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Category — Terrorism

Taliban target Ahmadi mosques in Lahore, 70 killed

Taliban gun men revisited Lahore, the cultural capital of Pakistan on Friday May 28, targetted two mosques of minority Ahmadis and killed seventy people. At least 90 people were injured. The last major attack was in March when a double suicide bombing killed dozens. This was for the first time Ahmadis were attacked. Hitherto, militants were targetting Shia Muslims.

Ahmadis consider themselves Muslim and follow all Islamic rituals. But they were declared non-Muslims in Pakistan in 1974 and in 1984 they were legally barred from proselytising or identifying themselves as Muslims.

“Punjabi chapter” of the Pakistan Taliban, formally known as the Tehrik-e-Taliban, has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The attacks on minority communities were expected as banners of hatred against minorities were displayed in several parts of Lahore on Thursday. One of the anonymous banners in Ghari Shahu area read: “Jews Christians and Ahmedis are the enemies of Islam.”

Police said gunmen made the brazen attack shortly after Friday prayers at the Ahmadi mosques at Model Town and Ghari Shahu areas. Most of the worshippers were still inside the mosques as militants armed with AK-47 rifles, shotguns, grenades and other explosive devices entered through main gates, clearing their way with gunfire and hurling grenades,

The number of terrorists involved in the Ghari Shahu mosque is not known. while some were holed up inside the building  others took up positions on the  rooftop and minarets, and fired at security officials trying to enter the building. Six blasts were heard inside the mosque.

Four attackers were involved in the Model Town attack; two of them managed to climb over the wall of the mosque and threw grenades, while the other two opened fire outside,

Police and elite forces took control of the two buildings after battling with the gunmen for nearly three hours, according to reports.

May 29, 2010   No Comments

Intelligence agencies confirm Hamid Mir’s voice in audio clip: The Daily Times, May 20

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

Anchor claims damning tape doctored ; By Amir Wasim and Nasir Iqbal in The Dawn, May 19

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.

Legal Notice

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

Tribal fighting in NWFP: op-ed by Arif Ayub in The Nation, May 18

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

Campus battlegrounds: edit in The Dawn, May 18

VIOLENCE on university campuses may be an age-old phenomenon in Pakistan but of late it seems to be taking place with disturbing regularity. Much of the violence has centred on universities in Punjab, though other campuses elsewhere have not been immune. The Islami Jamiat Tulaba has drawn plenty of flak — and rightly so — for its strong-arm tactics on campus. Yet it is only one among many student groups responsible for disturbing campus life and further degrading the moribund academic standards in our universities. Matters are aggravated and become more worrisome when members of the faculty or university administration get involved in student politics or try to settle scores by backing opposing student organisations.

A tussle among faculty members at Bahawalpur’s Islamia University appears to be one of the factors that triggered violence between two student groups in February. The brawl between a group with religious affiliations and another student outfit left several people injured and caused considerable damage to university property. Though the bad blood between the two groups may have stemmed from a desire to dominate campus life, the university administration claims that one of the outfits was provoked into violence by elements within the faculty. Due to the violence many of the students involved have been fined while others have been expelled. The engineering college has been closed since the clash and attempts to restart academic activities have been unsuccessful.

The case illustrates the intensity of the blow that is dealt to education when violence erupts on campus. In the present situation, it will be difficult for many students to make up for the precious academic time that has been lost due to the university’s closure. No doubt, students and teachers have every right to air their grievances. But this must be done in a peaceful manner. Meanwhile, firearms on campus and the presence of outsiders in university hostels — believed to be the case in Islamia University — must not be tolerated. The university administration must ensure that only students have access to hostels while the elimination of weapons from the nation’s campuses will greatly improve the academic environment. http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/editorial/campus-battlegrounds-850

May 18, 2010   No Comments

Turning Pak around op-ed by Naeem Sadiq and Q. Isa Daudpota in The Dawn, May 18

IF you want numbers and statistics, read the Carnegie Endowment reports or the Foreign Policy Institute’s Failed State Index. Pakistanis have had an indication of these stark facts for ages. Using 12 indicators of state cohesion and performance, the 2009 Index shows Pakistan ranked as the 10th ‘most’ failed state of the world — with Somalia, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Chad, Congo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Guinea and Central African Republic ranked worse.

The almost complete breakdown of governance and state machinery has made life for all but the most privileged a daily ordeal. But still there is a way out of this quagmire if people demand with vigour a few essentials from the state and themselves!

‘Unity, faith, discipline’, ‘Roti, kapra, makan’ and ‘Pakistan ka matlab kya’ — such slogans play with public sentiments but have failed to move people. A disillusioned people must naturally want to move beyond this. What then are the principles, actions and tools that are needed to resuscitate the failing state and lead it to a sustainable future? On this journey of recovery we will need to keep track of key parameters that mark progress.

The quality of public services (education, health, water, electricity, public transport, etc) is considered a key parameter of the state’s performance. Economic justice, human rights and treatment of women are the other key factors that indicate the wellbeing of a society.

In addition, the state must be seen to enforce the writ of the law. The state needs to define, plan, implement, measure and improve all these performance indicators dramatically. The role of the media and civil society organisations is to consistently highlight the successes and failures over the long-term.

Until now the media, despite its remarkable successes otherwise, has been inconsistent in following up issues until their resolution — it has pecked at many serious current issues and problems and then moved on. Other organisations have fared worse.

As during the Enlightenment, and earlier as in the golden period of Islam, the use of reason and modern knowledge must become the foundation for reform. Begin by rejecting state slogans and instead measure the state’s performance. Stop bowing to holy cows. Respect must come from good performance, not out of a historical accident.

Take the false slogan: ‘Parliament is supreme’. Parliament is just one component of the ‘state’, like important organs of the state with specific functions. All state institutions have defined functions and no one is either sovereign or operates in a vacuum. Every institution needs to operate effectively within itself and in concert with others while operating within the ambit of the law.

‘We are only accountable to our electorate’ or ‘we are the protectors of the borders of our country and of our people’ are other convoluted slogans that need to be set aside. If members of institutions steal, rape or murder they must be accountable before the law regardless of any ideological slogan used to provide exemption.

Ballot-box democracy has failed the country as has military rule. We must refuse new elections until the electoral process is completely reformed. Unless this is done the corrupt and incompetent will get re-elected. Important aspects that need reform are: reducing election expenses, verifiable election qualifications, ensuring clear verifiable asset declarations and information about public service and criminal records of candidates.

Pakistan must be run by its best citizens and not by imported expats who have managed to serve themselves and their masters at Citicorp, World Bank, the IMF and donor agencies. We must also beware of home-grown-and-nourished ‘economic hit men’ who act as proxies for such institutions, who advise the country to spend beyond its means on mega-projects and become indebted to the lenders forever.

There is today a shameful silence about population control. A political consensus is needed on this immediately — sustainable development is impossible if we keep breeding as we have. Pakistan must strictly adhere to at most zero population growth (two children per family) for which there is precedence in other Muslim countries.

Some of the most important factors for turning the country around are: equality of opportunities, transparency and speedy and equal treatment before law for all citizens. The increasing class disparity needs to be reversed. This can be achieved promptly by mandating that children of all civil and military officials and elected leaders be required to attend government schools and they and their families only receive treatment in government hospitals like every poor person in the country.

These high-ranking persons should only use public or personal transport and all official vehicles be withdrawn. They may not own property or passports of foreign lands. No one shall be entitled to free medical treatment abroad and umrahs and Haj at state expense should be declared an offence. No one shall possess or carry weapons and every citizen shall receive the same level of protection.

The rich and powerful have benefited the most from Pakistan’s failure after having caused it. Unless they are truly threatened by change that will wipe out their looted wealth and current privileges, they will obstruct transformation. The latter can therefore only happen through a large-scale subversion by the people. The ideas of Saul Alinsky, the great US labour organiser, and others of his ilk can provide the needed inspiration. ‘Civil’ society will need to stop being ‘civil’ — it needs to become smart, think innovatively and act decisively to bring about the urgent reformation. http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/editorial/turning-pakistan-around-850

May 18, 2010   No Comments

Pak Ups Money To Get More Recruits As Militancy Dwindles

By Josy Joseph in The Times of India

New Delhi: Kashmiri terrorists and refugees from Jammu and Kashmir in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir have both received a pay hike. According to latest inputs from various intelligence agencies, Pakistani authorities are now offering terrorists coming to fight in J&K a monthly salary in the range of Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000. This is a huge jump from the average pay of Rs 5,000 they were getting earlier.

The reason for this benevolence is obvious. There has been a drastic drop in violence levels in J&K and militancy needs a revival if the separatist agenda has to continue to grab global attention. The number of terrorists in J&K is now hovering around 700, an all-time low since militancy erupted in the state in the late 1980s.

The desperation among terror groups is also visible in the return of Furqan, one of the senior most Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives who had been the group’s launch commander based in PoK for some years now. He infiltrated into J&K in April-end with a group but the Army was able to intercept them. Furqan is believed to have successfully evaded the Army and entered the state. His return, after more than four years, is being seen as a sign of LeT’s desperation to carry out a few sensational attacks.

It is not just Kashmiri militants who have got pay hikes. Those staying back in refugee camps of PoK too have been given increased financial benefits. From Rs 1,800 per month, their allowance has gone up to Rs 2,400 a month early this year, sources said.

Thousands of Kashmiri youth moved across the border to PoK in the past two decades for the explicit purpose of becoming trained militants. Many now want to return.

Bait Money

Pak authorities said to be offering Rs 8,000-10,000 a month to terrorists to fight in J&K, up from Rs 5,000

Only 700-odd terrorists in the state now, the lowest since militancy began in the state in the 1980s. The raise is an attempt to get more recruits

Those who crossed over and stayed back in PoK refugee camps getting Rs 2,400/mth against earlier Rs 1,800 Dole hiked to dissuade refugees from leaving PoK camps?

New Delhi: Pakistan is opening the purse strings to fuel militancy in Kashmir. The monthly salary of Valleybound ‘freedom fighters’ has been hiked to Rs 8,000-Rs 10,000 from Rs 5,000. What’s more, thousands of Kashmiri youth who crossed over to PoK to train but have stayed back in refugee maintenance camps run by the Pakistan government will now get a dole of Rs 2,400 per month against Rs 1,800 hitherto.

There are no clear numbers, but some estimates say as many as 30,000 could be in PoK, holding state subject facility cards which grants them certain rights. Some have married local girls, and many Kashmiri youth have started small businesses.

While inflation is an obvious reason for the hike in monthly allowance for the refugees, the desire of many of them to return to India may have also been a reason for increasing the allowance, officials speculate.

In 2007, when Indian government opened up a liberal surrender policy for Kashmir, almost 150 of them came back. After a year, the policy was tightened, but sources now say that they are looking at revising it. An exodus of these refugees from PoK to J&K would hit Pakistan’s image, say officials. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/5938412.cms?prtpage=1

May 17, 2010   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

New strategy against terrorism: op-ed by Saleem Safi in The News, May 10, 2010

The writer works for Geo TV

It was widely publicised by our interior minister, the US administration and various respectable news outlets that Hakeemullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone attack in South Waziristan. However, this scribe and two other journalists, Mushtaq Yusufzai and Samiullah Dawar, had time and again stated that the TTP leader was not dead (Jang, March 9). Independent sources have now confirmed that the TTP leader is very much alive. This recent development is an indication that many other claims by the US and Pakistani official sources regarding terrorism may be wishful thinking.

The success of the Swat and South Waziristan operations pushed the extremists out of the two areas. Consequently, extremists once holed up in the operation-hit areas slipped into the settled districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and big cities like Karachi and Lahore. The extremists’ dream to establish their writ in Punjab and Karachi will not come true, but they have succeeded in re-establishing a presence and acquire assets there in every urban centre to launch suicide attacks like the ones on the GHQ and American consulate in Peshawar.

Investigations show that planning and arrangements for suicide attacks in Lahore and Rawalpindi had originated in the same cities. More worrisome are the signs that many TTP sympathisers of some mainstream religious parties have been actively helping the militants. The extremists’ capabilities have further been bolstered by their adaptability to the changing tactics of anti-terror agencies.

The official claim that military operations have reduced terrorism is false. In fact, the operations have caused the spread of the terror network in the whole country. Before operations, militants flocked into Swat and tribal areas to dodge arrests or death in the settled areas. But the operations in Swat and the tribal areas sent them back into the cities.

Extremists from the banned Jihadi and sectarian organisations had migrated to South Waziristan to join the TTP under the leadership of Baitullah Mehsud. But drone attacks and military operations rendered the TTP’s command-and-control system ineffective. Consequently, the extremists rejoined their parent organisations and gained considerable operational autonomy within the weakened TTP. Their operational independence is betrayed by the fact that Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Asian Tigers (the Punjabi Taliban) now accept responsibility for all attacks they carry out in the country. The abduction of Col (r) Imam, Sqn Ldr (r) Khalid Khawaja and English journalist Asad Qureshi is an example of this new trend.

The US is hungry for the blood of Osama bin Laden and Mullah Umar, while Pakistan struggles to get rid of Hakeemullah Mehsud. But alive, they may prove a blessing in disguise as the US and Pakistan will need them for talks at an appropriate moment. In Afghanistan, the political solution of the conflict would necessitate talks with bin Laden and Mullah Umar. If Baitullah Mehsud was alive, Pakistan would have needed him for the same purpose.

Pakistan’s policies towards the US, Afghanistan and India have actually resulted in the spread of militancy in Pakistan. Musharraf needed to but never changed those policies, which the present government continues to pursue. Besides, our education, economic and political systems are equally responsible for the mess. State institutions, mainstream religious parties and the media induced young impressionable minds towards violence in pursuit of elusive foreign-policy goals. Even today, people involved in violence abroad are portrayed as heroes. At a certain stage, they were ordered to take a U-turn, which understandably, was not possible overnight.

In the wake of the famous U-turn, Pakistan needed to engage the extremists in a constructive dialogue to explain the emerging scenarios which caused reversals in internal and external policies. They must have been rehabilitated in the society as useful citizens. But on the contrary, they were divided into categories of “good” and “bad,” arbitrarily arrested and were subjected to military operations. In reaction, they began hating Pakistan more than India, and started to avenge their betrayal by targeting this country. Now this problem is becoming more difficult as enemy secret services, especially India’s, are relentlessly indoctrinating extremists that Pakistan was responsible for all their problems and therefore must be the first target. New literature under this philosophy is being prepared and distributed among all organisations.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia’s enemies are brainwashing and inducing Al-Qaeda members to first take on Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to liberate these lands from American stooges. The strategy asks them to take on the US and the West later on. Under this plan, people from this region are trained and transported to Yemen via Iran. This plan is all set to make the situation worse for Saudi Arab and Pakistan, not for the US and its allies.

The Americans, who got a bloody nose in Afghanistan, may soon leave the country without any remorse. But after packing up, the US will face no consequence in the near future. In that scenario, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and their affiliates will train their guns on Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, which will then have to fight their own citizens. To avoid this eventuality, the two countries need to bolster mutual consultations on the issue. They also needed to chalk out a reconciliation plan with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda by following in the footsteps of Libya.
But the questions are: Why Saudi Arabia and Pakistan cannot reconcile with Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, respectively? How is this reconciliation possible?These questions will be taken up in the next column. http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=238407

May 10, 2010   No Comments

Ulema and terrorism: op-ed by Muhammad Ali Siddiqi in The Dawn, May 10

The proceedings at the Deobandi ulema’s recent conference in Lahore must be studied less for its expected refusal to condemn suicide bombings and more for the insight it gives into the psyche of a large section of our powerful ulema community.

Of equal significance are the fissures that came to the fore between hardliners and harder-liners. Evidently, the latter carried the day.

It was gratifying that at least some ulema — among them Maulana Samiul Haq — were cognisant of the negative impact which acts of terrorism were having not on the nation but on the Deobandi image.

While the delegates did indeed plead with the militants to adopt peaceful and democratic means for the establishment of Sharia in Pakistan, a majority of the ulema, according to Nasir Jamal’s reportage (Dawn, May 2), said terrorism would continue to haunt Pakistan as long as “factors and causes” responsible for it continued. What was mind-boggling, however, was the principle some ulema propounded to establish a link between terrorism and government policies.

Briefly, the ulema at the Lahore moot said that the government’s foreign policy was pro-America, and this obedience to commands from Washington in their opinion was the reason behind the militants’ war against the government. That this war against the government and the army translates itself into a war on the state of Pakistan itself was an issue into which the ulema chose not go.

If one were to accept resort to terrorism as a justifiable means for registering dissent against government policies, then every country in this world must be ravaged by terrorism, because there is no government on the surface of the earth whose policies do not have critics. Let us, for instance, see the situation in two of Pakistan’s neighbours — Iran and India — where government policies have diehard foes.

The nuclear deal between America and India was first agreed upon in principle when Manmohan Singh met George Bush in July 2005. It took more than three years for the treaty to go through the various phases of America’s complex constitutional process and approval from the International Atomic Energy Agency and the nuclear suppliers’ group.

The treaty evoked opposition from key members of the Senate and House foreign relations committees, but to my knowledge no senators or congressmen or lobby groups resorted to terrorism or to threats of terrorism to express disapproval of this aspect of the Bush government’s foreign policy.

In India the treaty aroused intense opposition, not only from the traditionally anti-American parties of the Left but also from the extreme rightwing Hindu parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party. The press was equally divided, and influential sections of the print and electronic media came out with highly technical opinions from nuclear scientists who argued that the treaty undermined India’s nuclear programme.

The opposition finally called for the Manmohan government to obtain a vote of confidence, and it goes without saying that the vote saw a phenomenon we in Pakistan are quite familiar with — MPs were bought and convicts brought from prison to cast their votes. All along the intensely emotional debate, no party or group started killing India’s own citizens and blowing up markets and schools and temples and mosques because they thought the Manmohan government had sold India to Washington or to its corporate sector.

To our west, we have a theocracy in Iran, almost as obscurantist and ruthless as Ziaul Haq’s tyranny. The clerics have imposed an ideological dictatorship on Iran, the Internet is censored, foreign channels are banned or shown selectively, there is no opposition press and even government newspapers are often banned when they deviate from the official line.

The economy is in a mess, and crude-producing Iran imports half its oil because of lack of refining capacity. The parliamentary opposition does manage to put its views across, but the real opposition has gone underground. But no opposition group has started killing Iran’s men, women and children and blowing up shopping plazas in Tehran and bombing schools in Isfahan or mosques in Mashhad because President Ahmadinejad is pursuing wrong policies.

It is, however, in Pakistan that some sections of the ulema think that killing our own people is a justified way of expressing dissent against the government’s policies.

Mind you, the government’s perceived pro-American policies do not have opponents merely in the religious right. Even liberal sections of opinion — the recently formed Workers Party Pakistan, for instance — are sharply critical of a continuation of Pervez Musharraf’s war on terror by the PPP-led government. But none of these political parties and elements has justified blasts in Moon market or the blowing up of mosques or a girls’ university to register their protest against the government’s foreign policy.

The religious touch to the ulema’s anti-Americanism is laughable. Just the other day, they were head over heels in love with America, and any opposition to the CIA’s overt and covert operations in Afghanistan was considered heresy because there existed an “indissoluble unity” among the People of the Books.

The ulema know the hurmat Islam attaches to human life. In case some of them have forgotten, the blast in the Rawalpindi Askari mosque on Dec 4 last killed, among others, 16 children.

P.S: For some mysterious reason, ideologically motivated governments, movements and individuals, whether religious or secular — Nazi, Zionist, Taliban — are singularly devoid of the milk of human kindness. The attitude of a large number of Pakistani clerics today reminds us of the Christian church’s cold-bloodedness in burning purported heretics at the stake in medieval Europe. http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/editorial/ulema-and-terrorism-050

May 10, 2010   No Comments