New Revelation: Bugti’s Shell Backfired

New Revelation: Bugti’s Shell Backfired


Monday, 4 May 2009.


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—Akbar Bugti, a politician-turned-terrorist and a smalltime village thug who was taking India’s and Karzai’s help to raise a separatist insurgency inside Pakistan, was not killed by the Pakistani military. Instead he died when a rocket he fired went wrong, in what could also be suicide to evade capture, according to a close aide of Bugti who made this information public for the first time.

This revelation is a major breakthrough because the terror insurgency recruited young Pakistani Baloch men using a fake version of the story alleging that the Pakistani military killed the 80-year-old Bugti in cold blood.

Several news outlets, including BRASSTACKS, a Pakistani security analysis think tank, did explain the circumstances of Bugti’s death. But this is the first time that one of Bugti’s close aides has confirmed the real version.

Akbar Bugti, known as ‘little Saddam’ in his area of Dera Bugti, surprised all Pakistanis when, one fine morning in January 2005, he declared war against Pakistan after receiving guarantees from foreign powers based in Afghanistan that he will be given support to declare resource-rich Balochistan an independent country where he will be appointed an absolute ruler along the lines of the rich Gulf emirates. The federal Pakistani government discovered the plan and demanded Bugti’s surrender. His foreign backers and supporters failed to come to his rescue when security forces surrounded him in a mountain cave on Aug. 26, 2006, where Bugti apparently fired a shell at senior security officers who came to arrest him. As a result, the cave collapsed.

Wadera Muhammad Murad Bugti told a Pakistani TV news channel earlier this week, “When security forces entered the cave where (Bugti) was hiding, he attempted to fend them off by firing a shell. This caused a massive explosion, which resulted in the cave-in that led to the death of Bugti, one colonel, two majors and three commandoes.”

Another terrorist and associate of Akbar Bugti, Mir Balaach Marri, was killed on Nov. 20, 2007, inside Afghanistan as he tried to re-enter Pakistan after meeting his foreign supporters and backers.

Wadera Muhammad Bugti’s statement is a second major blow to the terrorists and their sponsors inside Afghanistan. In April this year, another plank of their propaganda fell apart when U.N. officials negotiating the release of a kidnapped U.N. official discovered that Bugti’s terror network based in Afghanistan was not only involved in the kidnapping but that its demand – the release of Pakistani Baloch women allegedly jailed for their political beliefs – was a hoax.

After the death of Bugti and Marri, Brahamdagh Bugti is now heading the terrorist insurgency and its only major group, the Balochsitan Liberation Army [BLA]. Brahamdagh is based in Kabul where he is sheltered in safe houses. BLA was the name that the former KGB and the Indian intelligence gave to Pakistani communist recruits who were paid to destabilize Pakistan during the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, when the Soviet Union controlled Afghanistan. The BLA died with the end of the Cold War and the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. Its revival under a U.S.-controlled Afghanistan is a surprise to Pakistanis.

The militant campaign for ‘Independent Balochistan’ appears to have at least tacit support from U.S. occupation forces in Afghanistan and is part of a wave of multiple insurgencies originating from Afghanistan and targeting the entire western Pakistani belt adjoining Afghanistan. All of these insurgencies did not exist before the year 2005, and certainly not before the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan in late 2001 and early 2002.

It is thought that elements in the U.S. intelligence community are cooperating with the Indians and Karzai’s intelligence to punish Pakistan for its refusal to give up interest in Afghanistan and Indian occupied Kashmir.

Washington is also trying to keep China, which has heavy investments in Balochistan, outside the region. Additionally, routes from Balochistan and Karachi all the way to Afghanistan need to be secured if U.S. is to maintain a long term military presence in Central Asia.

Brahamdagh Bugti and his supporters in Kabul and New Delhi have built an infrastructure of support for the anti-Pakistan terrorist movement that hides in the garb of a separatist movement seeking an independent Balochistan, carved out of Pakistani territories.

Indian experts in classic Urdu, Pakistan’s official language, help Brahamdagh’s people by writing high-standard Urdu-language press releases and emailing them en masse to Pakistani news outlets. One thrust of this propaganda was that Pakistani security agencies have arrested a large number of Pakistani women from Balochistan who are being abused in secret prisons for the crime of supporting Brahamdagh’s insurgency.

This lie was exposed when Brahamdagh and his so-called Balochistan Liberation Army kidnapped in February a U.N. official who happened to be a U.S. citizen. Brahamdagh demanded the release of the allegedly imprisoned women in exchange for the American’s release. Pakistani officials, U.S. officials, and FBI agents from the U.S. all scoured Pakistan’s prisons and checked with all Pakistani security officials and it was ascertained beyond doubt that not a single Pakistani woman from Balochistan was incarcerated anywhere in the country not were there any registered cases of such ‘missing’ women by their relatives


Musharraf To China: Play A More Proactive Role

Pakistan’s Friends Roll Out The Red Carpet For A Pakistani Nationalist Statesman

Throughout his trip in China, former President Musharraf was accorded head of state protocol and extensive security. In-between lectures, he was invited to several banquets by various provincial governors and senior Chinese Communist Party officials. He continues to be very popular among the Chinese younger generation.

o Says Obama’s Af-Pak policy is incomplete without resolving Kashmir dispute

o Calls for linking Pakistan with China through fiber optic, rail, oil, gas pipelines; through Karakoram Highway

o Floats the idea of a Iran-Pakistan-China (IPC) pipeline


Saturday, 11 April 2009.


Beijing, China—Former President of Pakistan, Gen. (R) Pervez Musharraf continued his international lecture tour with several engagements in key Chinese cities. [If pictures don’t appear, click Pic1, Pic2, Pic3]

For this tour in China, the former President was invited by the government of China, through the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs (CPIFA).

His first lecture was in Beijing to CPIFA, attended by many Chinese Ambassadors, experts on South Asia, and graduate students. The former President’s lecture focused on the deep relationship between Pakistan and China, and an in-depth analysis of regional issues including Afghanistan, India, terrorism and extremism. The former President stressed the need for closer global cooperation to defeat terrorism and extremism, and a more proactive role for China.

His next lecture was in Shanghai, with the prestigious Shanghai Institute for International Studies. The President addressed Chinese experts on South Asia, Asia Pacific, and the United States. This exclusive lecture was to the top intellectuals and think tank strategists from China. The discussion following the lecture focused on Pak-China relationship, terrorism and extremism, and the potential to increase the Sino-Pak economic cooperation. In the question and answer session, the Chinese intellectuals were keen to know the former President’s view on the new American ‘AfPak’ strategy. The President broadly endorsed the strategy, as it is the continuation of the past. However, he said this new strategy remains incomplete without India, and the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. India was excluded by President Obama from this new strategy after heavy lobbying from the Indian-American community.

The former President’s final stop was at Sichuan University in Chengdu where he addressed several hundred students and faculty. His speech was an overview of the historic relationship between Pakistan and China, an overview of the Pakistan-Afghanistan region, and the impact of the global economic crisis on the developing world. After the speech there was an exciting interaction between the students and the former President. To one student’s question on deepening the Pakistan-China relationship, the former President spoke of his vision to expand the Karakorum Highway (KKH) to include rail links, oil and gas pipelines, and a new fiber optic cable link. He suggested that not only should Pakistan do the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline (IPI), but also an ‘IPC’, Iran-Pakistan-China pipeline for gas and oil.

The students were also very interested to learn from the President his insights into developing moral character and leadership skills.

Throughout his trip in China, former President Musharraf was accorded head of state protocol and extensive security. In-between lectures, he was invited to several banquets by various provincial governors and senior Chinese Communist Party officials. At each venue the former President expressed his appreciation for the warm reception, and the sense of admiration shown by all strata of Chinese, whether it was in meetings at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, or in the streets of Shanghai.

The former President has a relatively full schedule of speaking engagements for the rest of the year, most likely taking him to Europe and North America in the coming months.

The ‘Judge’ Story: It’s A Bigger Mess

· Some Judges Won, Justice Didn’t
· Legally, Pakistan Could Have 2 Chief Justices Now!
· America’s Pakistani Stooges Have Delivered

The contention that a judge who stands up to a ruler and refuses to resign is washed of all his sins is as lame as a three-legged horse. All PCO judges are the same. Chaudhry Iftikhar can’t be absolved of PCO just because he said no to a dictator when his job was on the line. If he really had a reawakening, why didn’t he say no earlier while taking oath on PCO? Clearly, Kayani is the most powerful Pakistani. Most embarrassingly clear is that it is America that really runs Pakistan. Its clear too that its agents and stooges have delivered and delivered admirably by getting rid of Musharraf who had drawn a line in the sand which he would not allow America to cross. That line has now been obliterated.

By Humayun Gauhar
Sunday, 22 March 2009.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—I could begin with “First the bad news” and end with “Now the good news.” But in the affairs of State, issues are rarely absolutely bad or absolutely good, absolutely right or wrong. The usual shades of grey aside, every issue or contention is part good and part bad, part right and part wrong. The question is whether the good outweighs the bad or the bad outweighs the good.

In this (now undeposed – imposed?) Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry thing, President Musharraf was within the constitution in sending a reference to the Supreme Judicial Council to hold an inquiry and give him its opinion, which it was up to him to follow or not. Giving Chaudhry the option to resign in order to avoid a spectacle was according to tradition. Both were right. But to suspend him when he refused, take away his perks, put him and his family under house arrest and manhandle him while preventing him from walking to the Supreme Court was absolutely wrong. In fact, as events have shown, it was suicidal.

Similarly, the principle of independence of the judiciary is a pillar of civilization. All civilized people stand by it. Because it is a fundamental principle, like freedom, it is absolutely and totally indivisible. This is very, very important. Thus to regard one set of judges who have taken oath under an earlier Provisional Constitutional Order as legal and another set who have taken oath under a later PCO as illegal even though both PCOs are exactly the same bar the dates, is to insinuate duality into that cherished principle and thus divide it and lose a vital part of our civilization. The contention that a judge who stands up to a ruler and refuses to resign is washed of all his sins is as lame as a three-legged horse. It is highly convenient to put up a fight when cornered and claim that one has suddenly got ‘Faith’. Yes, if Faith had come to Abu Sufiyan earlier and not the night before the fall of Mecca, we would never have called him King of the Hypocrites. That is why the admirable Charter of Democracy makes no distinction between sundry PCOs and quite rightly holds that no person who has taken oath under any PCO shall be made judge. The cherished principle of independence of the judiciary is adhered to and not divided according to convenience. In the case of our ‘Black Revolution’, thus named after the black coated lawyers, the patently obvious purpose was to exploit the cherished principle to remove one president and then nearly another one that America needs.

Better, therefore, not to talk of good or bad, right or wrong but clarity and confusion. It is clear who the victors and losers are. Chaudhry is one, for he has his job back and his nemesis has lost his. So are his lawyers who led the Black Revolution. The loser is the president. He has been embarrassed. Time will tell whether he is only down or out as well. Clearly the climb-down by the government averted a showdown that could have degenerated into a bloodbath and forced the army to take over, which it is loath to do. But clearly the army did intervene, for without pressure from ‘The Big K’, Army Chief General Kayani, the government wouldn’t have come to its senses and neither would Nawaz Sharif and the lawyers’ leaders. Clearly, Kayani is the most powerful Pakistani. Most embarrassingly clear is that it is America that really runs Pakistan. It’s clear too that its agents and stooges have delivered and delivered admirably by getting rid of Musharraf who had drawn a line in the sand which he would not allow America to cross. That line has now been obliterated. Clearly too the electronic media have emerged as the most powerful force that formulates people’s perceptions and directs the course of events.

Then there is the confusion. Either the Proclamation of Emergency on 3/11/2007 that led to the removal of the judges was legal or it wasn’t. If it was legal, then how come those judges are now back without taking a new oath, as the majority of their deposed brother judges have done? Not taking the oath implies that 3/11 was illegal and therefore all the judges who took oath on or after November 3 are illegal. But we have both sets of judges in office now and more – the deposed judges who broke ranks and rejoined the judiciary after taking fresh oaths and the new ones.

Which is the real Supreme Court? Who really is the chief justice – until yesterday we had two? Is Chaudhry really the legal chief justice simply because post 3/11 chief justice Dogar’s retirement date was conveniently upon us and he is the last man standing? That’s not justice. It’s the law of the jungle. All one can say is that some judges have won – but has justice? We will see.

The post-3/11 judges declared the 3/11 Emergency legal. That has gone into the constitution as Article 270 AAA, even though it was not passed by parliament. Yet this anti-Musharraf legislature kept functioning under this amended constitution without demur. Does that imply that the amendment has been accepted by the legislature? This raises many questions, the least of which is: is it the function of the Supreme Court only to interpret the law (as we have always been told it is) or can they make laws too and even amend the constitution?

Considering that the Iftikhar Chaudhry as CJ had started transgressing into the minutiae of the executive’s domain, the next question is: why have a legislature at all, and why even an executive when a chief justice without check or balance can run all three branches of government? Let the judiciary have all three functions and see this country go to hell in a hand basket.

If the post-3/11 courts were illegal, what happens to all the judgments they have passed? Revisit them? Or brush them under the carpet under the “past and done transaction” copout. What would you say to parents whose son has been hanged? That their son’s execution is a “past and done transaction”? There will likely be another murder.

The people, having given up on the legislature and the executive are now looking to the judiciary as ‘deliverer’ and Iftikhar Chaudhry as a latter day Moses who came to deliver the Israelites from the Pharaoh. Their expectations have broken through the ceiling. They now expect Chaudhry and his gaggle of judges, both legal and illegal and we don’t know who is which, to solve their problems – revive the economy, remove poverty, high prices, joblessness, insecurity, ensure electricity, gas, water, transport, education, decent housing, adequate medicine. They expect the advent of a balanced society (adl – justice in Arabic) with justice starting from the lowest levels upwards, citizens provided the wherewithal to develop their minds to their fullest potential and overall human and family dignity. In short, implement ‘Haqooq ul Ibad’ (rights of the people) to make Pakistan a truly Islamic Republic according to the constitution that the judges take oath under and are thus bound not only to obey but ensure its implementation as well.

People also expect Chaudhry to tell the Americans to take their drones with their hellfire missiles and go to hell. They will be comparing the delivery of Iftikhar Chaudhry’s XI to Soofi Mohammad’s Unlimited. Whoever delivers more in the people’s eyes wins and the demand for him to spread his system all over the country will grow. Chaudhry should remember the hoopla with which Asif Zardari entered the President’s House with the media in attendance, as if the first rightful occupant had finally arrived. Less than a year on and they want him out.

More concerns. Judicial activism is fine as long as it doesn’t transgress into the domain of the legislature or the executive. Impartiality is near impossible. The chief justice constitutes benches and can alter them while a case is still being heard. He also “shepherds” the Supreme Court and can easily shepherd it into the Valley of Death again if he goes on another power trip.

The ‘Deal’ On The Judge

Last week I said that three men are holding Pakistan hostage. Now they have a deal – Sharif and Chaudhry have joined Zardari at the banquet table to partake of a carcass. Recognize it? It’s us, “The People”. Vultures, hyenas and jackals that always surround banqueters will get the skin and bones. The people will get eaten. What a mess, and it’s not the only one. There’s the Punjab mess growing ominous by the hour.

Nothing is impossible. One solution requires a high degree of sincerity and patriotism: the judges of PCO 2002 should say that they have successfully upheld a principle but have become highly politicized and controversial in the process. Therefore for the sake of the judiciary and the country they are resigning. Ditto the PCO 2007 judges, who should also resign for reasons of being highly controversial too.

Or, the legislature should amend the constitution in accordance with the Charter of Democracy that no person that has ever taken oath for any office under any PCO shall ever be appointed to the judiciary at any level. That way we clean the slate and start afresh with untainted judges.

Parliament should also establish a methodology for the selection of judges so that courts don’t get stuffed with stooges, cronies and sycophants by a single appointing authority.

Mr. Gauhar is a Pakistani columnist. He can be reached at

Pakistan: What Can We Do?

Pakistan: What Can We Do?

We know how they are destroying Pakistan from the inside. It’s like a checklist. They overthrow a government through chaos, bring in their cronies, and then spread terrorism. When the army is close to ending this terrorism, they start Sunni-Shia riots. I am a confused Pakistani that loves every inch of this great land of ours, likes the cool of Murree as much as the heats of Nawabshah and the cold of Ziarat and Quetta. There isn’t a day that goes by without thinking about it. This is a genuine request for some advice.


Wednesday, 25 February 2009.


HONG KONG, China—I am sure this question flashes in your heads from time to time: What can we, as young overseas nationalist Pakistanis, do to benefit or contribute to Pakistan?

This question is even truer nowadays with the current situation in our homeland. It is as if a game is being played out in front of our own eyes, whose direction has been painstakingly predictive. It is like a checklist, isn’t it:

First, remove the government through mass propaganda, aide the lawyers’ protests, scare the investors, creating false/negative news to create a sense of paranoia.

Once that has been taken care of, put in place an incompetent, corrupt and to some extent idiotic government that is so cut off from the local Joe on the street and from reality for that matter. A government that is rewarding their party goons with lost jobs and government ministries and foreign travel incentives to beg governments for money, giving national honorary medals to the likes of CIA’s chief, the same medals that were given to our brave soldiers who paid with their blood when it came to the name of Pakistan. A government whose officials, instead of reassuring their people about the security of the country are instead raising alarm bells in Washington by saying the country is being taken over by the Taliban. [President Zardari did this in a TV interview to an American channel.]

Simultaneously, pump money to insurgents in different parts of the country, and if the army somehow tries to get close to defeating them, then try plan B that is create Shia/Sunni violence. Create fear that the strongest, most disciplined Muslim army has some outlaws in its ranks and that the nuclear assets will be soon in control of some bearded officers that are ready to ship them out and explode a dirty bomb in midtown Manhattan, miraculously bypassing their intelligence agencies, their airport security and their radars and checkpoints.

Now back to my opening statement, what are we do to help our homeland in the midst of all this propaganda and deliberate terrorism and destabilization?

I am a confused Pakistani that loves every inch of this great land of ours, likes the cool of Murree as much as the heats of Nawabshah and the cold of Ziarat and Quetta. There isn’t a day that goes by without thinking about it. This is genuine request for some advice.

Zeeshan is a young Pakistani living and working in Hong Kong, China. He can be reached at

If It’s Zardari’s End, It Should Be Nawaz’s Too

If It’s Zardari’s End, It Should Be Nawaz’s Too

“No one party can fool all of the people all of the time, that’s why we have two parties,” says Bob Hope. Zardari may be nearing his end, but what is there to rejoice for if Sharif is his replacement? Both are incompetent, and both belong to parties that are non democratic. Both have been given chances, both are products of dynasty politics, and neither of them deserves any share in the running of anything … be it the party, or the country. The only thing they can do for the country is to leave it alone, but that is too much to ask.

By Laila Sohail
Sunday, 1 March 2009.


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—How many times does it take to fool someone? Once? Twice? Over and over again?

No, Mr Sharif is not the one I am referring to, no need to keep count for natural fools. I am referring to the people of this country. Fooled once, fooled too many times.

The ugliest face of Pakistani politics unmasks itself once again.

Burning buildings, blocked roads and angry jiyalas. Welcome to Pakistani democracy. First we had an incompetent government, and now we have an opposition to match.

The current government is a failed one with only individual self-interest on its agenda, and the future one is sure to bring times that are as dark.

There is no plan for the economic crises. There may be an inflated cabinet in place and countless committees formed, but there is no policy for any issue we are facing on ground. With the newly begun wrestling match, things will only go from bad to worse.

During the current global economic recession, private companies are announcing budget cuts and cost cutting measures, and while the government budget deficit is alarmingly high, the extravagance is no less. Dinner parties, huge entourages and foreign trips, our elites know how to maintain their lifestyles, while the common man struggles to earn a decent meal with the rising inflation.

PEPCO, the power company, may run all the advertisements it wants on television, but how can you ask a man to minimize the use of the one light bulb he can afford in his house when he sees those in the Capital residing comfortably in dazzling, full lit buildings?

Tourism Minister Maulana Attaur Rehman has been sent for a visit to the beaches in South France and Switzerland, so that the romantic peaceful environment may help him think of more innovative ideas to attract tourists. Maulana Sahib here is an idea: start by cleaning the beaches, more tourists may be attracted if they are assured there is no danger of getting throat and eye infections at the Clifton beach in Karachi.

AND I did not have to go to France to think of it.

Corruption, favoritism and nepotism characterize power struggles. There is overstaffing in the government and semi government departments, even the PPP workers who had lost their jobs ten years ago are being reinstated. Cars with number plates that say NAZIM [translation: do not mess with me, I am king] rule the roads, as for the jeeps with dark windows; it is impossible to see what their number plates say as they go zipping past. Accountability is a word only found in the dictionary.

The PIA building in Rawalpindi looks like an inartistically designed PPP poster. Coins and stamps with political leaders’ faces on them, Bhutto family pictures replacing the pictures of Quaid-e-Azam and a Prime Minister who says that he is a member of a party and will follow the party decision, even if he disagrees with it…this is Bhutto land. So all that is important is that we keep remembering the great legacy of our rulers, the rest of the trivialities we are already used to.

A hand written undisclosed will determines the future of the biggest political party in Pakistan. A piece of paper called the NRO turned a man facing charges [including criminal ones] into the President of the country. The lust for power brought the two archrival parties together, until they realized there was only one prize, and the same lust tore them apart.

Mr. Nawaz Sharif placed his bet on one Mr. Iftikhar Chaudhry and the great lawyers’ movement, while Mr. Zardari relied on the charm of his wide grin, and the PCO judges. Mr Nawaz Sharif will play his lawyers’ movement card now, and he wants the people to join him. In this battle of the courts, the final decision
is yet to be made.

The lawyers’ movement has managed to get quite a bit of the attention of the educated class and the media, because of its high claims of standing by principles and reinstating an independent judiciary. All that Mr. Iftikhar Chaudhry will do for Nawaz Sharif is what Justice Dogar is doing for Zardari. The precedence set by the NRO will continue to be followed. The Nov. 3 actions may be unconstitutional, but even if the right principles are used for wrong reasons, they still remain wrong reasons. Replacing one pawn with another is not going to achieve the end of an independent judiciary.

So what does it matter if the courts gave a decision against the Sharif brothers? It is just another move in the game we call Pakistani politics. It’s now all up to the power of the streets, and a match between the PPP jiyalas and the PML N workers. Mr. Sharif is openly calling for policemen and other civil servants to revolt. Students are missing school and taking their energy out by causing violence and destruction on the roads.

The two parties are at each others’ throats again. And it won’t really make a difference to any one of them. No matter who wins this round, there is always another one to follow. The only sufferers in this catfight are the people of Pakistan.

“No one party can fool all of the people all of the time, that’s why we have two parties,” says Bob Hope.

How literally true for us.

Zardari may be nearing his end, but what is there to rejoice for if Sharif is his replacement?

Whether it is Zardari or Sharif, both are incompetent, and both belong to parties that are non democratic. Both have been given chances, Sharif twice before and Zardari currently [not counting his wife’s tenures] and at the end they have taken more than they have given and the country was better off before them. Both are products of dynasty politics, and neither of them deserves any share in the running of anything…be it the party, or the country. The only thing they can do for the country is to leave it alone, but that is too much to ask.

Unfortunately there will be more to follow. In a disgusting display of defamation and dirty politics, the economy is already being hit, and the security conditions can only worsen. Instead of tightening the belt, it’s all you can eat…and everyone wants a piece of the cake. So those who think that Mr. Sharif is a ray of hope … think again. He offers nothing different. He is a part of the same dirty system that brought us here in the first place. The lawyers’ movement is just another power tactic, and the only way to hope for some real change is to say no to both these leaders. Whether it is from the public, the polity or the military, a third force needs to come up and fight for the interests of the people of Pakistan.

Laila Sohail is a young Pakistani commentator. She can be reached at blabbersboo AT

Pakistani Military Torpedoes Pro-U.S. Govt.’s Case On Mumbai

Two public officials – the Navy chief and a deputy attorney general – together have destroyed Rehman Malik’s case of ‘admission of guilt’ in Mumbai attacks. The government has fired the deputy attorney general for taking a stand, but no one in the Pakistani media noticed since it is busy in the latest Pakistani political circus. But it is this story that could unravel this staunchly pro-U.S. setup.


Saturday, 28 February 2009.


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—Two developments in Pakistan have thwarted the deliberate effort of Pakistan’s pro-U.S. government to take the Mumbai investigations on a path that leads to placing the blame on the Pakistani military and intelligence.

Figure 1: Mr. Malik, with a broad smile, triumphantly declaring Pakistan’s responsibility in Mumbai attacks.

The two developments, one by a public prosecutor and the other by the Pakistani military, confirms that the Zardari government, and especially his confidant and interior adviser Rehman Malik, deliberately led Pakistan into acquiescence to American and Indian demands by accepting partial responsibility for Mumbai attacks without verifiable evidence. It also raises questions about the motives of this government.

The first development took place on Feb. 18, when Zardari government’s special public prosecutor in the Mumbai attacks Sardar Mohammad Ghazi issued a statement saying Islamabad is formally requesting India to extradite Ajmal Kassab, the alleged lone survivor of the Mumbai attacks. This was a surprising statement considering how the Zardari government unilaterally accepted – on behalf of Pakistan – every single piece of questionable Indian and American ‘evidence’ linking the attacks to elements with past links to Pakistani intelligence.

Sardar’s statement shook the Indians and the Americans, who lobbied hard to ensure Pakistan accepted some responsibility for the attacks as a prelude to implicating Pakistan’s ISI.

Pakistani investigators have yet to independently confirm that Kassab is indeed a Pakistani citizen, or that the person in Indian custody is indeed Ajmal Kassab.

Taking advantage of the political turmoil inside the country, President Zardari on Friday, Feb. 27, quietly fired Sardar from his job as the Deputy Attorney General. Zardari’s move was shrewd. No one in the Pakistani media paid attention.

Sardar created a hole in the investigations led by Rehman Malik, the de facto interior minister. But the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Noman Bashir, bulldozed Malik’s case in its entirety, coming out on the same day when the special prosecutor was fired to say that he has seen no evidence that shows Kassab went to Indian from Pakistan in a boat, as India says and as the Zardari government says.

Rehman Keeps ISI Out

Malik had ensured that the ISI stayed away from the investigations. He assigned a civilian department, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), to conduct the probe. On Jan. 16, an excited Malik came to a press conference and with broad smiles flashed a photograph of a boat he said that Kassab and his colleagues used to travel from Karachi to Mumbai. This was supposed to be the smoking gun that confirmed that Pakistanis did use Pakistani soil to attack India. The indirect message was supposed to be this: that the country’s military or intelligence is involved, since Pakistan has been supporting anti-India groups in Kashmir.

Malik’s revelations were stunning because he couldn’t show any progress in 12 months in resolving the murder mystery of Benazir Bhutto but here he was ‘successfully’ resolving in a few days a complex case that transcends borders.

Adm. Bashir’s salvo came on the same day that President Zardari quietly fired the public prosecutor who challenged his government’s admission of guilt on Mumbai.

Adm. Bashir said he has seen no evidence that Kassab traveled by boat from Karachi to India. He said there was no way anyone could escape Pakistani naval intelligence. And even if it happened, he added, where was the Indian navy that claims to be preparing itself for a global role?

The Navy chief’s statement basically confirmed that, unlike Mr. Malik’s admission of guilt and acceptance of Indian ‘evidence’ without challenge, Pakistani investigators want to confirm how Kassab reached Indian soil by sea penetrating the security parameters of the Indian navy. This breach is ironic considering how the Indian navy never ceases to boast that its readiness matches its ‘mission’ to police the entire Indian Ocean along with U.S., Britain and Australia.

Pakistani suspicions are also legitimate because India’s own investigations leave many important questions unanswered, especially regarding the inside help that Mumbai terrorists received to achieve their objective. Pakistanis have reason to believe that India’s intelligence services posing as diplomats in countries surrounding India have been reported to have kidnapped unassuming Pakistani citizens to use them to stage terrorist acts and blame them on Pakistan.

Why Elected Govt. Keen To Capitulate?

This brings us to the question: Why is the Zardari government so keen on seeing Pakistan take responsibility for Mumbai attacks?

The Zardari government is an elected government. But its election and the arrangement to bring it to power were manipulated by Washington, which weakened the previous military government through terrorism from Afghanistan and through direct secret contacts with Pakistani politicians, forcing a beleaguered Pervez Musharraf to cut a deal brokered by U.S. State Department to ease Benazir Bhutto, ANP and MQM into power.

Zardari’s corruption cases and those of other politicians in power were withdrawn thanks to this U.S.-brokered deal. Not to mention that the personal wealth and assets of President Zardari, Mr. Rehman Malik, Ambassador Haqqani and other stalwarts of his government, are based in either the United States or Britain. They have no interest in antagonizing Washington or London.

But why is Washington so keen to see Islamabad accept responsibility for Mumbai attacks?

Why U.S. Wants To Target Pak Military?

At a time when U.S. is in trouble in Afghanistan and wants to put more pressure on Pakistan, the Mumbai attacks are a blessing. The attacks allow Washington to exert pressure on Pakistani military, and especially blackmail ISI. If Pakistan accepts that Kashmiri groups were behind the attacks, it would mean that Pakistani military bears some responsibility and its case of supporting Kashmiri freedom groups in Indian occupied Kashmir is discredited. Overall, Mumbai attacks provide a perfect opportunity to threaten the Pakistani military and intelligence from Pakistan’s eastern borders even as U.S. keep the pressure from the west, through U.S.-inspired insurgencies emanating from Afghanistan. Washington wants an emasculated Pakistani military, capable of holding Pakistan together but without the ability to defend Pakistani national security interests.

How Pakistan Benefits From Adm. Bashir’s Statement?

A fickle and shortsighted Pakistani media was busy in the local political circus to take note of the internal revolt against Zardari government’s Mumbai investigations. This is the time to highlight these discrepancies and discredit the positions of the Zardari and the Indian governments.

The firing of the deputy attorney general by President Zardari must be highlighted in the media. And both Mr. Zardari and his interior minister Mr. Malik must not be allowed to get away with their soft position on India’s failure so far to answer the list of 30 questions that Pakistani investigators posed to Indian authorities regarding Mumbai attacks. New Delhi is procrastinating on this request. Mr. Zardari and Mr. Malik must not be allowed to provide India a safe exit.

The opening salvos by the Pakistani naval chief and the ex-public prosecutor are a good start.

Sharif Playing Dirty, Again

The Nawaz league’s recent hooliganism and the destruction of public property isn’t nationalism or a fight for justice. It is sheer terrorism that should be

punishable by death! Someone please rid us of both Zardari, Nawaz.

Nawaz Sharif has suddenly discovered that Zardari has illegal assets and is not a graduate. Why did Mr. Sharif not raise these issues when he was developing a new ‘brotherhood’ with the country’s number one criminal? If he knew all this from the start, and he did, then Mr. Sharif is such a buffoon that he no longer remains mentally qualified to assume any major public office. He should probably stop believing in fairy tales because this one could possibly bring down the entire country and not just the PPP.


Sunday, 1 March 2009.


LAHORE, Pakistan—Someone please explain to me the recent acts of street terrorism and dirty politics being carried out by Nawaz Sharif?

After the Supreme Court verdict against the two brothers, Sharif has embarked on a countrywide rampage to somehow force Zardari into an early election so that the PML (N) could come back with a 2/3rd majority. Humorous isn’t it? Sharif should probably stop believing in fairy tales because this one could possibly bring down the entire country and not just the PPP.

Surprising how Mr. Sharif’s PML-N has suddenly discovered that President Zardari is playing dirty and has illegal assets abroad, that the NRO is the reason why he is not reinstating the former Chief Justice and that Zardari might have a hand in Benazir’s murder.

These are the recent statements given by major party leaders including Sharif. But why did Nawaz Sharif not raise these issues when he was developing a new ‘brotherhood’ with the country’s number one criminal? If he knew all this from the start, and he did, then Mr. Sharif is such a buffoon that he no longer remains mentally qualified to assume any major public office. On the other hand if Sharif knew about everything from the beginning then what’s the point of all this?

Here’s what the real game was all about. Sharif’s blood was filled with personal vendetta against Musharraf and his former allies in the PML (Q), he chose to trade nationalism and patriotism for his personal desire to reinstate Iftikhar Chaudhry as revenge against Musharraf. Sharif knew that if the former CJ came back he would finally settle score with Musharraf and Zardari, leaving Nawaz to become Prime Minister of the country along the way.

Zardari on the other hand was smart. By playing cool he exploited the weaknesses of Sharif, Iftikhar brigade and the ragtag political entities like the APDM. The only thing he wanted was absolute power and he achieved it in a game of mass deception. But let’s not point the finger only at Zardari. The simple fact is that both of them chose to put the country behind them in order to gain personal glory, Zardari won and Sharif lost.

The Nawaz league was so obsessed with the lawyers’ issue that they have come to the point of suffocating themselves by becoming silly cry babies. Nawaz was in a dilemma just a couple of days before the SC verdict.

In an interview with ‘Comic TV’ he expressed his displeasure at the lawyers for not consulting him and stated that the doors for negotiations with President Zardari were always open.

In just a couple of days you see a totally different approach from the PML (N). Why?

Because Sharif wasn’t willing to risk the Punjab government until the right time came to strike at Zardari but once he was certain that the judges had made up their minds he rediscovered Iftikhar Chaudhry and conveniently changed his posture.

The Nawaz league’s recent hooliganism and the destruction of public property isn’t nationalism or a fight for justice. It is sheer terrorism that should be punishable by death!

If both the ruling party and the Sharif brothers are so sincere then why doesn’t one of them file for a review petition? Well we all know that Sharif doesn’t ‘recognize’ the courts under whose supervision they took part in the elections so I suggest a better alternative: table a bill in the Parliament that seeks to reverse the SC’s decision. The end result will show the real intentions of both parties. But neither party would go for a peaceful settlement simply because their intentions are malicious.

I pray everyday that this corrupt and sold-out government is overthrown but if Zardari has to go, so should Nawaz Sharif. I recently discovered a Facebook group that so eloquently describes it all: India we want peace-as a CBM take Sharif and Zardari.

Mr. Gulzar is a Pakistani college student based in Lahore studying LLB (Hons.). He can be reached at

EXCLUSIVE: The Conspiracy In Pakistan

Since the lawyers began their protests, every Pakistani citizen has lost around Rs. 10,000 for every Rs. 100,000 he had in his bank account. Pakistanis forget that one year ago, their nukes, sovereignty and stability were under attack. Here is the story of how the Indians exploited 9/11 to penetrate Pakistan. Uncle Sam looked the other way as Uncle Patel used Islamists and Afghan soil to destabilize Pakistan.


By Ahmed Quraishi

Sunday, 18 May 2008.


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—Since the judicial crisis in March 2007, a Pakistani citizen has lost around Rs. 10,000 for every Rs. 100,000 he had in his bank account.
Usually, nations go to war to make this happen to other nations. But in our case, everyone sat by laughing as our impressive economic rise was thrown away because someone decided that sparking political instability in Pakistan trumped everything else.
Even now, as the “tsunami of inflation, recession, food shortage, power crisis and fuel prices is moving toward the shore,” writes a report sent this week by a private security threat assessment company to its multinational clients in Pakistan, “those in charge of disaster management are busy haggling over the judges’ constitutional packages.”
It is easy to forget that Pakistan a year ago was the target of a creative campaign of destabilization, part indigenous and part manufactured. Some mistakes by those in power provided Pakistan’s antagonists an opening to speed up their own plans to derail Pakistan off track economically and politically. And they had almost succeeded. The crisis was so intense that President Musharraf had to resign from his military office in an attempt to deflate political tension. It is also safe to say that some of his foreign detractors wanted to seen him replaced. The tide turned thanks to the Feb. 18 election when larger instability was averted and those who were advocating U.S. boots on Pakistani soil were silenced, hopefully for good.
Now a London-based Bangladeshi author, Mr. M.B.I. Munshi, is preparing to release in August a revised version of a book, The Indian Doctrine, which is expected to shed new light on what happened in Pakistan in 2007. Simply said, it was an impressive destabilization campaign, combining suicide bombings with threats of taking out Pakistani nukes and open insinuations in op-ed editorials in major U.S. dailies about the break up of the Pakistani homeland.
A small incident in the Pakistani business hub city of Karachi in September 2007 gave Pakistani policy strategists a rare glimpse into the larger game plan in the region at the time. The incident fitted a pattern and provided clues to the unfortunate role played by some actors in India, apart from the sitting government there, in compounding Pakistan’s problems on our western borders.
The incident was barely noticed by the otherwise boisterous Pakistani media, which was busy in covering a wave of Palestinian-style suicide bombings never known to Pakistanis before. A car raced by a police check post in the city’s busy downtown, stopped close enough for the policemen to see it but far enough to ensure escape. Two men were inside. One of them pulled down the window, threw out some jackets on the street and then screeched away.
The unknown car had just dropped a few ‘suicide vests’ ready for use, with markings that indicated U.S. origin. “It was a lousy act linked to the Indian intelligence services trying to create an impression that CIA was sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan,” Mr. Munshi’s book quotes a Pakistani source as explaining. “Neither the CIA nor the actual suicide bombers are in the business of dropping U.S. marked suicide vests on roadsides from moving cars in front of the police. It was a trap designed to mislead investigations.”
Later that month, Washington sent a rare message to New Delhi that basically said, ‘Please don’t make things difficult for us. Try to get out of this Pakistan obsession. You are too important to limit yourself in this way.’
The message, in as many words, came in a rare and closed-door interaction between the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Defense, James Clad, and a visiting group of retired Indian generals and diplomats. In a transcript released then by the Pentagon, Clad told the Indian group that “the United States has de-hyphenated its relations with India from its relations with Pakistan. New Delhi should do the same.”
The U.S. official was essentially telling the Indians they should not feel threatened by the Pak-American cooperation in Afghanistan for the simple reason that it was not going to affect Indian interests. The Indians, Clad implied, should desist from trying to undermine Pak-U.S. ties based on that false notion.
But Clad’s advice fell on deaf ears because, by 2007, India was in the advanced stages of executing an ambitious intelligence operation suspected of having substantially contributed to the multiple and unprecedented security challenges that Pakistan faced in its western regions in the period between 2004 and early 2008. The India-inspired troubles were beyond the natural fallout from the war on terror.
In a special chapter titled, The Peace Charade: How 9/11 Helped India Penetrate Pakistan, Mr. Munshi’s book shows how a document prepared by two Indian security analysts in the year 2000, recommending to the Indian government a creative approach to expand Indian intelligence operations in Pakistan, inspired an ambitious Pakistan-specific plan after 9/11, exploiting the unprecedented uncertainty on the ground in the Pak-Afghan region.
The ultimate goal of this massive operation was “to help [India] in the foreign policy objective of breaking the monopoly of the ISI and army over Pakistan,” according to the Indian document, aptly titled, ‘India’s Experience and Need for Action Against Pakistan,’ authored by Dr. Bhashyam Kasturi and Pankaj Mehra. “The aim is,” the authors wrote, “to break the stranglehold of the intelligence agencies, the bureaucracy and the military in Pakistan.” Some Indians believe all three are responsible for keeping the Kashmir issue alive.
The Indian document seemed to have been inspired by the infamous Neocon policy papers produced by neo-conservative think tanks in the United States in late 1990s, advocating a global militaristic policy that was adopted later in the Bush presidency. There is, of course, a wider context to the great game in and around Pakistan and it includes other players.
Those Pakistanis who still believe that we should turn an insignificant domestic haggle over the judges, an issue that has more to do with anti-Musharrafism and score settling than anything else, should definitely read Mr. Munshi’s book. We need to learn how domestic politics should be managed in an important country like Pakistan, unless we want to lose everything.

The Plan To Topple Pakistan Military

The Plan To Topple Pakistan Military

On Nov. 19, 2007, this column predicted either Pervez Musharraf or Benazir Bhutto would be assassinated [she was killed five weeks later] and warned in clear words: “This is not about Musharraf anymore. This is about clipping the wings of a strong Pakistani military, denying space for China in Pakistan, squashing the ISI, stirring ethnic unrest, and neutralizing Pakistan’s nuclear program. The first shot in this plan was fired in Pakistan’s Balochistan province in 2004. The last bullet will be toppling Musharraf, sidelining the military and installing a pliant government in Islamabad. Musharraf shares the blame for letting things come this far. But he is also trying to punch holes in Washington’s game plan. He needs to be supported.” Less than a year later, it is stunning how we never saw the signs. Patriot Pakistanis are worried about their homeland. I have no faith in Islamabad. Is anyone listening in Rawalpindi? [Ahmed Quraishi, Aug. 31, 2008.]


Monday, 19 November 2007.


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—On the evening of Tuesday, 26 September, 2006, Pakistani strongman Pervez Musharraf walked into the studio of Comedy Central’s ‘Daily Show’ with Jon Stewart, the first sitting president anywhere to dare do this political satire show.

Stewart offered his guest some tea and cookies and played the perfect host by asking, “Is it good?” before springing a surprise: “Where’s Osama bin Laden?”

“I don’t know,” Musharraf replied, as the audience enjoyed the rare sight of a strong leader apparently cornered. “You know where he is?” Musharraf snapped back, “You lead on, we’ll follow you.”

What Gen. Musharraf didn’t know then is that he really was being cornered. Some of the smiles that greeted him in Washington and back home gave no hint of the betrayal that awaited him.

As he completed the remaining part of his U.S. visit, his allies in Washington and elsewhere, as all evidence suggests now, were plotting his downfall. They had decided to take a page from the book of successful ‘color revolutions’ where western governments covertly used money, private media, student unions, NGOs and international pressure to stage coups, basically overthrowing individuals not fitting well with Washington’s agenda.

This recipe proved its success in former Yugoslavia, and more recently in Georgia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

In Pakistan, the target is a Pakistani president who refuses to play ball with the United States on Afghanistan, China, and Dr. A.Q. Khan.

To get rid of him, an impressive operation is underway:

A carefully crafted media blitzkrieg launched early this year assailing the Pakistani president from all sides, questioning his power, his role in Washington’s war on terror and predicting his downfall.
Money pumped into the country to pay for organized dissent.
Willing activists assigned to mobilize and organize accessible social groups.
A campaign waged on Internet where tens of mailing lists and ‘news agencies’ have sprung up from nowhere, all demonizing Musharraf and the Pakistani military.
European- and American-funded Pakistani NGOs taking a temporary leave from their real jobs to work as a makeshift anti-government mobilization machine.
U.S. government agencies directly funding some private Pakistani television networks; the channels go into an open anti-government mode, cashing in on some manufactured and other real public grievances regarding inflation and corruption.
Some of Musharraf’s shady and corrupt political allies feed this campaign, hoping to stay in power under a weakened president.
All this groundwork completed and chips in place when the judicial crisis breaks out in March 2007. Even Pakistani politicians surprised at a well-greased and well-organized lawyers campaign, complete with flyers, rented cars and buses, excellent event-management and media outreach.
Currently, students are being recruited and organized into a street movement. The work is ongoing and urban Pakistani students are being cultivated, especially using popular Internet Web sites and ‘online hangouts’. The people behind this effort are mostly unknown and faceless, limiting themselves to organizing sporadic, small student gatherings in Lahore and Islamabad, complete with banners, placards and little babies with arm bands for maximum media effect. No major student association has announced yet that it is behind these student protests, which is a very interesting fact glossed over by most journalists covering this story. Only a few students from affluent schools have responded so far and it’s not because the Pakistani government’s countermeasures are effective. They’re not. The reason is that social activism attracts people from affluent backgrounds, closely reflecting a uniquely Pakistani phenomenon where local NGOs are mostly founded and run by rich, westernized Pakistanis.

All of this may appear to be spur-of-the-moment and Musharraf-specific. But it all really began almost three years ago, when, out of the blue and recycling old political arguments, Mr. Akbar Bugti launched an armed rebellion against the Pakistani state, surprising security analysts by using rockets and other military equipment that shouldn’t normally be available to a smalltime village thug. Since then, Islamabad sits on a pile of evidence that links Mr. Bugti’s campaign to money and ammunition and logistical support from Afghanistan, directly aided by the Indians and the Karzai administration, with the Americans turning a blind eye.

For reasons not clear to our analysts yet, Islamabad has kept quiet on Washington’s involvement with anti-Pakistan elements in Afghanistan. But Pakistan did send an indirect public message to the Americans recently.

“We have indications of Indian involvement with anti-state elements in Pakistan,” declared the spokesman of the Pakistan Foreign Office in a regular briefing in October. The statement was terse and direct and the spokesman, Ms. Tasnim Aslam, quickly moved on to other issues.

This is how a Pakistani official explained Ms. Aslam’s statement: “What she was really saying is this: We know what the Indians are doing. They’ve sold the Americans on the idea that [the Indians] are an authority on Pakistan and can be helpful in Afghanistan. The Americans have bought the idea and are in on the plan, giving the Indians a free hand in Afghanistan. What the Americans don’t know is that we, too, know the Indians very well. Better still, we know Afghanistan very well. You can’t beat us at our own game.”

Mr. Bugti’s armed rebellion coincided with the Gwadar project entering its final stages. No coincidence here. Mr. Bugti’s real job was to scare the Chinese away and scuttle Chinese President Hu Jintao’s planned visit to Gwadar a few months later to formally launch the port city.

Gwadar is the pinnacle of Sino-Pakistani strategic cooperation. It’s a modern port city that is supposed to link Central Asia, western China, and Pakistan with markets in Mideast and Africa. It’s supposed to have roads stretching all the way to China. It’s no coincidence either that China has also earmarked millions of dollars to renovate the Karakoram Highway linking northern Pakistan to western China.

Some reports in the American media, however, have accused Pakistan and China of building a naval base in the guise of a commercial seaport directly overlooking international oil shipping lanes. The Indians and some other regional actors are also not comfortable with this project because they see it as commercial competition.

What Mr. Bugti’s regional and international supporters never expected is Pakistan moving firmly and strongly to nip his rebellion in the bud. Even Mr. Bugti himself probably never expected the Pakistani state to react in the way it did to his betrayal of the homeland. He was killed in a military operation where scores of his mercenaries surrendered to Pakistan army soldiers.

U.S. intelligence and their Indian advisors could not cultivate an immediate replacement for Mr. Bugti. So they moved to Plan B. They supported Abdullah Mehsud, a Pakistani Taliban fighter held for five years in Guantanamo Bay, and then handed over back to the Afghan government, only to return to his homeland, Pakistan, to kidnap two Chinese engineers working in Balochistan, one of whom was eventually killed during a rescue operation by the Pakistani government.

Islamabad could not tolerate this shadowy figure that was creating a following among ordinary Pakistanis masquerading as a Taliban while in reality toeing a vague agenda. He was rightly eliminated earlier this year by Pakistani security forces while secretly returning from Afghanistan after meeting his handlers there. Again, no surprises here.


This is where Pakistani political and military officials finally started smelling a rat. All of this was an indication of a bigger problem. There were growing indications that, ever since Islamabad joined Washington’s regional plans, Pakistan was gradually turning into a ‘besieged-nation’, heavily targeted by the American media while being subjected to strategic sabotage and espionage from Afghanistan.

Afghanistan, under America’s watch, has turned into a vast staging ground for sophisticated psychological and military operations to destabilize neighboring Pakistan.

During the past three years, the heat has gradually been turned up against Pakistan and its military along Pakistan’s western regions:

A shadowy group called the BLA, a Cold War relic, rose from the dead to restart a separatist war in southwestern Pakistan.
Bugti’s death was a blow to neo-BLA, but the shadowy group’s backers didn’t repent. His grandson, Brahmdagh Bugti, is currently enjoying a safe shelter in the Afghan capital, Kabul, where he continues to operate and remote-control his assets in Pakistan.
Saboteurs trained in Afghanistan have been inserted into Pakistan to aggravate extremist passions here, especially after the Red Mosque operation.
Chinese citizens continue to be targeted by individuals pretending to be Islamists, when no known Islamic group has claimed responsibility.
A succession of ‘religious rebels’ with suspicious foreign links have suddenly emerged in Pakistan over the past months claiming to be ‘Pakistani Taliban’. Some of the names include Abdul Rashid Ghazi, Baitullah Mehsud, and now the Maulana of Swat. Some of them have used and are using encrypted communication equipment far superior to what Pakistani military owns.
Money and weapons have been fed into the religious movements and al Qaeda remnants in the tribal areas.

Exploiting the situation, assets within the Pakistani media started promoting the idea that the Pakistani military was killing its own people. The rest of the unsuspecting media quickly picked up this message. Some botched American and Pakistani military operations against Al Qaeda that caused civilian deaths accidentally fed this media campaign.

This was the perfect timing for the launch of Military, Inc.: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy, a book authored by Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa Agha, a columnist for a Pakistani English-language paper and a correspondent for ‘Jane’s Defence Weekly’, a private intelligence service founded by experts close to the British intelligence.


The book was launched in Pakistan in early 2007 by Oxford Press. And, contrary to most reports, it is openly available in Islamabad’s biggest bookshops. The book portrays the Pakistani military as an institution that is eating up whatever little resources Pakistan has.

Pakistani military’s successful financial management, creating alternate financial sources to spend on a vast military machine and build a conventional and nuclear near-match with a neighboring adversary five times larger – an impressive record for any nation by any standard – was distorted in the book and reduced to a mere attempt by the military to control the nation’s economy in the same way it was controlling its politics.

The timing was interesting. After all, it was hard to defend a military in the eyes of its own proud people when the chief of the military is ruling the country, the army is fighting insurgents and extremists who claim to be defending Islam, grumpy politicians are out of business, and the military’s side businesses, meant to feed the nation’s military machine, are doing well compared to the shabby state of the nation’s civilian departments.

Dr. Siddiqa and her book are not important. Worse things have been said about Pakistanis before. All of these details are insignificant if detached from the real issue at hand. And the issue is the demonization of the Pakistani military as an integral part of the media siege around Pakistan, with the American media leading the way in this campaign.

Some of the juicy details of this siege around Pakistan include:

The attempt by several American and British writers – and one Pakistani, Dr. Siddiqa – to pitch junior officers against senior officers in Pakistan Armed Forces by alleging discrimination in the distribution of benefits. Apart from being malicious and unfounded, her argument was carefully designed to generate frustration and demoralize Pakistani soldiers.
The American media insisting on handing Dr. A. Q. Khan to the United States so that a final conviction against the Pakistani military can be secured.
Mrs. Benazir Bhutto demanding after returning to Pakistan that the ISI be restructured; and in a press conference during her house arrest in Lahore in November she went as far as asking Pakistan army officers to revolt against the army chief, a damning attempt at destroying a professional army from within.

Some of this appears to be eerily similar to the campaign waged against the Pakistani military in 1999, when, in July that year, an unsigned full page advertisement appeared in major American newspapers with the following headline: “A Modern Rogue Army With Its Finger On The Nuclear Button.”

Until this day, it is not clear who exactly paid for such an expensive newspaper full-page advertisement. But one thing is clear: the agenda behind that advertisement is back in action.

Strangely, just a few days before Mrs. Bhutto’s statements about restructuring ISI and the need for army officers to stage a mutiny against their leadership, the American conservative magazine The Weekly Standard interviewed an American security expert with similar ideas:

“A large number of ISI agents who are responsible for helping the Taliban and al Qaeda should be thrown in jail or killed. What I think we should do in Pakistan is a parallel version of what Iran has run against us in Iraq: giving money [and] empowering actors. Some of this will involve working with some shady characters, but the alternative—sending U.S. forces into Pakistan for a sustained bombing campaign—is worse.” Steve Schippert, Weekly Standard, Nov. 2007.

In addition to these media attacks, which security experts call ‘psychological operations’, the American media and politicians have intensified over the past year their campaign to prepare the international public opinion to accept a western intervention in Pakistan along the lines of Iraq and Afghanistan:

Newsweek came up with an entire cover story with a single storyline: Pakistan is a more dangerous place than Iraq.
Senior American politicians, Republican and Democrat, have argued that Pakistan is more dangerous than Iran and merits similar treatment. On 20 October, Joe Biden told ABC News that Washington needs to put soldiers on ground in Pakistan and invite the international community to join in. “We should be in there,” he said. “We should be supplying tens of millions of dollars to build new schools to compete with the madrassas. We should be in there building democratic institutions. We should be in there, and get the rest of the world in there, giving some structure to the emergence of, hopefully, the reemergence of a democratic process.”
The International Crisis Group (ICG) has recommended gradual sanctions for Pakistan similar to those imposed on Iran, e.g. slapping travel bans on Pakistani military officers and seizing Pakistani military assets abroad.
The process of painting Pakistan’s nuclear assets as pure evil lying around waiting for some do-gooder to come in and ‘secure’ them has reached unprecedented levels, with the U.S. media again depicting Pakistan as a nation incapable of protecting its nuclear installations. On 22 October, Jane Harman from the U.S. House Intelligence panel gave the following statement: “I think the U.S. would be wise – and I trust we are doing this – to have contingency plans [to seize Pakistan’s nuclear assets], especially because should [Musharraf] fall, there are nuclear weapons there.”
The American media has now begun discussing the possibility of Pakistan breaking up and the possibility of new states of ‘Balochistan’ and ‘Pashtunistan’ being carved out of it. Interestingly, one of the first acts of the shady Maulana of Swat after capturing a few towns was to take down the Pakistani flag from the top of state buildings and replacing them with his own party flag.
The ‘chatter’ about President Musharraf’s eminent fall has also increased dramatically in the mainly American media, which has been very generous in marketing theories about how Musharraf might “disappear” or be “removed” from the scene. According to some Pakistani analysts, this could be an attempt to prepare the public opinion for a possible assassination of the Pakistani president.
Another worrying thing is how American officials are publicly signaling to the Pakistanis that Mrs. Benazir Bhutto has their backing as the next leader of the country. Such signals from Washington are not only a kiss of death for any public leader in Pakistan, but the Americans also know that their actions are inviting potential assassins to target Mrs. Bhutto. If she is killed in this way, there won’t be enough time to find the real culprit, but what’s certain is that unprecedented international pressure will be placed on Islamabad while everyone will use their local assets to create maximum internal chaos in the country. A dress rehearsal of this scenario has already taken place in October when no less than the U.N. Security Council itself intervened to ask the international community to “assist” in the investigations into the assassination attempt on Mrs. Bhutto on 18 October. This generous move was sponsored by the U.S. and, interestingly, had no input from Pakistan which did not ask for help in investigations in the first place.

Some Pakistani security analysts privately say that American ‘chatter’ about Musharraf or Bhutto getting killed is a serious matter that can’t be easily dismissed. Getting Bhutto killed can generate the kind of pressure that could result in permanently putting the Pakistani military on a back foot, giving Washington enough room to push for installing a new pliant leadership in Islamabad fully backed by the West.

Having Musharraf killed isn’t a bad option either. The unknown Islamists can always be blamed and the military will not be able to put another soldier at the top, and circumstances will be created to ensure that either Mrs. Bhutto or someone like her is eased into power.

The Americans are very serious this time. They cannot let Pakistan get out of their hands. They have been kicked out of Uzbekistan last year, where they were maintaining bases. They are in trouble in Afghanistan and Iraq. Iran continues to be a mess for them and Russia and China are not making it any easier. Pakistan must be ‘secured’ at all costs.

This is why most Pakistanis have never seen American diplomats in Pakistan active like this before. And it’s not just the current U.S. ambassador, who has added one more address to her other most-frequently-visited address in Karachi, Mrs. Bhutto’s house. The new address is the office of GEO, one of two news channels shut down by Islamabad for not signing the mandatory code-of-conduct. Thirty-eight other channels are operating and no one has censored the newspapers. But never mind this. The Americans have developed a ‘thing’ for GEO. No solace of course for ARY, the other banned channel.

Now there’s also one Bryan Hunt, the U.S. consul general in Lahore, who wears the national Pakistani dress, the long shirt and baggy trousers, and is moving around these days issuing tough warnings to Islamabad and to the Pakistani government and to President Musharraf to end emergency rule, resign as army chief and give Mrs. Bhutto access to power.


So what should Pakistan do in the face of such a structured campaign to bring Pakistan down on its knees and forcibly install a pro-Washington administration in Islamabad?

There is increasing talk in Islamabad these days about Pakistan’s new tough stand in the face of this malicious campaign.

As a starter, Islamabad blew the wind out of the visit of Mr. John Negroponte, the no. 2 man in the U.S. State Department, who came to Pakistan last week “to deliver a tough message” to the Pakistani president. Musharraf, to his credit, told him he won’t end emergency rule until all objectives are achieved.

These objectives include:

Cleaning up our northern and western parts of the country of all foreign operatives and their domestic pawns.
Ensuring that Washington’s plan for regime-change doesn’t succeed.
Purging the Pakistani media from all those elements that were willing or indirect accomplices in the plan to destabilize the country.

Musharraf has also told Washington publicly that “Pakistan is more important than democracy or the constitution.” This is a bold position. This kind of boldness would have served Musharraf a lot had it come a little earlier. And even now, his media management team is unable to make the most of it.

Washington will not stand by watching as its plan for regime change in Islamabad goes down the drain. In case the Americans insist on interfering in Pakistani affairs, Islamabad, according to my sources, is looking at some tough measures:

Cut off oil supplies to U.S. military in Afghanistan. Pakistani officials are already enraged at how Afghanistan has turned into a staging ground for sabotage in Pakistan. If Islamabad continues to see Washington acting as a bully, Pakistani officials are seriously considering an announcement where Pakistan, for the first time since October 2001, will deny the United States use of Pakistani soil and air space to transport fuel to Afghanistan.
Review Pakistan’s role in the war on terror. Islamabad needs to fight terrorists on its border with Afghanistan. But our methods need to be different to Washington’s when it comes to our domestic extremists. This is where Islamabad parts ways with and Washington.
Talk with the Afghan Taliban. Pakistan has no quarrel with Afghanistan’s Taliban. They are Kabul’s internal problem. But if reaching out to Afghan Taliban’s Mullah Omar can have a positive impact on rebellious Pakistani Taliban, then this step should be taken. The South Koreans can talk to the Taliban. Karzai has also called for talks with them. It is time that Islamabad does the same.

The Americans have been telling everyone in the world that they have paid Pakistan $10 billion dollars over the past five years. They might think this gives them the right to decide Pakistan’s destiny. What they don’t tell the world is how Pakistan’s help secured for them their biggest footprint ever in energy-rich Central Asia.

The author heads Project Pakistan, an independent research effort based in Islamabad.

Ayaz Amir: Nawaz Sharif Is ‘Impulsive’, Unwise

Ayaz Amir: Nawaz Sharif Is ‘Impulsive’, Unwise

This is a biting critique from Ayaz Amir against his own party and, indirectly, at Mr. Nawaz Sharif’s stubborn nature and myopic politics, which have resulted in turning a large political party, the PML-N, into a little more than a cry baby.


Friday, 6 February 2009.

The News International.


CHAKWAL, Pakistan—The PML-N is the alternative to the PPP, with a stake in the present dispensation because of its government in Punjab, the country’s largest province and the source of much of Pakistan’s anguish since the country’s birth. What is it up to?

Exile and the long night of the Musharraf era should have tempered the PML-N leadership, taught it a measure of wisdom and enabled it to see the larger canvas instead of just the trees. It is a moot point whether any of this has happened because the party or rather its leadership has not been able to get over the well-ingrained tendency of tilting at windmills — imagining them to be monsters on the horizon but which turn out to be windmills.

It has espoused the lawyers’ cause and the cause of the restoration of the judges deposed by Gen Pervez Musharraf. But espousing a cause is one thing, strangling oneself with it quite another. The PML-N has tightly tied the judges’ issue round its neck, to the extent where it seems that it only has a one-point agenda.

Impulsive as ever, the party has declared support for the lawyers’ long march and the sit-in in front of the Supreme Court on March 9. Several questions arise. Will the agitating lawyers be able to attract a large enough crowd to force the government’s hand? And is the government likely to capitulate — for the restoration of Iftikhar Chaudhry and the other deposed judges would amount to capitulation — before the lawyers? Failure on these counts would rub off on the PML-N. Its public standing would be diminished.

This is an extract from Mr. Amir’s weekly column published in The News International. He can be reached at