Former chief of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) General Mohammad Asad Durrani sits down with Press TV and talks about the presence of Blackwater in Pakistan. The following is the transcript of the interview:
Press TV: General Durrani, US intelligence officials say that the CIA has cancelled the Blackwater contract but other reports indicate that there are at least three thousand Blackwater agents in Pakistan. What do make of these conflicting reports?
General Durrani: This may be true that the Blackwater’s contract has been cancelled but then this is also understood that such people are under a different name, whether it is Xe or Dyncorp or in any other form of private contractor-ship that they can be employed. In our case, such people have been around for a number of years now. Lately their number has increased. Some rationalization had been made that these people were required to provide security to more Americans coming because of the package they have worked out for Pakistan. But then on ground, there [are] a number of them, some of them in training facilities trying to suggest that they are there to train the police or the army or the air force.
Of course, I can also add that none of these organizations are very happy that they have been offered. Some of them have even refused training because they believe that they can be trained by them. But, in that form they are there. Others are certainly providing security and there is also a third group, which goes around, especially in the frontier area, with the NGOs and bring(s) the intelligence collection. So, the number I am not aware of but there is a contingent which is present in Pakistan.
Press TV: Analysts say that Blackwater agents are involved in bombings and that they are fomenting insecurity in Pakistan. What is your opinion?
General Durrani: My assessment is that they — either themselves or most probably through others, through the locals — do carry out some of the explosions. You see the idea is that there are other groups that are not acting on their behalf, which are acting locally because of so many reasons. They are not happy with our policy. They are not happy with whatever is happening in Afghanistan. The idea is to carry out such actions, like carrying attacks in the civilian areas to make the others look bad in the eyes of the public. Even those groups who are not targeting the civilians or were not going essentially for Pakistani targets … people should turn against them. And the second idea, which I think more or less they have succeeded, is to force the Pakistani [government] to even under take such operations where I was not initially willing to go.
Press TV: CIA officials say Blackwater has been in Pakistan to help with drone attacks. Is this the only reason why the CIA has hired Blackwater agents?
General Durrani: You see I am not aware of this statement as [of] yet. The headquarters, some of them come here to direct or carry out what we call target identification. I doubt it very much that this would be the job of people whom I consider to have been understandably involved with Blackwater operations. These operations of target identification have to be done un-reclusively. They should not look like Americans; they are people who are trained to match with the background. Intelligence work; and I cannot say that the Blackwater’s people are trained in such manner, learning the language, learning the local customs, so that they can go into those trouble areas.
Press TV: Blackwater is known for killing civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why has the Pakistani government allowed such a notorious US security firm to operate in the country?
General Durrani: You’re absolutely right. I think this is about the best question that one can pose. People either were naive that they did not believe that these were Blackwaters or these people would not get involved in it. The second theory goes around that they may have come with the consent and with the knowledge of some of the people that we have in the government — among which I do not know, I cannot say very much. If it is not the ambassador of the United States who has cleared them, who has sent them, or people here, these agencies, who have accepted them. But that is one of the perceptions. But essentially it is correct that anyone who comes and we allow those people [to] come without proper security clearance, without proper vetting and investigation, then it is indeed our fault.