a Correspondent in Daily Dawn, he never mentioned even a single time that Impsoing Martial Law is Treason and Violation of Article 6 of 1973 Constitution of Pakistan. Read the news reports which Ansar Abbasi filed in the Daily Dawn in 1999. Not a single time Ansar adress Musharraf as CMLA but Ansar was very respectful towards "alleged Chief Executive" Musharraf. You may not find a single personal observation by Ansar Abbasi on Constitutional Tampering by Military Regime. Musharraf was given mandate by the Judiciary to tamper with the Constitution. Everybody knows who was part of that Supreme Court Bench. REFERENCES: Special courts to try cases of accountability Ansar Abbasi 06 November 1999 Issue : 05/45 [Courtesy Daily Dawn Wire Service] http://www.lib.virginia.edu/area-studies/SouthAsia/SAserials/Dawn/1999/06nov99.html
Musharraf approves pre-1973 authority for FPSC by Ansar Abbasi Week Ending : 29 January 2000 Issue : 06/05 [Courtesy Daily Dawn Wire Service] http://www.lib.virginia.edu/area-studies/SouthAsia/SAserials/Dawn/2000/29jan00.html Sharifs lose 80pc of assets, says Qureshi by Ansar Abbasi Week Ending : 16 December 2000 Issue : 06/48 http://www.lib.virginia.edu/area-studies/SouthAsia/SAserials/Dawn/2000/dec1600.html Beneficiaries of NRO cannot get bail: NAB By Ansar Abbasi Friday, November 13, 2009 http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=25545 Finally, dreaded NRO list is out and official By Ansar Abbasi Friday, November 20, 2009 http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=25672
NAB has evidence of mass corruption in past defence deals NAB still to take up cases against corrupt officers; documents with NAB suggest many deals made by military men involved kickbacks News Intelligence Unit by Kamran Khan ‘The News’ dated August 29, 2000 - KARACHI: The long arm of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), which has already twisted some of the "untouchables" among the political, bureaucratic and business elite of the country, is still far away from touching the veteran military top brass that was at the helm of affairs when questionable military purchases worth billions of dollars were made in the past two decades. In a month-long investigation by the News Intelligence Unit (NIU), during which more than three dozen present and retired civil and military officials were interviewed and scores of related documents examined, it emerged the national exchequer may have lost up to Rs. 570 crore (US $1 billion) in the shape of alleged kickbacks in contracts. These related to tanks, submarines, mine hunters, Mirage fighters and army jeeps in multi-purpose deals signed by the Army Welfare Trust, Shaheen and Bahria foundations.
The NIU investigation has revealed that the NAB is already in possession of enough documentary or circumstantial evidence to launch a full-scale probe against at least 20 retried senior military officials including three former chiefs of army staff, two naval chiefs and an Air Force chief in purchases of tanks, submarines, naval mine hunters, Mirage fighters and army jeeps. But there is nothing to suggest NAB is close to filing a reference against any former ranking military official or even serve them with a questionnaire. Interestingly, the documents seen by the NIU providing extensive clues about alleged corruption in mega defence contracts and in the affairs of the Army Welfare Trust (AWT), Shaheen Foundation, Bahria Foundation and Defence Housing Authority (DHA) were made available from the NAB's huge reservoir of incriminating documents, much of which was built by the former Ehtesab Bureau. There is no indication yet NAB would, at any time in the near future, make any use of this reservoir. Besides sizeable documentary evidence, the army-run NAB is also equipped with experienced serving military officials who have brought with them personal expertise and knowledge about many of the questionable defence deals. Among the NAB's much-talked about consultants, is Major (retd) Saeed Akhter Malik, a former representative for Styer sniper rifles in Pakistan. Saeed can provide an insight to NAB about the "invisible prerequisites" for selling sniper rifle to army-run organisations like ASF and Pakistan Coast Guards.
Though the defence budget of Rs 135 billion, including the military purchases of about Rs 1100 crore per annum, far exceeds the total budget of all civilian departments of the Government of Pakistan, NAB is barred from investigating the corruption cases that relate to the active service military officials. There is, however, no restriction on the organisation from investigating past military deals and retired military officials. While a majority of contracts relating to controversial defence purchases have not yet been touched by the NAB, the organisation is making a low-key effort to seek the extradition of former chief of Naval Staff Admiral Mansurul Haq from the United States. The NAB is in possession of documentary evidence, left by the former Ehtesab Bureau, that the DCN-I (Direction des Constructions Navales International) of France had made an indirect payment of about US $ five million to Admiral Mansurul Haq for a grossly over-invoiced up-gradation project for three Agosta B submarines. The NAB is seeking Admiral Mansur's extradition on that count, but it seems to be not interested to get to the bottom of the most embarrassing defence purchase episode of Pakistan's history.
During its investigation the NIU discovered that behind a much- publicised demand for Admiral Mansur's extradition lay an institutional effort to cover up the whole scandal. Unimpeachable sources have informed the NIU that while the NAB made public demands for Mansur's extradition, the former Naval chief, who had received advance information to that effect from an official channel, has already left her daughter's Austin residence in the state of Texas for a new undisclosed location outside the US. The NIU can disclose that Commodore Shahid, the former director of Naval Intelligence who was convicted by a Field General Court Martial (FGCM) to seven years of rigorous imprisonment for his alleged role in the submarine corruption case, was pardoned by the former Naval chief Admiral Fasih Bukhari, only three months after the conviction. Commodore Shahid spent 12 weeks of this imprisonment in the comfortable atmosphere of his residence in Islamabad, during which there was no restriction on his movement in the city. For receiving heavy kickbacks in a submarine deal Commodore Shahid and Captain Liaquat Ali Malik, both considered close to the top Naval hierarchy involved in the submarine deal, were awarded seven and three years rigorous imprisonment, respectively, by a military court in November 1998. These officials had been convicted on the basis of irrefutable bank statements and other documentary evidence, besides damning evidence from another serving Pakistan Navy Captain.
During the trial and after their conviction both officers, however, rigidly maintained they were just the pawns in a large game, and they have been made the scapegoats. Commodore Shahid, who had held the sensitive post of director Naval Intelligence, was believed to be privy to each and every behind-the-scene development on this subject and his threat to spill the beans is understood to have resulted in his unprecedented pardon by the former naval chief. Before his pardon, the Navy never allowed the authorities to shift the convicted commodore from his house to a prison. Evidence in black and white available with NAB also provides ample evidence that kickbacks were also paid in the purchase of Edrian class minesweepers for the Pakistan Navy. The deal worth US $ 250 million had raised several eyebrows regarding the cost and the effectiveness of the project. NIU believed that Commodore Shahid was loaded with inside information on this particular deal also, and his honest testimony may provide vital links to establish payment of kickbacks.
The NIU has learned that while NAB appeared to be not interested in investigating Commodore Shahid's statements and the events that led to his dramatic pardon, it has not yet questioned Admiral A U Khan and Rear Admiral Mujtaba, the two senior ranking naval official who had played a significant role in the navy's decision to buy Agosta submarines under the then naval chief Admiral Saeed Khan. Admiral A U Khan, who had received a surprising extension in the service in Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC), after the military take-over, is also closely related to a Federal minister. Admiral Mansurul Haq's financial deals while heading the PNSC before he was handpicked to head Pakistan Navy, though caused the collapse of the PNSC, but NAB is yet to start its probe into the PNSC affairs. The NIU is told the NAB is "fully loaded" with evidence against Admiral Mansur and two other top-ranking former naval officials on the kickbacks worth Rs 500 million they received on the land deals involving Bahria Foundation.
Admiral A U Khan or Rear Admiral Mujtaba are yet to be questioned by NAB about their role in the submarine deal. Several sources said Admiral A U Khan's 1994 visit to France was the turning point in the Navy's final decision to prefer the French subs over the Swedish model. A former Citibank official in Karachi, who had travelled to France with Admiral Mansurul Haq on his famous visit to conclude the up-gradation deal with the DCN-I, is now working closely with a top NAB official, but there is nothing to suggest if he had shared his knowledge, or has been asked to do so, about the kickbacks in the submarine deal with NAB. In his private Sindh Club circle, the same former Citibank official is claiming that it was because of his personal relationship with Admiral Mansurul Haq, NAB has not yet moved to seize three personal houses of the former naval chief that are worth at least Rs 15 crore. A senior NAB official, however, informed the NIU that this individual was involved in NAB's plea of bargain with Tas Jumani who was wanted by NAB in a Rs 8 crore corruption case involving Pakistan State Oil. The NAB source emphatically denied the former Citibank official had anything to do with Admiral Mansur's investigation.
Whatever may be the role of the former Citibank official in the submarine saga, but the documents available with NAB and other informed sources have named a Monte Carlo and London-based former BCCI official, as the principal go-between the DCN-I, the submarine manufacturer and the top naval officials in Pakistan. NAB officials estimate that in US$100 million kickback in the submarine deal, this go-between made a cool US$10 million in commission. He also acted as the principal go-between with Mirage 2000 manufacturer Dassault Aviation and the Government of Pakistan for an aborted purchase of 40 Mirage 2000 for a deal worth US$4 billion. At that time he was believed to be closely tied with both political and key Pakistan Air Force players. Although the Mirage 2000 deal never materialised, this individual's role remained unclear in PAF's surprise deal to buy 40 pieces of old model Mirages for US$120 million.
NAB's reservoir of documents has some interesting material about this PAF purchase of 34 Mirage-vf and 6 Mirage 3 BE from the SEGAM of France. The role played by the then Director General Defence Procurement (DG, DP) Rear Admiral Saeed Akhter remained central to the whole deal, which had been concluded by the then Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Abbas Khattak and the SEGAM officials in France. Amid charges of kickbacks worth US$20 million, distributed between the PAF command and the DG, DP, Rear Admiral Saeed Akhter left his job, under unexplained circumstances, and left for Europe where he settled permanently. At the time of the deal and afterwards, the dismissed Vice Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Arshad Choudry had voiced concern about rising corruption in the PAF, and in a specific meeting with the then President Farooq Leghari, the Vice Air Chief offered to prove kickbacks and commission in deals ranging from land deals in Karachi to Mirage purchases to the Mirage rebuild factory in Kamra.
Imprudent and sometimes intriguing financial decisions, during the same period, caused losses worth tens of crores of rupees to the active-service PAF officers-run Shaheen Foundation, the Shaheen Air venture with a Karachi-based General Sales Agent (GSA) for some foreign airlines resulted in more than Rs 500 million losses to the Foundation. The situation at the Shaheen Foundation, mostly because of some decisions directed by ACM Abbas Khattak, came to a point that Air Marshal Shafiq Hyder, a highly regarded officer, asked for a premature retirement citing affairs at the Shaheen Foundation. The Shafiq Hyder episode came at a time when the Shaheen Foundation had offered to give its name to a shadowy Shaheen Pay TV project that was to be controlled by PAY TV (Ireland), a mysterious company that did not reveal the names of its directors even to the Shaheen Foundation chief, who had instruction from the ACM Abbas Khattak to sign this deal with PAY TV (Ireland).
Several sources mentioned that a Peshawar-based individual, Andrew Shalom, with mysterious connections in Europe, was the go-between the then Air Force chief in various projects including the Shaheen Pay TV project undertaken by the Shaheen Foundation. Sources said if NAB ever decides to undertake a probe into the alleged PAF corruption scandals under the former ACM Abbas Khattak, the two former Air Marshals of the PAF would love to extend their cooperation and their insight. Acquisition of new tanks has remained central to the defence strategy envisioned by the successive chiefs of Army Staff since Gen Ziaul Haq. In the past one decade alone, cash-strapped Pakistan has spent about Rs 900 crore (US$1.6b) to equip the Army with the finest of desert battle machines. Allegations of kickbacks, also from senior army circles, were made each time the army leadership went into serious negotiations for tank purchases since General Ziaul Haq witnessed the final trial run of American made Abraham tanks at the Army's tank trial site of Khairpur Tamewali on August 17, 1988. The same afternoon that day, Gen Ziaul Haq's plane, also carrying the top leadership of Pakistan Army, crashed not far from Khairpur Tamewali.
While Gen Zia had favoured the US built model of the tanks for an about US$700 million purchase, his successor Gen Mirza Aslam Beg opted for the US $1 billion Al-Khalid manufacturing plant to build MBT 2000 tanks with Chinese cooperation. While Gen Beg's US$1 billion Al-Khalid plan was still operational, his successor Gen Asif Nawaz went full swing to conclude a US$ 450 million purchase for 320 T-72 tanks from Poland. Though Gen Asif Nawaz had died by the day when this deal was to be signed with the visiting Polish team, his successor Gen Abdul Wahid Kakar's team of experts rejected the deal outrightly, citing the reasons that could form the basis for a NAB investigation. For his part Gen Abdul Wahid thought there was no reason to rush through a tank deal, and Pakistan was better off concentrating on Gen Beg's Al-Khalid programme. Gen Wahid's successor General Jehangir Karamat, however, thought it was vital for the country's defence to immediately equip the army with the best possible tanks. He struck a US$550 million deal with Ukraine, which at that time did not even have a diplomatic presence in Pakistan, for 320 T 80 UD tanks in 1996. General Asif Nawaz wanted to purchase the same number of 320 tanks for a price tag of US$450 million, while Gen Karamat negotiated to buy the same number of tanks, with almost the same capacity, for US $550 million, through a deal which finally cost the nation a cool US $650 million.
The criticism of General Beg's ambition to build the Pakistani version of MBT 2000 at a cost of Rs 570 crore remained restricted to an influential circle in the army that principally backed Gen Asif Nawaz, and Gen Jehangir Karamat's drive for speedy induction of the tanks, but allegations of kickbacks in the Al-Khalid project had surfaced several times in the past. The reservations of the successive army chiefs about this expansive project may also explain the snags that caused huge delays in the completion of the project. NAB's present reservoir of documents has nothing to substantiate allegation of kickbacks in the tank deals, but several NAB insiders who had also worked closely with the former Ehtesab Bureau chief Senator Saifur Rehman Khan have revealed that the former Senator had personally investigated General Jehangir Karamat's T80UD tanks with Ukraine. Sources said in this respect the affairs of TFT Progress, the company that acted as the go-between the GHQ and the Ukrainian supplier, were fully investigated to establish the role played by Col Mahmood (retd) alias Moda, a former course mate of Gen Jehangir Karamat. As representative of the Ukrainian supplier, Col Mahmood, Army sources acknowledge, had played a key role in bringing the GHQ and the Ukrainian government close to a deal. Confirmed reports indicated that while Gen Jehangir Karamat was still serving as the COAS and also after his resignation, Col Mahmood had been vigorously questioned by the people acting on the Ehtesab Bureau's behalf. One reliable source informed the NIU that the Nawaz Sharif government probe into this tank deal also focused on a retired major general and a close personal friend of General Jehangir Karamat, who was then serving as an additional secretary in the Ministry of Defence. Knowledgeable sources however discounted rumours that during his last meeting with Gen Jehangir Karamat, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif ever mentioned to the former COAS the outcome of his probe against the Ukrainian tank deal.
Several present and retired officials who spoke to the NIU on the subject of corruption in defence contracts desired that 1995 army purchase of 3700 Land Rover Jeeps - that had carried a price tag of about Rs 180 crore for the army - be investigated by NAB. These sources said NAB only needs to investigate the price Bangladesh army had paid for the same vehicle around the same time period that the GHQ finalised this deal. NIU has learned the owner of the key supplier of this vehicle to the army was a close relative of a then serving Lieutenant General, who was also the main decision-maker in the purchase. Though NAB has no documents on this controversial purchase of Land Rover jeeps by the Army, top NAB officials have been given extensive briefings and documentary evidence on the corruption that has now created a financial crisis in the Army Welfare Trust, an organisation dedicated to the welfare of retired army personnel.
Based on these briefings and documents, NAB is yet to question the former AWT chairman Lt Gen Farrukh Khan for his 1994 decision to borrow US $200 million from the famous US investment Bank Merrill Lynch. A decision later by Merrill to invoke a clause in its agreement with the AWT to call its loan any time in the future brought AWT to its knees, as the National Bank of Pakistan was called to rescue the Welfare Trust. NAB is yet to respond to the pleas for investigation into Lt Gen Farrukh Khan's decision to allow an advance payment of Rs 25 crore to Mitsubishi for a power plant for the AWT's Nizampur Cement plant. Once again, due to the weaker agreement, the Japanese concern reneged its commitment with the Nizampur Cement Plant, causing a straight Rs 25 crore loss. Millions of AWT's dollars were wasted in a useless pharmaceutical plant constructed in association with a Chinese company. Sources said only a week of "NAB-style" probing was enough to unearth the scam in the pharmaceutical project. Detailed documents obtained by NIU on corruption in the AWT-run cement plants and its former chairman's dealing with the Privatisation Commission on the subject of cement plants in 1995 are already available with NAB, awaiting executive orders for a probe.
Like most of the defence-related organisations, the affairs of the Defence Housing Authorities in Karachi and Lahore, despite having an average turnover of about Rs 750 million a year, have never seen an independent scrutiny of their affairs. The present DHA administrators in Karachi and Lahore appeared to have worked hard to free these organisation from institutionalised corruption, of sorts, but this NIU investigation discovered that despite serious complaints of financial corruption, particularly in the years between 1994-97, no action was taken against the perpetrators who had converted the DHA Karachi into one of the most corrupt organisations in the country. The NIU met several individuals to confirm that almost every allottee in the DHA's Marina Scheme in its phase 8 had to pay an additional sum of up to 20 per cent, which went to top DHA officials of that time. This particularly attracted tremendous attention because in this scheme the DHA had allowed allotments for the civilians to create recreational facilities on the shore front. As expected, the real estate prices in this area sky-rocketed within one year of the announcement of the scheme. While the prices were showing an upward swing the DHA restricted the allotment only to people close to its then director Planning and the administrator.
The largest plots went to the people widely known to be close to the director planning. One such individual was the father of a Pakistani model who made her name in India. While the Marina Scheme was in full swing in 1994, precious land, particularly in the phase 2 and 5 of DHA in Karachi was allotted in the name of "extra land adjacent to the existing commercial and residential plots at the reserved DHA prices". The NIU discovered that some of the known investors in the DHA Karachi, colluded with the former Director planning, who was then thought to be the most powerful DHA official to multiply their millions in overnight deals involving allotment of extra land. While the Marina Scheme and extra land allotment continued, the then DHA administrator and his director Planning created more plots for flat sites, a scheme that was knitted in close collaboration with some of the known builders of Karachi, who were supposed to get the larger piece of the cake. The scheme, however, got busted in its early phase as the Federal Defence Secretary, who also serves as the Chairman of DHA, got wind of this plan and ordered the scrapping of the scheme.
"If the NAB is not probing against the DHA and particularly its longest serving director planning and a former administrator, it should stop its anti-corruption crusade in the country," a DHA insider observed while expressing surprise as to how the Army can allow the worst type of corruption to continue just under its nose. Senior NAB sources said they had no explicit instruction from Chief Executive General Pervaiz Musharraf or anyone else in the top Army brass to avoid a probe against the ex-army officials. These sources said the multi-million dollar defence deals and other defence-related corruption cases will be investigated "sooner rather than later." One senior source said the Chairman, NAB has himself ordered an extensive probe on charges that relate to the family fortunes of the sons of a former top military official. At least one of his sons is an active politician .
Kamran Khan - He is a Pakistani journalist and special correspondent for the Washington Post, based in Karachi. He maintains that Al Qaeda definitely moved into the tribal areas of Pakistan after the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan, but that Pakistani officials deny it because they fear U.S. intervention. He argues that at the same time Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has allied himself with the U.S., he also has made an "unwritten compromise" to give more political power to Pakistani Islamist groups. This interview was conducted on Sept. 13, 2002.
Let's talk about Al Qaeda since Sept. 11, and what happened to them.
It has been bruised. It has been hurt, definitely. It lost the main hideout it had. It has lost the main sanctuary. There has been a tremendous blow to the prestige of the organization. So it's a wounded tiger, I would say.
[Is it] even still an organization?
I believe that it's an organization, as long as Osama bin Laden is alive, as long as Ayman al-Zawahiri is alive, as long as the other key players are still alive. I think, as an organization, Al Qaeda is still alive.
You think top leaders still in place?
Yes, Ayman al-Zawahiri is alive; Osama bin Laden is alive. If you talk about the cause and the motives of the organization, Mullah Omar is alive. We have new characters, new players in the game. ...
Many think, after 9/11, Al Qaeda went to the tribal areas [of Pakistan]. What you know about that?
Definitely they did. Definitely. The whole of Al Qaeda's moved into Pakistan. First they moved into the tribal areas. Pretty much they are there -- even today they are there. There is pretty strong evidence available to suggest that some of the Arabs who speak local native language, the Pashto, that wear native dresses, they look like native people. They are the guest of tribal people in South Waziristan and North Waziristan. I've been meeting people who know it for sure in their own areas --there are Arabs living there as guests of some tribal people.
I would think that some people in the government may also know, have some ideas. But as long as these people are not creating trouble and they are just sitting quiet, the government are not ready to confront them. They don't want to create a problem for themselves. So they moved into tribal areas, and then they moved into major cities, urban areas.
The greatest manifestation was the arrest in March this year of Abu Zubaydah in Faisalabad. The key players of Al Qaeda [were] in Faisalabad -- Abu Zubaydah and at least 11 Al Qaeda-ers. Faisalabad is a place -- it won't strike you at the first place that they are hiding at the central Punjab somewhere. So that shows that, yes, they moved across border into Pakistan. They moved into tribal areas, and from there they are now moving towards the cities. And we have very credible info that many of the Arabs were hiding in Karachi and in Lahore; maybe other places. ...
What is it about the tribal areas? I mean, people watching this program don't know what these tribal areas are or what they represent. What is it about these places that makes them such a good hiding place for Al Qaeda?
They are often categorized as semi-autonomous areas. But for all practical purpose, before 9/11, they were autonomous areas. There was no law there. The law was gun and drugs. These people trade in gun and guns only. There was no other thing. Maybe smuggling. So it was a lawless terrain, completely out of Pakistan's control.
These people don't accept any laws. They didn't even accept the Durand Line, the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. They never had any travel documents to go into Afghanistan or coming back from there. So there are tremendous linkages there. These people have no law, no Pakistani law, government.
And they're in the same tribe as the Taliban?
Yes, in most cases. There are different types, but they share the area. They share the terrain. They share the culture, and they all share a very deep, religious leanings. They consider themselves ultra-religious people. Yes, the rest would like to call them the sheer fundamentalists.
We sent someone with a camera and a list of questions into [the tribal areas] recently. He asked questions of tribal leaders and whatnot, on the record, on camera. And they said, "No, we support the government. We are not going to harbor Al Qaeda." Why would they say that to us and say something different?
No, they are very intelligent people; don't consider them a [naÔve] tribesman and all. They are very intelligent people. They are talking to an American TV crew. They are not stupid. ...
They are serious about the business, what they are doing. There is a fire of remains and settling score with the Americans. Nobody should doubt that at all. That's why you see this activity in the east and in the south and southeast in Afghanistan. It can be that whatever is happening there is not indigenous Afghan reaction. There has to be some sanctuary across the border. There has to be some supplies from across the border. If nothing, some hideouts. ...
The basic thing, the bottom line with Pakistan is that they don't want to have an armed rebellion in the tribal areas. They don't want to take things to a limit where there is an armed rebellion, and there can be, because these people are armed to the teeth. They have heavy machine guns, they have got artillery, they have got light artillery, they have got tremendous amount of firepower with them. So the government of Pakistan is not really to challenge them. ...
So what about the war on terrorism and the coalition and cooperation with the United States?
It will continue. It will continue, but not at the cost of internal strife. Not at the cost of creating anarchy within Pakistan. Not at the cost of creating chaos within Pakistan. Not at the cost of creating the rebellion from the very strong religious lobby in Pakistan.
Mind you, this is the army is half a million, a very, very religious [faction]. I mean, these people are very religious. They cannot stand to any notion that the government or army is challenging the people who are religious people, who are religiously motivated people. So the army and the government, General Musharraf, has to be very cautious. That's why he's walking on a very tight rope. ...
What was [Abu Zubaydah] doing in Faisalabad?
He was just hiding there. They were having a very low profile there. They didn't have weapons, a lot of weapons, with them. They why they wanted to just stay cool there and waiting for their chance to react. ...
They've also come to Karachi, and we had an event here [on Sept. 11. 2002]. What happened?
There were many, many incidents there. The incident two days ago in Karachi, there was an information from neighborhood to the police that there are some suspicious people living here. Police did some reconnaissance, and then they went for a raid early morning Sept. 11. They faced fierce resistance from these guys. They are all definite Al Qaedas in the sense that they are Tajiks and they are Central Asians and two Arabs and all.
And Yemeni, apparently?
Yes. That's an Arab or Yemeni.
Have you received any briefings letting you know what's going on in that case?
They are still questioning these guys. But they have been told that, "We ran from Afghanistan and for the hideout. For us, this is a Muslim country."
Whenever these people are caught, they always play Islamic card. They always play a Muslim card. They like to influence their interrogators, and in many cases, they successfully do that. ...
They say that, "We have devoted our lives to Islam and Quran and Allah. So what problem do you have with us?" They usually ask their interrogators, and these people are very confident.
In most cases, they say, "You can kill us. No problem." That really baffles their interrogators, because if they are questioning a person who is ready to die, who says, "[If] you release me, you leave me, I'll go and I'll hit again." So that really baffled because an interrogator, to go to an extent to use a third degree, which may put some fear in the person he's interrogating that maybe he'll be killed. But these guys say, "Do whatever." These are very, very hard nuts. You can't make them speak without the third-degree measures, which are quite common in Pakistan, you know.
In terms of nationality, who are these people that are coming out of Afghanistan since October and coming to the tribal areas, coming to Faisalabad, coming to Karachi? What nationality are we talking [about]?
Mostly Arabs. Yemenis, I would say, Saudis, some Kuwaitis, some Palestinians.
Yes, yes, yes. And of course, Pakistanis, and of course, Afghanis, Chechens.
Are they going home? Are they going down to Karachi in order to catch a boat or--
Yes. Basically, it's not stationed to plot more action. These people at the moment who have escaped from Afghanistan -- I'm talking about the Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, which escaped from Afghanistan -- is looking for a hideout. It's on the run.
We can't say that they're sitting quiet and they are plotting, and they have been successful and all. We can't say that. They are on the run. They really fear that they may be caught any days. There is a great degree of mistrust in the ranks, because they think that the information going out, these raids and stuff, these arrests and all, it may be coming in from within their ranks. So there is some mistrust. But it's not a very, very well-entrenched organized force at the moment. ...
Any evidence that they're leaving Pakistan and going back to the Gulf?
Yes, yes, yes. There has been, yes. The some people who have their passports intact and all, these people have left and have gone off to Dubai. I understand that some people took also boats from Karachi and went off to the to U.A.E. There are several ports in the U.A.E. which you can access without being severely monitored.
Also, what about Iran?
Iran, of course. I understand that soon after October raids, there was a request made by some key Arabs to the Iranians in asking for passage. There is a Islamic code under which when some Muslims ask you for passage, you are obliged to provide that passage. I understand through a key U.A.E. diplomat that that passage was provided in the early days, and some people really went out. ...
There is talk we've heard that some of the major madrassas in Pakistan have harbored Al Qaeda -- the Haqqania Madrassa up near Peshawar, but also the Binori Madrassa here in Karachi.
I would think that not in the madrassas premises; there's a major intelligence penetration in these madrassas.
The ISI is in the Binori Madrassa?
Yes, yes, yes. They know what's going on there. But at the same time, you must understand that some of the key people are already with the ISI. I mean, they report back to the ISI. Maybe they are in the forefront of the anti-U.S. campaign or whatever--
So some of the Islamists are inside the ISI? And the ISI is looking--
And they report back to the ISI, yes, yes.
How does that work?
It works quite good, yes. I think that they have a very reliable penetration source of information. The bottom line here is that, "Look. Whatever you are doing, whatever you do, we understand. But mind you, we cannot afford to harbor Arabs here. We cannot afford to harbor non-Pakistanis here. So please, please cooperate with us on that count." There is a very deep connections between the religious madrassas, and the key religious scholars, and the establishment. ...
Doesn't President Musharraf need the Islamists in order to prosecute the Indians? Doesn't he need them to keep pressure on the Indians in Kashmir?
So he can't offend these groups that are akin to Al Qaeda in their sympathies?
By all means. ... It's also because there are 50,000 strong, militant, armed people. That most of these people have deep connections with the establishment, with the security--
Security -- ISI?
--operators of Pakistan, the security operators, yes. The intelligence agencies. And they just can't do things which may provoke them, and which may create an internal rebellion of sorts. Not only that. Of course, these people have devoted themselves to jihad in India, at least, to jihad in Kashmir. ...
A lot of Pakistani security people say that no country has such a tremendous fifth column. You have 50,000 armed people who are ready to give their lives without asking for any favor or anything. These motivated people are an asset for any country with such a massive, such a big enemy. And with such a major problem boiling there. Of course, yes.
So can Americans trust Musharraf to crack down on his own people to rat out terrorists in Pakistan?
I don't know, because my perception is the Americans are basically interested in Al Qaeda -- people who were in Afghanistan, who have an anti-West, anti-America agenda. I'm not sure if the U.S. is really terribly interested about the people who were fighting in Kashmir. ...
Yes, but the Americans are concerned, [about] if you have good connections inside the ISI, inside this government. And you're telling me that the government or that the Pakistani militant groups, the fifth column, if you will, is serving as a sort of bed and breakfast for Al Qaeda.
In some cases, yes. But there has been a very intense pressure from the government on these groups -- I would say not pressure, but lobbying -- trying to convince these guys that, "Please don't have connections with Al Qaeda. Please don't have ties with Al Qaeda."
We have reasons to believe that the key jihadi organizations at their top level have severed their ties. Or they are not really to have connection, ties, with the Arabs, but maybe some breakaway factions doing this.
Kind of a messy situation to untangle, if you've got Al Qaeda and these jihadi groups being tight before 9/11, and now, after 9/11, the Americans pressure Musharraf to sort of untangle this mess. It's not something that gets done overnight.
It's very complicated. It's very complicated. It's a very difficult message to convey to these jihadis. But for these jihadi organizations, the focus is Kashmir. The agenda is Kashmir. And they have been told that, "If you have the focus on Kashmir, then you better not compromise your cause." ...
I think that the government is really satisfied that those groups now understand the language, and they don't want to be involved in any active anti-U.S. terrorist operation.
So the line is something like this: If you're fighting India, you're a freedom fighter. If you're fighting the Americans, you're a terrorist?
They have been told that you have been fighting as a freedom fighter in Kashmir, then no problem. It all started in 1990. Since 1990 until September 2001, there was no problem. There was no severe pressure on Pakistan to cut ties with these groups, to rein in these groups. There was some whispers here and there. But nothing serious. That's why it all continued here.
Why should the Pakistanis fight America's war for it?
For its own survival, for the economic reasons, to stay viable. If the country is facing economic crunch before 9/11, and also because General Musharraf, a military leader, wants legitimacy. He wants to survive. He wants to continue as the leader of the country. There are plenty of reasons.
I'm surprised that you think that Al Qaeda has any capability. My sense is that there's only a few hundred guys, they're scattered, they're in a defensive position and aren't in any position to be offensive.
That's very correct. But it doesn't mean that it's a dead organization, it cannot react, it will not react or whatever. The people who are on the run are basically who were in Afghanistan. But the sleepers, the sleeper cells all over the world -- it's not a very tightly knitted organization.
We are talking about people who floated around, who went to Afghanistan and returned back to these places. But these are people who are now self-energized, self-motivated. You don't need a central order to act from Osama bin Laden. So we are talking about loose sleeper cells all over the world.
Even before 9/11, I used to talk [to] people who are supposed to know all that. And they used to say very much before 9/11, that these people are not restricted to Afghanistan. ...
We talked to General Taj of the Frontier Corps in Peshawar. He contradicts you on the tribal areas. He says there's no Al Qaeda.
This is his job.
It's his job to say there's no Al Qaeda in tribal areas?
Absolutely. Because if now, the tribal area belongs to Al Qaeda, it means a direct American intervention. Americans would go mad. They'll say that "Yes, but you also agree with us, you must move fast. Otherwise, we'll come. We are coming. We're going to bomb these places out." So this is crucial for Pakistan to negate this impression that there are any Al Qaeda in Pakistan. ...
What do you know about the decision to let the FBI operate in the tribal areas? That must have been a difficult negotiation.
Oh, yes. But they always say that it's part of the 9/11 agreement which Pakistan had with the U.S., which included providing intelligence, allowing intelligence, technical facilities. They say that allowing Americans to have technical access in Pakistan.
But that's what the repeated assertion is from the government of Pakistan and President Musharraf also, that these people -- yes, they are doing something in tribal areas and other areas. But their work is restricted to technical cooperation.
Well, we know that the troops, the [U.S.] Special Forces come across the border, because the border's not demarcated.
That's right, yes.
Clearly, they're patrolling inside the Pakistani [territory].
Special Forces, they come and they say that "We don't know [whether] this was Pakistan or Afghanistan or whatever." They come and go and they come and go. Pakistan also allowed this to happen, because it gives them some leverage against the tribal leaders. They tell them, "Look. If you don't listen to the Americans, I'm going to come."
Three months ago, about four months ago basically, the tribal leaders were called and told that if you don't listen to the Americans, they are going to bomb you out here. And so you must understand this. That's why this very intelligent face from the tribal leaders. "No, no, no Al Qaedas, no, not at all. We do not provide any shelter. There's nothing."
How come reporters can't go into this area anymore?
Reporters can go. But the government says that we cannot guarantee your safety.
But they won't let me past a roadblock.
Yes. They would say that you have to have a government permission, a written government permission to--
A non-objection certificate?
Yes, that's right, yes.
But I can't get a non-objection certificate.
Yes, because they think that if you go inside, you'll be kidnapped, and you'll be made another Daniel Pearl.
You think that's true?
You think it's true that if I went into the--
You run a great risk if you go inside there. Sure. ...
No question in your mind that Al Qaeda has used those tribal areas as a sanctuary?
A sanctuary? Yes, absolutely, yes. Definitely. Oh, sure. Yes.
There's this notion that Musharraf is holding onto power. He's quashing opposition parties. At the same time, that's creating a real valid viable opening for Islamist extremists in the country.
Except for very few months just after 9/11, the Pakistani establishment and army had never had a direct confrontation with the religious groups or religious bodies. ...
You won't find now the government having any crackdown against any of the religious groups or any religious political parties. The religious political parties are much freer today than the Pakistan People's Party, or Pakistan Muslims. Their leaders are much freer than the key, say, the former prime ministers and the former ministers of the government. And now, we don't find any fireworks from the religious parts against Musharraf. ...
I have reason to believe, that there is an unwritten compromise between these religious groups -- erstwhile anti-Musharraf religious parties, and the government. The religious group now are back in action and they are moving freely. They are participating in election. There is no restriction. There has not been a single key religious leader who has been debarred from contesting election. ...
You're saying Musharraf has managed to do the impossible -- to cozy up with the Americans, give the Americans want they want, and at the same time, give more political power and more political space to the radical extremist, to Islamist parties?
Excellent job. Excellent job. I'll give him full marks for that. He is an ally to the U.S. and the war against terrorism, and now the religious parties are also not saying anything against him. This is an ideal situation for him.
It sounds like Saudi Arabia. It sounds like the same sort of power-sharing arrangement that the Saudis have worked out -- loyal to the Americans but give the religious extremists full rein over certain parts of society.
It's a good comparison. I would say it's a good comparison. ...
Do you think President Bush knows what kind of arrangement that he's gotten himself into here?
Oh, sure. He does, but I think he cannot afford to disturb the situation. He just cannot afford to, because he doesn't know. Because if Musharraf goes, what comes next?
But if the Islamist parties become stronger, that's going to end up biting them back as well.
My sense is that the Islamic parties, though they have compromised with Musharraf, but they have not lost the focus. And the campaign at the moment is squarely anti-U.S., is squarely anti-war-against-terrorism. It is overwhelmingly pro-Taliban. It is overwhelmingly pro-Al Qaeda. But nobody's touching them. Nobody's questioning them.
So it just gives them time to regroup?
Yes. These rabble rousers are out there. I mean, look at their statements. Look at their public rallies. Yet, there's no restriction.
It's a funny place, this. I go around, I talk to people. They say, "We like the Americans, we like--"
This is the whole issue, you know. How can this work? How can you be an ally with the U.S., and you have the jihadi parties, you don't have that kind of a comfortable tie with the same government?
And who's the architect of this?
General Musharraf himself.
COURTESY: FRONTLINE PBS.
IN SEARCH OF AL-QAEDA -INTERVIEW KAMRAN KHAN
Human Memory is weak so let me revive it!
The news/editorial below was published in Daily Dawn and it was about The Former, then present, then former and now Present Group Editor of The News International [The Editorial Staff/Owners also think that The News and Jang Group of Newspapers are Anti-American and Prop Pakistan's alleged National Interests], the one and only Mr Shaheen Sehbai. We all know that Liars don’t have good Memory. Please keep one thing in mind while going through the article below that Mr Shaheen Sehbai had complained about the Falling Standards of The News International in 2002 [the standards fell when Mr Shaheen Sehbai resigned during Musharraf's Tenure in 2002] now standard of The News International is again risen since Mr Shaheen Sehbai has agin joined and now it can be compared with The New Yorker/ The Washington Post and The New York Times.
Read and Lament as to how the Educated Pakistan play with the sentiments of those who read newspapers for news. Do read as to what another Seniot Journalist Late Khalid Hasan had to say about Shaheen Sehbai at the end. Also read The Washington Post as to how The News International and Shaheen Sehbai involved/linked Pakistan with Terrorists in 2002. Shaheen Sehbai should be ashamed of himself that after doing this he escaped and took self imposed asylum in USA, the same USA against whom he and his newspaper spitting venom. So Why the hell exile in USA, a country whose Legislative Bill [Kerry - Lugar Bill - State of Pakistan's Economy and Kerry Lugar Bill http://chagataikhan.blogspot.com/2009/10/state-of-pakistans-economy-and-kerry.html. TEXT OF KERRY LUGAR BILL URL: http://united4justice.wordpress.com/2009/10/08/kerry-lugar-bill-text/ Source: http://thomas.loc.gov/home/gpoxmlc111/s1707_es.xml URL: http://thomas.loc.gov/home/gpoxmlc111/s1707_es.xml#HD21CAA40FFF04D6A9295F70635912277] is so bad about Pakistan. Why not asylum in Dubai or any other Muslim country.
Judge not lest ye be judged [Dated March 10, 2002 Sunday Zilhaj 25, 1422 Courtesy: Daily Dawn URL: http://www.dawn.com/2002/03/10/fea.htm]
JOURNALIST Shaheen Sehbai, resigned as editor of The News on March 1 after serving the paper for about 14 moths.
In a letter addressed to colleagues, Mr Sehbai, who earlier had a very distinguished career with Dawn, implied that the publisher had charged him with policy violations and professional misconduct to sack him under pressure from the military government. He enclosed a memorandum from the publisher alleging publication of libellous matter, alienating advertisers, failing to consult him on important matters, printing a story recently that was ‘perceived to be damaging to our national interest’ and elicited a severe reaction from the government, failing to contact ‘relevant government functionaries’ to discuss the issue, and being generally inaccessible to senior government officials as well his own staff.
The memo also complained of a lack of improvement in the paper.
Mr Sehbai said he had answered by recalling that the publisher had informed him of the government demand to sack four The News staffers, including the editor, and regretted that “you have decided to get in line.” He said he was aware that the government had stopped carrying advertisements in not only The News but also other papers of the group and that the publisher had been told that only the dismissals would result in their restoration.
He claimed that he had been asked to contact the Inter-Services Intelligence officials but had refused on principal to call, or meet, any government official in a ‘hostage’ situation.
On the other hand, he said, he had conveyed to the government the evidence that the paper’s policy had, in fact, been tilted in its favour. At least 50 editorials and over 100 articles published in about six weeks were cited to prove the point. The paper, he said, had at times gone out of its way to accommodate the government.
But, Mr Sehbai said, he could not allow a newspaper he edited to become the voice of any government for monetary considerations.
Dismissing “whatever other issues you have raised” as “childish and frivolous,” he said there was no point in discussing them.
Recounting management problems, Mr Sehbai also mentioned the “legal jugglery” employed to deprive contract workers of salary increases and the refusal to renew their contracts.
The episode was described in foreign media as a blow to claims of freedom of press in Pakistan. A spokesman for the government was said to have denied Mr Sehbai’s allegations.
At The News, no replacement has since been named.
LATE. MR. KHALID HASAN - IN MEMORIAM 1934-2009 – A MESSAGE FROM HIS SON - http://www.khalidhasan.net/news/
In Washington we had formed a small group and regularly met at a restaurant that sort of replicated “Pak Tea House” of yesteryears of Lahore. Khalid was always at the centre stage of lively discussions on wide range of subjects there. In his dispatches to Pakistan, he called it “Kabab Masal” group after the name of the restaurant. We rotated chairmanship with every meeting. Several years ago when Shah Mahmood Qureshi came to Washington, it was Khalid’s turn to preside. He recalled his first meeting with him in Vienna while Qureshi was finance minister Punjab. “I had my gut reaction that he is a prime ministerial stuff”, Khalid said. Shaheen Sehbai mixed up this remark and attributed it to Qureshi himself in his report to Dawn. Qureshi was very upset and a clarification was made next day. I told Shaheen: “You have perhaps permanently destroyed Qureshi’s career in the PPP.’ When Ms.Bhutto named him as ARD’s candidate to the office in 2002, I recounted this episode to him in the presence of Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan. He was again in the reckoning when PPP won elections last year.
Nafisa Hoodbhoy [Former Correspondent of Daily Dawn - Courtesy: Online NewsHour - http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/media/jan-june02/pearl_1-29.html]
The Washington Post – Sunday, March 10, 2002; Page B01 Section: Outlook – Missing Links : There’s Much More To Daniel Pearl’s Murder Than Meets the Eye By Nafisa Hoodbhoy [INTERNET LINK IS DEAD - http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A64435-2002Mar9¬Found=true - Complete Text http://www.indianet.nl/indpak40.html#20020310a - http://s3.amazonaws.com/911timeline/2002/wpost031002.html] – Crackdown on Pakistani Press : A radio interview with Shaheen Sehbai.[Courtesy: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/act/message/1299]
AMHERST, Mass.–Nine days ago there was an alarming indication of upheaval in Pakistan — a crackdown on the press. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the government pressured the owner of an influential English language newspaper, the News, to fire four journalists. One of them, the paper’s editor, Shaheen Sehbai, said the trouble started after his newspaper reported a link between the prime suspect in the killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, and recent attacks on the Indian parliament in Delhi and in the Kashmiri capital, Srinagar.
Daniel Pearl - South Asia Bureau Chief of the Wall Street Journal, was an American Jewish journalist who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered in Karachi, Pakistan in 2002.
When Sehbai asked the paper’s owner to identify who wanted to sack them, Sehbai said he was told to see officials at the ISI, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency. Instead he resigned and left for the United States.
Now read the words of Mr Shaheen Sehbai in the light of his suddenly found 'concerns for the National Security of Pakistan' in connection with the Conditions of Kerry-Lugar Bill. Do note his language against the Pakistani Military Establishment in 2002.
Three weeks ago, I resigned as editor of Pakistan's most influential English daily, the News. My proprietor had directed me to apologize to the chiefs of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for my decision to publish details of a confessional statement by Omar Saeed Sheikh, the prime suspect in the abduction and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. I was the first local journalist Danny contacted last year when he arrived in Karachi to cover Pakistan, and America's war against terror, the latest dimension of which was seen in Sunday's attack on a church in Islamabad.
Never lacking for audacity, the ISI first broke into our newsroom on Feb. 17 to detect our story on Sheikh, in which he linked the ISI directly to his involvement in last December's terrorist attacks on India's Parliament. With such embarrassing information coming from one of their own kind -- Sheikh had, after all, turned himself in for interrogation to his former ISI handler on Feb. 5, a week before Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, visited Washington -- the regime's principal information officer called me at 1 a.m. and demanded I pull the piece.
When his coercion failed, my proprietor in London was called. He tried to stop publication, but failed, and the next day the government pulled all its advertising -- accounting for over half our income -- in an effort to silence my paper completely. Then they asked the owner to sack me, as well as three other senior journalists.
I resigned rather than be part of a conspiracy to mislead Pakistan's people. Fearing for my safety -- and with the Pearl case fresh in mind -- I chose to join my family in Virginia and live to fight another day.
And fight we must. This media management is the first sign of where Gen. Musharraf's newly tactful ISI is headed. "Managing" politics and rigging October's elections are next on the agenda. There are signs that a political party is being put together to legitimize Gen. Musharraf as an all-powerful president, to stay in office well beyond any reasonable time-frame.
Games we have seen so many times are underway in Pakistan again. I'm not talking about cricket with India, but about an effort to manipulate the press, to usurp the right to fair elections, and to hide Islamists under a presentable wrap. (Only last week, Gen. Musharraf released most of the arrested Taliban activists and their fanatic leaders.)
The primary instrument of change in achieving this devil's pact is Gen. Musharraf's recasting of the ISI as a more docile institution, ostensibly purged of Islamist hard-liners and Taliban sympathizers. But buyers beware.
Another intelligence disaster now looms. Its similarities to the Zia days are remarkable. Gen. Musharraf, the military dictator of the day, is the new darling of the West fighting the new enemy in Afghanistan. Billions of American taxpayer dollars are again set to flow. A beautiful facade has been crafted for external consumption, on everything from press freedoms and elections to a corruption-free economy and an Islamist-free state. The reality is harshly different.
The ISI has been assigned the task of recruiting representatives for this effort. They are to cajole and coerce the press and politicians. Key leaders from the political parties of both former prime ministers -- Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif -- are being lined up for pre-approval. The Islamist role will be safeguarded by fundamentalist generals.
A full dress rehearsal of this methodology was carried out during the recently concluded countrywide polls for mayors and deputy mayors. Every city, big or small, had a pre-selected mayor. In Pakistan's military stronghold, Rawalpindi, ISI interference in seating a pre-approved candidate was so blatant that the non-political but highly compliant chamber of commerce president was "elected" mayor against better-known political stalwarts.
Pakistan has played crucial roles in two of the main victories of our era -- those over communism and terrorism. The first time, the West looked away while evil forces were born in our midst, destroying our culture and society. The moderate majority was silenced into submission until the world woke up on Sept. 11.
The warning signs are there again. America must invest its political and financial capital in institutions, not individuals. The American people and their elected representatives must not look the other way again. Freedom of the press is under siege. The promised return of democracy is being systematically compromised. American aid is being used to achieve dubious objectives. And the poor people of Pakistan, in defense of whom the ISI and Gen. Musharraf have made their last stand, may once again lose whatever is left of a country that can still be great. (By SHAHEEN SEHBAI )Courtesy: Pakistan Punch http://pakistanpunch.pk/punch11.html
Should we believe Mr Shaheen Sehbai or his Editor in Chief Mir Shakil ur Rahman's Letter Addressed to Mr Shaheen Sehbai asking for his resign on filing Concocted Stories in The News International
SHAHEEN SEHBAI RESIGNS AS EDITOR OF `THE NEWS`
Date: Fri, 01 Mar 2002 07:42:48 -0500
Dear Colleagues and Friends:
It is with great sorrow that I have to convey this bad news to you all today. I have resigned today as the Editor.
I am enclosing enclosing the correspondence with MSR which is self explanatory. I wish to thank you all for all the cooperation and respect that you extended to me during these 14 months as Editor. I will be available to each one of you as a friend at all times. Wishing you the best of luck and a great future. Shaheen Sehbai
Pl read on:
To: Mir Shakil ur Rehman, Editor-in-Chief, The News
From: Shaheen Sehbai, Editor, The News
Date: March 1, 2002
Subject: Reply to Memo dated Feb 28, 2002
With reference to your Memo dated Feb 28, I have been accused of policy violations starting from March 2001 until the publication on Feb 17 this year of the Kamran Khan story on Daniel Pearl case. I can obviously understand that these so-called �policy violations?are nothing but an excuse to comply with the Government demand to sack me, and three other senior journalists, as you told me in our meeting in your office on Feb 22. I feel sorry that you have to make such excuses. You could have given one hint that you wanted me to go and I would have quit immediately.
I understand that you, as owner of the Jang Group of Newspapers have been so intensely pressurized in the last about two weeks that you are no longer ready, or able, to withstand it. All government advertising of the Group has been unjustifiably suspended by the Government starting Monday, February 18, 2002, following the investigative story done in The News by our reporter, Kamran Khan. This story, as it appears now, was just an excuse to twist the neck of the Group because the same story appeared simultaneously in the Washington Post and the International Herald Tribune and not one point contained in it was denied or clarified by the Government. Instead they tightened the screw on the Jang Group, as it appeared to be the most vulnerable and within their reach. This has a very obvious, and sinister message, for the free Press in Pakistan: Get in line, or be ready for the stick.?I feel sorry that you have decided to get in line, but I cannot be a party to this decision.
You had informed me officially at a meeting in your office on Feb 22, 2002, at 10.15 p.m. that you have been given names of four journalists of The News? myself, Kamran Khan, Amir Mateen and a staffer in our Islamabad Bureau (probably Rauf Klasra as you did not name the 4th person), to be immediately sacked before the government advertisements could be restored. You also informed me that officials of the Information Ministry wanted me to improve my PR with them as they had been complaining that I was not available to them, which is basically not true. You told me to directly contact these officials and talk to them about restoring the advertisements of the Group. Mr Mahmud Sham, who later joined our meeting, had informed us that the Secretary Information had clearly stated that matters were beyond his capacity to resolve and that we have now to meet the ISI high ups.
As a matter of principle I refused to call, or meet, any of these government officials in a situation when the entire Group was being held hostage with a gun pointed at its head. I, however, conveyed to the Government, through Mr Sham, all the evidence that the policy of The News?was very balanced, in fact tilted, in favour of General Pervez Musharraf's government, not under any government pressure, but because some of the things he was doing were right and The News never hesitated to support any right step taken by the Government. At least 50 editorials and over 100 Op-Ed articles published in about 6 weeks were cited to show that The News had no bias against the government. Proof was also provided of how �The News? at times, went out of its way to accommodate government requests.
Apparently these argument have not satisfied the government and the pressure is continuing on you, as your Memo indicates. Whatever other issues you have raised are childish and frivolous and I would not waste my time discussing them. But one message that emerges is very clear --- I ran the newspaper as a very independent Editor, according to whatever I thought was objective, true and professionally sound journalism. I made the best use of the latest available computer technology to create a working environment in which the entire editorial staff was integrated in such a network that almost everyone was available to each other at all times. I interacted with all my staff on a personal, round the clock basis, no matter where I was located or traveling, even outside Pakistan. So the charge that I was not available to my staff is laughable as it shows how far removed you are from the ground situation.
Your complaint of lack of general improvement in The News?is also obviously an excuse to build some case against me under Government pressure. You never once complained of that before. In fact the ground reality is just the opposite. I successfully built a great team of reporters, editors and writers during the 14 months I have been the Editor. We achieved a lot in breaking major stories, including assumption of the office of the President by General Musharraf and corruption in various government departments including Social Action Programme (SAP) and Employees Old-age Benefit Institution (EOBI). The overwhelming impression that any newspaper of the Jang Group could not publish anything against its advertisers and commercial sponsors was removed by the investigative stories we did on PIA and other corporate organizations. The News became the most quoted newspaper abroad, not only for its stories but its editorial comments and opinions. The latest such quote was in the prestigious New York Times just three days ago. The Washington Post interviewed me last week as Editor of The News.
The real reasons for failure to bring about a real visible change in Karachi are known to you. For over a year now you have been sitting on all the plans, proposals and schemes, including a Vision Document prepared after months of hard work. The scheme to revamp all the magazines has been lying on your table for months. The designs and site plans to renovate the entire newspaper office on 4th and 5th floors has been gaining dust for months and the staff is forced to work with hundreds of cockroaches creeping on papers, computers, inside telephone sets and faxmachines. In fact I have been bogged down in these totally useless exercises for most of my time, hoping that you would find time and money to start implementing any of these detailed proposals for change and improvement. You have always been promising to launch these scheme within weeks, but that time never came. I am appalled at your audacity to accuse me of being responsible for not bringing any change while the fact is that you have always been complaining of the financial crunch?in the newspaper. You have stopped increments of all the staff and played legal jugglery with all the contract employees by refusing to renew their contracts or giving them salary increases.
Even despite that I continued to work 20 hours a day to improve the editorial content of the newspaper which has been appreciated and recognized by every one, including your senior Directors and Editors of sister publications in letters written to me. The readers, however, are the best judge.
Why you never raised any objection before, and why you are doing it now, is obvious --- the Government pressure is unbearable. This is not a happy omen.
Therefore, I have to convey this sad message to you, though I feel very content and satisfied that I have taken the right decision on the basis of principles. I have decided to resign from the Editorship of The News with immediate effect, rather than to submit to Government pressure and change the policy of the newspaper. Under my editorship, I will not allow the newspaper to become the voice of any government for monetary considerations. I had given my name, credibility and reputation to The News?and I prefer to protect these precious assets, rather than my job. But I will earnestly request you not to take any action against the other colleagues you have been asked to sack, as the ultimate responsibility of whatever appeared in the newspaper was mine, as Editor, and not theirs. They should be allowed to continue with their jobs. I wish, you, the newspaper and all of my colleagues a great future.
I hereby, resign from the editorship. Please accept my resignation today and remove my name from the print line of the newspaper as of tomorrow, Saturday, March 2, 2002. I would not be responsible for the contents of the newspaper as of tomorrow.
To: Shaheen Sehbai, Editor, The News
From: MSR, Editor-in-Chief
Re: Violation of policy
I am constrained to bring to your notice several, and repeated, violation of editorial policies clearly understood between us. Infact, these policies have also been agreed in writing. On 26th March, 2001, you had published a one sided, incorrect and libelous article against Mr. Aittiazaz Bob Din, a well known businessman residing in the United States. Although Mr. Bob Din had cited person differences between the two of you, dating back to your stay in the United States, as the motive behind the unfounded allegations against him, I had disregarded this suggestion at that time and had judged the matter purely on merit. As you will recall, you were unable to substantiate the serious charges you had leveled against him. It was only through my personal apologies and the intervention of mutual acquaintances that we were able to dissuade Mr. Din from suing the News for defamation and libel.
On two different occasions, you published unfavourable articles about PIA, which were of uncertain veracity and did not contain their point of view, as a result of which they denounced these articles in a press conference, threatened to take legal action, suspended our advertisements and also stopped putting our papers on PIA flights. Needless to say, these measures hurt us financially, damaged our reputation and took a great deal of pacification to undo.
I would also refer to the written terms of our agreement at the time of your appointment under which you are required to discuss the top stories of the day and other important editorial matters with me and seek the Editor-in-chiefs point of view and verdict on contentious issues? To my recollection, you have never deemed it fit to consult me on any matter. In this connection, I would further like to refer to our meeting on the eve of Eid in which group Editor Daily Jang was also present and we discussed the fallout of the story printed a few days earlier in the News ( again without consulting me, I might add ) which was perceived to be damaging to our national interest and elicited severe reaction by the Government. It had been agreed that we would contact relevant Government functionaries and arrange to meet with them to discuss the issue and also convey our point of view. Regrettably, you chose not to go to Islamabad and attend the meeting even though this had been clearly agreed. You even rebuffed senior Government officials who contacted you on the phone by hanging up on them. Sham Sahib and I left several messages with your assistant but again, you chose not to take or return our calls.
I would also like to take this opportunity to point out again, that it is a frequent complaint that you do not interact with people. Not only have senior Government officials protested that you are inaccessible to them, but even your own staff complains that you are hardly available for meetings, guidance and discussions.
I must convey my disappointment to you at all these issues, as I must convey my disappointment with the lack of general progress in the improvement of the News. The number of mistakes and blunders being committed, failure to follow agreed journalistic ethics - as pointed out to you from time to time by EMD have all resulted in financial set backs as well as loss of credibility for the News. I have only recounted some of the problems besetting the Jang group. It is quite evident that matters are not proceeding as we had agreed. However, before I make up my mind, I would like to hear your point of view.
I look forward to hearing from you about the serious issues that I have raised above and any solutions that you may propose.
REFERENCE: Why Are We Killing Ourselves? Anas Malik March 2, 2002 http://www.chowk.com/interacts/5252/1/0/a
Seven years ago Mr Shaheen Sehbai was also quoted in The New York Times as well his Editor in Chief i.e. Mir Shakil ur Rehman, and do note what Mir Shakil ur Rehman had to say about the Patriotism and Loyalty of Shaheen Sehbai with Pakistan.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, March 1 (Reuters) -- The editor of a leading English-language daily said today that he had resigned, citing pressure from the government after the newspaper reported a link between the prime suspect in the killing of Daniel Pearl and an attack on India's Parliament in December. India blamed Pakistan-based militant groups for the attack, but the Pakistani government denied any link. The editor who resigned, Shaheen Sehbai, said that after publication of the article in his paper, The News, the owner and editor in chief, Mir Shakeel ur-Rahman, was pressed by the government to dismiss him and three other journalists. ''I was told by my editor in chief that he had been asked to sack four journalists -- myself, Kamran Khan, Amir Mateen and Rauf Klasra,'' Mr. Sehabai said in an online interview. ''He did not name who had said that, but he told me to go and see the I.S.I.,'' Pakistan's intelligence service. REFERENCES: A NATION CHALLENGED: SUSPECTS; Kidnapping Suspect Bears Sign of Militancy Elsewhere By DOUGLAS JEHL Published: Saturday, March 2, 2002 Editor Forced to Resign http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/02/world/nation-challenged-suspects-kidnapping-suspect-bears-sign-militancy-elsewhere.html
The article, Mr. Rahman wrote in the letter dismissing Mr. Sehbai, ''was perceived to be damaging to our national interest and elicited severe reaction of the government.'' He also accused Mr. Sehbai of violating standard procedures. Mr. Rahman and government officials were not immediately available for comment. Mr. Sehbai and one of the reporters, Mr. Klasra, have recently complained of harassment by intelligence agencies, a colleague said. While Pakistan's news media enjoy relative freedom, some newspapers have been forced to remove staff members after complaints from the government or intelligence agencies. REFERENCES: A NATION CHALLENGED: SUSPECTS; Kidnapping Suspect Bears Sign of Militancy Elsewhere By DOUGLAS JEHL Published: Saturday, March 2, 2002 Editor Forced to Resign http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/02/world/nation-challenged-suspects-kidnapping-suspect-bears-sign-militancy-elsewhere.html
SHAHEEN SEHBAI'S DOUBTFUL LOYALTY WITH PAKISTAN AND READ WHAT HE HAD SAID TO "The Times of India" ABOUT PAKISTAN ARMY AND ISI.
Exposing the Pakistani establishment's links with terrorists can be a hazardous job. It cost Daniel Pearl his life, and Shaheen Sehbai, former editor of 'The News', a widely-read English daily in Pakistan his job. Fearing for his life, Sehbai is now in the US He speaks to Shobha John about the pressure on journalists from the powers-that-be in Pakistan:
Q. Is it true you had to quit because a news report angered the government?
A. On February 16, our Karachi reporter, Kamran Khan, filed a story quoting Omar Sheikh as saying that he was behind the attack on the Indian Parliament on December 13, the Kashmir assembly attack and other terrorist acts in India. Shortly after I am, I got a call on my cellphone from Ashfaq Gondal, the principal information officer of the government, telling me that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had intercepted the story and I should stop its publication. I told him I was not prepared to do so. He then called my newspaper group owner/editor-in-chief, Mir Shakil ur Rehman in London and asked him to stop the story. Rehman stopped it in the Jang, the sister newspaper in Urdu but could not do so in The News as I was unavailable. The next day, all editions of The News carried the story. It was also carried by The Washington Post and The International Herald Tribune the same day, as Kamran also reports for The Post. On February 18, all government advertising for the entire group was stopped. On February 22, Rehman rushed to Karachi and called a meeting at 10 p m. He told me the government was very angry at the story. He said he had been told to sack four journalists, including myself, if the ads were to be restored. He asked me to proceed to Islamabad to pacify the officials. Sham informed us that he had contacted the officials and was told by Anwar Mahmood, the information secretary that the matter was now beyond his capacity and we will have to see the ISI high-ups to resolve it. I was told to go and see the ISI chief in Islamabad and also to call Anwar Mahmood on Eid and improve my 'public relations' with him.
I left the meeting with the firm resolve that I would neither call nor meet anyone, even at gunpoint. Sham, however, left for Islamabad to meet the officials. His meetings were unsuccessful. From my sources, I learned that the ISI and the government were not prepared to lift the ban unless I gave them specific assurances. If I refused, there may be trouble for me as the owner was already under pressure to fire me and the other three journalists. On February 27, I took a flight out of Karachi to New York. On February 28, I received a memo from my owner accusing me of policy violations. In reply, on March 1, I sent in my resignation.
Q. Is the ISI still keeping a close watch on journalists after Daniel Pearl's killing?
A. The ISI has been a major player in domestic politics and continues to be so. That means it has to control the media and right now, it is actively involved in doing so. Pearl's murder has given them more reasons to activate the national interest excuse.
Q. Is there a sense of desperation within the Pakistan government that it should not be linked in any way to events in India?
A. Yes. That's why when our story quoted Omar Sheikh claiming such links, the government came down hard on us.
Q. Has there been any pressure on the staff of 'The News' to 'conform'?
A. Yes. The News was under constant pressure to stop its aggressive reporting on the corruption of the present government. A few months back, Pakistan International Airlines stopped all ads to The News as we ran a couple of exposes. A major story on the government owned United Bank was blocked when we sought the official version. Intelligence agencies were deputed to tail our reporters in Islamabad.
Q. This is not the first time you and your family have been under pressure, is it?
A. I have been the target of physical attacks in the past too for stories against the government. The first was in August 1990 when I was arrested and detained for 36 hours and falsely charged for drinking, before a judge gave bail. The second time, in December 1991, three masked men broke into my house in Islamabad, ransacked it, pulled guns on my two sons, beat them up and told them, Tell your father to write against the government again and see what happens. In 1995, I was threatened once again and I had to take my entire family away. My newspaper then, Dawn, decided to post me to Washington as their correspondent. This time, I feared that I could be physically targeted again. So I decided to leave the country.
Q. Is the present regime in Pakistan any different from earlier ones with regard to freedom of the press?
A. It has tolerated some freedom under foreign pressure, but the situation is basically the same. Now Musharraf appears to be under pressure to manage the media more effectively in order to manage the October elections and get his supporters elected in the polls. He needs to legitimise his military rule through a political process, which essentially is being rigged from the beginning.
Q. Is your case the first instance of a crackdown on the media by this government?
A. This was the first case of a major financial squeeze on the country's largest media group. It was followed by demands to sack me and other senior journalists and then to change the policy.
Q. How independent will the forthcoming polls be now?
A. They will be as independent as the recently-concluded local bodies polls in which candidates were named by the army and no one else was allowed to win. Candidates for state and national assemblies are now being pre-selected and influential politicians are being pressured, lured or coerced to join Musharrafs supporters.
Q. What is the mood within the Pakistani media?
A. The media is generally quiet and has fallen in line because Musharraf is getting strong support from the US and the West. But elements in the media are very resolute and they will fight back as soon as they see Musharraf losing his grip. The October polls will determine the role of the media as well because if Musharraf fails to 'manage' the elections, his control over the media will be finished.
Q. What do you propose to do now?
A. I will be writing out of Washington for some time and will return to Pakistan around the October polls. My days in Pakistan were very exciting as I maintained a completely independent editorial policy and pursued it to the last day. In the memos written by the owner, he repeatedly complains that I was not consulting him on policies. I had no need to, as he watches his own commercial interests. REFERENCE: The Daily Noose (Interview with Shaheen Sehbai) Publication: The Times of India Date: March 18, 2002 http://www.hvk.org/articles/0302/206.html