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Category — Pak Bomb

Fingerprints on bomb central to terror trial of US citizen

Report in The Wall st Journal, Sept. 12, 2017
NEW YORK — A U.S. citizen accused of abandoning his birth nation to fight for al-Qaida is being put on trial in New York in a case that hinges partly on fingerprints found on an unexploded bomb.

Muhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh was born in Houston and raised in Dubai. He was captured by Pakistan’s security forces in 2014.

His case has drawn extra attention because of reports American officials had debated whether to try to kill him in a drone strike, a step almost never taken against U.S. citizens.

The administration of President Barack Obama ultimately decided to try for a capture and civilian prosecution instead.

Farehk has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals and other crimes. His trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday. https://www.wsj.com/articles/APaa9b0db87d7944ab91743002cdbf1481

September 12, 2017   No Comments

Will the real Pervez Musharraf please stand up: by Miranda Husain in Daily Times, Sept 6, 2017

The writer is the Deputy Managing Editor, Daily Times.
Gen (rtd) Pervez Musharraf is either a wily fox gifted with a strategist’s mind. Or else he is a wily-yet-craftless opportunist, used to just winging it.

He has, of course, been charged by an Anti-Terrorist Court in connection with Benazir Bhutto’s murder. Yet he is presently in self-exile, safe in the knowledge that under Pakistani law he can’t be tried in absentia. From Dubai does he sit easy, either hosting his own show on a local television channel. Or else does he lean back as he is called on by pundits and working journalists alike proffer his views on this or that, in a bid to push up ratings. This shouldn’t come as too much of surprise. After all, Musharraf has long credited himself with waving his magic wand to have Pakistan’s so-called free and independent media explode on to the scene, in all its Technicolor glory. And it seems that the fourth pillar is still unready to see this spell broken. Especially when the good general can be relied upon to talk off the cuff.

And so it was that the one-time enemy combatant waited until the very time that the ATC was handing down its first verdict in the Benazir case – something for which Pakistanis have been waiting nearly a decade – to drop a conversation changing bombshell of his own. The father of the country’s nuclear bomb, Dr AQ Khan, so the latest story goes, admitted to the former military strongman that he had been actively involved in nuclear proliferation to Iran. And that’s all we really know.

Yet it remains to be seen in the long-term, at least, whether Musharraf’s risky gamble on political deflection will pay off or spectacularly backfire. And in the event of the latter – just who will pay the price? He alone or the entire country? In the meanwhile, he has vowed to come back to fight the ATC verdict and pending charges that include murder. Now this is where it becomes unclear as to with which Musharraf we are dealing.

The country’s parliamentarians have rightly called for an independent inquiry into the claims. The Committee of the Whole House has expressed its commitment towards this end. This process must be supported. And it must also extend to former Interior minister Rehman Malik who claims to know the ins-and-outs of the proliferation deal but who has, until now, preferred to keep it under his hat.

Following this, the principled thing to do would be to have the former COAS ‘handed over’ to the IAEA. Especially given how inconceivable it is that Khan was able to act independently, without anyone else being in the know.

Yet why is Musharraf speaking out now? If the aim was to side track the ATC verdict – it appears not to have been an effective ploy. Meaning that the bombshell has proved to be rather a dud, with all eyes still firmly fixed on increasing US belligerence towards Pakistan’s anti-terror record. Not to mention the unwelcome BRICS statement in this regard.

If it is the wily fox we choose to see before us: it could be a piece of superbly choreographed patriotism. The objective being distracting the increasingly unquiet American President from the Afghan quagmire next door to a different country, a different border. After all, the latter has been warning Pakistan to do more on terror or else face the music. And, like many of us, Musharraf may be alarmed at the thought that Donald Trump may just be toying with the idea of avenging a certain American contractor. In other words, any action against Pakistan could well be conducted against the backdrop of a particular song. About kissing a girl, or someone.

Yet enter Musharraf the opportunist who may well see his ‘plan’ backfire. Like his predecessors, Trump is focusing on scape-goating Pakistan over the lack of security across the Afghan border rather than the illegal US occupation of that country. Thus Musharraf’s comments may inadvertently strengthen long-held American fears that our nuclear arsenal may fall into the wrong hands. Indeed, it was during the long years of his dictatorship that Washington was ever fearful that militants would overthrow the regime and seize their control. Indeed, the end of 2004 – the year after the military invasion next door – saw a US report leaked. This outlined how if the worst were to happen Washington would sweep in to secure Pakistan’s very own weapons of mass destruction. Sadly, the White House failed to make the connection between a possibly beleaguered military strongman who was viewed at home as little more than an American asset and the ‘legitimacy’ that this afforded to anti-state forces here in this country.

This all being said, how feasible would it be for Musharraf to ‘hand himself over’ the IAEA? After all he would be unable to return now; not without finding himself in the firing line once again, with those aforementioned anti-state forces having their fingers firmly on the trigger. There are, after all, those who believe that the red-line that Benazir dared to cross was pledging to grant the nuclear watchdog access to Khan if returned to power.

Does this mean that, in theory at least, we are faced with a stark choice? Do we have to sacrifice seeing Musharraf brought to account for the crimes that the ATC finds him guilty of in the Benazir murder case? That is, if we want him to disclose to the relevant international authority everything he knows about proliferation to Iran. If this was his strategic gamble all along – then it was a card well played. This also poses the chance for Musharraf to suddenly try on for size the mantle of elder statesman, however ill-fitting that may be. Meaning he could go voluntarily to the IAEA in a bid to blunt the growing contrast between a responsible nuclear India and an increasingly rogue nuclear Pakistan.

But then what if the real Musharraf stands up and we find ourselves confronted by the craftless opportunist? What if this were simply a ruse to increase American pressure on Iran? After all, back in 2006, according to a WikiLeaks cable, the former COAS took it upon himself to urge the Tehran leadership to roll back its nuclear programme, which was making things difficult for its neighbours including Pakistan. The cable goes on to disclose the then Foreign minister revealing the main source of pressure: namely that Musharraf was keen to have Pakistan remain the only Muslim nation with the bomb. That this was in the aftermath of renewed interest in the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline may or may not be significant. Fast-forward to today and he could simply be doing his bit to strengthen the so-called Muslim NATO that appears to already have Iran in its sights.

One thing is sure. Whichever Musharraf prevails – Pakistan had better be prepared for the fallout. http://dailytimes.com.pk/features/06-Sep-17/will-the-real-pervez-musharraf-please-stand-up

September 7, 2017   No Comments

GPM and N-Hornets nest: by Wajid Shamsul Hasan in Daily Times, September 6th 2017.

The writer is former High Commissioner of Pakistan to UK and a veteran journalist
Pakistan’s nuclear programme keeps bouncing into controversy time and again. It has been Pakistan’s resistance and its perseverance that despite enormous reluctance the community of nuclear states has accepted it in its club with reservations. United States has always been wanting its roll back. It leaves no opportunity to blackmail Pakistan for possessing its nuclear arsenal and development programme. Latest being run-away General Pervez Musharraf’s malicious diatribe against Dr AQ Khan.

Americans constantly badgers us that we should not have nuclear weapons-though meant entirely for our defence and deterrence — as it is apprehended by them that someday they might get clandestinely passed into the hands of Jihadi terrorists since there is a stout perception that we not only support them but often use them as proxy actors for pursuit of our own strategic goals.

Father of Pakistan’s nuclear programme martyred Zulfikar Ali Bhutto believed that Pakistan’s nuclear programme was a matter of life and death and that come what may, Pakistan had to have it for the defence of the country. It was he who realised the urgency of going nuclear as he had feared that Americans could stop supply of their arms and spares to Pakistan whenever they needed to arm twist Islamabad to tow its policy. According to him only a self-reliant Pakistan could face an adversary six times bigger than its size, better armed and with 6th largest armed forces in the world. More than the generals, he underscored the need for strengthening of the nation’s defence capability supplemented by self-sufficiency and economic development.

Dr A Q Khan and late Muneer Ahmed Khan, Chairman of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission no doubt played the lead role, it were several hundred nuclear scientists and technicians who worked day and night to make Pakistan go nuclear. It was nuclear engineer Sultan Basheeruddin Mahmud who had stood up in Multan meeting (1974) called by ZAB and shouted — “Give us funds and we will give you the Atomic bomb in no time” — Bhutto responded instantly — “we will eat grass, you will have the money”. And we got it in perhaps shortest possible time through the collective effort of our scientists and the unlimited resources provided by Bhutto Sahib. And had ZAB survived another year, he would have tested the device himself and not left it for usurpers to take the credit.

SZAB and later Benazir were fully in known of threats to Pakistan’s nuclear programme and its scientists. As such both introduced strict security procedures for the protection of the two. These security procedures worked smoothly until 1989 when Pakistan cold tested the nuclear device and its nuclear programme became a lethal object of concern for CIA, RAW and Mossad.

As Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto had inherited a successful n-programme that could produce bombs but had no delivery system other than conventional. In her two tenures she secretly worked with China and North Korea to help Pakistan acquire missile technology capable of delivering nuclear-war heads. Having acquired, that Pakistan became fully capable of not only manufacturing nuclear weapons but also delivering them.

At this juncture Benazir heard about approaches being made to Pakistan by some Muslim countries to help them in their nuclear programmes. In her meetings with her top brass — she enunciated Bhutto N-Doctrine that it was not exportable at any price. And when she came to know that our n-scientists could be harmed or kidnapped she introduced a fool proof regime for their security. She had to put her foot down when she was approached for permission to allow transfer of nuclear technology to friendly Muslim countries by her officials and scientists seeking her permission for its export.

In an interview to Financial Times after the AQK scandal Bhutto disclosed that she got a consensus agreement on her nuclear doctrine from her top brass and had succeeded in putting a bar on the export of nuclear technology in December 1988. “It certainly was their belief that they could earn tons of money if they did this.”

That’s was the reason that Bhutto wanted a bipartisan parliamentary investigation into the AQK scandal. She was of the view that Dr A.Q. Khan had been made a scapegoat by General Musharraf for covering up his running a nuclear super market. She had believed that Musharraf and his colleagues in-charge of nuclear installations had committed an act of treason by exposing Pakistan’s nuclear programme to complete obliteration. Indeed, if the matter is investigated in-depth, it might reveal one of the causes for Bhutto’s assassination.

Following GPM’s latest diatribe against Dr A Q Khan, his disclosure how Americans showed him the evidence of proliferation, how AQK cried at his feet to save him, PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar has rightly called for an investigation into nuclear proliferation by Pakistan under the rule of former president Pervez Musharraf. One shares Senator Babar’s concern that Musharraf’s claim would “open old wounds” and strengthen the international position that Pakistan was involved in nuclear proliferation to North Korea. Indeed, an investigation into the matter is rightly justified. I remember Benazir Bhutto’s words — repeated by the Senator — that it was impossible for any single individual to smuggle huge centrifuge machines and other nuclear material out of the country especially when nothing could move — or even birds could fly — without the knowledge and connivance of the Lt General in-charge of Special Planning Division and his team of commandoes. Surely as Babar says — “Dr Khan could not have carried the nuclear material on his head,” adding that Musharraf’s statements had “opened up a Pandora’s box”. In his retort to GPM’s claim that that despite pressure he did not hand over AQK to the Americans, the then Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali said GPM wanted to hand over AQK to the Americans, it was he who stopped him.
http://dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/06-Sep-17/gpm-and-n-hornets-nest

September 6, 2017   No Comments

Musharraf belonged to anti-bomb lobby,Hashmi quotes Qadeer as saying

Report in The News, Sept 1, 2017
MULTAN: Senior politician Javed Hashmi said on Thursday that Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan once revealed to him that General Pervez Musharraf belonged to that lobby of the army that was opposed to making nuclear bomb and was ready to make compromises on it.

He condemned former president Pervez Musharraf’s recent interview regarding supplying nuclear material to North Korea was a huge conspiracy against Pakistan. Speaking at a press conference, Hashmi described Musharraf as a traitor who divulged information for his own publicity and said the timing of his interview was very alarming. He said Musharraf insulted Dr AQ Khan and, according to Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, wanted to hand him over to the US.

Recalling his past memories, Hashmi said AQ Khan informed him about the threat from the former dictator during an Iftar hosted by the Saudi ambassador in 2003 and stated that Musharraf had made his [AQ Khan’s] life miserable.

He claimed that former federal minister Mushahid Hussain and the then naval chief Abdul Aziz Khan were witness to the interaction. He praised AQ Khan, calling him a hero of the nation, who did great service for making the country an atomic power. The nation was capable of protecting AQ Khan as well as the atomic programme, Hashmi added.

He said all rulers sacrificed for the atomic programme and never divulged secret at any level. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, he added, started the atomic programme and Zia ul Haq took it to its peak. He said Americans thought Benazir would shut down the N-programme but she not only refused rather also launched missile programme.

He said the US should remember that the Pakistani nation would teach it an appropriate lesson and it would forget the USSR. “Pakistan would grow stronger but the US will be divided soon,” he said. Answering a question, he said Musharraf was responsible for Benazir Bhutto’s murder as he refused to provide security to her. The former dictator was the main accused in the case and the army chief should bring him back to the country, Hashmi demanded. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/227476-Musharraf-belonged-to-anti-bomb-lobbyHashmi-quotes-Qadeer-as-saying

Musharraf’s remarks: edit in Dawn, September 1st, 2017
IF retired Gen Pervez Musharraf is unable to resist commenting on Pakistani politics and his time in office, politicians are unable to resist responding to Musharrafian provocations, large or small. On Wednesday, the Senate resounded with speeches denouncing the former military dictator after he spoke yet again, carelessly and glibly, in the media about the A.Q. Khan nuclear proliferation saga that became public on the general’s watch. The former army chief’s comments were neither wholly new nor surprising. The episode was deeply humiliating for the country and personally embarrassing for Mr Musharraf, who had cast himself then as a strongman in total control and alone in a position to put the country on the path of progress and good global standing. Unhappily, greater considerations of the national good continue to escape Mr Musharraf, who speaks in an off-the-cuff manner about issues that could have unpleasant ramifications for the country he once led.

Certainly, a more open and frank national conversation on a dark chapter in the country’s history is needed. In one sense, the state’s claims that it has tightened the safety and security of the nuclear complex to world-class standards that make accidents or deliberate mischief unlikely in the extreme is borne out by the fact that there have been no publicly known incidents of attempted proliferation since the network was dismantled. Surely, given the hostility and suspicion with which the Pakistani nuclear programme is viewed by much of the outside world, if there had been a breakdown in safety and security measures it would have been used to heap further pressure on Pakistan. But the senators’ fulminations on Wednesday point to an uncomfortable reality: the political class is unwilling and unable to seek greater input on nuclear matters; at most, the issue is used as a means to politically attack perceived opponents. Nuclear safety and security are matters of national security and should be treated as such, but that should not preclude civilian input. https://www.dawn.com/news/1355188/musharrafs-remarks

September 1, 2017   No Comments

Musharraf says Dr Qadeer knelt before him, cried and sought forgiveness

Report in The News, August 30, 2017
ISLAMABAD: Former army chief Pervez Musharraf has revealed on Tuesday that George Tenet, former Central Intelligence Agency chief, showed him irrefutable evidence against Pakistan’s nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan in a one-on-one early morning meeting in his suite during his United States visit.

In an interview, former dictator said that George W Bush asked him to hold a meeting with CIA chief before he left for Pakistan, saying that it was very important.

He said that Tenet handed him over photographic and black and white evidence confirming AQ Khan’s involvement in proliferation through a Sri Lankan front man who acted as a double agent, the other side for the United States. Musharraf narrated that he summoned Dr Khan upon his return who after he was confronted, knelt before him and cried.

However, he went on to apologise to the nation in a television broadcast following which he was removed from his post. The former army chief said that the intelligence communication between Pakistan and US agencies was focused on handing the man over which he said he had denied.

To tell the truth, Musharraf added that he was not under a house arrest but it was for his protection. He said that he had never been more embarrassed in his life than what he went through after George Tenet showed him the irrefutable evidence.

The former dictator who is dubbed as one of the most closest Pakistani leaders to the United States said that he had given a presentation to than premier Nawaz Sharif in General Headquarters (GHQ).

While answering a question about why Pakistan’s intelligence agencies could not find out the ‘hole in the boat’ before the United States, Musharraf said that being an autonomous body, Khan Research Laboratories had its own security and it was completely cut off from agencies.

However, he did not disagree with the security approach and lauded his predecessors for opting for the strategy as he cited if the world turns against you, you have to have a strategy like that. He denied the claims that he had provided Dr A Q Khan a speech to read out to the nation.

Pervez Musharraf said that Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan’s picture was among the photos that than-US President George W. Bush had showed to him of the infamous nuclear deal taking place. “Dr Qadeer grabbed my knees while crying and asked for my forgiveness,” he said.

“I accepted the pressure but never handed Dr Qadeer to any country,” he said. “Now that he speaks against me, it surprises me a lot,” he added. Meanwhile, talking to The News Dr A Q Khan rubbished the claims made by former dictator Prevez Musharraf. He said Musharraf had sold himself to Americans and he is a liar and traitor. He said whatever, he said about me is totally untrue. He said, “the former dictator had made a deal on me with the US and continued to say to me that you are a hero of the nation.” He said former prime minister Zafrullah Khan Jamali in an interview had admitted that Mush was ready to hand over Dr Qadeer to US.
https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/226999-Musharraf-says-Dr-Qadeer-knelt-before-him-cried-and-sought-forgiveness

August 30, 2017   No Comments

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Peddling Peril’ by David Albright

(An authoritative account of how Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan helped spread nuclear terrorism unhindered for decades)  Review by Bob Drogin in The Los Angeles Times, May 11

Nuclear weapons, which largely faded from front pages after the Cold War, are back in the news. President Obama endorsed a new national security strategy, and earlier this year he signed an ambitious arms control treaty with Russia, further easing fears of global Armageddon. But Obama also led an unprecedented summit of world leaders to warn of an increasingly urgent threat — nuclear terrorism.

Much of this perilous state of affairs can be traced to the villainous deeds of Abdul Qadeer Khan. A.Q. Khan, as he is known, is the self-described father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb and the self-confessed mastermind of a criminal network that seemingly sold nuclear weapons technology like it was aluminum siding. The proof: Nearly every nation that has tried to build or obtain a nuclear device in the last 30 years has relied on Khan’s black market enterprise.

Outside the CIA and its sister services overseas, probably no one has investigated Khan’s smuggling network as thoroughly as David Albright. His “Peddling Peril” is the most authoritative account we are likely to see of how a Pakistani metallurgist with monstrous ambition used front companies, forged documents and legal loopholes to create a nuclear Wal-Mart, or what Albright calls “Bomb Inc.” Dr. Strangelove couldn’t have said it better.

For years, government officials downplayed or ignored Khan’s illicit trade as industrial spying, or violations of export control laws, rather than as nuclear espionage on behalf of a foreign power. Security breaches were repeatedly concealed lest they jeopardize other diplomatic priorities or corporate profit margins. It is a terrifying tale, not least because the failure to prosecute or imprison most of Khan’s associates means the world’s most dangerous business may still be thriving.

Other books have sketched Khan’s story, but Albright mines previously unavailable documents, and he interviews key players for new details. He chronicles how Khan stole classified blueprints from a European consortium to jumpstart Pakistan’s uranium enrichment program in the mid-1970s and then did what no Western scientist considered remotely possible — he built an atomic bomb in Pakistan by secretly buying and assembling component parts from abroad.

In the 1980s, Khan again broke new ground: He began selling complete nuclear factories and the know-how to construct bombs, something only governments had done before. He assembled a team of unscrupulous German, South African and Swiss businessmen to help peddle these resources to dictatorial regimes in Iraq, Iran, North Korea and Libya.

Khan’s drawings and documentation for Libya’s centrifuge plant were so detailed they contained instructions on where to install toilet paper holders in the bathrooms. He also supplied Iran with critical components for a then-secret uranium enrichment program that still bedevils the international community. “Without Khan’s assistance,” Albright writes, “Iran’s gas centrifuge program would pose little threat to the region or the United States today.”

Khan has claimed patriotism and Muslim solidarity as his motive, but he and his cohorts raked in hundreds of millions of dollars. Vital supplies, purchased from the United States and Europe, were routed through a maze of businesses and third-party cutouts in Malaysia, Dubai, Turkey and elsewhere to avoid suspicion. “They could not outmaneuver us, as we remained a step ahead always,” Khan boasted on Pakistani TV last year.

Although the CIA and British intelligence investigated Khan from at least 1978, it took them nearly three decades to take him down, an intelligence failure that haunts us today. The evidence suggests willful blindness in successive U.S. administrations more concerned about using Pakistan as a Cold War proxy against the Soviet Union than on stopping this nuclear Johnny Appleseed.

It’s still unclear how much Pakistani leaders authorized Khan’s freebooting (he frequently used Pakistani Air Force planes to ferry his supplies) and, more important, whether his customers included Al Qaeda or its murderous offshoots. The Pakistani government has refused to let foreign intelligence or U.N. experts interview Khan since he was placed under house arrest in 2004.

Albright is a unique figure in Washington, a nuclear proliferation expert who flourishes in the interstices between intelligence and journalism. He founded and heads the Institute for Science and International Security, a one-man think tank for all practical purposes. He regularly makes news by relying on commercial satellite photos, personal ties to U.S. policy makers and U.N. nuclear inspectors (Albright served with U.N. teams in Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War) and a deep grasp of nuclear science. Like many journalists, I called him regularly when I reported on nuclear proliferation.

In September 2007, for example, Israeli jets bombed a nondescript building in the Syrian desert. Neither government, nor the George W. Bush administration, initially acknowledged the raid’s purpose. But Albright’s institute used commercial satellite imagery to determine that the target appeared to house a nuclear reactor built with technology from North Korea. For six months, Albright’s analysis was the only independent assessment. Finally, in April 2008, the CIA publicly concurred.

Albright is a better investigator than writer, and his dry prose sometimes reads like a grand jury indictment involving export licenses and shipping manifests. But this is also a valuable book: The reader’s outrage mounts as clues emerge, the danger spreads and government officials look the other way. It’s clear what drives Albright: America must vastly improve its ability to prevent nuclear smuggling and, ultimately, nuclear terrorism. After reading “Peddling Peril,” it drives my fears too. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-book11-20100511,0,4115041,print.story

May 14, 2010   No Comments