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A CIA Purge In Pakistan

January 13, 2011

The first myth is that Al-Qaeda was destroyed by CIA drones. The second myth is that Pakistan’s tribal belt is producing terrorists in US and Europe.The third myth is that FATA is the reason for instability in Afghanistan. As US Vice President lands in Islamabad, Pakistanis know better than ever they need to ditch America’s Afghan mess at the earliest.


The United States was never, and is not, an enemy of Pakistan. But the US political, military and intelligence thrust in Afghanistan over eight years has decidedly placed the US on the side of our enemies. This is a US choice, not a compulsion.

From day one, Washington chose to turn Kabul into the new hub of anti-Pakistanism in the region. A lot of evidence suggests a CIA role in tolerating and exacerbating anti-Pakistan insurgencies along our Afghan border. Today all anti-Pakistan terrorists take refuge in US-controlled Afghanistan. American political engineering inside Islamabad [‘Exhibit A: the crumbling coalition government’] is motivated by an overriding key objective: downsizing the Pakistani military and forcing the nation to accept Indian regional hegemony. If Pakistan does not accept this it will be punished.

The role of CIA drones in destroying Al-Qaeda is a myth. The agency’s figures on Al-Qaeda in Pakistan’s border regions are questionable, to begin with. The single-biggest achievement of drone missiles is pushing Pakistani tribesmen into the hands of terrorists and mind-control technicians who reprogramme them to kill Pakistani civilians and soldiers. US claims about the Pakistani tribal belt becoming the most dangerous place in the world is another myth. Over the past 13 months, most of the terror plots in the United States and Europe came from US and European citizens, some of them were of Pakistani origin, who visited this region from the Afghan, not Pakistani, side, and under the noses of the US, ISAF and NATO. How these people managed to slip through tight American and European security procedures is inexplicable, but the stories were always timed with US pressure on Pakistan to start a new civil war against its own people in North Waziristan.

We must eliminate terrorists who kill Pakistanis, but also we must win back tribal Pakistanis. That is not possible without ending foreign meddling and terror sanctuaries in the CIA’s Afghan backyard. The TTP and Swat terrorists cannot survive if not for the American sanctuary in Afghanistan.

A third American myth that needs to be blown is our tribal belt being the source of US failure in Afghanistan. A few on our side of the border sympathising with the Pakhtun-led resistance in Afghanistan because of tribal affinities cannot turn the tables in Kabul. The impending US rout and the growing Pakhtun resistance are a direct result of America’s 2002 plan to punish the Pakhtuns—against strong Pakistani advice. That blunder is the driving force behind Afghan resistance, not Pakistan’s tribal belt.

Pakistanis have had it with this double game. The dramatic escape from Pakistan last month of CIA’s Islamabad station chief is one sign of this. He and his staff are involved in the murder of Pakistanis in an illegal covert war: the UN mandate for American occupation in Afghanistan does not include a role for the CIA to wage a covert war in Pakistan.

The CIA’s responsibility for these murders extends to Pakistanis killed in at least two attacks mounted by Pakistani forces earlier this year, one of them in Tirah Valley—based most likely on flawed CIA intelligence—resulting in the killing of more than 60 Pakistanis.

In the case of the two attacks based on CIA information, the data was so flawed in one case that the Pakistani army chief had to personally apologize for the wrongful deaths and compensate the victims. The bold move by the army chief indicated dismay within the military over innocent Pakistani casualties. It represented a break from the days of his predecessor Pervez Musharraf, whose administration sanctioned, and owned, the CIA’s Pakistan operations.

The US government and the CIA were quick to plant stories accusing the ISI of leaking Mr. Jonathan Banks’ name. But Mr. Banks’ identity is on record in the files of the Pakistani embassy in Washington and in the Foreign Office in Islamabad. This is why even the next CIA station chief is not safe as long as determined Pakistanis are out there seeking justice through a lawsuit.

Statements attributed to President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani clearly show they consented to Pakistani civilian casualties in CIA attacks. US journalist Bob Woodward quoted Mr. Zardari as telling senior US officials he was not concerned about civilian Pakistani deaths. And former US ambassador Anne W Patterson wrote in a diplomatic cable to Washington that Mr. Gilani encouraged US officials in a meeting to continue CIA drone attacks, and that he would cover up for civilian deaths in public. This is probably why drone attacks in just one year, 2010, at 136 attacks, exceeded the number of attacks in the preceding six years: 96 in 2004-2009.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s envoy in Washington Husain Haqqani has been lobbying to get CIA agents and private US security contractors into Pakistan. His wish was granted last year when President Zardari allowed him the discretion to issue visas in Washington without verification. On one occasion, almost 500 such visas were granted in less than 24 hours. Mr. Haqqani has been bullish about allowing undercover US intelligence and military personnel into Pakistan and often argued with his diplomatic superiors over this. Last year, he even complained about the ISI chief to the prime minister over visas to Americans. The classified letter strangely leaked to an Indian television channel in New Delhi.

But if the pro-US Zardari government is involved, what is the Pakistani military doing? Perhaps Gen. Kayani does not wish to challenge the civilian government’s understandings with Washington because that could lead him down the slippery slope of military intervention, which the army chief doesn’t favor.

It is important that the CIA and its agents are purged from Pakistan as soon as possible. Here is a comment that an American left on a US website after reports that CIA drones killed tens of people in Pakistan in the last week of 2010: “It’s interesting to witness a country actively cooperating and assisting another country waging war against itself. What a proud nation that must be.”

First published by The News International, Pakistan’s largest English-language daily newspaper.


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