WASHINGTON: The latest book by journalist Bob Woodward remarkably paints Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and President Asif Ali Zardari as two divergent personalities, one a brave and strong nerved soldier who was standing up against every key US demand and the other a spoilt politician who knows nothing about governance. The book is credible because it quotes top US officials and what they think about these two important personalities of Pakistan and repeatedly recalls and emphasizes on the political weakness of President Zardari. On Page 137 he writes: “Afterward, Jones and his staff debated whether they should worry more about Pakistan or Afghanistan. Several members of his staff said the chief problem was Pakistan — Zardari’s political vulnerability, the continuing dominance of the country’s military-intelligence complex, its nuclear weapons, the persistent presence of al-Qaeda training camps in the ungoverned regions, and the possibility of a misstep with the CIA drone attacks that could dramatically shift the political calculus.” REFERENCE: General Kayani blocking every key US move By Shaheen Sehbai Monday, October 11, 2010 Zi Qad 02, 1431 A.H http://www.thenews.com.pk/11-10-2010/Top-Story/1234.htm Monday, October 11, 2010, Zi Qad 02, 1431 A.H http://www.jang.com.pk/jang/oct2010-daily/11-10-2010/main2.htm
Would Mr. Shaheen Sehbai like to explain this?
US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen. — Photo by AFP - WASHINGTON: US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen said the Pakistani military has pledged to go after militants that the US wants targeted in the North Waziristan tribal region. Mullen said Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani has given assurances that he will mount an offensive in the tribal region along the Afghan border. "He has committed to me to go into North Waziristan and to root out these terrorists as well," Mullen reportedly said in an interview on Bloomberg Television's "Conversations with Judy Woodruff" to be broadcast this weekend. "He clearly knows what our priorities are…North Waziristan is the epicentre of terrorism," Mullen said. "It's where al-Qaeda lives." He further said that the objective was to defeat al-Qaeda and ensure Afghanistan would not again become a haven for the group. Pakistan says its army is stretched by the fight against militants in six tribal regions and a flood that inundated a fifth of the country in July. REFERENCE: ‘Pakistan plans to target militants in North Waziristan’ Thursday, 14 Oct, 2010 http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/world/04-mullen-north-waziristan-qs-05
Would Mr. Shaheen Sehbai like to explain as to who did this?
Umar Cheema, 34, a reporter for The News, was kidnapped and beaten on the outskirts of Islamabad on Sept. 4 after having written several articles that were critical of the Pakistani Army. ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — An investigative reporter for a major Pakistani newspaper was on his way home from dinner here on a recent night when men in black commando garb stopped his car, blindfolded him and drove him to a house on the outskirts of town. There, he says, he was beaten and stripped naked. His head and eyebrows were shaved, and he was videotaped in humiliating positions by assailants who he and other journalists believe were affiliated with the country’s powerful spy agency. At one point, while he lay face down on the floor with his hands cuffed behind him, his captors made clear why he had been singled out for punishment: for writing against the government. “If you can’t avoid rape,” one taunted him, “enjoy it.” The reporter, Umar Cheema, 34, had written several articles for The News that were critical of the Pakistani Army in the months preceding the attack. His ordeal was not uncommon for a journalist or politician who crossed the interests of the military and intelligence agencies, the centers of power even in the current era of civilian government, reporters and politicians said. “I have suspicions and every journalist has suspicions that all fingers point to the ISI,” Mr. Cheema said, using the acronym for the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, the institution that the C.I.A. works with closely in Pakistan to hunt militants. The ISI is an integral part of the Pakistani Army; its head, Gen. Shuja Ahmed Pasha, reports to the army chief of staff, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
Officials at the American Embassy said they interviewed Mr. Cheema this week, and sent a report of his account to the State Department. In response to an e-mail for comment, a spokesman for the ISI said, “They are nothing but allegations with no substance or truth.” Mr. Cheema had won a Daniel Pearl Journalism Fellowship to train foreign journalists in 2008 and worked in The New York Times newsroom for six months at that time. He has worked at The News since 2007. The attack was believed at the time to be unpopular in the army ranks because many soldiers were reluctant to fire on fellow Muslims. Moreover, courts-martial are rarely mentioned in the Pakistani news media, and reporters have been warned not to write about them. In his article, Mr. Cheema reported that two members of the Special Services Group, an elite commando squad, were being denied fair justice during the court-martial proceedings. In another article, Mr. Cheema wrote that the suspects in a major terrorist attack against a bus carrying ISI employees were acquitted because of the “mishandling” of the court case by the intelligence agency. In an article in early August, the reporter described how Army House, the residence of the chief of army staff, was protected by 400 city police officers and not by soldiers, as required by law. In January, in Islamabad, the home of Azaz Syed, a reporter for Dawn, the main English-language daily, was attacked by unknown assailants days after he was threatened by supposed ISI agents over an investigative article he was researching related to the military.
Kamran Shafi, a leading columnist and himself a former army officer who writes critically of the military, was harassed and his house was attacked last December by “elements linked to the security establishment,” according to his own account. In the last several years, journalists in the tribal areas, where the army is fighting the Taliban, have faced special risks and found it increasingly difficult to work for fear of offending either side. In September two journalists were killed in or near the tribal areas, under circumstances that remain unclear. Pakistan has developed a rambunctious news media spearheaded by round the clock television news channels in the last decade. The military and the ISI are treated with respect by the powerful television anchors, and by newspaper reporters who extol the deeds of the army in battling the Taliban. The ISI is rarely mentioned by name but referred to as “intelligence agencies.” One reason for the deference, according to a Pakistani intelligence official who has worked with the media cell of the ISI, is that the agency keeps many journalists on its payroll. Unspoken rules about covering the military and its intelligence branches are eagerly enforced, Babar Sattar, a Harvard-trained lawyer, said. A journalist who trespasses over the line is told to behave, Mr. Sattar said. Earlier this year, Mr. Cheema said he was called to a coffee shop in Islamabad by an ISI officer and warned to fall into line. At a journalists’ seminar in Lahore, the editor of a weekly newspaper, Najam Sethi, said it was up to the ISI to declare who had attacked Mr. Cheema. “If the ISI hasn’t done it, they should tell us who did it because they’re supposed to know,” Mr. Sethi said. “If they don’t tell, the presumption remains they did it.” But in a column titled “Surprise Surprise” in Dawn, Mr. Shafi said, “We will never find out what happened to poor Umar Cheema because the Deep State does not want us to find out.” REFERENCES: EDITORIAL Who Attacked Umar Cheema? A version of this editorial appeared in print on September 29, 2010, on page A30 of the New York edition. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/29/opinion/29wed4.html Published: September 28, 2010 After Pakistani Journalist Speaks Out About an Attack, Eyes Turn to the Military By JANE PERLEZ Published: September 24, 2010 A version of this article appeared in print on September 25, 2010, on page A7 of the New York edition. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/25/world/asia/25cheema.html?_r=4&ref=nf http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/25/world/asia/25cheema.html
Shaheen Sehbai also failed to tell about "this development"
LONDON: The Afghan and US governments have recently made contact with insurgent group the Haqqani network, one of the most feared foes of Nato forces in Afghanistan, a British paper reported Thursday. The government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai took part in direct talks with senior members of the Haqqani group over the summer, said the Guardian daily, citing Pakistani and Arab sources. The United States, through a Western intermediary, has made indirect contacts over the past year, said the paper. Talks between the Haqqanis and both countries were extremely tentative, it added. The Haqqani network’s leadership is based in North Waziristan, in Pakistan’s tribal northwest, an area which has been targeted by a wave of US drone strikes in recent weeks. The group is loyal to the Taliban and has been blamed for some of the most deadly strikes in Afghanistan. It has close ties with foreign militant groups including Al-Qaeda. Asked whether talks involving Haqqani, Karzai and the US were taking place, a senior Pakistani official cited in the paper said “you wouldn’t be wrong” but refused to comment further. Western, Arab and Pakistani official sources cited in the paper said the Haqqanis believe a negotiated settlement is the most likely outcome of the Afghan conflict and do not want to be left out of any deal. Sirajuddin Haqqani, who has taken over military leadership of the Haqqani group from his father Jalaluddin, “realises he could be a nobody if he doesn’t enter the process,” said a diplomat involved in the discussions. —AFP REFERENCE: Afghanistan, US in contact with Haqqani insurgents Thursday, 07 Oct, 2010 http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/world/14-afghanistan-us-in-contact-with-haqqani-insurgents-zj-01 White House supporting Kabul contacts with Mullah Omar’s men By Our Correspondent Thursday, 07 Oct, 2010 http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/white-house-supporting-kabul-contacts-with-mullah-omars-men-700 Haqqanis in direct talks with Kabul, indirect contact with US By Julian Borger and Declan Walsh Friday, 08 Oct, 2010 http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/haqqanis-in-direct-talks-with-kabul,-indirect-contact-with-us-800
More ‘madness’ coming out of ‘Obama’s Wars’ - WASHINGTON: President Asif Ali Zardari seriously believes that the US was “arranging” the (suicide) attacks by Pakistani Taliban inside Pakistan, a claim he made before Zalmay Khalilzad, the former US envoy to Afghanistan, who thought it was ‘madness’. The account of this claim by Zardari has been elaborately reproduced by Bob Woodward, on Page 116 of his famous book ‘Obama’s Wars’. The revelation could throw a lot of light on the complex relations between the Zardari-led PPP government which US officials believe is incompetent and the disillusioned US diplomats. Zardari received this information from President Karzai and passed it on to Khalilzad which also reveals how important the Pakistani president thinks Karzai’s views are, though the Americans consider him a liability. These views of Karzai and Zardari were considered by the US side as maverick and strengthened their impression that both these leaders and their governments were non-serious players and according to Khalilzad “dysfunctional”. The Woodward account goes like this: “One evening during the trilateral summit (in Washington, between Obama, Karzai and Zardari) Zardari had dinner with Zalmay Khalilzad, the 58-year-old former US ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the UN, during the Bush presidency. “Zardari dropped his diplomatic guard. He suggested that one of the two countries was arranging the attacks by the Pakistani Taliban inside his country: India or the US. Zardari didn’t think India could be that clever, but the US could. Karzai had told him the US was behind the attacks, confirming the claims made by the Pakistani ISI. REFERENCE: Zardari says US behind Taliban attacks in Pakistan By Shaheen Sehbai Wednesday, October 13, 2010 Zi Qad 04, 1431 A.H http://www.thenews.com.pk/13-10-2010/Top-Story/1276.htm
What Saheen Sehbai didn’t mention about the same Bob Woodward AND ABOUT HIS STORY ON COVERT WAR, BLACK OPS AND BAG OF DIRTY TRICKS OF US CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE, Here is a glimpse:
President Bush last month signed an intelligence order directing the CIA to undertake its most sweeping and lethal covert action since the founding of the agency in 1947, explicitly calling for the destruction of Osama bin Laden and his worldwide al Qaeda network, according to senior government officials. The president also added more than $1 billion to the agency’s war on terrorism, most of it for the new covert action. The operation will include what officials said is “unprecedented” coordination between the CIA and commando and other military units. Officials said that the president, operating through his “war cabinet,” has pledged to dispatch military units to take advantage of the CIA’s latest and best intelligence.
Bush’s order, called an intelligence “finding,” instructs the agency to attack bin Laden’s communications, security apparatus and infrastructure, senior government officials said. U.S. intelligence has identified new and important specific weaknesses in the bin Laden organization that are not publicly known, and these vulnerabilities will be the focus of the lethal covert action, sources said. “The gloves are off,” one senior official said. “The president has given the agency the green light to do whatever is necessary. Lethal operations that were unthinkable pre-September 11 are now underway.” The CIA’s covert action is a key part of the president’s offensive against terrorism, but the agency is also playing a critical role in the defense against future terrorist attacks. For example, each day a CIA document called the “Threat Matrix,” which has the highest security classification (“Top Secret/Codeword”), lands on the desks of the top national security and intelligence officials in the Bush administration. It presents the freshest and most sensitive raw intelligence on dozens of threatened bombings, hijackings or poisonings. Only threats deemed to have some credibility are included in the document.
One day last week, the Threat Matrix contained 100 threats to U.S. facilities in the United States and around the world — shopping complexes, specific cities, places where thousands gather, embassies. Though nearly all the listed threats have passed without incident and 99 percent turned out to be groundless, dozens more take their place in the matrix each day. It was the matrix that generated the national alert of impending terrorist action issued by the FBI on Oct. 11. The goal of the matrix is simple: Look for patterns and specific details that might prevent another Sept. 11. “I don’t think there has been such risk to the country since the Cuban missile crisis,” a senior official said. During an interview in his West Wing office Friday morning, Vice President Cheney spoke of the new war on terrorism as much more problematic and protracted than the Persian Gulf War of 1991, when Cheney served as secretary of defense to Bush’s father. The vice president bluntly said: “It is different than the Gulf War was, in the sense that it may never end. At least, not in our lifetime.”
Pushing the Envelope
In issuing the finding that targets bin Laden, the president has said he wants the CIA to undertake high-risk operations. He has stated to his advisers that he is willing to risk failure in the pursuit of ultimate victory, even if the results are some embarrassing public setbacks in individual operations. The overall military and covert plan is intended to be massive and decisive, officials said. “If you are going to push the envelope some things will go wrong, and [President Bush] sees that and understands risk-taking,” one senior official said. In the interview, Cheney said, “I think it’s fair to say you can’t predict a straight line to victory. You know, there’ll be good days and bad days along the way.” The new determination among Bush officials to go after bin Laden and his network is informed by their pained knowledge that U.S. intelligence last spring obtained high quality video of bin Laden himself but were unable to act on it. The video showed bin Laden with his distinctive beard and white robes surrounded by a large entourage at one of his known locations in Afghanistan. But neither the CIA nor the U.S. military had the means to shoot a missile or another weapon at him while he was being photographed.
Since then, the CIA-operated Predator unmanned drone with high-resolution cameras has been equipped with Hellfire antitank missiles that can be fired at targets of opportunity. The technology was not operational at the time bin Laden was caught on video. The weapons capability, which was revealed last week in the New Yorker magazine, was developed specifically to attack bin Laden, the officials said. In addition, with the U.S. military heavily deployed in some nations around Afghanistan, commando and other units are now available to move quickly on bin Laden or his key associates as intelligence becomes available. U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies recently received an important break in the effort to track down terrorist leaders overseas, according to officials. The FBI and CIA have been given limited access in the last several weeks to a top bin Laden lieutenant who was arrested after Sept. 11 and is being held in a foreign country. The person, whose various aliases include “Abu Ahmed,” is “a significant player,” in the words of one senior Bush official. Ahmed was arrested with five other members of al Qaeda. He is believed by several senior officials to be the highest-ranking member of al Qaeda ever held for systematic interrogation. Though Ahmed has not given information about future terrorist operations, he has provided some details about the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole in a Yemeni port, when 17 sailors were killed. One source said he also has information about the planned terrorist attacks in the United States that were disrupted before the millennium celebrations in December 1999.
The New Normalcy
When specific facilities or locations are threatened, as they have been repeatedly in the last month, the FBI informs local law enforcement authorities or foreign intelligence services that are supposed to increase security and take protective measures. The Threat Matrix lists where the intelligence comes from — intercepted communications, walk-in sources, e-mails, friendly foreign intelligence services, telephone threats, and FBI or CIA human sources. The public is not informed except when the threat is considered highly credible or specific, as it was on Oct. 11 when the FBI issued its nationwide alert. In the interview, Cheney said that deciding when to go public and when to withhold threat information is one of the most difficult tasks the administration faces. “You have to avoid falling into the trap of letting it be a cover-your-ass exercise,” Cheney said. “If you scare the hell out of people too often, and nothing happens, that can also create problems. Then when you do finally get a valid threat and warn people and they don’t pay attention, that’s equally damaging.”
He also noted, “If you create panic, the terrorist wins without ever doing anything. So these are tough calls.” Making details from the Threat Matrix public could result in chaos, several officials said. Literally hundreds of places, institutions and cities from across the country have been on the list. “It could destroy the livelihood of all those organizations and places without a bomb being thrown or a spore of anthrax being released,” another senior Bush official said. The official was asked what would happen if there was a major terrorist incident and many were killed at one of the facilities or places on the Threat Matrix and no public warning had been issued.
“Then they would have our heads,” the official said.
Intelligence and law enforcement agencies attempt to run every threat to ground to see if it is genuine, officials said. The results at times have been unexpected. In early October, a woman called authorities to say it was her patriotic duty to report that her husband, who is from the Middle East, was planning an attack with eight or nine friends on Chicago’s Sears Tower. The woman sounded credible and her allegations were reported in the Threat Matrix. The FBI then detained her husband and friends. On the next Threat Matrix the CIA reported that the FBI might have broken up an al Qaeda cell. Upon further investigation, the FBI learned that the woman was furious with her husband, who had a second wife. Her allegations had no merit, but the bureau discovered that some of the people were involved in an arranged-marriage scheme. “Instead of terrorism,” one official said, “we found an angry wife.” Another senior official said, “There can be a problem in a marriage and it results in, you know, an allegation that shows up in the Threat Matrix.” During the interview in his West Wing office, Cheney, with a large map of Afghanistan on an easel near his desk, spoke of life post-Sept. 11. “The way I think of it is, it’s a new normalcy,” he said. “We’re going to have to take steps, and are taking steps, that’ll become a permanent part of the way we live. In terms of security, in terms of the way we deal with travel and airlines, all of those measures that we end up having to adopt in order to sort of harden the target, make it tougher for the terrorists to get at us. And I think those will become permanent features in our kind of way of life.”
New War, Old Problems
Though the new intelligence war presents the CIA with an opportunity to excel, several officials noted that the campaign is also fraught with risk. The agency is being assigned a monumental task for which it is not fully equipped or trained, said one CIA veteran who knows the agency from many perspectives. Human, on-the-ground sources are scarce in the region and in the Muslim world in general. Since the end of the Cold War more than a decade ago, the Directorate of Operations (DO), which runs covert activity, has been out of the business of funding and managing major lethal covert action. The CIA has a history of bungling such operations going back to the 1950s and 1960s, most notably when the agency unsuccessfully plotted to assassinate Fidel Castro. In one of the celebrated anti-Castro plots, a CIA agent code-named AM/LASH planned to use Blackleaf-40, a high-grade poison, with a ballpoint-hypodermic needle on the Cuban leader. The device was delivered on Nov. 22, 1963, and a later CIA inspector general’s report noted it was likely “at the very moment President Kennedy was shot.” Though no connections were ever established between the Castro plots and the Kennedy assassination, the CIA’s reputation was severely tarnished. The covert war in Nicaragua in the 1980s was another source of negative publicity, as the CIA mined harbors without adequate notification to Congress and published a 90-page guerrilla-warfare manual on the “selective use of violence” against targets such as judges, police and state security officials. It became known as the “assassination manual.”
William J. Casey, President Ronald Reagan’s CIA director from 1981 to early 1987, was mired in the disastrous outcome of the “off-the-books” operations of the Iran-contra scandal. That scandal involved secret arms sales to Iran and the illegal diversion of profits from those sales to the contra rebels supported by the CIA in Nicaragua. Reagan and Casey had trouble when they sought to punish covertly the terrorists responsible for the 1983 truck bombing of the U.S. Marine compound in Lebanon, which killed 241 American servicemen in the deadliest terrorist attack on Americans before Sept. 11. Casey worked personally and secretly with Saudi Arabia to plan the assassination of Muslim leader Sheikh Fadlallah, the head of the Party of God or Hezbollah, who was connected to the Marine bombing. The method of retaliation was a massive car bomb that was exploded 50 yards from Fadlallah’s residence in Beirut, killing 80 people and wounding 200 in 1985. But Fadlallah escaped without injury.
Since the Ford administration, all presidents have signed an executive order banning the CIA or any other U.S. government agency from involvement in political assassination. Generally speaking, lawyers for the White House and the CIA have said that the ban does not apply to wartime when the military is striking the enemy’s command and control or leadership targets. The United States can also legally invoke the right of self-defense as justification for striking terrorists or their leaders planning attacks on the United States.
Bush’s new presidential finding differs from past findings against the terrorists in a number of significant ways. First, it puts more military muscle behind the clandestine effort to crush al Qaeda. Second, it is far better funded. Third, senior officials said, it has the highest possible priority and will involve better coordination within the entire national security structure: the White House, the president’s national security adviser, the CIA, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the departments of State, Defense and Justice. On Friday, Cheney said the country had a sense of confidence in Bush’s team, which includes an experienced trio of advisers — Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Cheney himself. CIA Director George J. Tenet has developed an unusually close relationship with the new president, becoming a regular during Camp David weekends and briefing the chief executive most days. “There’s a lot of tough decisions that are involved here, and some of them very close calls,” Cheney said. “But if I had to go out and design a team of people . . . this is it.”
The vice president added that the war on bin Laden and terrorists in general is going to be particularly difficult. “They have nothing to defend,” he said. “You know, for 50 years we deterred the Soviets by threatening the utter destruction of the Soviet Union. What does bin Laden value? “There’s no piece of real estate. It’s not like a state or a country. The notion of deterrence doesn’t really apply here. There’s no treaty to be negotiated, there’s no arms control agreement that’s going to guarantee our safety and security. The only way you can deal with them is to destroy them.”
‘Smoke Them Out’
Six days after the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush publicly declared the intentions of his administration with the statement that bin Laden was “Wanted: Dead or Alive.” In those remarks at the Pentagon, he said that the new enemy, bin Laden and other terrorists, liked “to hide and burrow in” and conceal themselves in caves. He first mentioned “a different type of war” that would “require a new thought process.” Two days later, Sept. 19, Bush made his first public mention of “covert activities,” noting that some foreign governments would be “comfortable” supporting such action. He added a broad outline of the goal: “Clearly, one of our focuses is to get people out of their caves, smoke them out and get them moving and get them. That’s about as plainly as I can put it.” Bush sounded this theme again during his nationally televised address to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 20, when he spoke of “covert activities, secret even in success.” In public remarks to CIA employees at the agency’s headquarters in Langley a week later, the president dropped more hints: “You see, the enemy is sometimes hard to find; they like to hide. They think they can hide, but we know better.”
Officials said that the covert activities approved by the president include a wide range of traditional CIA operations, such as close cooperation with friendly foreign intelligence services and covert and overt assistance to the Afghan rebels fighting to overthrow the Taliban leadership that harbors bin Laden. The CIA has studied bin Laden and his al Qaeda network for years. A special unit or “Bin Laden station,” created in 1996, works round the clock at headquarters. When Cheney gave a speech Thursday night in New York City, he noticed a sea change. As his motorcade went through Manhattan, people stopped their cars, got out and applauded. During his short speech before the 56th Annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, he was interrupted by applause 15 times. On Friday morning, while sitting in his comfortable, well-lit West Wing office, he said with a smile, “There wasn’t a dove in the room.” Researcher Jeff Himmelman contributed to this report. REFERENCE: CIA Told to Do ‘Whatever Necessary’ to Kill Bin Laden Agency and Military Collaborating at ‘Unprecedented’ Level; Cheney Says War Against Terror ‘May Never End’ By Bob Woodward Washington Post Staff Writer Sunday, October 21, 2001; Page A01 http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A27452-2001Oct20?language=printer
WASHINGTON: Bob Woodward’s book “Obama’s wars” has spilled so many beans about the Pakistani leadership, it is hard to determine how he was allowed to quote officials about events which are only months old, with work still in progress, and making disclosures that could create a turmoil for the political leadership in Pakistan. For instance, his book reveals that a special force of 3,000 hot pursuit US troops was carrying out operations inside Pakistani territory from the Afghan side, Pakistani airbases were still being used for drone attacks, US just did not trust the ISI, Zardari had stated to CIA chief clearly that civilian deaths did not worry him at all, US would bomb 150 camps inside Pakistan if there was another attack inside US, besides many other details which have never been revealed. But the very fact that Woodward has been able to sit with the top leaders in important meetings and has been allowed to write things which were otherwise never released to the public, shows the US leadership was sending clear messages about their intentions and plans. Woodward, on page 52, writes that on December 9, before Obama took oath as president, the DNI and CIA chief gave him a briefing listing 14 highly classified covert actions, the nature of those actions, and the written findings from Bush and other presidents. These 14 operations, Hayden said, included operations in 60 countries, clandestine, lethal counterterrorism operations to stop terrorists worldwide, including drone attacks on camps anywhere. How much are you doing in Pakistan, Obama asked. Hayden’s response, quoted by Bob Woodward, is revealing. “Hayden said 80 percent of America’s worldwide attacks were there (in Pakistan). We own the sky. The drones take off and land at secret bases in Pakistan. Al-Qaeda is training people in the tribal areas who, if you saw them in the visa line at Dulles (Washington Airport), you would not recognise as potential threats.” REFERENCE: The secrets of Pakistani leaders, revealed by ‘Obama’s Wars’ By Shaheen Sehbai Tuesday, October 12, 2010 Zi Qad 03, 1431 A.H http://www.thenews.com.pk/12-10-2010/Top-Story/1260.htm
Shaheen Conventionality “forgot” to mention this type of Bob Woodward.
Kessler cites confirmation from William Donnelly, head of CIA administration, that “Woodward probably found a way to sneak in,” as well as Britt Snider, general counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, whose formal investigation found that Woodward had 43 meetings or phone calls with Casey, including at the director’s home. Veil is the story of the covert wars that were waged in a secretive atmosphere and became the centerpieces and eventual time bombs of American foreign policy in the 1980’s. REFERENCE: Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA, 1981-1987 Bob Woodward (Author) http://bobwoodward.com/books/veil http://www.amazon.com/Veil-Secret-Wars-CIA-1981-1987/dp/0743274032/sr=1-7/qid=1159985645/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8
Why don’t Shaheen Sehbai mention “Bush At War” by Bob Woodward.
Pakistan’s chief spy Lt. General Mahmoud Ahmad “was in the US when the attacks occurred.” He arrived in the US on the 4th of September, a full week before the attacks. He had meetings at the State Department “after” the attacks on the WTC. But he also had “a regular visit of consultations” with his US counterparts at the CIA and the Pentagon during the week prior to September 11. REFERENCE: Cover-up or Complicity of the Bush Administration? The Role of Pakistan’s Military Intelligence (ISI) in the September 11 Attacks by Michel Chossudovsky Professor of Economics, University of Ottawa Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG), Montréal Posted at globalresearch.ca 2 November 2001
Why don’t Shaheen Sehbai mention “Bush At War” by Bob Woodward.
Pakistan’s declaration exonerated the U.S from any demand for legal or moral justification for their attacks on the poor Afghans. By this rescue mission, Pakistan might have improved its credentials as a front-line state but it did spell death and destruction for the poor Afghans. This was not the all that Musharraf did to prove his loyalties to the Bush administration. As we would come to see later, he even dismissed General Mahmood, Director ISI and several of his key – lieutenants, a step highly lauded and appreciated by C.I.A chief. The new chief of ISI was advised to remove whatever Pro-Taliban elements were left in the intelligence department of Pakistan. (P. 214) Bush At War Author: Bob Woodward Publishers: Simon & Schuster Rockefeller Center New York Year of publication: 2002
Incidentally General Mahmood (Director ISI) was already in Washington. Jim Pavitt got hold of him and apparently talked bitterly about Mullah Omar. General Mahmood felt obliged to defend Mullah Omar. He said that in his opinion Mullah Omar was religious, a man of humanitarian instincts, not a man of violence, but one who had suffered greatly under Afghan war-lords. (p. 47). Bush At War Author: Bob Woodward Publishers: Simon & Schuster Rockefeller Center New York Year of publication: 2002
“Stop”, Jim Pavitt interrupted rudely and arrogantly asked General Mahmood: “Spare Me….” (p. 47). Bush At War Author: Bob Woodward Publishers: Simon & Schuster Rockefeller Center New York Year of publication: 2002
Then Armitage invited Gen.Mahmood to the state department. He began by saying it was not clear yet what the U.S would ask of Pakistan but the request would force “deep introspection. Pakistan faces a stark choice, either it is with us or it is not. This is a black & white choice with no gray”. (p. 47). Bush At War Author: Bob Woodward Publishers: Simon & Schuster Rockefeller Center New York Year of publication: 2002
Mahmood said that his country had faced tough choices in the past but Pakistan, he pointed out, was not a big or mighty power. “Pakistan is an important country”, Armitage cut in. Mahmood returned to the past [& probably referred to some of the instances where Pakistan was used by the U.S and then abandoned in an un-ceremonial manner]. “The future begins to-day”,3 Armitage said. Pass the word to General Musharraf, the President of Pakistan. “With us or against us.” (p. 47). Bush At War Author: Bob Woodward Publishers: Simon & Schuster Rockefeller Center New York Year of publication: 2002
Powell & Armitage later drew a list of seven demands4 with a view to presenting them to Musharraf. These demands were:
• “Stop Al-Qaeda operatives at your border intercept arms shipments through Pakistan and end all logistical support for bin Ladin.”
• “Give the US Blanket over flight and landing rights for all types of operation”
• “Access to Pakistan, naval bases, air bases and borders.”
• “Immediate intelligence and immigration information.”
• “Condemn the September 11 attacks and “curb all domestic expressions of support for terrorism against the [United States], its friends or allies.” Powell and Armitage knew that was something they couldn’t even do in the United States.”
• “Cut off all shipments of fuel to Taliban and stop Pakistani volunteers from going into Afghanistan to join the Taliban.”
• “The seventh demand was the one that Powell would trip up the Pakistanis or cause Musharraf to balk: “should the evidence strongly implicate Osama bin Ladin and the Al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan AND should Afghanistan and the Taliban continue to harbor him and his network, Pakistan will break diplomatic relations with the Taliban government, end support for Taliban and assist us in the aforementioned ways to destroy Osama bin Ladin and his Al-Qaeda network.” (p. 58-59).
In a way, the U.S directed Pakistan to take a U-turn on Afghanistan and destroy with their own hands whatever they had created and maintained, that is, the Taliban. Armitage called General Mahmood again and handed over the list of demands to him by saying; “this is not negotiable… you must accept all seven demands”. (p. 59).
At 1:30 P.M. Powell called Musharraf “as one General to another. He said, “We need someone on our flank fighting with us. Speaking candidly, the American people wouldn’t understand if Pakistan was not in this fight with the United States.” (p. 59).
Musharraf to Powell’s utter surprise said that Pakistan would support the United States with each of the seven actions. (p. 59). Later Powell read out these demands to President Bush and proudly reported that Musharraf had already accepted them all. On hearing this Bush said gleefully, “it looks like you got it all”. (p. 61). Bush thought it was the State Department at its best. He later recalled that “Powell was very good with Musharraf. He single-handedly got Musharraf on board”, and was able to put a coalition together. (p. 342).
Mr. Shaheen Sehbai, Group Editor, The News International - Jang Group of Newspapers is very fond of quoting Foreign Press particularly when Foreign Press [Pro Zionist] is negative on President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari and PPP. Shaheen Sehbai while quoting The New York Times: “The problems in Afghanistan have only been compounded by the fragility of Mr. Obama’s partner in Pakistan, President Asif Ali Zardari, who is so weak that his government seems near collapse.” The Washington Post in a report by two correspondents said: “Zardari's political weakness is an additional hazard for a new bilateral relationship...The administration expects Zardari's position to continue to weaken, leaving him as a largely ceremonial president even if he manages to survive in office.” REFERENCE: Obama administration fears Zardari collapse WASHINGTON (Shaheen Sehbai)Updated at: 1525 PST, Monday, November 30, 2009 http://thenews.jang.com.pk/updates.asp?id=92494 Obama administration fears Zardari collapse Updated at: 1525 PST, Monday,November 30, 2009 http://www.geo.tv/11-30-2009/53849.htm
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
Mr. Shaheen Sehbai, Group Editor, The News International - Jang Group of Newspapers is very fond of quoting Foreign Press particularly when Foreign Press [Pro Zionist] is negative on President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari and PPP. Shaheen Sehbai while quoting The New York Times: “The problems in Afghanistan have only been compounded by the fragility of Mr. Obama’s partner in Pakistan, President Asif Ali Zardari, who is so weak that his government seems near collapse.” The Washington Post in a report by two correspondents said: “Zardari's political weakness is an additional hazard for a new bilateral relationship...The administration expects Zardari's position to continue to weaken, leaving him as a largely ceremonial president even if he manages to survive in office.” The report in The New York Times was filed by journalists Peter Baker, Eric Schmitt, David E Sanger, Elisabeth Bumiller and Sabrina Tavernise from Islamabad, Washington and New York while in the Washington Post Karen DeYoung from Washington and Pamela Constable from Islamabad contributed to its report. Both newspapers referred to President Zardari's increasing weakness in the context of the new Afghan policy being prepared by President Obama, which will be announced on Dec 1. REFERENCE: Obama administration fears Zardari collapse WASHINGTON (Shaheen Sehbai)Updated at: 1525 PST, Monday, November 30, 2009 http://thenews.jang.com.pk/updates.asp?id=92494
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