Wednesday, 28 October 2009

washington's hand behind islamabad's ghq attack?


Some Question To Mrs. Clinton And Mr. Qureshi

The GHQ attack effectively derailed the parliamentary debate over Kerry-Lugar bill and gave a breathing space to the isolated pro-US government in Islamabad. It allowed Shah Mahmood Qureshi to do his Munich-style appeasement and sell out the Pakistani nation to Washington. Without the GHQ attack, the government could never have scuttled the expected Parliament resolution against the US aid conditions. The subsequent attacks on Pakistani military personnel were not the usual Taliban-style terrorism.


Wednesday, 28 October 2009.

The Nation

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—There are certain questions that are beginning to come to one’s mind the more one sees targeted attacks against the military in Islamabad.

While soldiers and officials have been targeted by the “Taliban” - which has now become such an all-encompassing category that it defies explanation and allows so many elements to exploit the label for their own ends - primarily in the areas of the ongoing military operations, there is a new pattern that needs to be identified and discerned.

To begin with, is it simply a coincidence that the GHQ was targeted in the immediate aftermath of the army’s press release expressing concerns over the then Kerry Lugar Bill (now Act)?

That attack effectively derailed the debate going on in Parliament and allowed Shah Mahmood Qureshi to do his Munich-style appeasement and sell out the Pakistani nation to Washington. The opposition got diverted and the formulation of a strong resolution got lost somewhere in the terrorism cloud. Soon after the GHQ attack, we saw Brigadier Moin’s targeted killing in Islamabad and on Tuesday (27th October) another Brigadier was targeted outside his home. Now both these attacks were not the usual Taliban-style terrorism and the young motorbike riders did not “look” like the typical Taliban either according to eye witnesses. Then there is the question of how they managed to disappear and remain hidden, even though the police managed to get their pen sketches made.

Linked to these questions is the claim made by the TTP that they had carried out the GHQ attack. This is interesting because the TTP is the only terrorist outfit that is not identified by name in the Kerry Lugar Act. We also know that the TTP’s weapons are coming from Afghanistan and to top it all off, the Pakistani nation and military have been shocked at the US/NATO withdrawal from their check posts along the Afghan side of the border with Pakistan immediately when the Pakistan army began its full-scale action in South Waziristan. Given how the US had been pressuring Pakistan into commencing this action, why would they then decide to vacate their check posts and thereby create an enabling environment for arms flows to the TTP? These are questions that when linked up pinpoint to a questionable US design vis a vis the Pakistan military. The reasons behind this have been elaborated in earlier columns.

However, there is also anther link that needs to be highlighted. That is the shenanigans, in Islamabad, of US diplomats and covert operatives - be they linked to Blackwater, Dyncorps or Inter-Risk. On Tuesday, early morning, four US diplomats were caught with weapons in the vicinity of Margalla police station in sector F-8 - but as always the police were helpless in the face of US pressure and had to let the men go. This is the sixth known case in recent times of US diplomats and undercover operatives being caught with weapons and/or harassing local citizens. One such incident also involved Dutch diplomats. But the question is: what are these diplomats doing carrying weapons to and from their embassy? Whom are they delivering these weapons to and who are they taking these weapons from? When linked to the illicit weapons caches’ of Inter Risk and arms licenses being given to the US embassy without following proper procedures, there is a very real issue about US involvement in questionable covert actions in the Capital and beyond.

This becomes even more tenable when one goes back to the Inter Risk company’s training of at least 200 ex-servicemen for the US, whom the US refused to hand over for questioning to the Pakistani authorities and instead tucked them away in “safe houses. These trained guards were also supposed to have been given some of the illicit weapons.

Finally, returning to the attack on GHQ, the attackers were not random militants but well-trained men also adept in deception, especially their leader, Aqeel alias Dr Usman, who almost got away by mingling with the crowd after the siege had ended - but for a guard who recognised him and hit him from behind.

Given the serious concerns that are only growing over what exactly the US is up to, especially with some journalists like S. F. A. Shah from Peshawar facing life threats from US operatives in that city, it is time the state sought to re-examine the multidimensional terrorist threats emanating from different sources. Only when we are clear about whom we are contending with on different fronts, can we formulate effective policies to fight the threats. It is a dangerous reductionism to simply lay every act of violence and terror at the doorstep of the “Taliban” and Al-Qaeda. Even here, which Taliban group are we talking about? The US has mesmerized the Pakistani state into simplifying everything and thereby glossing over the American game plan in this region, especially vis a vis Pakistan. For this naiveté we are continuing to pay a heavy price, not only in lives lost but in institutions undermined.

Dr. Mazari is the Resident Editor of daily The Nation. She can be reached at

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