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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Perfidious Musharraf and his Recent TV Interview - Part IV

Gen. (r) Musharraf referred to other things as well, for example, on actions taken against Prof. Hafeez Saeed saheb and Maulana Masood Azhar saheb. The interviewer referred to the 'arrest' of the learned Maulana, only to be 'corrected' by the General(r) that "no, he was never arrested because we could not arrest him". Again, the answer was a double entendre as has been the various utterances of Pakistani leaders. We will come to the Maulana episode a little later.

We need to understand a little bit about these two great jihadi leaders, Prof. Hafeez Saeed saheb and Maulana Masood Azhar saheb before we proceed with the General's usual perfidy.

Lashkar-e-Tayba(LeT, Army of the Pure) is a Sunni Ahl-e-Hadith terrorist organization that was started in the Kunar province of eastern Afghanistan. Prof. Hafeez Saeed (who taught Islam at the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore and hence the oxymoronic Professor tag) was the co-founder, along with Abdullah Azzam, of Maktab-al-Khidmat (Office of Service) in Peshawar in circa 1979 to help the Arab jihadis. Abdullah Azzam was the mentor of Osama bin Laden, both at the King Abdul Aziz University (KAAU) in Jeddah and later in the Afghan jihad. After Azzam's assassination on Nov. 24, 1989, variously attributed to Israeli Mossad or even the mujahideen faction, the Maktab became Jama'at-ud-Dawah W'al Irshad and LeT was founded soon thereafter as its military wing.

Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM, Army of Muhammad, PBUH), a Sunni Hanafi Deobandi terrorist organization, was created by the ISI on 31 January 2000, exactly one month after Maulana Masood Azhar was released from the Indian prison in exchange for release of passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines plane IC-814. The creation of JeM is attributed to Lt. Gen. Mahmoud Ahmed, who was the chief of ISI (between circa 1999 – 2001). Maulana Masood Azhar is a close friend of Osama bin Laden from the days of his exile in Sudan after the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia expelled him for anti-State (anti-monarchy, in fact) activities. Predictably, his organization is a member of IIF (Islamic International Front for Jihad against the Crusaders and the Jewish people). Apart from various terrorist attacks in India, especially J&K, JeM has also been involved in terrorist attacks within Pakistan. Some important attacks were the assassination attempts on Gen. Pervez Musharraf in 2003; US Consulate attack in Karachi on May 26, 2004; attack on Karachi Corps Commander on June 9, 2004 etc. Earlier, when Pakistan deployed its troops in Somalia under UN supervision, an enraged Masood Azhar carried out operations that killed 24 Pakistani Army soldiers there. He also wrote a booklet against Pakistani troops in Somalia and even distributed that in Pakistan. His jihadi commitment to the ideological frontiers of Islam thus truly transcends mere geographical boundaries of a nation, well in line with the 'Jihad fi Sabilillah' (Jihad in the way of Allah) motto of the regular Pakistani Army itself.

Now, let us come to the various ways by which the Islamic republic of Pakistan has handled these two great warriors. See my earlier blog, "Prof. Hafeez Saeed, LeT, and the Support from the State of Pakistan" on how the 'Deep State' benevolently handled this 'non-state actor' after 9/11. Let us therefore limit ourselves to a discussion on Maulana saheb alone here.

After his release at Kandahar into ISI hands, a fact accepted by the then Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Mutawakil and confirmed by Indian signal intercepts[2], Maulana Masood Azhar was driven to Pakistan in vehicles provided by the Taliban and was received with great joy and pride all over the country. His first stop was the Binori mosque at Karachi (Jamia Darul Uloom Islamia Allama Binori) and it was not surprising because that was his alma mater (where Mullah Omar, Osama bin Laden and HuJI chief Qari Saifullah Akhtar also studied at one time or another), having passed with distinction from there. Its Chief Nazeemuddin Shamzai (since assassinated) was the patron saint of JeM. He was constantly surrounded by dozens of heavily armed militia even as there was a ban on display of arms by any person or group in Karachi because of the security situation there. Just nobody dared to challenge Azhar saheb and his heavily armed guards could be seen in vehicles and open meetings, the first of which he addressed at Al-Rasheediya mosque in central Karachi within a week, proclaiming his resolve to defeat India and calling for funds and volunteers. Now, did Gen. (r) Musharraf say that Pakistan could never arrest Masood Azhar ? He was indeed arrested in December, 2001 after the attack on the Indian Parliament but was ordered released by a review board of the Lahore High Court on Dec. 14, 2002. His arrest was confirmed by none other than the Spokesperson of Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Rashid Qureshi, that Master Spinner. The usual ploy, as we found later in the case of Prof. Hafeez Saeed saheb, of arresting under 'Maintenance of Public Order' was employed in Azhar's case too. We know how Islamist the Lahore High Court has been, from the way it has released scores of hardcore jihadi terrorists over the years and so his subsequent release is not surprising.

In c. 2003, Gen. Musharraf met all top jihadi leaders[1], including Maulana Masood Azhar, to re-assure them of the continued support of his government for their jihadi activities in spite of US pressure to do otherwise. This was the 'running with the hares and hunting with the hounds' policy of Musharraf, as accepted now by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani. The Deep State therefore encouraged LeT to organize a large gathering at Muridke in c. 2003 which was addressed, among others, by Masood Azhar as well. Azhar saheb was again placed under house arrest after the twin suicide attacks on Gen. Musharraf in 2003. He conveniently disappeared from house arrest in Bahawalpur sometime later. However, there have been many authentic reports of his frequent visits since then to his house in Bahawalpur where heavy security support is provided by the Deep State. He also held an open function to launch his new book Fatah-ul-Jawad: Quranic Verses on Jihad, on April 28, 2008, in Bahawalpur when Gen. (r) Musharraf was still very much in power. In the meanwhile, his Balakot terror training facility has been running without let or hindrance. In December, 2008, Pakistan claimed that it had placed Azhar under house arrest in Bahawalpur (confirmed by defense minister Chaudhary Ahmad Mukhtar in a TV interview where he also said that Azhar would not be handed over to India however). The DAWN News Channel also confirmed this quoting interior ministry sources. However, it was denied within a few days by the Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi claiming that his whereabouts were unknown though they were certain that he was not in Pakistan. Does it not sound all too familiar considering that a similar response comes from Pakistan whenever Dawood Ibrahim's name is mentioned when the whole world knows where he lives in Pakistan, except of course the Government of Pakistan ? So much for the Deep State's inability to arrest or prosecute the Maulana saheb.

(To be continued. . . )

[1] "Pakistan, India: Same Game, New Rules", Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times,Nov. 27, 2003
[2] "The Kandahar Plot", Praveen Swami, Frontline,Vol 20-Issue 24, Nov. 22 - Dec. 05, 2003

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Perfidious Musharraf and his Recent TV Interview - Part III

During the course of the interview, there was a reference to the speech given by Gen. Musharraf to his fellow Pakistanis (and the rest of the world, especially India) in Jan, 2002, a month after the Dec. 13, 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament by LeT and JeM. At the time he gave this speech, the situation was spiralling out of control and he was under tremendous pressure to act to contain it.

The speech under question is the January 12, 2002 speech of Gen. Musharraf over the national television in Pakistan. The US President, George Bush had exhorted Gen. Musharraf in the first week of January, to make his position clear on terrorism. As usual, in order to pull the wool over the eyes of India and Western benefactor countries, Musharraf made several promises. It is worth recalling some of them:
  • He condemned the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament and said terrorism tarnished the image of Pakistan
  • He banned Lashkar-e-Tayba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM)
  • He vowed to finish off religious extremism
  • He promised that no organisations will be able to carry out terrorism on the pretext of Kashmir. Whoever is involved with such acts in the future will be dealt with strongly
  • He said that Pakistan will not allow its territory to be used for any terrorist activity anywhere in the world.
  • He ordered all madrasseh to register with the government within two months

Let's remember that Gen. Musharraf condemned, banned, vowed, promised, said and ordered so many things. And now, to the perfidious part of the speech. We will later see the perfidious action part as none of the above promises was kept. In the same speech, the following were interspersed as well:
  • If Kashmir dispute was not resolved peacefully, the region will not see peace
  • "Kashmir runs in our blood. No Pakistani can afford to sever links with Kashmir. We will continue to extend our moral, political and diplomatic support to Kashmiris."
This is the standard operating procedure of Pakistan. Appear to condemn terrorism on the one hand and proffer 'moral, diplomatic and political' support - an euphemism for supporting terror - on the other hand. The January, 2002 ban of LeT and JeM did not extend to Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir (POK) or the Federally Administered Tribal Agencies (FATA) in the the then North Western Frontire Province (NWFP, now known as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa). Even if Gen. (r) Musharraf were to justify not extending the ban to POK under some fake legal issue or the other, he cannot explain the case of FATA. These areas were deliberately left out to enable the terror organizations to continue to operate. Their assets located smack in the middle of Lahore and Bahawalpur were left untouched. The terrorist cadres who were arrested were released within a few weeks. This is how terrorism is condemned 'in all its forms and manifestations' (a usual Pakistani cliché)in paper while things are allowed on the ground to go on as if nothing had happened at all.

A few days after the January 12, 2002 speech, an open and defiant meeting was held in Holiday Inn, Islamabad where representatives of LeT, JeM, Tehrik-e-Jaffria, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) met with other similar luminaries as Lt. Gen. (r) Hamid Gul, Gen. (r) Aslam Beg, Maj. Gen. (r) Zaheerul Islam Abbassi (who in September 1995 tried a military coup along with terrorist outfits to seize power from Ms. Benazir Bhutto to establish a Caliphate) and Jama'at-e-Islami (S) chief Maulana Sami-ul-Haq (who is popularly known also as Maulana Sandwich for some strange reason) and discussed the 'appalling betrayal of the Kashmiri cause' by Gen. (r) Musharraf. Pakistan did nothing to prevent this meeting or arrest these people who support jihad openly. Since then, all the Pakistani actions have been farcical on the front of containment of terrorism even while claiming to take action all the time. So much so, President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani have said that Musharraf followed a policy of running with the hares and hunting with the hounds.

Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, who held such portfolios as Information and Railways in Gen. Musharraf's Presidency, openly admitted that he was a jihadi in Kashmir. His colleagues in the jihad business ascertained that he set up a camp at Fateh Jung near Rawalpindi, where around 3,500 jihadis were trained in guerrilla warfare. Gen. (r) Mirza Aslam Beg, an ex Chief of Army Staff (COAS), confirmed the claim and went on to say that even the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could confirm that ! Gen. (r) Mirza Aslam Beg also said that the camp, Freedom House, still existed. Another ISI officer, since deceased, confirmed this.

Ms. Benazir Bhutto - no paragon of virtue herself when it comes to terrorism - admitted that some of her Army Generals planned to attack the US in collaboration with Osama bin Laden.[1] Writing in the Washington Post on March 12, 2007[2], this is what Ms. Bhutto had to say: Why is it that all terrorist plots – from the Sept. 11 attacks, to Madrid, to London, to Mumbai – seem to have roots in Islamabad?Pakistan’s military and intelligence services have, for decades, used religious parties for recruits.

Mr. Shamshad Ahmed, a former Foreign Secretary of Pakistan summed it up all nicely, in an article dated November 24, 2007, by saying, "Every act of violence anywhere in the world is traced back to our country in one way or the other."[3]

Another former Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, Najmuddin A Shaikh, wrote thus in Daily Times on August, 29, 2008 [4], while discussing Pakistani tactics in Afghanistan: It is now no secret that, Afghanistan apart, the assistance required by the spontaneous uprising in Indian-occupied Kashmir also made it necessary to maintain and enhance rather than dismantle the anti-Soviet jihad machinery.

This implicit reliance on jihad, terror, and violence to achieve political goals was amply demonstrated in the National Assembly of Pakistan by no other than the Secretary of Defence Maj. Tanveer Syed on Aug. 7, 2007 when he demanded the Pakistani government to wage jihad against India to get Kashmir. He assured the nation that if full-fledged jihad was waged, Pakistan would get Kashmir within six months. He said, "“India will not give freedom to the Kashmiris through dialogue so we have to wage a Jihad and our Mujahideen will secure the freedom of Kashmir within six months”[5] It is noteworthy that the Secretary of Defence, who justified jihad, was a retired Army major.

One of Gen. (r) Musharraf's protege, Madam Shireen Mazari, whom he appointed as the Chairperson of the Pakistani Institute of Strategic Studies (aptly named PISS) as soon as he took over power, had this to write about the tactics to be adopted by the terrorists operating in Kashmir, in an article she penned in circa 1999 in The News: “But perhaps the Kashmiri freedom fighters need to be reminded of history: That freedom struggles like the Algerian only succeeded when the freedom fighters took the war to the French homeland. And the British only compromised with the Irish once the IRA took the war to the British Isles and London. These are the cruel realities of military struggles and so the Kashmir war must be taken to the Indian mainland, especially South India to make the ordinary Indian realise the costs of his government's occupation policy in Kashmir. If freedom is to be won through the barrel of a gun then niceties cannot prevail and efficiency and effectiveness should be the primary considerations”

Why does, therefore, Gen. (r) Musharraf want people to believe all the nonsense that he peddles now ? In the Times Now TV interview, Gen. (r) Musharraf blamed the US also for what he termed as 'religious militancy' in his country. No doubt the US, which is as tactically brilliant as its tight buddy Pakistan, failed to see or did not care or both, the long-term fall out of stoking Islamist, jihadi, sectarian mindset in the Af-Pak region. But, it was Pakistan and Pakistan alone that has preserved, nurtured and grown that mindset after circa 1989 to be used against its only enemy, India. Indeed, one can easily surmise that Pakistan participated in the Afghan jihad with the sole intent of turning it on against India later.

The irony is that Gen. (r) Musharraf claims that the policy of encouraging terrorism was practised by Pakistani regimes prior to his own. By their accusations against each other, the Pakistani leaders have all made it clear that every Pakistani government has used terrorism as a tool of the State.

(To be continued. . . )


[1]"I Vetoed Plan by Pak to Attack America: Bhutto", Indian Express
[1]A False Choice for Pakistan, Washington Post
[3]Back to Stone Age, The Nation
[4]Looking back at our role in Afghanistan
[5]Parliamentary Secretary Calls for Jihad