17 December 2009

ISLAMABAD,Capital of Pakistan—A young Pakistani Assistant Superintendent of Police [ASP] chased a fleeing US embassy car for two kilometers after it sped through a police checkpoint on the outskirts of the Pakistani capital on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2009.

When the diplomats refused to stop, the ASP drove past them and then sharply turned his car to force the US embassy vehicle to screech to a halt. He and his senior police officers insisted the US diplomats return to the police picket, apologize to the Pakistani police officers and submit to a security inspection of the inside of the car like all cars passing through the checkpoint, according to the exclusive report published by Lahore’s The Nation newspaper.

The incident is significant because of the meteoric rise in incidents of public bullying by US diplomats and privately armed security contractors in Pakistani cities. At least three incidents have been registered by Islamabad police this year where armed Americans in plainclothes assaulted Pakistani citizens.

In October, Pakistani media reports said ISI Chief Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha told CIA chief Leon Panetta during his secret visit to Islamabad that Pakistanis have evidence that implicates CIA operatives in Afghanistan in supporting terrorism inside Pakistan.

Pakistan is facing a deadly and sophisticated wave of terrorism targeting civilians in public places. The wave coincides with US attempt to shift its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to Pakistan on the unsubstantiated ground that Islamabad is responsible for the looming US failure in Afghanistan.
There are reports that TTP leaders are provided satellite phones operated by a Gulf based Western company and they have been talking freely to BBC and other media organizations without any fear of being detected and targeted by drones or missiles. Then there are also credible reports that a helicopter that flew from Afghanistan before Oct. 17, when operation Rah-e-Nejat in South Waziristan was launched, evacuated the top leadership of the TTP from Waziristan to Afghanistan. The Americans also vacated some of the crucial posts along the border with South Waziristan in an apparent bid to provide safe passage to the fleeing Pakistani Taliban. The terrorists arrested in Pakistan during the operation told their interrogators about their links with the US and Indian agencies. There is credible information that full logistic and auxiliary support is still being provided to anti-Pakistan Taliban from Nuristan Province and several top officials from Afghan and Indian intelligence networks were seen active in the area.

The whole scenario became very grim as the Government appeared to have succumbed to American pressure to cut the ISI to size and make it a carpet lion. It was in this backdrop that a notification was issued in mysterious circumstances placing the ISI under the Interior Ministry; the notification was withdrawn the same day when the move backfired. It is no coincidence that during the two stints of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto as Prime Minister, a perception developed that the PPP undermined the effectiveness of the ISI. That perception was also based on facts. On the instructions of the BB Government, Lt. Gen. Javed Ashraf Qazi, the then DG ISI, purged 125 officers of the Agency [from the ranks of Major General to Colonel] who were identified to be “rogue elements” by the CIA. Now there is a strong perception that the present leadership is not presenting the interests and concerns of the state of Pakistan to its ‘Americans friends’ and is just raising issues in a casual manner. Perhaps that was the reason that the Army leadership had to make unusual public remarks in a press release, issued by the ISPR after the Corps Commanders meeting in October 2009, expressing serious concern over the Kerry-Lugar Bill saying that certain of its clauses were intrusive and against the national interests and were thus unacceptable. The Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar snubbed the Pakistan Army accusing it of ‘crossing the line’ bringing the differences into the open setting a new precedent and further undermining the state of Pakistan.

The crude interference by the CIA in Pakistan’s internal affairs has not gone well with the Establishment and infuriated the Pakistan Army. If the Americans did not stop its activities to help the Pakistani Taliban against the Army, cooperation with the US in the war in Afghanistan would come to an abrupt end. I am quite sure that if the Army says NO the whole nation will back it. It was owing to this reason that COAS General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, while talking to newsmen on the occasion of rolling out of first JF-17 Thunder Aircraft at Kamra on November 24, declared that the US would have to take Pakistan into confidence and taking into consideration the armed forces know-how to defend the country.