WAR ON TERROR—SOME UNANSWERED QUESTIONS .Rasheed Hasan Khan
THE CAT IS OUT OF THE BAG — The moment of truth is here. After nearly a month’s self imposed silence, at the behest of the U.S. Government, the western media has come out with the truth. Raymond Davis, the American citizen responsible for the murder, in broad daylight, of two Pakistani citizens in Lahore’s Qartaba Chowk, has been identified as a C.I.A. Contractor, employed by Blackwater(Xe). The U.S. Government, despite the embarrassment of public exposure, continues to insist on the Diplomatic status of Raymond Davis and his right to Immunity from prosecution. The details of Davis’ status and activities in Pakistan, that have emerged in the electronic and print media of the West, are astonishing, to say the least. It appears that Davis is no small fish in the murky waters of U.S. covert operations in Pakistan. He has been identified as the Head of the U.S. Covert Operations in Pakistan. He has a long history of activities in Pakistan. While operating from Peshawar, was expelled from the country sometime back, but mysteriously returned and resumed his activities till arrested in Lahore on the 27 Jan. 2011. The incident in Qartaba Chowk has raised a number of questions with regards to the nature of American operations in Pakistan, using the so called ‘contractors’ and the Policy of the Government of Pakistan related to the entry of these individuals in the country and the unbridled activities of armed civilians in the employ of U.S. Government, posing to fight the’ war on terror’ and creating mayhem on Pakistani soil.
IRAQ PROVIDES A UNIVERSAL PRESCRIPTION — For those familiar with the details of the American invasion of Iraq, the name Blackwater rings alarm bells, because it is the name of a particularly virulent gang of mercenaries operating under the directions of the CIA. The notorious “contractors”, responsible for numerous atrocities in Iraq. This brought the organization into the limelight and people all over the world came to know what blood thirsty Mercenaries, in the employ of U.S. Government are capable of. After a particularly gruesome massacre, leading to the death of sixteen people in the heart of Baghdad, which media all over the world condemned, the company changed its name to Xe – and continued its nefarious business. Briefly, these ‘contractors’ provided security to the U.S. installations and individuals in Iraq. They also carried out Targeted Assassination of anti-American individuals, kidnapped, tortured and interrogated suspects, gathered information and carried out bomb explosions to fan the flames of sectarian and tribal hatred. This performance of the so called private security companies in Iraq was rightly condemned by the whole world. The powers that be in the U.S. however, wanted to replicate the pattern in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
9/11 AND PAKISTAN — In the wake of 9/11, the U.S. launched its war on terror and ‘contractors’ started to arrive in Pakistan to hunt for Osama bin Laden and other Al- Qaeda leaders. The Musharraf Regime was very accommodating and gave them all the help they needed. The people of Pakistan were never taken into confidence and to this day do not know the terms and conditions of the agreements under which C.I.A. personnel and their contractors are allowed to operate in Pakistan. Nor does anyone know the exact number and the day to day activities of these individuals.
In 2009,there was news of a proposed expansion of the U.S.Embassy in Islamabad, the largest communication complex in the world was to be built here. To provide” security” to the installation, the services of one thousand U.S.Marines and Black water operatives were said to have been acquired. It was reported that they had started arriving in Pakistan. The U.S. embassy spokesperson termed the reports as exaggerated.But the present M.N.A .from the area, Zafar Ali Shah ,in a talk show on a private T.V. channel , expressed grave concern at the large number of houses being rented in Islamabad, and in contravention of the C.D.A’s regulations, turned into fortified bunkers. Footage of the said buildings was also shown, which left no doubt about the veracity of the reports. Whatever the extent of the foreign presence, it could not remain a secret for long, as was the case with Badaber air field. The question is ,why is such a huge facility being built here in Pakistan? The answer for public consumption is , to facilitate the war against terror. If this is true, it does not explain the statement of the Ambassador of People’s Republic of China( OCT. 2009) ,expressing grave concern at the increasing U.S. influence in Pakistan. Such statements are a rare thing in China’s diplomatic practice.
THE DISMAL STORY OF U.S. COVERT OPERATIONS IN PAKISTAN — Since Pakistan joined the U.S. camp , at the height of the cold war, Pakistani soil has been a base for covert U.S. operations. Ayub regime provided an airbase at Badaber, near Peshawar, to C.I.A. for the use of U-2 planes. These specially designed planes used to make regular over flights across the Soviet Union beyond the range of Soviet anti-aircraft guns, using onboard cameras and recorders to monitor Soviet communication and military deployment. But the operation came to an inglorious end when the U-2 piloted by Gary Powers was shot down with a missile over the Soviet Union. Premier Khruschev warned the Pakistani government to stop playing with fire and said that a red circle has been drawn on the map around Peshawar. This sent shivers down the spine of the Pakistani establishment. President Eisenhower as expected ,denied any over flights but was to face public embarrassment when the Soviet Union exhibited Gary Powers, along with the paraphernalia of spying equipment recovered from the crashed U-2. The over flights were cancelled permanently.
When the Russians invaded Afghanistan, the U.S. government adopted a policy of wait and see. President Reagan’s assessment was that the Russians have never withdrawn from any territory which they once occupied. The heroic resistance of the Afghan people, without any international support and the mounting Russian losses brought about a change in the U.S. thinking. They realized that the Afghan resistance will continue with or without them. With the passage of time, local Afghan organizations will become more organized and rooted in the masses. The struggle will take the shape of a national liberation struggle, beyond the power and capacity of the U.S. to influence or control. So ,more than a year after the commencement of the struggle, the U.S. entered the field. Their strategy was simple. To gain control of the Afghan resistance and to give it the character and color of their choice and to use it to bleed the other superpower to death. They acquired the services of the Pakistani establishment, especially the I.S.I. very cheaply. Mullas and religious fanatics from all over the world were gathered in Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta, provided with arms and training and launched across the border into Afghanistan. It is now admitted by all the actors in the game that to receive equipment and aid the Afghan groups had to have the approval of a committee comprising of I.S.I. and C.I.A. personnel. In this way a liberation struggle was turned into a fundamentalist movement under the leadership of Osama Bin Laden and others, lauded as Mujahideen then, but later cast out into the outer darkness as Al-Qaida terrorists. The American pigeons had come home to roost. Gen.Zia ul Haq , for his ignominious services was allowed to rule Pakistan for eleven years till his removal from the scene in a mysterious plane crash.
After the Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan, the U.S. packed up and left without a backward glance, leaving its protégés to murder each other and raze cities like Kabul to the ground. This continued for a number of years till the C.I.A. and the I.S.I. at the behest of the Pakistani establishment found a brilliant solution to the problem of how to end the anarchy in Afghanistan i.e. by organizing the Taliban !! Orphans of the war in Afghanistan, who were lodged in various religious madarsas ,in Pakistan were recruited and given basic military training by the I.S.I. and sent across the border to fight the Afghan warlords, lead by “advisers” from the Pakistani army. Within a matter of months, the Taliban captured Kabul and Jalalabad. Taliban established their writ over nearly the whole of Afghanistan ,except for a small area in the north west. The brainchild of U.S. and Pakistani intelligence establishments started to implement its own brand of “Islam” in Afghanistan but the world hardly took any notice.
Meanwhile, Osama Bin Laden and his group of Arab warriors who had been chased out of Sudan, now made their appearance in Afghanistan , and by dint of superior planning, resources and discipline, soon became a decisive factor in Afghan politics. The taste of victory turned to dust and ashes in the mouth of those who master-minded the creation of Taliban. The situation was to undergo a dramatic change in Pakistan with the coup against Nawaz Sharif’s government and the assumption of power by Gen.Musharraf. While Musharraf was fighting to stabilize himself , an event that shook the world occurred in the U.S.A.– the 9/11 attack on World Trade Centre, the Pentagon and an aborted attack, reported to have had as its target the White House itself. President George Bush and the U.S. establishment went wild with fury and started a crusade of revenge. Gen.Musharraf came out with his version of the U.S. role in the aftermath of 9/11 in his magnum opus,IN THE LINE OF FIRE. Though one fails to see how he was in the line of anything but American largess when he abjectly prostrated himself and and accepted all unjust demands of the U.S.government. Was there an alternative? This question will be debated for a long time to come, but history shows that in international relations, no country, however powerful, can fight the whole world at any given time. Moreover, Pakistan’s proximity to Afghanistan makes it absolutely vital for any projected adventure in the region. At that juncture, resistance to the unjust demands of the U.S. government would not have resulted in any “Tora Bora” .Rather, it was more likely that the U.S. planners would have been forced to take a more realistic view of the situation. But the junta preferred the “Tora Bora” we see around us in Pakistan today ,when the whole country and its institutions have been reduced to ruins. They were taken in by Bush’s Dullesian pronouncement “Those who are not with us are against us” .Iran was not with them so what happened to Iran?
This capitulation was the commencement of the creeping, silent invasion of Pakistan by Imperiovirus Americanii. Five bases were provided to the American forces on Pakistani soil initially. The Pakistan army was deployed along the western border and the tribal areas. Military action was employed as a first option in the tribal areas leaving no room for an alternative course of action when the military operation failed. The sordid details of bounty hunting and the head money collected is described in detail in Musharraf’s book perhaps for the benefit of the U.S. paymasters. In this way we managed to be embroiled in a war that was not our own .While the U.S. casualties numbered in dozens Pakistan army’s casualties numbered in thousands. Obeying the order “do more” opened the flood gates of death and destruction throughout the length and breadth of Pakistan.Finally, the U.S. policy had succeeded. Their war had become ours.
After Musharraf’s exit, Asif Zardari assumed office as president and in essence continued the policy pursued by Musharraf. So far, the war in Afghanistan has failed to achieve any significant success despite a change in the military command following the election of Obama as the president of U.S.A. The much touted “surge” of proposed thirty thousand additional U.S. troops has little to show for it. The truth of the matter is the U.S. and N.A.T.O. forces in Afghanistan are bogged down and short of using nuclear weapons to destroy the whole of Afghanistan they, cannot claim any success at least in the next decade or so.
It is in this political milieu that the news about the construction of a ‘Mini-Pentagon’ in Islamabad became public knowledge. Out of the proposed U.S. aid of $ 1.8 Billion ,$ 1 Billion were earmarked for the proposed extension of the U.S. embassy ! One can only say that it must be some extension, requiring such a huge sum as the initial layout. Knowledgeable sources, however, have an explanation for the construction of a ‘Mini-Pentagon’ in Pakistan . Firstly, as the sole superpower, American policy on a global scale has as its cornerstone the containment of China. To accomplish this policy it is necessary to bring together the countries of South Asia, West Asia and S.E. Asia and include the Central Asian countries in this alliance. Secondly, both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers and the U.S. policy makers feel that there should not only be a new equation between the two South Asian countries but want to monitor the’ nuclear assets ‘from close at hand. Thirdly, the need to co-ordinate the international effort on the “war against terror” provides an acceptable raison d’être.
. Few people in Pakistan are well informed about this organization. Through an account of its activities in Iraq, it has received world wide notoriety. Blackwater Worldwide is now known as Xe [pronounced as zi’] Services LLC. Founded in 1997 as Blackwater Water USA by Eric Prince and Al Clark. In October 2007,the company was renamed Blackwater Worldwide. Based in the U.S. State of North Carolina , Xe operates a training camp which the company claims is the largest in the world. Here the company trains more than 40,000 people a year, mostly from the U.S. or foreign military and police services. Currently there are about sixty large security contractors[ read mercenary organizations]operating in the U.S.A. Xe is one of three largest security contractors of the U.S. State department [read C.I.A.]. Of the 987 personnel Xe provides ,744 are U.S. citizens. At least 90 percent of the companies’ revenue comes from government contracts. For the services provided in Iraq the company was paid over $ 1 Billion ! War as a private enterprise, this is capitalism at its best. Blackwater contractors appeared in Afghanistan to train the army and the police force. They are an unwelcome feature of Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi landscape as well.
The question is, what is the government doing about it? Why the Opposition is silent about such an important issue and no questions is are asked in the parliament? Does anyone in Pakistan know the number of these operatives and their activities? There have been repeated allegations on the electronic media that these ‘contractors’ are involved in bomb explosions in public places, assassinations, and sectarian violence. No lunatic fringe allegations – former Chief of Army Staff Gen. Aslam Baig is on record in this connection as are many other serious and knowledgeable individuals. When will the Government of Pakistan deem it fit to let the public know the real facts and not the spin handed out by their functionaries?