Monday, May 16, 2011

USA Complicity & Alleged Strategic Depths of General (R) Mirza Aslam Beg.

It is a moot point which crumbled faster: the twin towers of the World Trade Centre or the imposing ramparts of Pakistani pride? Just a few threatening statements from President Bush and Gen Powell and Pakistan's military government, usually so tough at home, conceded everything the Americans were asking for. We did not say, as forgivably we might have, that we would look into the US demands. We did not say that we would consult public opinion before formulating our response. To some extraordinary outbursts of arrogance from Washington we succumbed first and only later was a show made of consulting leaders of public opinion. We buckled under pressure. Alas, no other construction fits our swift capitulation. Perhaps, as General Musharraf has been at pains to explain, we had no other choice. But must we have bent that swiftly? Even if only for form's sake, couldn't we have paused to take breath before agreeing to every last item on America's imperious list of demands? And, pray, what precisely were we afraid of? That the US in its blind anger would make an example of us, flattening our airfields, destroying our installations, taking out our 'nuclear strategic assets'? These wretched assets were supposed to be our ultimate defence. Now they turn out to be our biggest weakness, useless against the crude blackmail to which we have been subjected. Sadly, it's all in character. After India's nuclear tests in May 1998, a few threatening statements from that side threw us into a panic and made us carry out our own tests. Restraint would have won us international kudos and put India in a spot. But out of paranoia we frittered away an historic opportunity. It makes one wonder as to the kind of people we are. Listening to our bombast anyone would take us to be Greeks of the Homeric period. Anyone examining closely our national record would be struck by our pusillanimity. And our ability to shoot ourselves in the foot.

General (R) Mirza Aslam Beg - 1 (Frontline 30 May 2010)


General (R) Mirza Aslam Beg - 2 (Frontline 30 May 2010)

General (R) Mirza Aslam Beg - 3 (Frontline 30 May 2010)

General (R) Mirza Aslam Beg - 4 (Frontline 30 May 2010)

But I bet the Americans who have a fair measure of Pakistan's capacity to withstand stress are not surprised. We have always been eager to serve their interests, often at great cost to ourselves and mostly without getting much in return. Once again we are gearing up for the same role despite bitter experience of having been repeatedly used and repeatedly abandoned. What handsome revenge for America's debacle in Vietnam was the savaging of the Soviet bear in Afghanistan. A handful of Pakistani generals enriched themselves during that momentous struggle. But what did the country get? Guns, violence, drugs and a sea of refugees. All the glory America's, all the recurring costs Pakistan's. Anyone could be forgiven for thinking that history is being repeated. Surely, a measure of self-serving calculation is involved in the decision General Musharraf has taken on behalf of the nation: a vision of gratitude dollars pouring in, of our debt burden easing, of India being outsmarted, and of Pakistan being treated as honoured ally instead of a country down on its luck. But what did we get before that we are hoping for the wheel to turn this time? We don't know what the US eventually decides. Afghanistan is not the easiest of battlefields and sending in ground troops carries enormous risks. But we do know that Pakistani territory and facilities will be used for any strike on Afghanistan. Such a concession, if at all to be given, should have come at the end of a process of mutual discussion and consultations, not right at the outset as we have done, hoping that the US out of the goodness of its heart will reward us later. We don't even know who'll take care of the refugees pouring into Pakistan. Should we then have pressed the panic button so quickly?

US placed the Taliban in Afghanistan in 1996 - CNN's Crossfire - 09.11.02

Granted that it was our support for the Taliban which brought us into the focus of American pressure. But who was pushing the support-Taliban policy? The military, the ISI, the national security establishment. The people of Pakistan are now paying the price of this folly. There was no shortage of voices questioning the wisdom of our Taliban policy: that it was fanning the flames of religious extremism at home and proving a source of disquiet for our friends abroad. The notion of 'strategic depth', so beloved of GHQ, also made no sense because blind support of the Taliban meant not enhanced defence but importing another set of problems into our midst. But the experts remained unfazed. Now under duress we are doing what should have been done long ago: distancing ourselves from the Taliban. At long last the right policy but for the wrong reasons. We are being told, however, that if we had not acted first India, which was rolling out the red carpet for the US, offering it every last facility, would have stolen a march on us, leaving us out in the cold to face American anger alone. What nonsense is this? Must we see ourselves in India's mirror always? True, in order to paint Pakistan into a corner, India has tried to pander to American sensibilities (to its chagrin without much success). We had a duty to protect our flanks. But we could have paused for a moment.

>From which bases in the Rajasthan desert can a ground assault be mounted on Afghanistan? The key to any land action against Afghanistan is Pakistan and if the Americans are serious about any such action they have perforce to use Pakistani facilities. Had our nerve held we could have played for time in order to see what the US was willing to give in return. Admittedly, Pakistan is not Vietnam or Cuba. Our leaders do not take Ho Chi Minh as their model. Still, must we have caved in so quickly? How would the Lion of Damascus, Hafez Al-Assad, have played his cards in such a crisis? He would have spoken no unnecessary word, would have guarded his silence like the Sphinx and made the paladins of the State Department and the Pentagon come to Islamabad, refusing only to meet the American official (was it Armitage?) who said it was for Pakistan to decide whether it wanted to live in the 21st century or the Stone Age. Credible threats Assad would have weighed carefully. Arrogance he would have treated with contempt. Above all, he would not have displayed his hand prematurely. This is not a summons to arms or any misplaced arrogance of our own. The winds blowing across our country may be too strong for us to deflect. But there is no reason for us to sully national honour by behaving in too supine a manner. In any case we are confusing two separate issues: support for the Taliban and bowing before American demands. Our Taliban policy was a prescription for folly. Even if we have friendly feelings for the people of Afghanistan, Pakistan cannot be sacrificed for the sake of any other country. But this is one thing, offering Pakistani territory for use against Afghanistan quite another. Have we carefully pondered the consequences of this move? How will our people take it? And what will be the cost to our already battered pride as a nation?

We are being told to be wise. Wisdom does not lie in acting cravenly. What good is our half-a-million man army and our famous nuclear deterrent if in every crisis we are to crack under the first strain? This does not mean we take on the Americans. There is no need to tempt the gods or please our enemies by doing that. It only means that we let the Americans know, politely but firmly, that while we are only too ready to do the right thing, preferably under United Nations auspices, we are not willing to be pushed around or sell ourselves cheaply. Was it a sense of opportunity lost which made General Musharraf look so tense on Wednesday evening when he addressed the nation? It was not one of his best performances and certainly was a far cry from his conquest of Agra. He asked the nation to trust him. The nation has no choice: he is the captain on deck and it is he who must take the ship of state into safer waters. It would help, however, if even at this stage he opens the shut portals of his regime a bit to let in some fresh air so that decisions affecting the country's future are taken in a setting slightly broader than the cloistered world of the corps commanders. REFERENCE: A passion for selling ourselves cheaply By Ayaz Amir DAWN WIRE SERVICE Week Ending: 22 September 2001 Issue : 07/38 

Washington has given in to the Pakistani military time and again, on the theory that we need the generals badly and that they could go elsewhere for support — to the Chinese, for instance. In fact, the United States has considerable leverage with Islamabad. The Pakistanis need American aid, arms and training to sustain their army. If they are going to receive those benefits, they must become part of Pakistan’s solution and not its problem. With some urgency, Washington should:

l Demand a major national commission in Pakistan — headed by a Supreme Court justice, not an army apparatchik — to investigate whether bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders have been supported and sustained by elements of the Pakistani state.

l Demand that the provisions of the Lugar-Kerry bill on civilian control of the military be strictly followed or aid will be withheld.

l Develop a plan to go after the major untouched terror networks in Pakistan, such as the Haqqani faction, the Quetta Shura and Lashkar-i-Taiba.

In the longer run, as the United States scales back its military presence in Afghanistan, it will need the Pakistani military less and less to supply its troops in theater. Pakistan’s civilian government, business class and intellectuals have an ever-larger role in this struggle. They should not get distracted by empty anti-American slogans or hypernationalism. This is Pakistan’s moment of truth, its chance to break with its dysfunctions and become a normal, modern country. The opportunity might not come again. REFERENCE: With bin Laden gone, now’s the time to push Pakistan By Fareed Zakaria, Published: May 11 

Arguably the most feared institution in Pakistan, the ISI has a mythic reputation among Pakistanis as a shadow government with a hand in virtually every major development in the country. Human rights and democracy activists say the agency is out of control and accuse it of carrying out hundreds of disappearances, systematically rigging elections and harassing civilians who support peace with India. They say the American raid that killed Bin Laden has created a rare moment when the ISI’s judgment and effectiveness is being challenged. Whether the ISI was sheltering Bin Laden or was unaware of his presence, it must be revamped, they say. In a series of unusual developments in a country long dominated by its powerful military, the ISI chief twice offered to resign last week. News commentators are criticizing the agency, and political parties are demanding that the ISI be reined in. “It depends on the caliber and the grit of the political leadership,” Rasul Baksh Rais, a leading Pakistani political scientist, said in an interview. “How they can use this opportunity to restructure the civilian-military relationship and bring the military under civilian control.” American and Pakistani officials said the ISI was still dominated by military officers wedded to an outdated, paranoid and dangerous mindset that the C.I.A. helped create during the 1980s anti-Soviet conflict in Afghanistan. More ultranationalists than jihadists, the ISI’s officers consider themselves to be Pakistan’s true guardians. They see the United States as a feckless and immoral power that is in deep decline, India as Pakistan’s main threat and militants as proxies they can control. A former American intelligence official said the C.I.A. funneled vast amounts of covert aid to more cooperative sections of the ISI in an effort to strengthen them. Former American officials said they did the same with the Pakistani Army. But progress has been slow. American critics of the ISI say it will never be reformed or weakened by Pakistan’s civilian leadership. They say that proponents of continued American aid to the ISI are naïve and “apologists” for an agency that has repeatedly double-crossed the United States. REFERENCE: Chicago Trial May Unmask Pakistan’s Links to Militants By GINGER THOMPSON and DAVID ROHDE Published: May 14, 2011 A version of this article appeared in print on May 15, 2011, on page A6 of the New York edition with the headline: Chicago Trial May Push Pakistan Spy Agency Out of the Shadows. 

A senior delegation of Afghanistan's Taleban movement has gone to the United States for talks. The delegation is to meet officials of the company which wants to build a pipeline to export gas from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan to Pakistan. A spokesman for the company -- Unocal in Texas -- said it had agreed with Turkmenistan to sell its gas. Last month an Argentinian company (Bridas) said it would soon sign a deal to build the pipeline.Unocal is said to have already begun teaching Afghan men technical skills. The BBC regional correspondent says a pipeline deal would boost the Afghan economy, but peace must be established first, and that still seems a distant prospect. From the newsroom of the BBC World Service. REFERENCE: Taleban to Texas for pipeline talks Wednesday, 3 December, 1997, 15:56 GMT

Fahrenheit 9/11-The Movie-Part 5
Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)

Courtesy: TruthTV11

President George Bush recently boasted: "When I take action, I'm not going to fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt. It's going to be decisive." President Bush should know that there are no targets in Afghanistan that will give his missiles their money's worth. Perhaps, if only to balance his books, he should develop some cheaper missiles to use on cheaper targets and cheaper lives in the poor countries of the world. But then, that may not make good business sense to the Coalition's weapons manufacturers. It wouldn't make any sense at all, for example, to the Carlyle Group- described by the Industry Standard as 'the world's largest private equity firm', with $12 billion under management. Carlyle invests in the defense sector and makes its money from military conflicts and weapons spending.

Carlyle is run by men with impeccable credentials. Former US defense secretary Frank Carlucci is Carlyle's chairman and managing director (he was a college roommate of Donald Rumsfeld's). Carlyle's other partners include former US secretary of state James A. Baker III, George Soros, Fred Malek (George Bush Sr's campaign manager). An American paper - the Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel - says that former President George Bush Sr is reported to be seeking investments for the Carlyle Group from Asian markets. He is reportedly paid not inconsiderable sums of money to make 'presentations' to potential government-clients.

Ho Hum. As the tired saying goes, it's all in the family.

Then there's that other branch of traditional family business - oil. Remember, President George Bush (Jr) and Vice-President Dick Cheney both made their fortunes working in the US oil industry. 

Turkmenistan, which borders the northwest of Afghanistan, holds the world's third largest gas reserves and an estimated six billion barrels of oil reserves. Enough, experts say, to meet American energy needs for the next 30 years (or a developing country's energy requirements for a couple of centuries.) America has always viewed oil as a security consideration, and protected it by any means it deems necessary. Few of us doubt that its military presence in the Gulf has little to do with its concern for human rights and almost entirely to do with its strategic interest in oil.

Oil and gas from the Caspian region currently moves northward to European markets. Geographically and politically, Iran and Russia are major impediments to American interests. In 1998, Dick Cheney - then CEO of Halliburton, a major player in the oil industry - said: "I can't think of a time when we've had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian. It's almost as if the opportunities have arisen overnight." True enough. For some years now, an American oil giant called Unocal has been negotiating with the Taliban for permission to construct an oil pipeline through Afghanistan to Pakistan and out to the Arabian Sea. From here, Unocal hopes to access the lucrative 'emerging markets' in South and Southeast Asia. In December 1997, a delegation of Taliban mullahs traveled to America and even met US State Department officials and Unocal executives in Houston. At that time the Taliban's taste for public executions and its treatment of Afghan women were not made out to be the crimes against humanity that they are now. Over the next six months, pressure from hundreds of outraged American feminist groups was brought to bear on the Clinton administration. Fortunately, they managed to scuttle the deal. And now comes the US oil industry's big chance. REFERENCE: War Is Peace by Arundhati Roy (October 2001) 

World: West Asia
Taleban in Texas for talks on gas pipeline
image: [ The 1,300km pipeline will carry gas across Afghanistan's harsh terrain ]
The 1,300km pipeline will carry gas across Afghanistan's harsh terrain
A senior delegation from the Taleban movement in Afghanistan is in the United States for talks with an international energy company that wants to construct a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan to Pakistan. A spokesman for the company, Unocal, said the Taleban were expected to spend several days at the company's headquarters in Sugarland, Texas. Unocal says it has agreements both with Turkmenistan to sell its gas and with Pakistan to buy it.

[ image: The Afghan economy has been devasted by 20 years of civil war]
The Afghan economy has been devasted by 20 years of civil war
But, despite the civil war in Afghanistan, Unocal has been in competition with an Argentinian firm, Bridas, to actually construct the pipeline. Last month, the Argentinian firm, Bridas, announced that it was close to signing a two-billion dollar deal to build the pipeline, which would carry gas 1,300 kilometres from Turkmenistan to Pakistan, across Afghanistan. In May, Taleban-controlled radio in Kabul said a visiting delegation from an Argentinian company had announced that pipeline construction would start "soon".

[ image: Kabul]
The radio has reported several visits to Kabul by Unocal and Bridas company officials over the past few months. A BBC regional correspondent says the proposal to build a pipeline across Afghanistan is part of an international scramble to profit from developing the rich energy resources of the Caspian Sea. With the various Afghan factions still at war, the project has looked from the outside distinctly unpromising. Last month the Taleban Minister of Information and Culture, Amir Khan Muttaqi, said the Taleban had held talks with both American and Argentine-led consortia over transit rights but that no final agreement had yet been reached. He said an official team from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan should meet to ensure each country benefited from any deal. However, Unocal clearly believes it is still in with a chance - to the extent that it has already begun training potential staff. It has commissioned the University of Nebraska to teach Afghan men the technical skills needed for pipeline construction. Nearly 140 people were enrolled last month in Kandahar and Unocal also plans to hold training courses for women in administrative skills.

[ image: Women face working restrictions under Taleban rule]
Women face working restrictions under Taleban rule 
Although the Taleban authorities only allow women to work in the health sector, organisers of the training say they haven't so far raised any objections. The BBC regional correspondent says the Afghan economy has been devastated by 20 years of civil war. A deal to go ahead with the pipeline project could give it a desperately-needed boost. But peace must be established first -- and that for the moment still seems a distant prospect.  REFERENCE: World: West Asia Taleban in Texas for talks on gas pipeline Thursday, December 4, 1997 Published at 19:27 GMT

A legendary figure from that period was a man named Colonel Imam, whom I first met five years ago. He was tall and burly, with a thick beard and a crooked smile that suggested several missing teeth. He wore a white turban and an olive-green, British issue second world war-issue paratroop jacket, which he told me he had been wearing since he joined the army in 1971. During the 80s, Imam ran many of the ISI training camps, becoming popular among ethnic Pashtun fighters for his love of Islam and his fondness for killing Soviets. "Those were wonderful times," he told me. Although his real name was Sultan Amir, to the Afghans he became "Colonel Imam". "I loved the fight. And the mujahideen were very fond of me," he said with a smile. The US liked him too. On the wall of his Rawalpindi home hung war trophies from the 80s – daggers, faded photos, a Russian general's gun – but on the table sat a chunk of the Berlin wall, cased in glass. "To one who helped deliver the first blow," it read. "The Americans gave me that," he said. With the Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, the CIA largely abandoned Pakistan. But the spirit of "jihad" – fighters imbued with Islamist vim – lived on in the ISI. Pakistani officers, having imbibed too much of their own ideology, transformed the spy agency. It started to support Islamist groups across Asia – Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, Burma, India – and the US placed Pakistan on a terrorist watchlist. In 1993, Javed Ashraf Qazi, a secular-minded general officer, was sent in to clean up the mess. "I was shocked at what I found," he tells me. Senior ISI officers had jettisoned their uniforms for shalwar kameez; their subordinates would disappear off to the mosque for hours on end. The ISI had bought a hotel in Bangkok, probably to facilitate gun-running. The outgoing spy chief, Javed Nasir, was a playboy turned zealot who had grown a scraggly beard and refused to shake women's hands. On his first day in the office Qazi found him running out of the door to a Muslim missionary conference. "When people say the ISI is a rogue agency, it was true in those days," he says.

Zbigniew Brzezinski Taliban Pakistan Afghanistan pep talk 1979


It should by now be generally accepted that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan on Christmas Eve 1979 was deliberately provoked by the United States. In his memoir published in 1996, the former CIA director Robert Gates made it clear that the American intelligence services began to aid the mujahidin guerrillas not after the Soviet invasion, but six months before it. In an interview two years later with Le Nouvel Observateur, President Carter's national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski proudly confirmed Gates's assertion."According to the official version of history," Brzezinski said,"CIA aid to the mujahidin began during 1980, that's to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan. But the reality, kept secret until now, is completely different: on 3 July 1979 President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And on the same day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained that in my opinion this aid would lead to a Soviet military intervention."

Asked whether he in any way regretted these actions, Brzezinski replied:

Regret what? The secret operation was an excellent idea. It drew the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? On the day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, saying, in essence: 'We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War.'

Nouvel Observateur:"And neither do you regret having supported Islamic fundamentalism, which has given arms and advice to future terrorists?"

Brzezinski:"What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?"

Even though the demise of the Soviet Union owes more to Mikhail Gorbachev than to Afghanistan's partisans, Brzezinski certainly helped produce"agitated Muslims," and the consequences have been obvious ever since. Carter, Brzezinski and their successors in the Reagan and first Bush administrations, including Gates, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Armitage, and Colin Powell, all bear some responsibility for the 1.8 million Afghan casualties, 2.6 million refugees, and 10 million unexploded land-mines that followed from their decisions. They must also share the blame for the blowback that struck New York and Washington on September 11, 2001. After all, al-Qaida was an organization they helped create and arm. REFERENCE: Are We to Blame for Afghanistan? By Chalmers Johnson 11-21-04 

Qazi fired the ideologues, sold the hotel and ordered his subordinates to wear their uniforms (some struggled to fit in them). "We cleaned it up," says Qazi, who later became a minister under Pervez Musharraf. But the ISI was not done with jihad; it had merely narrowed its focus. The proof is on the wall of Qazi's home. I notice an unusual rifle hanging on the wall. It is an Indian service rifle, Qazi admits half bashfully – a present from one of the "mujahideen" fighters the ISI started to send into Indian-occupied Kashmir from the mid 90s, when he was in charge. "We turned a blind eye to some groups," he says. They included Lashkar-e-Toiba, he admits – the terrorist outfit that in 2008 would attack hotels and train stations in the Indian city of Mumbai, killing 170 people. In the early 90s, the ISI also started to support an obscure Islamist movement in Afghanistan called the Taliban. Colonel Imam was sent back into Afghanistan to advise the one-eyed Taliban leader Mullah Omar. They had history: Imam, it turned out, had trained Omar back in the mujahideen camps in the 80s. With ISI backing, the Taliban swept to power in Kabul; at the UN in New York, a beleaguered Afghan official complained that Imam was the "de facto governor" of the newly conquered territories. "Ah, they are naughty people," Imam told me of the Taliban with his shy smile. "Rough people, good fighters, but respected. And they were all my friends." Over the past decade, however, the ISI has professed to have abandoned jihad. As American troops swarmed across Afghanistan, in search of Bin Laden in late 2001, President General Pervez Musharraf disavowed the Taliban, sacked his most Islamist generals (including the then ISI director, Mahmud Ahmed) and brought Colonel Imam home. The following January he made a signature speech banning a slew of jihadi groups. "We need to rid society of extremism," he declared. REFERENCE: Whose side is Pakistan's ISI really on? Declan Walsh The Guardian, Thursday 12 May 2011

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