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Sunday, May 15, 2011

On Why Osama bin Laden's Presence in Pakistan does not Surprise - Part II

Let me digress briefly from the OBL narrative to see how Pakistan is reacting to the stunning 'Op. Geronimo'.

Osama bin Laden's assassination at Abbottabad while Pakistan, its Army (PA) and its powerful Inter Services Intelligence Directorate (ISID) slept peacefully on the night between May 1 & 2, has predictably created a huge furore in that country, steeped as it is in Honour, Dignity and nowadays in selective Sovereignty too. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani 'warned' the US against public opinion in his country turning against the US and he not being able to do anything about that. The National Assembly passed a unanimous resolution recommending revisiting the country’s military cooperation with the US. It also asked the Government of Pakistan (GoP) to stop NATO supplies from passing through Pakistani territory into Afghanistan if drone attacks did not stop. The Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), the mouthpiece of the Pakistani armed forces, said, quoting Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, that "any similar action in future violating the sovereignty of Pakistan will warrant a review on the level of military/intelligence co-operation with the United States". The Pakistani Air Force(PAF) Chief said that the PAF could shoot down American drones.

Such assertion of selective sovereignty appeared out-of-place for Pakistan. I say selective sovereignty because that country thinks nothing of giving away hundreds of square Kilometres of sovereign Pakistani land to the princes of various Arab emirates and Kingdoms for hunting down the endangered species of houbara bustards for enhancing the virility of these gentlemen, if one may indeed call them so. Pakistan does not think anything of asking People's Republic of China to represent her in negotiating with India after 26/11. It does not think anything at all about inviting Chinese troops into the lands that it has forcibly occupied from India. It does not want to dismantle the Caliphate that the Haqqani and anti-GoP Tehrik-e-Taliban, Pakistan (TTP) elemets have established and been successfully running since c. 2002 in Waziristan. It thinks next to nothing about its inability to control, contain and prosecute the scores of terrorist organizations operating openly from its soil putting not only India and the immediate region but the whole world in grave danger. What about the secret authorization from Gen. Musharraf allowing the CIA to operate Unmanned Aerial Combat Vehicles (UACVs) from the Shamsi airbase that regularly violate the sovereignty while the PA and the GoP hypocritically condemn these attacks ? Even the PAF chief has recently admitted that the Shamsi airbase was no longer under Pakistan sovereignty as it belonged to the Emir of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who had in turn handed it over to the US now ! 'Foreign Hands' are freely trading in Pakistani sovereign land and there is not even a murmur !! And yet, Pakistan raises a hue and cry when its most allied ally from Eisenhower's days, the USA, takes out the most wanted and most sanctioned 'world terrorist' from his villa near Islamabad after Pakistan had allowed that terrorist to abuse its sovereignty with impunity for almost a six years, if not more. What a perversion !

The ISI Chief, Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha, while presenting the PA/ISI case before the members of the Pakistani National Assembly (PNA), suddenly put on a pretense of being subservient to people's power of the Parliament and offered to resign, if newspaper reports are to be believed. He is also reported to have admitted to 'failure', though it is not clear which failure he spoke about. Was it the failure to detect the clandestine visit by the USN SEALs ? Or, was it the failure not to have known about the presence of the world's most wanted terrorist happily living in their midst with his wives, children and baggage for at least six years ? Or, more importantly, was he implying a failure on the part of the ISI not to have given more fail-proof protection to Osama bin Laden that eventually led to a loss of Honour & Dignity (H&D) ? What was in your mind, Lt. Gen. Pasha ? However, we may never know what happened in that briefing because the session was held in-camera. In Pakistan, everything is 'in-camra', whether it is a briefing by the ISI or the PA to the Parliamentarians, or the 26/11 case proceedings in the court etc. because the State is afraid that otherwise uncomfortable truths would come tumbling out jeopardizing the very integrity of the nation which is founded only on fraud, perfidy and mendacity. That is how much deeply the State, the Army and the ISI are involved in one murky activity after another for the past six decades. It is no wonder therefore that many Pakistanis are themselves referring to their country as 'Deep State'.

Lt. Gen. Pasha also did an encore like the Prime Minister of his country, Yousuf Raza Gilani who said in Paris that the failure of Pakistan was indeed the failure of the whole world. No less, mind you. But, he took all the credit (not sharing it with the rest of the world unlike the blame) for arresting so many Al Qaeda terrorists and handing them over to the US, since c. 2002. Along the same lines as his Prime Minister, Lt. Gen. Pasha also blamed others like "the provincial government, local police and related agencies" for their failure to obtain information about Osama bin Laden. Like PM Gilani, as well as his immediate boss Gen. Kayani, he also claimed credit that the "ISI had in fact rendered al Qaeda paralysed and broken its back".

Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha immediately went back to the theory of how criticizing the PA and the ISI would be against 'national interests' as though the national interests revolved only around the PA/ISI. Thus, one does not know whether the PML-N's Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Chaudhry Nissar Ali Khan's warning that the Army and the ISI Chiefs should remember thet they were "answerable to parliament instead of presuming that parliament was answerable to them" had any effect. By all appearances, it did not because the briefing was a monologue by the ISI and sang the same tune that they knew the best about security than anybody else and were beyond questioning. Lt. Gen. Pasha also warned of the attempts by 'foreign hands' at sowing discord between the people and the armed forces. This attitude is reinforced by the fact that the Government of Pakistan (GoP) could not even order a public enquiry, by being made to accede only to an internal inquiry by the PA's Adjutant General against its own failure ! It was only PML-N's forceful demand that lead to the inclusion in the 12-point unanimous recommendation by the National Assemly to constitute a Commission. One can easily conclude what will come out of the Adjutant General's enquiry in the backdrop of other enquiries like Liaquat Ali Khan's assassination, Zia-ul-Haq's death, Hamoodur Rehman report on the 1971 seccession, Kargil debacle, Ms. Benazir Bhuto's assassination etc. In any case, at the end of the presentation by Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha and the subsequent discussion among the Parliamentarians, the elected representatives unanimously expressed their full confidence in the armed forces and the intelligence agencies.

That's it. Evereything has now been explained away to the nation through the people's representatives, the existence of democracy in Pakistan has been resoundingly proven once again, no 'guilt' sticks to the armed forces or the intelligence services who anyway simply follow civilian government's orders, the Yahud-Hanud-Nasara (Jew-Hindu-Christian) conspiracy is exposed and everybody is back to 'business as usual'. Thus, the French proverb Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (The more it changes, the more it remains the same) fits the Pakistani situation to a 'T'.

What we can be sure of, though, is that Lt. Gen. Shuja Ahmed Pasha's personality will become known after some time as it has happened in the case of almost every Director General (DG), ISI for sometime now. The list of such ISI Chiefs with gross 'personality flaws' is long, for example, Hamid Gul, Javid Nasser, Assad Durrani, Ziauddin Butt, Mehmood Ahmed, Kayani et al. We should not be surprised to learn later that he was indeed a fundamentalist sharing the jihadi mentality with a thin and fake veneer of a liberal especially when interacting with the Western friends and allies. It is axiomatic that one cannot become the DG of ISI without such 'personality flaw'.

So, the Pakistani Army's sudden pretense about its love for oversight by the Parliament is reminiscent of what happened after a series of defeats by the TTP in c. 2007. Again, the PA took refuge under the protection of people's power through the instrument of National Assembly and Gen. Kayani gave another similar in-camera briefing to the Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) about why the TTP came menacingly close to the capital, Islamabad. The whole world was alarmed at the stunning successes of the beards as they threatened a nuclear power. It is very obvious that when inconvenient situations develop, the PA finds the virtues of parliamentary democracy. In the present case too, it appears that Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha 'offered' to resign if Parliament so wished (Should it not be the preogative of the Prime Minister ? Why does he involve the National Assembly in this ?).

On earlier occassions too, the PA had resorted to a similar tactics of suddenly developing a love for democracy and people's power. As recently as c. 2007, the PA decided to retrieve its lost image and installed a democratic government, decided to remain unobtrusive and conduct only back-seat driving. In c. 1972, after the massive defeat, it decided similarly to install the most popular civilian leader in the saddle until the situation recovered sufficiently when it decided to usurp the rule once again.

Anyway, back to our narrative on why Osama bin Laden's presence in a Pakistani garrison town, along with his wives and chidren, does not come as a surprise. Reacting to the crescendo of anger and shame against the ruling dispensation, the Interior Minister, Rehman Malik said: “It was the PML-N that received Rs 130 million from Osama to contest elections against Benazir Bhutto. It was the PML-N that brought Osama to Pakistan from Sudan. It was the PML-N that sent Osama on a C-130 from Peshawar to Afghanistan.” Thus, he let the cat out of the bag. Need one say anything more ? In Pakistan such revelations are common practice because the whole State and its apparatus are so steeply involved in lying, in being cunning and terrorizing India and increasingly the rest of the World too, that it is diffiult to contain the truth from tumbling out sometime or another. One needs to be a little patient, that's all.

It comes as no surprise therefore when 'The 9/11 Commission Report', while referring to the discussion about various options for an operation against Osama bin Laden, repeatedly alludes to the fear expressed by the Army Generals and the CIA about the PA and the ISI being 'in bed' with Osama.

In early 2007, a Pakistani agent, Syed Akbar was captured by the Afghan Intelligence (under their famous intelligence chief Amarullah Saleh, a Tajik, the Afghan intelligence notched quite a few impressive successes) who confessed to having escorted Osama bin Laden, under ISI instructions, from Nuristan through Kunar into Chitral and handed him over to an ISI officer in October, 2005. He said that Osama bin Laden was staying in the house of a commander of Hekmatyar's Hizb-e-Islami when the ISI decided to move him into Pakistan.

(To be continued . . .)

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