Myth of South Waziristan Broken: Gen. Kayani


ISLAMABAD: Sitting under a portrait of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, with a huge blazing red calligraphy on his left and an impressive piece of framed Chinese embroidery on his right, recalling the deaths at the Parade Lane of four young sons of his officers who were Hufaz-e-Quran, COAS General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani emerged as the first Army chief to resort to speak to the Americans and their Western allies in words and images that they cannot fail to understand.

One of the last few senior generals to have undertaken military training in the US until the Pressler Amendment was slapped on Pakistan, the US and its allies are now not only listening but also understanding as the COAS uses the symbols of American legendary golfer Tiger Woods on his power point display and comparing full bases at a baseball game to some of the war situations on the Pak-Afghan border.

In a meeting at the GHQ, with analysts and retired senior generals, some under whose command he had served, the COAS opened up his mind and heart to dwell on the dangers facing Pakistan militarily, and the region, and ways and means that the military leadership thinks are the solutions to ensure that at the end of the war, Pakistan does not find itself in the ‘wrong corner of the room’. The interaction continued for nearly three hours.

Speaking on and off therecord, the COAS shared with the participants the presentation that he had made at Nato headquarters in Brussels, where generals from 45 countries heard him, and which many Western military analysts told The News, was a “make and break” presentation, which got the Western military leadership not only ‘educated’, but confess amongst themselves “all” that they were doing “wrong” inside Afghanistan.

One of the direct results of this Brussels presentation, which even the Foreign Office agrees, resulted in the final push which made India coming reluctantly to the negotiating table. The COAS had convinced Nato and others why it was important for him to have his eastern border peaceful.

The proudest moment for any Pakistani was to hear and readily believe that the ‘myth’ of South Waziristan had been broken and the military operations before that in Swat and Malakand in the words of the Army chief, “We did it with no help from the United States. Daily I would receive calls if we needed any help and we replied we needed nothing”.

He was very clear about what was best for Pakistan in these days of turmoil. “Partnership (with the US) does not mean you desire and I start doing it,” said the COAS. He said with the US military aid still in the pipeline, “In many cases I have eaten into my reserves.” While acknowledging he said there has to be a balance for a military budget and one for development as well.

The fear was, said Kayani, even if his military had accepted 5%, it would have been blown up to 50%. The COAS earlier had met General Stanley A McChrystal, Commander International Security Assistance Force, Afghanistan, at a time when everyone in the region was still waiting for the US to explain in detail the policies that will take them up to the time that they are ready to leave the region.

“I told McChrystal that the acid test of a policy is that options should increase,” he said, adding that he believed that the only way to measure success inside Afghanistan was to gauge the public support and not the number of people you kill.

“Today, this is McCrystal’s policy inside Afghanistan, where they talk of a political process and reconciliation. Finally, there is realisation today,” added the chief. Looking at the US Afghan strategy, Kayani says he has clearly told the US that raising an Afghan Army in the stipulated time is not possible, and weaning away of the Taliban will only happen if the US is seen willing inside Afghanistan.

“This has not happened and the perception has not been formed. Only when you win over 70%, you are really winning,” he added. He also does not shy away from telling his US visitors that the bulk of Nato supplies are still going through Pakistan and they will continue to do so, and threats of looking for alternative routes do not impress him.

South Waziristan “We had a history of mismanaged operations in South Waziristan and there was a myth that no-one has ever come here and controlled the area. If we had turned back, we would have destroyed the credibility of the military”.

The victory in South Waziristan, the chief said, was because of motivation of the troops, changed tactics of engaging the adversaries from the dangerous ridges of mountains instead of the customary land routes which also resulted in fewer casualties.

Swat operation The COAS said there was no example in history of what the Pakistan military accomplished in the Swat operation and which successfully changed the public opinion. It was the largest heliborne operation.

“So when we send foreign defence chiefs to Swat, we have a story to tell. When I accompanied Admiral Mike Mullen and showed him how we had done the operation, including showing him the gorges there, his response was, “I will send General McChrystal to see this”.

The last visitor was US National Security Advisor James Jones, who heard for himself from educated locals how unpopular the Americans were.

India-centric

Kayani says he did not mince his words when he told Nato that he was India-centric and there was logic behind this. There was no way he could relax on his eastern border to concentrate fully on the west.

“We have unresolved issues, a history of conflict and now the Cold Start doctrine. Help us resolve these issues. We want peaceful co-existence with India. India has the capability and intentions can change overnight,” Kayani had told his audience in Brussels.

Nato is also realising why it is important for Pakistan to help train the Afghan Army because Pakistan could strategically simply not tolerate an Afghan Army trained by the Indians and having an Indian mindset.

Pak-Nato ratio

It is not easy for any commander to count his dead when the killing fields are still alive. But Kayani told Nato how Pakistan in 2009, lost 2,273 soldiers with another 6,512 being wounded.

“Pakistan as one nation lost 2,273 soldiers while US/Nato in the same period lost 1,582. We have 10,000 troops on UN missions,” recalled the COAS. Pakistan has contributed 147,000 troops to its “silent surge” while 43 nations in Afghanistan have sent a mere 100,000.

Pakistan mans 82 posts at the Pak-Afghan border while the coalition and Afghan Army have only 112. “Pakistan’s operations have decreased cross border movements, there is control of areas, squeezing of spaces, and continuous flow of logistic flow,” pointed the COAS. For a man of “few words” when he was DG ISI, today Kayani is saying a lot more. All of which has to be heard loud and clear by the people of Pakistan.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/pzzIg-9R

CIA Supporting Terror Inside Pakistan


Zahid Malik:

After my four hour long informal interaction with US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen and Ambassador Richard Holbrooke at the residence of US Ambassador on the rainy evening of April 6, 2009, I had in my comments mentioned that now the ISI was the immediate target of the US Establishment. This was no “breaking news” as everyone who keeps an eye on the ongoing war on terror knew well that US was hell-bent on:

1.Getting the Pakistan Army sucked into domestic turmoil in Swat, FATA and beyond Waziristan, and

2.Reining in what the US calls “rogue elements” in the ISI

There are confirmed reports that to achieve its objectives the CIA hired the services of at least a dozen Afghan warlords inside Afghanistan and provided through them arms and finances to militants in FATA and Swat to carry out extensive death and destruction by devastating attacks in the country. It was like a double-edged sword not only to get the Army to launch attacks against Taliban on Pakistani side of the border but also to give a message to the ISI that the CIA can use the Pakistanis – Taliban of the TTP- against their own security forces.

It was in this background that after putting up with so much for so long, the prime intelligence agency of the country ultimately confronted the CIA Director Leon E. Panetta with some highly classified and irrefutable evidence. Panetta was startled when Director-General ISI, General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, a no-nonsense General, placed the facts before him in Islamabad on November 20, 2009.

The “deliberate leaks” after the meeting of the spy chiefs of the two countries spoke of the mind of the ISI and the armed forces of Pakistan. General Pasha had earlier conveyed the facts about the interference of CIA in acts of terrorism in Pakistan to the Government but realizing that either the message was not strongly conveyed to the Americans or it had no desired impact on them, finally put its foot down and expressed serious concerns over the CIA’s crude interference in the country’s internal matters.

The proof about instances of covert US support to some hardened militant outfits and terrorist activities they carried out over the past few weeks and months were presented to Panetta. It was indeed a startling revelation for the top US spy and a bold maneuver of Pakistan Army. General Pasha’s move surprised Panetta as the evidence presented was categorical in proving that the CIA officials provide assistance to perpetrators of some of the most serious and deadly attacks on offices and key persons in Pakistan’s security services. He was told that in view of the negative impact on Pakistan’s efforts in its ‘war on terror’ the CIA must stop such activities. The clarity with which the information was meant to be a loud message to Washington and CIA headquarters at Langley that if they wanted Pakistan’s cooperation in the war on terror; it must give up playing a double game. Pakistan has publicly expressed concerns over the freedom enjoyed by the Indian intelligence agency RAW is operating from Afghanistan. RAW is not only involved in acts of terrorism in the NWFP but also in Balochistan. India cannot undertake such wide-scale activities in this region without the approval and backing of the CIA. The question is: how did India develop such a huge presence in Kabul?

What has raised alarm bells in Islamabad is that Maulvi Fazlullah who escaped from Swat is living openly in Afghanistan under the protection of Afghan intelligence. The TTP leaders including Hakeemullah Mehsud have also being protected and allowed to operate from Afghanistan. All this could not happen without the knowledge of Americans.

There are reports that TTP leaders are provided satellite phones operated by a Gulf based Western company and they have been talking freely to BBC and other media organizations without any fear of being detected and targeted by drones or missiles. Then there are also credible reports that a helicopter that flew from Afghanistan before Oct. 17, when operation Rah-e-Nejat in South Waziristan was launched, evacuated the top leadership of the TTP from Waziristan to Afghanistan. The Americans also vacated some of the crucial posts along the border with South Waziristan in an apparent bid to provide safe passage to the fleeing Pakistani Taliban. The terrorists arrested in Pakistan during the operation told their interrogators about their links with the US and Indian agencies. There is credible information that full logistic and auxiliary support is still being provided to anti-Pakistan Taliban from Nuristan Province and several top officials from Afghan and Indian intelligence networks were seen active in the area.

So, it is CIA’s agenda to get the Pak Army and now the Air Force also spend itself in internal security operations and erode the morale and capabilities of ISI so that Pakistan’s nuclear assets could be targeted in one way or the other. The CIA’s new agenda started to be implemented as soon as the present Government took over. On many occasions since, Washington has been publicly blaming ISI for its links with some of the Taliban leaders including the Haqqani group. During the meeting with Prime Minister Gilani in Washington in August 2008, Director CIA presented him with a charge sheet against Pakistani intelligence agencies for their alleged involvement in Jihadi activities. In order to justify its intended interference in Balochistan, the CIA also raised the bogey of the presence of Taliban Shura in or around Quetta.

PPP’s History of Undermining ISI

The whole scenario became very grim as the Government appeared to have succumbed to American pressure to cut the ISI to size and make it a carpet lion. It was in this backdrop that a notification was issued in mysterious circumstances placing the ISI under the Interior Ministry; the notification was withdrawn the same day when the move backfired. It is no coincidence that during the two stints of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto as Prime Minister, a perception developed that the PPP undermined the effectiveness of the ISI. That perception was also based on facts. On the instructions of the BB Government, Lt. Gen. Javed Ashraf Qazi, the then DG ISI, purged 125 officers of the Agency [from the ranks of Major General to Colonel] who were identified to be “rogue elements” by the CIA. Now there is a strong perception that the present leadership is not presenting the interests and concerns of the state of Pakistan to its ‘Americans friends’ and is just raising issues in a casual manner. Perhaps that was the reason that the Army leadership had to make unusual public remarks in a press release, issued by the ISPR after the Corps Commanders meeting in October 2009, expressing serious concern over the Kerry-Lugar Bill saying that certain of its clauses were intrusive and against the national interests and were thus unacceptable. The Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar snubbed the Pakistan Army accusing it of ‘crossing the line’ bringing the differences into the open setting a new precedent and further undermining the state of Pakistan.

The crude interference by the CIA in Pakistan’s internal affairs has not gone well with the Establishment and infuriated the Pakistan Army. If the Americans did not stop its activities to help the Pakistani Taliban against the Army, cooperation with the US in the war in Afghanistan would come to an abrupt end. I am quite sure that if the Army says NO the whole nation will back it. It was owing to this reason that COAS General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, while talking to newsmen on the occasion of rolling out of first JF-17 Thunder Aircraft at Kamra on November 24, declared that the US would have to take Pakistan into confidence and taking into consideration the armed forces know-how to defend the country.

This report was first published by Pakistan Observer on Dec. 7, 2009.