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Tag Archives | raw

Urdunama: RAWalpindi

So what else is new?  Pakistan claims India’s intelligence agency R&AW is involved in terrorism in Pakistan.  Pakistan’s news media outlets — described often as “vibrant” and “independent” — have very dutifully carried stories of R&AW’s alleged involvement, without asking for evidence to be shared.   Security agencies involved in operations against the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) in Karachi have apparently unearthed evidence of a R&AW hand.  Karachi Police’s SSP Malir Rao Anwar claimed that two MQM members arrested on April 30, 2015 had been “sent to India for training.”

The embattled MQM founder Altaf Hussain implied in a fiery speech that he would seek the help of R&AW.  Anyone who has ever had the misfortune of listening to (or worse, watching) Mr. Hussain’s speeches would know that there’s very little if any merit or credibility to anything he says.  But his comments drew the ire of the Pakistani military establishment, following which Mr. Hussain was forced to backtrack and underscore his credentials as a bona fide hub ul-watni.

Since then, R&AW’s “involvement” in Pakistan was explicitly called out at the Corps Commanders Conference, while Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khuwaja Asif claimed that R&AW had been formed to “wipe Pakistan off the map of the world.”

We now hear of a list being in circulation, purportedly compiled by Pakistan’s security agencies, of individuals and organizations collaborating with R&AW against whom operations are imminent (h/t @smitaprakash).  The following is an excerpt from the piece published in Ummat:

Pakistan’s military establishment has formally accused India’s intelligence agency RAW of being involved in acts of terrorism in Pakistan only after accumulating sufficient evidence to support its claim.  According to a credible source, a list of important individuals and NGOs with links to RAW has been compiled and operations against these individuals and NGOs are expected to commence soon.  ISI has painstakingly pieced together evidence from within the country, as well as from Afghanistan and neighboring countries.  It was only after this information was then shared with the Corps Commanders that a decision to conduct operations against RAW and its agents was taken.

According to sources, Gen. Sharif was not in favor of operations that could result in Pakistan having to redirect forces currently battling terrorists in one part of the country to the Indian border.  However, through the ISI and other agencies, he has compiled considerable evidence of several organizations and individuals cooperating with the enemy.  After sharing this information with army leadership, a decision for a major operation against such forces has been taken.

Army leadership has taken the civilian government into confidence and has the concurrence of the provincial governments of Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa.  According to available information, RAW is involved in terrorism in Balochistan and in Karachi and has been using various agencies, NGOs and charitable organizations to further its goals.  These organizations are involved in spreading hatred and instability within Pakistan.

In one instance, intelligence agencies gave the impression that they were not aware of the activities of a key RAW agent who had arrived via London to Karachi ostensibly to conduct religious activities.  However, intelligence agencies had in fact known of his intended arrival in Karachi as soon as he left Delhi.   Intelligence agencies then allowed this individual to operate freely within Pakistan so that evidence of his activities and contacts could be collected.

Intelligence agencies will soon launch a “grand operation” against such individuals and organizations.  According to our source, 43 such NGOs and 25 individuals have been identified in Balochistan.  The ongoing operations in Karachi against the MQM have provided law enforcement agencies with indisputable evidence of MQM’s collaboration with RAW.  Additionally, ostensibly trustworthy individuals and organizations have also been identified as having received funds from RAW.  According to the source, these planned operations have nothing to do with India approaching the UN on the issue of Zaki ur-Rehman Lakhvi.

Security agencies intend to target RAW’s assets in Pakistan by themselves and if necessary, may present available evidence to international courts.  Available evidence shows India to be a significant sponsor of violence; however, evidence also suggests that some other countries are involved in terrorism inside Pakistan, including those that claim to be friends of Pakistan. [امّت]

 

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GEOPolitics

The attack on Hamid Mir and its aftermath.

Propagandists in Pakistan move in mysterious ways their wonders to perform.  Those who once exercised creative license to ascribe any and all acts of terror in Pakistan to India’s external intelligence agency R&AW are now being labeled agents of that same agency.  Hamid Mir, senior journalist with the GEO Group, was attacked this past Saturday by unidentified persons while on his way to a special broadcast on GEO TV in Karachi.  Mr. Mir was shot six times in the abdomen and legs, but miraculously survived the attack.

In the ensuing outrage, Amir Mir, brother to Hamid and a journalist of repute himself, accused the ISI of orchestrating the attack on his brother.  GEO TV, as part of its coverage of the attack, broadcast a photograph of DG ISI Lt. Gen. Zahir ul-Islam, while Ansar Abbasi, investigative editor of the Jang Group’s English-language newspaper The News, demanded his resignation.

Big mistake.  One does not simply accuse the DG ISI on national television and get away with it.  The ISI dismissed the allegations as “baseless” (as all allegations usually are in Pakistan). Pakistan’s Defense Ministry, in its complaint against GEO TV, accuses it of bringing the ISI into disrepute and demands that Pakistan’s Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) cancel GEO TV’s license to broadcast.

With the PEMRA verdict still pending, GEO TV took to Twitter yesterday, indicating that its channel had been blocked by a few cable operators.  This may of course be true, but some of us may be forgiven if we suspect this to be a reenactment of the last time GEO TV claimed to have been taken off air. In that particular instance, a GEO official privately confirmed that they had “taken themselves off the air in order to blame [a] political party, and garner support for the station.”

GEO TV and Mr. Mir are now under attack from many quarters.  Rival media houses are in an all-out war.  Many of them are unable to appreciate the fact that the price one now pays for defying the Deep State is no longer censorship, it is death.  And it wouldn’t matter if it were GEO, Express or Dawn.  The rules of the game have changed.

Of course, propaganda theories of Indian involvement are never very far when hell breaks loose in Pakistan, which is always.  The Awami Muslim League’s Sheikh Rasheed, who was “detained” in the U.S. in 2012 for his links with Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hafiz Saeed, opined that the attack on Hamid Mir benefited India, which was looking to malign the Pakistani Army and ISI. Hafiz Saeed also took to Twitter to level vague and uncreative accusations at India and the U.S. 

Mr. Mir himself had been particularly distressed in the recent past at being labelled an “Indian agent.” But how things change.  It wasn’t too long ago that Mr. Mir did the bidding of higher powers in Rawalpindi and Islamabad before he managed to find his liberal conscience (though possibly not his “liberal fascist” conscience).

Indeed, he was for the ISI before he was against it.  After all, not every journalist in Pakistan gets to interview Osama bin Laden.  And that too not once, but on three occasions. But the nature of that relationship changed in 2010 when a tape surfaced of Mr. Mir allegedly conversing with the TTP’s Usman Punjabi, in which he relayed false information that may have contributed to the death of ISI official Khalid Khawaja.  The recorded conversation, still available online, also has Mr. Mir talking disparagingly about Pakistan’s persecuted Ahmedis. Quite the liberal indeed.

So where does this all end? It is hard to see how PEMRA could fly in the face of the ISI’s demands and recommend anything other than revoking GEO’s license. But in time, the brouhaha will be forgotten.  Ansar Abbasi and the GEO crew will probably show up somewhere, somehow on some national TV show in which they will proceed to eulogize the Pakistani army, thereby underscoring their hubb ul-watan (patriotic) credentials. Couple this with private undertakings to comply with the red lines now drawn and order will be restored. Licenses will be reinstated, and talk show hosts and their guests will be yelling at each other, competing for the soundbite of the day on GEO TV soon enough.

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Urdunama: Dehshat gardi

Much has been written about on the recent episode where India Today and the Times of India published alerts from the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) on five Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives having infiltrated their way into Mumbai.  That same day, Pakistan’s TV channels and news media revealed, with barely-concealed delight, that these individuals were in fact in Lahore, not India, and that they were ordinary tradesmen, and not Lashkar terrorists.  On the face of it, our intelligence agencies goofed up.  Over at Acorn, my colleague Nitin Pai examines possible explanations in this excellent blogpost.

During a daily customary review of Pakistan’s Urdu media, I came across this article in Roznama Ummat that I found intriguing.  An excerpt from the Ummat’s interview of Mehtab Butt, Atif Butt and Babar Shabbir — three of the five who had allegedly entered Mumbai — follows:

The most concerning aspect of India labeling the three Pakistanis as terrorists is, how India came to be in the possession of their photographs in the first place.  In conversation with Ummat, Mehtab Butt indicated that he was perplexed as to how his photographs came to be in the hands of the Indians.  In response to a question about whether he had uploaded his photo onto Facebook, Twitter or similar social networking websites, Mr. Butt said that he had never operated a computer.  Mr. Butt said that the shirt that he was wearing as displayed in the photo on the Indian channel (sic) India Today was purchased last year.

Atif Butt said that while he had opened a Facebook account for himself, he had stopped using the account after his engagement;  however, he recollects having never uploaded the photo shown on the Indian channels to Facebook.  He remembers though, that the half-sleeved shirt displayed in the photo had been purchased last summer.

All three victims are of the opinion that a powerful camera was used to zoom in and take photos of them at Hafiz Center.  Both Atif and Mehtab were working at their shops at Hafiz Center when a mutual friend of theirs arrived at about 8:00pm on Wednesday with his laptop.  He showed Atif and Mehtab photos of themselves appearing on the India Today website.  At first, they dismissed the photos as a prank, but the grim reality of the situation ultimately dawned on them.

The three then promptly approached local police and advised them of the situation.  According to Mehtab and Atif, they took this step to ensure that they didn’t get apprehended on false charges.  Mehtab Butt informed Ummat that both he and Atif were under considerable stress.  Atif was of the opinion that had he and Mehtab not approached the police, there would be no doubt that the three victims would have been declared terrorists, similar to the “so-called” Mumbai terror attacks.

The three victims told Ummat that not only is India insulting our country, they have now turned their attention towards harming the Pakistani trading community.  Their question to Pakistan’s leaders is, why are we expanding our trade relations with India?  They appeal to the government to get to the bottom of this and respond to India’s imprudent actions. [روزنامہ امّت]

That this was an IO exercise against India is pretty apparent by the narrative.  Two innocent traders and an honest security guard in Lahore being ensnared by the Serpent Next Door triggers the imagination.  But why traders, why not anyone else?  The last paragraph appears to offer some clues.

There is disquiet in parts of Pakistan’s trading community over liberalizing trade with India.  Though many remain skeptical, most are not opposed to it, given the obvious benefits from trade with India.  But the one group that has remained steadfastly opposed to engagement with India on trade and the MFN status has been Difa-e-Pakistan, a rag-tag collection of ex-army officers and jihadi nutjobs supported by Rawalpindi, that boasts within its ranks a who’s who of the military-jihadi complex, including God’s Servant Hafiz Saeed, and the always-humble Hamid Gul.

Hard-line elements in Pakistan certainly have motive, by both impressing upon the Pakistani trading community that thy neighbor is deceitful, and embarrassing India and its intelligence agencies. But the elaborate plot does not appear to be commensurate with the benefits of getting Pakistan to abrogate from bilateral trade commitments with India. The juice wouldn’t be worth the squeeze.  This may very well be part of the plot, but is there a larger game afoot?

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A history of violence

On Saleem Shahzad’s killing.

The killing of Syed Saleem Shahzad near Islamabad is but another example of the perils journalists face in Pakistan today for challenging the conspiracy-riddled narratives of the military-jihadi complex.  Through his articles in Asia Times, Mr. Shahzad gave us perspective on the inner workings of the MJC and its internal competitive dynamics.  Lesser journalists in Pakistan who tow the line of the MJC by putting forth conspiracy theories of underhand foreign agencies working in concert to dismember Pakistan are lionized and rewarded.  Little wonder then, that Pakistan ranks as one of the most dangerous countries for journalists (Freedom House, 2011).

Voice of America Urdu’s Waseem A. Siddiqui catalogs the history of violence (اردو) :
Pakistan journalists killed

Readers of this blog are no doubt familiar with the conspiracy theory-ridden narratives in Pakistan’s vernacular press.  Almost every tragedy in Pakistan is attributable to the machinations of the CIA, R&AW, Blackwater or Mossad.  Their ultimate quest being Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.  It should come as no surprise then that the recent attacks against a Pakistan Navy base in Karachi were immediately attributed to India.  Because that’s easy. And convenient.

In her recent visit to Pakistan, following the raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad, U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton urged Pakistanis to understand that conspiracy theories “will not make their problems disappear.” But with journalists like these, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Further reading: A brave piece by Mehmal Sarfraz, and Syed Saleem Shahzad’s brilliant interview/report on the resurgence of Ilyas Kashmiri and the 313 Brigade.


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