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Tag Archives | GHQ

Rotten Apple theory?

An arrest merely due to ties to Hizb-ut-Tahrir stretches credulity.

Dawn ran an article about recent arrests in Pakistan, which included a serving Brigadier affiliated with GHQ, allegedly for having ties with Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT), a pan-Islamic radical group whose aims include establishing an Islamic Khilafat.  In his interactions with BBC Urdu, army spokesperson Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas confirmed that Brig. Ali Khan was had been arrested for ties with HuT.  But really, those utterances are about as convincing as Tahawwur Rana’s defense team.

Firstly, the very basis for Brig. Khan’s arrest — affiliation with a banned organization — seems to be questionable.  While it is true that the HuT was proscribed by Gen. Musharraf in 2004, the ban was lifted after being challenged in the Lahore High Court.  Secondly, even if we are to accept ISPR’s version of the story, the sudden eagerness to target people with ties to a  group with unquestionably radical beliefs, but one that poses no direct or immediate threat to the Pakistani Army stretches credulity. After all, what does the ban on HuT mean to a Pakistani military establishment that created and nurtured the Taliban, provided shelter to Osama bin Laden, and spawned the alphabet-soup of jihadi groups in Jammu & Kashmir?

And since when has the Pakistani Army been the sort of entity to act against its members possessing links with radical groups?  Lest we forget former DG-ISI Lt. Gen. Mahmoud Ahmed, who was given his marching orders only after a great deal of reluctance, when Indian intelligence agencies informed the U.S. of the $100,000 he is said to have wired 9/11 attacker Mohammad Atta. Or indeed, the illustrious Lt. Gen. Nadeem Taj, who was relieved of duty as DG-ISI, after Washington pressured Rawalpindi with evidence of Lt. Gen. Taj’s direct involvement in the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul, which resulted in 58 deaths.  And even then, the punishments meted out were anything but severe.  Lt. Gen. Ahmed retired from the army and is now a member of Tablighi Jamaat.  Lt. Gen. Taj was relieved of his duties as DG-ISI and given command of XXX Corps in Gujranwala.

But we digress. Whether and to what extent Brig. Ali Khan had ties to HuT may be less relevant.  Indeed, the good folks at GHQ are unlikely to arrest him only for maintaining ties with HuT, unless they also had paper on him on a far more serious charge that they wouldn’t care to advertise to the rest of the world.

So the question that needs to be asked is what is that other serious charge that Pakistan’s army wouldn’t care to see advertised?  So far, the only explanation for his arrest was provided by army sources.  While news of Brig. Khan’s arrest was made public just yesterday, BBC Urdu, which broke the story reports that he was in fact arrested on May 6, right after the time of the Abbottabad raid which killed bin Laden.  Indeed, Brig. Khan’s defense lawyer asserts (اردو) that he was arrested for raising inconvenient questions about the Abbottabad raid at a GHQ conference.

The question therefore needs to be asked — did Brig. Khan know something about the raid by U.S. Special Forces?  If so, what?  Did a serving Pakistan Army officer affiliated with GHQ provide intel to the U.S. that led to the Abbottabad raid?  The New York Times reports of an ongoing witch-hunt in Pakistan where people alleged to have provided intel to the CIA on bin Laden are being arrested.  Indeed, in light of this, Brig. Khan being taken into custody may not necessarily be a coincidence.

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“Seeking tangible deliverances”

Entertaining Pak’s wish-list will impact Indo-US relations.

This rather optimistic piece by Baqir Sajjad Syed surfaced in the Dawn yesterday, conveying GHQ’s wish-list and expectations from Washington.  Rawalpindi feels the need to tell the Americans that it is time to “move on from symbolism and concretely address Pakistan’s core security concerns and its immediate economic needs.”  Pakistan is therefore “seeking tangible deliverances” from the US.  Translation, give us the reigns to Afghanistan, get India to budge on Kashmir and give us a nuclear deal along the lines of the Indo-US 123 Agreement.

The last demand is interesting, given how its need is articulated in the Dawn.  While the article submits that nuclear energy was needed to meet its growing energy needs, Islamabad really wants it because it doesn’t want to see itself being discriminated against vis-a-vis India.  In other words, rehyphenate the dehyphenation. Polaris has an excellent take on this sort of fallacious equating.  But this theme isn’t a stranger to discourse in some circles in the US.  Christine Fair’s Wall Street Journal piece in February recommended a “glutton for punishment” approach, where the US would offer Pakistan a “conditions-based” civil nuclear deal in return for Pakistan refocusing its efforts in resolving Washington’s conundrum in AfPak.

Forget that such a proposal would be shot down by Congress (by non-proliferation nazis in Mr. Obama’s own party, for starters) faster than Dick Cheney with a rifle.  Or that even in the very unlikely event that the Obama Administration could succeed in obtaining the blessings of the House and the Senate, there would be no way the Nuclear Suppliers Group would grant a waver to Pakistan (a non-NPT signatory), given its rich and vibrant history of nuclear proliferation.  Indeed, the very notion that the Obama Administration would consider such an arrangement with Pakistan would hurt an already ailing Indo-US relationship.  This blogger will therefore suggest that such a proposition be relegated to intellectual discussion only.

But Mr. Obama has done a terrific job on foreign policy, these past several months: appease your adversaries and alienate your allies.  The Western media is replete with articles about Dr. AQ Khan, as if Dr. Khan ran his “nuclear Wal Mart” independent of any official sanction from the powers-that-be in Rawalpindi.  For those Pakistani apologists in DC suffering from short term memory loss, The Washington Post serves up a timely reminder:

As troops massed on his border near the start of the Persian Gulf War, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein weighed the purchase of a $150 million nuclear “package” deal that included not only weapons designs but also production plants and foreign experts to supervise the building of a nuclear bomb, according to documents uncovered by a former U.N. weapons inspector.

The offer, made in 1990 by an agent linked to disgraced Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, guaranteed Iraq a weapons-assembly line capable of producing nuclear warheads in as little as three years. But Iraq lost the chance to capitalize when, months later, a multinational force crushed the Iraqi army and forced Hussein to abandon his nuclear ambitions, according to nuclear weapons expert David Albright, who describes the proposed deal in a new book.

Oh, and lest anyone seek to absolve the Pakistani State of any wrongdoing, let David Albright’s conversation on CNN with Wolf Blitzer serve as a reminder:

BLITZER: Is [AQ Khan] under any restrictions whatsoever?
ALBRIGHT: No. He’s actually launched a media campaign to try to say he didn’t do any of this. And so, it’s almost outrageous that he want us becoming free mounting a media campaign to clear his name supposedly, and ironically when he’s in court, he actually says he has no contact with western media, so he’s trying to have it all ways, and I think it’s a travesty in justice.
BLITZER: Because he was involved in helping not only the Iranians but the Iraqis and others, Libya, right?
ALBRIGHT: That’s right.
BLITZER: And then he was under house arrest by the Pakistanis, but no law even under house arrest.
ALBRIGHT: That’s right.
BLITZER: And the U.S. has never really had an access to questioning directly.
ALBRIGHT: That’s right. No one has. And the Pakistani government served as questioners for all, including the United States, the International Atomic Energy Agency and other countries. It was very unsatisfactory.

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GHQ and Lahore terror attacks

The chickens have come home to roost and Pakistan is in a state of bewilderment and denial

Yesterday’s carnage in Lahore and Peshawar is a continuing catalog of the failures of intelligence and security services and of Pakistan’s inability to learn from past mistakes.  Two of the three institutions targeted yesterday — the FIA building and the Manawan training school were victims of past terror attacks.  Yet, apparently nothing was learned from those attacks and the terrorists were able to perpetrate their attacks, almost to script.

Even after yesterday’s terror strikes, enough anecdotal evidence exists to suggest that this pattern is likely to continue.  For one, Pakistan’s intelligence agencies don’t know who they’re up against.  The term “TTP affiliated organization” could mean just about anyone. That the TTP claims responsibility for any and all attacks doesn’t help separate fact from fiction.

In both the recent strikes against GHQ, Rawalpindi and the series of coordinated attacks in Lahore, certain aspects of the attacks stand out (see B Raman’s detailed analysis for more information).

The attacks in Pindi and Lahore were against (apparently well fortified) law and enforcement institutions.Both were fedayeen attacks and involved the use of handheld weapons and explosives. But both attacks were also accompanied by subsequent terror strikes in Peshawar, which resulted in more fatalities.  The M.O. of the Peshawar attacks was markedly different from that of Rawalpindi or Lahore.  Bomb-laden vehicles were detonated remotely near areas of urban concentration (a school and a bazaar).

It’s hard to say whether the attacks in Peshawar were related to the coordinated attacks in the Punjab. But they may provide some light on who was responsible for the attacks. The attacks in Peshawar are typical of the type of unconventional warfare that we know the TTP  and associated Pashtun groups are capable of waging — i.e., either “non-confrontational” attacks usually via IEDs, or single-person suicide attacks.  Insofar as unconventional urban warfare is concerned, the TTP seldom hunts in groups.

The attacks in Lahore and Pindi, however, betray the M.O. of terror groups from the Punjabi Deobandi/Barelvi madaris, which have a history of employing commando-style assaults against targets, both within Pakistan (Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Sipah-e-Sahaba) and in India (Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed).

By Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s own admission, the TTP has gradually built links with the Punjabi terror groups. If the brutal acts of the past two weeks are an indication of this alliance, then Islamabad is under attack from more directions than it can hope to counter.

However, while Pakistan initiated military action against the TTP via the PAF in Ladha yesterday, nothing was said or done about the terror outfits it nurtured in the Punjab. The chickens have come home to roost:  and the Pakistani security establishment’s response is one of denial, disbelief and bewilderment.

Pakistan’s inaction against Punjabi terror outfits is because of the belief that these groups do more good than harm to “the cause”.  The real question is:  how long before the Pakistan establishment perceives that this equation has been turned on its head?

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