Category — Army
ISLAMABAD: The government will facilitate the judiciary if it decides to summon former president Pervez Musharraf, Law Minister Babar Awan said on Wednesday.
Winding up the debate on the president’s address to the joint session of parliament in the Senate, he said, “The government will not create any hurdles in the way of the apex court if it summons Musharraf in connection with the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).” However, he said the government was not ready to violate the constitution and the law pertaining to “certain issues”.
In his speech, the law minister praised the president, saying that Zardari’s third address to parliament was proof that the roots of democracy were being strengthened in the country.
He said the presidential address was a road map for the government and that following the map would result in progress on the country’s political, economic and democratic agenda.
Appear in court: “The Pakistan People’s party (PPP) believes in accountability, but it should be across the board and must not result in political victimisation… it should not be for a specific person or party,” the law minister said, adding that he would appear before the SC on March 25 to present the government’s point of view on the implementation of the NRO, which reflects the respect that the government has for the judiciary.
Two offices: Defending the president for holding two offices, the law minister said there was nothing in the constitution that suggested that more than one office cannot be held by a president.
The law minister condemned the competition of the blasphemous cartoons held by some foreign countries, saying the government would take up the issue at an international level. http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\05\20\story_20-5-2010_pg1_3
Musharraf says he will return before next election
WASHINGTON, May 19: Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf has said that he will return to Pakistan before the next elections.
At a news conference in Washington, the former military ruler also launched a group called Friends of Pakistan First, which included delegates from 26 US states.
The group will provide “financial, technical and intellectual” support to Mr Musharraf’s campaign for re-launching himself into Pakistani politics without the military’s backing.
“I have decided to return to Pakistan and participate in politics,” he told the briefing. “I have not fixed a date yet but there is a desire to return before the next elections, whether they are end-term or mid-term.”
The former military ruler disagreed with suggestion that his bid to re-launch himself would fail because he did not have enough political support in the country and also lacked an effective political institution to back his move.
“I do not overestimate myself but underestimation is also wrong,” he said. “I do not know why Imran Khan failed and I do not believe in such comparisons. But I think I can succeed.”
The former military strongman said that he already enjoyed some popular support, which he hoped would expand when he returned home.
“There are MPAs, MNAs and senators who already support us. And they will join our group when it is formally launched in Pakistan,” he said. www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/national/musharraf-says-he-will-return-before-next-election-050.
May 20, 2010 No Comments
LAHORE: Intelligence agencies, including the Inter-Services Intelligence have presented an investigation report to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani regarding an audiotape of the telephonic conversation between TV anchor Hamid Mir and an unidentified Taliban militant, a private TV channel reported on Wednesday.
Quoting reliable sources, the channel said the report submitted by three intelligence agencies confirmed the authenticity of the audio clip after a detailed investigation.
Original: “The conversation between Hamid Mir and the Taliban militant is original and has been proved by the audiotape,” the report said.
Mir is currently working as Islamabad Executive Editor for Geo News channel.
According to BBC Urdu, the Jang Group has set up an investigation committee and has announced the conducting of an impartial investigation in this regard.
A large number of websites carry the contents of the audiotape, describing it a candid conversation on the telephone between Hamid Mir and a militant.
Mir, who finds himself in the midst of a raging debate on the issue of journalistic ethics, has described the taped conversation “doctored” and “concocted”.
Separately, Senator Faisal Raza Abidi said the government had verified the authenticity of the voices on the audio tape from intelligence agencies. He said the audio clipping proved Hamid Mir’s links with the Taliban.
Osama Khalid to lodge FIR against Hamid Mir
LAHORE: Osama Khalid, son of former Inter-Services Intelligence official Khalid Khawaja who was murdered by relatively less-known terrorist group the Asian Tigers on April 23, has said that he will take legal action and register an FIR against Geo News anchor Hamid Mir over what he called “playing an instigative role in his father’s murder”, a private TV channel reported on Wednesday.
Talking to the BBC Urdu, Khalid said the unidentified Taliban in the audiotape was Usman Punjabi who used an alias of Muhammad Omar while talking to various journalists.
Mir, who is in the midst of a raging debate on journalistic ethics, called the taped conversation “doctored”.
Original: Osama rejected Mir’s claims, saying the audiotape was original and he would prove it in court.
“Hamid Mir instigated the militants to murder my father,” he said, adding he would soon register a case against Mir for murdering his father.
He also requested the Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to take suo motu notice of the incident.
Kicking: Osama also demanded a judicial inquiry into the matter, and asked journalists to kick the “black sheep” out of the profession.
The audio clip had Mir divulging dirt on Khawaja, ostensibly to the Taliban militant who was to cross examine the former ISI official.
The person on the other end asks Mir for information on Khalid Khawaja. Mir goes on to link Khawaja to the CIA, an international network of Qadianis and an American named Mansur Ejaz. http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\05\20\story_20-5-2010_pg7_20
May 20, 2010 No Comments
ISLAMABAD: The ripples caused by the emergence of an audio tape on the web last week of an alleged telephone conversation between a prominent Pakistani journalist and a Pakistani Taliban militant has blown into a full-fledged controversy, with the journalist and television anchor now completely denying his involvement and many others calling for a high-level investigation to establish truth.
Hamid Mir, who finds himself in the midst of a raging debate on the issue of journalistic ethics, has moved a step further from describing the taped conversation as doctored or concocted to completely denying that it was his voice. And for all this he is blaming the country’s top civilian intelligence service, the Intelligence Bureau Directorate which, according to him, was part of a larger game to malign him and a few others.
Shocking as it is, the telephone conversation revolves round the alleged dubious role of an Islamic hardliner and former ISI operative Khalid Khwaja, and that too when he was still in the captivity of a little known militant group Asian Tigers. The man posing himself to be Hamid Mir is heard accusing Khalid Khwaja of being a notorious double agent, who had been working for everyone from the American CIA to Qadianis, and having played a dirty role in the Lal Masjid episode.
The large number of websites where this audio tape is currently available describe it as a candid conversation on telephone between Hamid Mir and a Punjabi Taliban. Some have gone to the extent of accusing Mr Mir to be one of the instigators for what happened to Khalid Khwaja, as within days of this supposed conversation a video of Mr Khwaja was released in which he had made similar “confessions” of his involvement in the Lal Masjid saga, and of working for CIA. Within days of this video tape, Mr Khwaja was shot dead and his body was thrown on a road in North Waziristan.
However, Hamid Mir says he neither has anything to do with such a conversation, nor he can even think of getting involved in such an affair. He has also denied the content of a statement, purported to have been issued by the Taliban, who denied this telephone conversation but at the same time blamed the telephone company PTCL for illegally recording telephones of its subscribers.
In fact, talking to Dawn in his office on Tuesday Hamid Mir claimed that the entire tape recording and its uploading on the website was the work of IB and that too at the behest of President Zardari and the government to malign him as, according to him, he has been a bitter critic of President Zardari and others in his programmes.
Mr Mir claimed that the IB had used a special gadget through which they could change the voices. “They took my voice sample and changed it to look my voice through the special gadget,” he said. He warned that more such tapes involving some other journalists and politicians would surface in near future.
Mr Mir further claimed that he had been informed about this purported tape before time by Interior Minister Rehman Malik. “The interior minister took me to his Parliament House chamber on Thursday and told me that an audio tape had been prepared to implicate me in some terrorism-related issue,” he said, adding the minister also told him that his life was in danger. “The minister even advised me to keep some guards with me,” he said.
Mr Mir claimed that the audio tape was first released on a blog being run by some people belonging to the ruling PPP.
In the tape, Mr Mir is purportedly heard asking an unknown Taliban member to interrogate Khalid Khwaja over his links with the CIA and his role in the Lal Masjid siege. The journalist also narrates some incidents to prove that Khalid Khwaja was a CIA agent. In the conversation, Mr Mir tells the unknown person that Khalid Khwaja had arranged his meeting with an alleged CIA man Mansoor Ijaz in Islamabad. Similarly, Mr Mir has also narrated an incident as to how on the request of Khalid Khwaja he arranged a meeting of the widow of an alleged Al Qaeda man, Abdul Rehman ‘al-Kennedy’, with her son in the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Rawalpindi, and that later it was revealed that the woman was a Canadian national and also a CIA agent.
When asked about the contents of the controversial tape, Mr Mir said that in the recent past he had talked about Khalid Khwaja in detail on telephone only with an office-bearer of the PPP. He, however, denied that he had had any meeting with Mansoor Ijaz in Pakistan. He, however, confirmed the other part of the tape and admitted that he had “arranged a meeting of a woman with her son at the CMH on the request of Khalid Khwaja.” But, he said, later he came to know that one of the sons of the woman living in the US was working for the CIA and not that woman as claimed in the audio tape.
Mr Mir said he had met Mansoor Ijaz only once in New York in 1995 where he had gone as part of the delegation of the then prime minister Benazir Bhutto. “Mansoor Ijaz had come to see Ms Bhutto, but instead he met Asif Zardari,” he said.
When contacted, president of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) Pervez Shaukat refused to comment on the issue, saying they would come out with some statement in the next few days after holding consultations with other office-bearers.
Meanwhile, Hamid Mir has served a legal notice on Publisher of Daily Times Salman Taseer who also happens to be the Governor of Punjab, Editor Rashid Rehman and Staff Reporter and Chief Executive Officer Business Plus Mian Ehsanul Haq demanding to pay general damages of Rs250 million as a compensation for allegedly damaging his reputation, along with a written apology within 14 days that should also be published in the newspaper in a similar manner and prominence as the alleged defamatory report was published.
“Our client vehemently denies the conversation made in the alleged communication as fabricated and concocted one,” the legal notice served by Advocate Assad Ullah Jaral on behalf of Hamid Mir said for publishing, what he claimed to be a libellous report titled: “Hamid Mir’s terrifying indiscretions,” along with transcript of alleged communication in the newspaper on May 10, 2010.
Besides on May 17, 2010, a private channel Business Plus also aired the same ‘negative propaganda’ against Mr Mir, the notice said, adding the act of defamation in the television programme and news bulletin was deliberate.http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/anchor-claims-damning-tape-doctored-950
May 19, 2010 No Comments
The author is a former Pak envoy
Vangaurd Books have done a great service by republishing the book Tribal Fighting in NWFP by General Sir Andrew Skeen. This was first published in 1932 and surprisingly is still extremely relevant, particularly as the US and Pakistan army are testing their mettle against the tribes. General Skeen served in the British Indian Army rising to the position of Chief of the General Staff. He saw active service on the Frontier from Mastuj to Kalat and has written a remarkable book on his experiences and his recommendations for updating the 1925 Manual of Operations in the North West Frontier of India.
The book has also been reissued to the Pakistan army and would provide valuable guidance on how to reduce casualties, while operating in FATA. This seems to be absolutely necessary since under the previous command the army exhibited a remarkable degree of ineptitude, lack of professionalism and callousness towards loss of life, which one had come to expect from the author of the Kargil debacle. The result was that in a few years of fighting the army lost more troops than it had in the wars with India. Moreover, the incident of the capture of a convoy of 300 personnel by 30 tribesmen showed the deterioration in the professionalism of our forces. Luckily no such incidents have been reported from the recent operations in Swat and Waziristan, and the army seems to be recovering its balance. Hopefully, this book will play an important role in educating the platoon and company commanders, as it seems that the army would have to undertake operations in almost all the agencies of FATA as the situation is getting out of control of the Frontier Corps.
The last time this had happened was in 1937 when 61,000 men were involved and before that in 1919-20 when 83,000 men were engaged.
The British always respected the fighting qualities of the tribes and invariably placed the Mehsuds as the best, followed by the Wazirs. They were compared to the wolf pack and the panthers. The Afridis normally came third. General Skeen has however placed the Mamunds as second, but has called the tribes “the finest individual fighters in the east, really formidable enemies, to despise whom means sure trouble.” While praising the tribesmen’s mobility and cunning, he adds that the army can only redress the place by discipline and fire power. Modern arms had slowly been arriving in the tribal areas through the Gulf and Afghanistan, but the British always had the edge with machine guns, heavy artillery, armoured vehicles and aircraft to which the tribesmen did not have any answer. Unfortunately, due to the Afghan Jihad the tribes now have access to Kalashnikovs as the basic weapon and also the 12.7 mm and 14.5 mm machine guns. The RPG-7 has also reduced the effectiveness of armour, particularly in the hills and at ranges of less than 500 metres. Our army therefore has a much more difficult task in restoring the balance.
Two-thirds of the book covers employment of piquets. This means that the campaign takes the form of a series of marches, each followed by halts, during which supplies are filled up, sick evacuated and permanent piquets established behind and in front of the halting place to secure their communications. The vanguard moves in accord with the progress of the flanked piquets. Details are given on the setting up of the piquets, their defence and withdrawal tactics. While the US has managed to completely dispense with this practice due to its total dominance of the air and its capability to provide 24 hour coverage of the battlefield through the drones, the Pakistan army is constrained by its lack of similar resources. At one time during the campaign in Waziristan the army was down to only two functional Cobra attack helicopters. We do not therefore have the luxury of dispensing with the piquets which are quite a time-consuming manoeuvre and also require considerable manpower. However, failure to undertake what is one of the steps in frontier warfare leads to debacles like the one with the convoy.
General Skeen also recognises the grey areas in frontier fighting and the importance of the political officer, “who is always with the column in the capacity of staff officer for political affairs. He will have a lot of work with those of the enemy who want to be friends and these must have free access to him. The spy or jasoos is a quaint institution, whose conception of his duty is to take as much news to his friends the enemy as he does to his enemies the troops. In fact a most bitter compliant was lodged by hostile sections that they had been denied the privilege and the emoluments of having some of their own men employed as spies.” The basic aim of the campaign is to restore civilian control as soon as possible and it is most unfortunate that our civil bureaucracy has become so dysfunctional that it has still been unable to take control of the Swat Valley, despite the pacification by the army. The result has been that the army has had to be involved in development work as well, which is quite an inefficient way of restoring peaceful conditions.
The importance of the frontier militias (FC) is also highlighted. “Their training and equipment fits them for rapid movement over the roughest ground, and they are of great value for long raids into tribal territory by night or day, for ambushes, and for patrolling the bigger hills outside the piquets of a column. Khassadars should be regarded with respect and suspicion. If their own tribe is not in the fighting and they have not been intimidated by another they can be of great use in bringing in information.”
General Skeen was quite sceptical about air power and noted that “any tribe that has the will to resist will never be coerced by air action alone.” The British were very careful about collateral damage through air bombing and had instituted a system of dropping leaflets before bombing any built up areas. We need to be as sensitive as the British since the objective is not to destroy the tribe, but to put them in a more conducive frame of mind to negotiate with the political authorities. http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Opinions/Columns/18-May-2010/Tribal-fighting-in-NWFP
May 18, 2010 No Comments
One hears that the government is currently pondering the amount of extra time General Kayani should be given as head of the army. Should it be one, two or three years?
If life were fair, the prime minister, a gaddi-nashin, would have been making a living interceding with God on behalf of devotees. Nevertheless, Mr Gilani will need his special nexus with God to get the government out of the deep hole in which it finds itself as the seemingly inevitable clash with the judiciary draws nearer. To be fair to Mr Gilani, he would prefer not to be a part of the fracas, it being entirely a matter concerning Mr Zardari, but he has no option. As he said some time ago, “We swim or sink together.”
The Swiss cases are not the only cause of friction between the government and the judiciary. If, or rather, when the Supreme Court finds out about the amount of commission, the extent of advance payment and other details of the rental power projects (RPPs), of which it has taken suo motu notice, there will be hell to pay. The ethos of the Supreme Court is very different from that of Mr Zardari. Actually, there is a vast divergence between them on just about every issue, including their respective takes on right and wrong and what is permissible or reasonable and what is not. In brief, their perspectives are antithetical and a rupture, therefore, appears very likely.
Another development, which could impact negatively on the conduct of the war against the Taliban, is the question of General Kayani’s extension. That he should be given one is generally agreed by all, especially many of those who serve with him in the army. Ordinarily, extensions are considered unnecessary because no one is indispensable. However, that cliché has proved wrong by the absence of Benazir Bhutto and the presence of Mr Zardari in her stead.
One cogent reason for Kayani to remain is that, having been tasked to draw up the military’s response to the threat posed by the Taliban and India and to such Indian doctrines as ‘Cold Start’ and ‘Two-Front Wars’, it is only logical that he stays on to implement it. Thus far, Kayani’s operational plans have been successful far beyond expectations, although success against the Taliban has been marred by collateral damage to civilian property and lives, lack of a determined effort to resettle the displaced population and an inability to provide assured security to the inhabitants of the areas supposedly cleansed of the enemy. And although all that, the military says, is not its job, frankly no one buys such nice distinctions. There is no use clearing a field of weeds if nothing is made to grow on it. Whether the military feels aggrieved or not, it had better address these issues lest Kayani be equated with the victorious Protestant general whose troops caused such desolation and suffering that when he was removed many rejoiced.
One hears that the government is currently pondering the amount of extra time General Kayani should be given as head of the army. Should it be one, two or three years? And that will probably depend on who else the government has in mind. And also whether it prefers to serve out its own term with Kayani or would also like to appoint his successor.
Given the proclivity of the current regime to keep its options open, which is another way of not having to deal with the issue immediately, one suspects that it may opt to grant him only another year. That would be a pity for a number of reasons in addition to the importance of continuity of command: the excellent rapport that Kayani has forged with allied generals; the trust that he has engendered among them and with his own troops; the strategy that he enunciated and recently sold to NATO in Brussels; and, of course, the likelihood of another operation in North Waziristan. However, to my mind, Kayani needs to stay most of all because removing a commander in the midst of a war sends the wrong message to friend and foe alike and, more importantly, because he appears uniquely suited for the job at this juncture of our troubled history in view of his personality, temperament, ability, aptitude and experience.
These plusses easily outweigh the heart burning his extension may cause among his peers. They also outweigh fears that he may grow too big for his boots. In any case, that is misreading the man. And, as this is the near universal view about him, not everyone can be wrong. The snag is that General Kayani will not personally raise the issue nor, rumour has it, will he accept an extension unless it is long enough to allow him to implement his plans for the army.
The selection of an army chief, or the question of his extension, is nearly always in Pakistan the subject of intense controversy. What should be and is elsewhere a relatively routine matter dictated by need, and not wish or favour, is not so here. Mr Gilani (or is it Mr Zardari?) has the opportunity to lay such speculation to rest by being forthcoming on the issue and acting quickly to quell the uncertainty. And, hopefully, they will, because one recalls with no pleasure the antics of politicians when it came to choosing General Waheed’s successor after he refused an extension; and earlier after General Asif Nawaz’s untimely death. In the case of the former, it was virtually the only subject of discussion at every Islamabad gathering for weeks and, in the case of the latter, one recalls being offered celebratory sweets by supporters of a general who eventually did not make it. Things should not be allowed to reach such a pass. It is hardly an unforeseen event.
In many respects, therefore, 2010 is a crucial year. It will probably determine Mr Zardari’s fate and, if things do not go well in the war, also Pakistan’s future. Should one be downhearted? No!
May 14, 2010 No Comments
ISLAMABAD: The UN report on the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto revealed that it was the ex-MI chief Maj-Gen Nadeem Ijaz, who ordered the then Rawalpindi City CPO Saud Aziz, to hose down the scene of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination at Liaquat Bagh.
Maj-Gen Nadeem, currently serving as Log Area Commander in Gujranwala after his transfer from the MI some time back, is a relative of Pervez Musharraf. He, however, was a known crony of the former dictator and his ‘key adviser’ on all national issues.
Defence analysts have raised a serious question as to the working of the DG MI, who always takes orders from his boss — chief of the Army staff. It is not known whether Nadeem as the DG MI took orders of hosing down the scene of Benazir’s assassination from his boss, or acted on the advice of the gutless ‘civilian’ president Musharraf; or acted on his own at the spur of the moment, which seems highly unlikely in this case.
Nadeem can be entangled in criminal proceedings if President Zardari shows interest in carrying out “criminal investigations” following the UN report on Benazir’s assassination. His (Nadeem) only escape is to say that he never ordered hosing down the scene of the crime and Saud Aziz had lied through his teeth.
In another scenario, it can be said that Saud Aziz had spoken a downright lie to the UN Commission in a bid to save his skin. That probability could not be ruled out, said an analyst.
Normally, it is said, the DG MI does not take such decisions on his own; nor does he take orders from any person other than his military boss. “But this is Pakistan, where anything can happen and it is also possible that the then DG MI Maj-Gen Nadeem took orders from civilian president Musharraf without involving his military boss, Army chief General Kayani,” a senior official said, adding: “And if he took orders from Musharraf, it shows sheer weakness of the working of the then DG MI and in such a scenario he (Maj-Gen Nadeem) should have been court-martialled straightaway by the chief of Army staff.”
Given the known working and style of the former president, it is no secret that Musharraf always gave huge importance to the advice, opinions and views expressed by his DG MI. Several colleagues of Nadeem, who know him from ages, confided to The News that it was a popular whispering amongst the higher cadre of military echelon that “Nadeem was bringing Musharraf down by his poor advice, which was always based on sycophancy.”
Musharraf often took decisions based on Nadeem’s poor advice. Nadeem was superseded as 2-star general last year and stands no chance to be promoted as 3-star General. Some close aides of the former president believe that Musharraf took the decision of filing a reference against Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry on Nadeem’s advice, which cost him the Presidency. Nadeem also filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court against the chief justice.
The close aides of the former president also claim that Musharraf imposed emergency, a kind of mini-martial law, on November 3, 2008, on the advice of his DG MI Maj-Gen Nadeem. This too backfired like the earlier decision against the chief justice.
Many say that by accepting half-cooked advice, opinions and views of his DG MI, Musharraf proved that he lacked the ability to make sound judgment. And, in fact, Musharraf was not known for taking decision after proper evaluation of any issue.
It is also a known fact that Musharraf’s chief of staff Lt-Gen Hamid Javed tried to persuade Musharraf not to take action against the chief justice. Musharraf, however, accepted Nadeem’s advice and removed the chief justice.
Not too many people know that Lt-Gen Hamid Javed requested to be relieved as the chief of staff to the president after this decision and he was virtually relieved of his responsibilities in the coming months. This is what Lt-Gen Hamid Javed told The News about the cause of his decision to leave the Presidency, though Musharraf arranged a grand farewell for Hamid Javed, a gentleman and a good soul.
General Musharraf doffed his uniform on November 28, 2007 and handed over the command of the Army to General Kayani. Benazir’s assassination took place on December 27, 2007 at the Liaquat Bagh, Rawalpindi.
April 19, 2010 No Comments
By Ansar Abbasi in The News, Jan 12
ISLAMABAD: Former Naval chief Admiral Abdul Aziz Mirza gives credence to the recent French investigative report that talked of almost $49 million kickbacks in the Agosta-submarine deal allegedly received by President Asif Ali Zardari and others, including Naval officers, disclosing that the then Benazir government had urged the Pakistan Navy to go for the French subs.
Mirza, while quoting the then Naval chief Admiral Saeed Khan, also revealed that Benazir Bhutto’s defence minister Aftab Shaban Mirani had clearly indicated to the Pakistan Navy’s high command the government’s preference for the induction of the French submarines.
Despite these clear indications by the defence minister, the top naval command again met and deliberated on the subject and decided to recommend two options to the government — the British Upholder and the French Agosta. The government later approved the induction of the Agosta.
Mirza, who led the Pakistan Navy from Oct 1999 to Oct 2002, said the Navy first formally came to know about the kickbacks in the Agosta deal in 1998 following which it proceeded against three officials of the rank of captain and commodore for getting bribe. They were eventually removed from service. “My hunch is that besides the politicians, some top ranking naval officers, even above the rank of commodore, might also have received kickbacks as reflected in the recent French media reports. They, however, (the top Naval officials) remained undetected for want of proof or witnesses,” Mirza said.
He claimed that even the condemned formal Naval chief, Masoorul Haq, was not convicted of the Agosta kickbacks but for the bribes that he had pocketed in other defence deals. According to a recent report in a leading French newspaper, investigations have revealed that Zardari received $4.3 million in kickbacks from the sale of three Agosta 90 submarines for Eu825 million. These reports also suggest that Naval officials might have received kickbacks out of this $49 million.
This deal was struck during Benazir Bhutto’s second tenure in 1994. According to former DG Naval Intelligence Commodore Shahid Ashraf, he had informed in early 1995 the then Naval chief Mansoorul Haq and his vice chief vice admiral AU Khan of the cash pay off to Capt ZU Alvi and Col (retd) Ejaz as bribe for further distribution amongst Naval officers.
Ashraf, who was dismissed from service, claimed in his statement in 1998 that he had informed the Naval chief and the vice chief in early 1995 of the Agosta kickbacks issue but was asked by them to keep quiet. Ashraf insisted that he was innocent and victimised by the Pakistan Navy in 1998 to save the skin of several other allegedly corrupt Naval officers, who had received kickbacks in the Agosta deal.
Admiral Mirza admitted the facts that Ashraf did make the same claim in his statement in 1998 and that retired vice admiral AU Khan too had confirmed the same fact when questioned in 1998 by the fact-finding inquiry.
But Admiral Mirza still insisted the ex-DG Naval Intelligence did receive kickbacks in the Agosta deal as was confirmed by the other two officers, Capt ZU Alvi and Capt Liaqat Ali Malik, who were blamed to have received bribes directly from the French. For the same reason, he said, the ex-DGNI was penalised.
He said that Capt ZU Alvi and Col (retd) Ejaz were the two main witnesses with the former having agreed to become approver on the condition of revealing all the details of kickbacks and corruption. Mirza though conceded that Ashraf was Admiral Mansurul Haq’s right-hand man, he did never carry the reputation of being corrupt before he was convicted to have received Rs 1.5 million from Alvi, who was the direct recipient of the kickbacks.
Mirza, who has also served as the country’s ambassador to Riyadh, said that one Zafar Iqbal, a middle man of the French company, was also interrogated and had admitted to have received $160,000 to be paid to four commodores. He, however, said that both Iqbal and Ejaz never paid this amount to anyone of them. The former Naval chief said that the four commodores were never charge sheeted or confronted by a board of inquiry as a fact-finding inquiry had already found them innocent, which led to their promotion as rear admiral.
Zafar Iqbal claimed during interrogation to have been assigned by the French company to bribe the Naval officials up to the rank of commodore. For top ranking Naval officers and for political bosses, Mirza quoted Zafar Iqbal to have claimed that some other middle men, including Aamir Lodhi, were responsible for the kickbacks and commissions of persons with higher status both in Navy and in the government.
Since these middle men were never caught and probed so it still remains a secret as to who amongst the senior most Naval officers of that time received how much money, he said. But he believed that there were some top men, who must have received the kickbacks but remained free.
Referring to the latest French media reports about the Agosta kickbacks, he said he gives such reports due credence also for the reason that the French, Germans, Italians and other manufacturers of defence equipment do have a recognised provision of allocating about 10 pc of the contract value as kickbacks, entertainment, gifts etc as a matter of policy.
When asked whether the kickbacks and commissions in defence deals in Pakistan could be curbed, he stated that with a little bit of sincere effort the kickbacks in defence procurements could be considerably reduced if not altogether eliminated. http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=26619
January 12, 2010 No Comments
Owing to security concers, the UN World Food Programme has closed close 20 food hubs supplying food aid to over two million people in North West Frontier Province of Pakistan.
WFP spokesman Amjad Jamal termed the closure as ‘temporary’ and expressed hope that the centres would be reopened soon.
All WFP food distribution centres, in Charsadda, Swabi, Dir, Mardan, Buner, Swat and Bajaur were closed Oct 21.
Paskistsan has been witnessing a series of bomb blasts and suicide bombings across key cities while the army is engaged in a major battle to end the reign of terrorist groups in the tribal areas bordering Pakistan.
The latest suicide bombing targetted the Islamic University in Islamabad on Oct 20 and claimed six lives. The army general headquarters in Rawalpinidi was attcked on Oct 10. Earlier this month, WFP office in Islamabad came under suicide bombing. Five employees were killed.
The WFP food hubs have been benefitting 2.3 million people displaced this year as a result of the conflict between government forces and Taliban militants. Though most of those displaced from Swat, Dir and Buner have returned home since fighting ended in July, a large number remain in need of food aid.
Around 2.4 million displaced people received aid from the WFP food hubs last month, according to Jamal. News of their closure brought immediate concern from people who continue to struggle to survive.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik said ( Oct 20) Pakistan was “in a state of war”. At least 2,280 people are estimated to have died during the last two years as a result of “terrorist” attacks.
October 21, 2009 No Comments
By Declan Walsh in The Guardian
Islamabad: Pakistan’s army made a stark admission today of the scale of the threat it faces from a nexus of Punjabi, al-Qaida and Taliban militants whose attacks are increasingly coordinated, include soldiers in their ranks and span the country.
The unusually frank assessment, made after the audacious assault on the military’s headquarters this weekend, came as a Taliban suicide bomber struck an army convoy as it passed through a crowded marketplace in a small mountain town near the Swat valley, killing 41 people and wounding 45.
It was the fourth militant atrocity to hit Pakistan in eight days of bloodshed that have killed more than 120 people. One television channel reported that the bomber in Shangla district in North West Frontier province was a 13-year-old boy.
Meanwhile a Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the 22-hour gun battle and siege at the army’s headquarters in Rawalpindi, which ended on Sunday morning when commandos freed 39 hostages. Eleven soldiers, three civilians and nine militants died.
“This was our first small effort and a present to the Pakistani and American governments,” a Taliban spokesman, Azam Tariq, told the Associated Press.
Addressing journalists a few hundred metres from the scene of the gunfight, an army spokesman, Major General Athar Abbas, described how the 10 attackers came from two different sets of backgrounds. Five of them came from Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous and wealthy province, he said, while the other five were from South Waziristan, a Taliban stronghold at the southern end of the tribal belt, along the Afghan border.
Abbas said the attackers were led by a Punjabi militant named Aqeel, also known as Dr Usman, but the operation was ordained by a Taliban commander based in South Waziristan. Citing an intercepted telephone call, Abbas said commander Wali-ur-Rehman urged followers to “pray” for the attacks after the assault began on Saturday morning.
Abbas said the militants intended to take senior army officers hostage and use them to negotiate the release of more than 100 militants. Other demands included an end to military cooperation with the US and for the former president, General Pervez Musharraf, to be put on trial.
Aqeel, the only surviving attacker, was being treated for serious injuries, Abbas said. He confirmed that the militant was a former army medical corps soldier from Kahuta, a town in the army’s Punjabi recruitment heartland that is home to a major nuclear weapons facility.
Aqeel deserted the army in 2004, he said, and joined Jaish-e-Muhammad, a notorious militant group that in recent years has spawned splinter groups which have become allied to al-Qaida.
The militant attacks come as 28,000 army soldiers prepare to launch an assault on South Waziristan, where an estimated 10,000 fighters are holed up. Yesterday army jets hit Taliban targets in the area for the second day running, in preparation for an offensive the interior minister, Rehman Malik, said was “imminent”.
The army’s admission of ever stronger links between the Taliban, al-Qaida and Punjab-based militant groups was rare public confirmation of a trend analysts have observed for years. “We’ve seen this troika nexus in many major terrorist attacks – on the Marriott in Islamabad, on the navy headquarters in Lahore, and on the FIA [Federal Investigation Agency],” said Amir Rana, a terrorism analyst.
In some instances, Rana said, al-Qaida provided the financing, the Taliban logistics and training support, and Punjabi militants executed the operation.
The growing importance of the Punjabi factor in local and international militancy has placed the army under pressure to extend its crackdown beyond the tribal belt. At the weekend a spokesman for the North West Frontier province government said that even if a South Waziristan offensive succeeded, militants could still get help from Punjab.
Ajmal Kasab, the only surviving gunman from last November’s Mumbai massacre, comes from a small village in southern Punjab. Jaish-e-Muhammad operates a giant madrasa on the edge of Bahawalpur, a dusty city in southern Punjab notorious for its hardline madrasas.
The army rejected suggestions that a military operation would solve the problem. “Yes there are terrorists in southern Punjab, and these groups have links to the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan,” said Abbas. “But it’s a very different environment. It’s well developed, it has a communications infrastructure and a huge security force presence. It’s very different from what was Swat, and what [we see] in South Waziristan.”
In Lahore, a court freed Hafiz Saeed, a prominent extremist cleric whom India accuses of playing a major part in the Mumbai attacks. A prosecutor said the extremist charity he heads, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, had not been officially banned.
The turmoil spooked investors on Pakistan’s main stock market, which tumbled 1.3 per cent. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/oct/12/pakistan-army-taliban-militancy-threat
October 13, 2009 No Comments
A look at some recent major attacks in Pakistan or blamed on Pakistan-based militants:
- Oct. 12, 2009: A suicide car bomb explodes near an army vehicle in a market in the northwest Shangla district, killing 41, including six security officers, and wounding 45.
- Oct. 10, 2009: A raid on army headquarters in the city of Rawalpindi kills nine militants and 14 others.
- Oct. 9, 2009: A suicide car bomb in the northwestern city of Peshawar kills 53 people.
- Oct. 5, 2009: A bomber dressed as a security official kills five staffers at the U.N. food agency’s headquarters in the capital, Islamabad.
- Sept. 18, 2009: A suicide car bomb destroys a two-story hotel near the northwestern town of Kohat, killing 30 people in what might have been a sectarian attack by Sunni militants against Shiite Muslims.
- May 27, 2009: A suicide car bomber targets buildings housing police and intelligence offices in the eastern city of Lahore, killing about 30 and wounding at least 250.
- March 27, 2009: A suicide bomber demolishes a packed mosque near the northwestern town of Jamrud, killing about 50 people and injuring scores more.
- March 3, 2009: Gunmen attack the Sri Lankan national cricket team in Lahore, wounding several players and killing six policemen and a driver.
- Nov. 26-28, 2008: Ten attackers, allegedly from Pakistan, kill 166 people in a three-day assault on luxury hotels, a Jewish center and other sites in Mumbai, India.
- Sept. 20, 2008: A suicide truck bomb kills at least 54 and wounds more than 250 as it devastates the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.
- Aug. 21, 2008: Suicide bombers blow themselves up at two gates of a weapons factory in the town of Wah, killing at least 67 people and wounding at least 100. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/12/AR2009101201332_pf.html
October 13, 2009 No Comments