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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pakistan Army and its Involement in and Support for Terrorism - Part II



In Part I, we saw about the nexus between the then ISI Chief Lt. Gen. Mehmood Ahmed, ex-SSG Ilyas Kashmiri, and the GHQ attack.

Lt. Gen. Mehmood Ahmed was not the first or the last ISI chief who lost his job for being openly in cahoots with the terrorists. The distinct honour of being the first ISI Chief to lose his job because of his close proximity with the terrorists and fundamentalists goes to Lt. Gen. Javid Nasir. The extreme religious views of DG, ISI, Lt. Gen. Javid Nasir, that sprang directly from his association with the Tablighi Jamaat (TJ), ultimately led him to be sacked. In the shuffling of the ISI that followed his dismissal, over two dozen officers were also transferred for their suspected links. No less a person than Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, the well known Pakistani diplomat, has described in her book how ultimately the US and even Pakistan's Arab friends demanded his removal. Of course, the born-again Muslim that he was, Lt. Gen. Javid Nasir was a regular member of the fundamentalist Tablight Jama'at and regularly took part in its congregations and activities. He was not alone in the Tablighi Jama'at congretations(ijtima) at Raiwind near Lahore; he was in the august and regular company of the then President of Pakistan Rafiq Tarar as also Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul and Lt. Gen. Naseem Rana, both the latter being former Director General of the 'angelic'  ISI (sarcastically referred to as 'The Angels' within Pakistan because the agents wear white shalwar kameez).

On the eve of the November, 2009 annual convention of the Tablighi Jama'at, 50 former high-ranking officers of the armed forces met under the chairmanship of Lt. Gen. ( r) Javid Nasir for a day in what was termed as "Halqa-e-Khawas" (group of special people), to deliberate on how to take the movement forward, possibly within the armed forces. The well known English-language newspaper of Pakistan, The Nation, reported this faithfully. Apart from Lt Gen (r) Nasir, there were Lt Gen (r) Agha Masood Hasan, former CNS, PN (Chief of Naval Staff, Pakistan Navy), Admiral (r) Karamat Rehman Niazi, Lt Gen (r) Aftab Ahmed and others. The Nation quoted an ex-Army officer as saying "There are thousands of serving armymen who have joined this party and no force disallows the soldiers from practicing their religion,". Such is the hold of the Tablighi on the armed forces. Thus, the non-salafist but equally fundamentalist and radical Tablighi Jama'at has huge following within the armed forces of Pakistan. It is another entirely different matter that the 'pious' Javid Nasir swindled Rs. 3 Billion of EPTB (Evacuee Property Trust Board, of which he was Chairman) funds and fled Pakistan. Probably, these funds were used to fund terrorism and tablighi activities. It may be wothwhile to remember here that the brutal daylight attack on the mosques (officially known as Ibadatgarh because of the law declaring Ahmedis as non-Muslims) of the Ahmedis on May 28, 2010, that killed 95 of them was carried out by a suicide squad which had been assembled in the Raiwind office of the Tablighi Jama’at. Richard Reid, the shoe-bomber, attended the mosques run by Tablighi. Several men connected with the aborted UK plane bombing of Aug, 2006 were members of the Tablighi. Tablighi Jamaat members were also involved in a failed coup against Ms. Benazir Bhutto. This coup was staged by Maj. Gen. Zaheer ul Islam Abbassi in Sep. 1995. Several members of the TJ are jailed in Central Asian Republic (CAR) countries for indulging in violence and terror. TJ is therefore not involved only in pure and simple dawah as it usually claims.

Lt. Gen. Nadeem Taj, who succeeded Lt. Gen. Ahfaq Pervez Kayani as the ISI Chief in September, 2007 was also forced to leave the position by the US as President George Bush complained in August 2008 that it was “impossible to share intelligence on the al-Qaeda and the Taliban with Pakistan because it goes straight back to the militants.” So much so, that when Gen. Ashfaq Kayani went aboard USS Abraham Lincoln to meet with Adm. Mike Mullen in late August, 2008, he took with him his DGMO (Director General of Military Operations), Maj. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha who replaced Lt. Gen. Nadeem Taj within a couple of months. Of course, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, whose close confidante was Lt. Gen. Nadeem Taj, promoted him and gave him another plum post. During his tenure as the ISI Chief, Lt. Gen. Nadeem Taj had planned the 26/11 Mumbai carnage along with LeT and Al Qaeda, especially the 313 Brigade of Ilyas Kashmiri. Earlier, Nadeem Taj had played a crucial role as the Military Secretary of Gen. Musharraf and a member of the infamous 'Gang of Four' in Kargil and the 1999 coup that brought Musharraf to power.

Several months before 9/11 happened in circa 2001, the extremist Dar-ul-Uloom Haqqania madrassah in Peshawar organized a meeting on Jan 9, 2001 which was attended, among others, by Gen. Hamid Gul, former DG of ISI and Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg, former COAS of the Pakistani Army, wherein a declaration was made to defend Osama bin Laden and attack the Western countries as a sacred duty of Muslims. The significance of the meeting place, Maulana Sami-ul-Haq's Haqqania, could not be lost because it was a nerve production centre of mujahideen and later the Taliban. The noted Pakistani commentator, Zahid Hussain, in his book, "Frontline Pakistan: The Struggle with Militant Islam" (Penguin; 2007) writes that in spite of a ban on meetings, the Pakistani government did not stop the January, 2001 congregation and it was conducted with the support of the intelligence agencies.

(To be Continued . . . )

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