By Sajjad Shaukat
Besides other aspects of the recently released report of Abbottabad Commission which was constituted to probe Abbottabad tragedy in which Osama Bin Laden was killed on May 2, 2011, the statement of the former Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha is of particular attention.
Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha revealed that Gen. Pervez Musharraf had caved in so completely to the US demands that Shamsi airbase was given to them for drone strikes.
He elaborated that the Abbottabad incident was a result of inadequate knowledge. The Defence Ministry never sent a request for information sharing and reading the basic documents. There was also no culture of reading among the political leadership. Besides, journalists were “heavily bribed with money, women and alcohol” for launching campaigns against the ISI—there were still people who continue criticising the ISI, as they were working against the national interests.
The former spy chief also indicated that the CIA had infiltrated many foreign NGOs in Pakistan including Save the Children and it was not possible for the ISI to track activities of all these NGOs, and only the police could undertake their surveillance.
Gen. Pasha indicated indifference of provinces on intelligence sharing; especially Sindh and Punjab, saying that ISI knew foreign miscreants lived in Karachi’s no-go areas, but police dare not venture there. The situation was increasingly becoming true of Lahore and Punjab’s other cities. The police protected in Lahore those who attacked the Qadianis in 2010 and even directed the wounded to the hospital. No guards were assigned to the hospital, despite the information passed on by ISI as venal political influence intervened everywhere—most of the officers posted in the Intelligence Bureau (IB) “are from police and do not know the basics of intelligence.” He pointed out that the government never tasked the ISI to deal with counter-terrorism—the agency had assumed this responsibility “in response to the dysfunctionality of the prevailing system and the ineffectiveness of other state organs.”
However, Gen. Pasha’s realistic statement came at a time when newly-elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has repeatedly been emphasising to work out a national security policy against terrorism, which will include civil and military leadership including coordination among the intelligence and law-enforcing agencies. In this regard, taking cognisance of joint war against terrorism which needs joint mechanism, he visited the ISI headquarters. Media sources disclosed that declaring the ISI a major ‘stakeholder’ in fight against terrorists, the prime minister told the ISI Director General Lt. Gen. Zaheerul Islam that his government was determined to take the agency in confidence, while formulating new strategy against terrorism. Gen. Islam assured the prime minister that his organisation would leave no stone unturned to curb the menace of terrorism.
It is notable that the exchange of views between the prime minister and ISI DG would also help counter propaganda, being created by some vested interests about differences between the PML-N Government and the military leadership on these and other issues. Now, the new rulers have realised that ISI like other intelligence agencies of the world, is a vital security outfit rendering great services for the cause of the country, as efforts are made off and on by our enemies to dent its image or create suspicions about its role. Therefore, the visit of Nawaz Sharif would help thwart all such designs besides boosting morale of the agency in wake of war against the militants.
As regards the terror-attacks, the Chief of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan TTP, Hakimullah Mehsud is collective agent of RAW and CIA, and his main mission is to destabilise Pakistan in accordance with the agenda of anti-Pakistan external powers. When in 2009, military operation started in South Waziristan, India with the tactical help of the US had also intensified its strategy to sabotage the same through guerilla tactics applied by its Waziristan-based agents and militants. And leader of the TTP Maulvi Fazlullah who has close connections with Pakistan-based TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud, had run to Afghanistan. Based in the Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan, his insurgents intensified subversive activities in Pakistan by sending suicide bombers and heavily-equipped militants in the country. Pakistan’s civil and military leadership lodged a strong protest with their counterparts in Afghanistan, but no action was taken against these terrorists.
In fact, to fulfill the collective covert designs of India, Israel and US, TTP has been given a free hand by these countries to continue subversive activities in Pakistan because it is the only nuclear country in the Islamic world.
Notably, as results of elections 2013, Pakistan Muslim League (N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) which have formulated their governments had repeatedly favoured peace dialogue with the TTP and to make efforts to stop drone attacks. While during election campaign, TTP which conducted terror-assaults on the leaders and election-sites of other political parties such as ANP, MQM and PPP had said that it will not target PML-N and PTI as these are liberal parties. But this militant group killed two PTI members of the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa assembly. And ambitions of the new government received a greater blow when on May, 29 2013; US pilotless aircraft killed four men in North Waziristan. While, under the pretext of drone attacks, Hakimullah Mehsud who has clandestine connections with CIA withdrew its offer of peace talks with the government. While, again on July 2, a US predator attack killed 17 people in North Waziristan. So, there is a collaboration of these strikes with the subversive activities of the TTP, which have especially been taking place in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, Balochistan and Karachi as part of the US secret strategy.
Particularly, heavily-armed militants enter Pakistan from Afghanistan where tentacles of terrorism exist. In this context, India has set up secret training centres in Afghanistan where its military personnel in connivance with RAW and CIA have been imparting training of guerilla warfare to the youngsters, having connections with South Waziristan-based TTP where some other such centres are also working.
Despite the fact that on the pre-information of the ISI, Pakistan’s law-enforcing agencies have thwarted many terror attempts through pre-arrests, discovery of weapons and huge explosive material, suicide jackets etc., but terrorists keeps on targeting the installations of security forces, intelligence agencies and police including government buildings through bomb blasts, suicide attacks and targeting killings. They are also murdering political and religious leaders in order to fuel ethnic and sectarian violence.
It is a challenge for the whole nation that various terrorist organisations like Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Jundollah (God’s soldiers), Lashkar-i-Janghvi, and some other militant outfits, especially the TTP feel pride in murdering the innocent people, while claiming responsibility for their heinous terror assaults. These culprits are free to move inside the country.
Recently, more than 50 Islamic scholars (Ulemas) declared “killing of innocent people, target killings and suicide bombings in Karachi, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa along with sectarianism as against the spirit of Islam.” They explained, “The suicides attacks and related violence smeared the name of Islam and weakened Pakistan.
Nevertheless, Ulemas must continue issuing fatwa (Edict) clarifying that these Taliban and their banned affiliated groups are defaming Islam which is the religion of peace, democracy, moderation and human rights.
Now, people from all segment of life and majority of politicians including general masses want that a handful of terrorist elements must not be allowed to dictate their agenda and to impose their self-created ideology in the country.
It is mentionable that media reported on January 2, 2013 that while changing professional priorities, Pakistan Army has declared the internal threats such as anti-state terrorist groups as major challenge to the country. In this regard, Chief of the Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani also said that the country was pitched against the faceless enemy, adding that the present spectrum of threats could be defeated through collective national efforts in which the armed forces had a pivotal role to play.
Nonetheless, despite coordination between civil and military institutes, complex phenomenon of terrorism cannot be left on the security forces and law-enforcing agencies alone, as it is joint war of everyone, which demands full cooperation among the religious scholars, politicians, media, general masses, intelligence and security agencies. Every patriot Pakistani must be vigilant and must point out these terrorists, foreign agents and CIA-operated NGOs. Media owners must also expel those anchors and journalists who are on the payroll of their external masters.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations