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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Death of ObL, Nightmare for Pakistan: AQ Khan Under Threats; Army Chief Suggests to Nawaz Not to Demand Resignations; ISI Chief Surrenders to Parliament But His Tone Remains Unchanged?

Nawaz’s Bid to Mend Fences With US? Pak-US Agreement on Joint Operation for High Value Targets in Future?
By Aijaz Ahmed
Islamabad:  Developments are taking place at a fast pace ever since Osama bin Laden was killed in a limited operation by US Navy SEALs in Abbottabad, 60 miles north of the federal capital, Islamabad.

The life of the most wanted man on earth was dangerous for peace and stability in Pakistan, but his death has become a nightmare for Pakistan, that puts the very fiber of the society at stake and integrity of the country in danger. The “Ghairat” (honor) brigade of media is very active as it is trying to bring the democratic dispensation under pressure on one hand and point its guns towards the security institutions on the other hand.

The debate sparked by the May 2 operation focused on Pakistan’s national sovereignty, but nobody amongst the hawks were ready to accept the fact that although the US action was undoubtedly a clear breach of the national sovereignty, the presence of ObL on Pakistani soil, especially in a garrison city like Abbottabad had equally subverted the national sovereignty and undermined our security framework.

However, the debate brought some positive changes and a bit of success for Pakistan, thanks to the civilian leadership from different parliamentary parties. The sources in power corridors have confided that the way the civilian leadership has played was actual reason for US to respond to the concerns expressed by Pakistan.

According to some sources, the president was actual force behind the move; he played in a way that finally brought everything towards him for a final settlement, thus for the time being civilian supremacy is accepted by worthy military establishment and that the whole elected political lot including Mian Nawaz Sharif provided him an opportunity to strengthen the civilian rule and also a moral authority in the present unpleasant situation.
Us Senator Kerry meeting president Zardari. PM, Interior Minister, COAS & US ambassador also seen in the picture.
Sources in the presidency say that during the luncheon meeting with US Senator and Chairman of Foreign Relations Committee of US Senate, also attended by PM Gilani and COAS General Kayani, president remained very reserve. According to the prepared plan he along with PM Gilani and Army Chief General Kayani met with the US representative with an expression less face, which is very unusual. Except for the photo session, he or anybody else from Pakistan side did not smile even for a single time and kept the talks focused around the resolution unanimously passed by in-camera joint sitting of the parliament held on the night between 13th and 14th May.

The tough and strong arguments regarding the global view about attitude of Pakistan and its agencies and presence of Osama in a city like Abbottabad were exchanged, but the US senator had to agree on certain Pakistani conditions. The joint communiqué issued simultaneously by the Government and the US Embassy was prepared with the consent of Senator Kerry who himself gave go-ahead to the final draft of the declaration.

The joint declaration cited an agreement on joint operations in future if such a situation arises. But the hidden part of the meeting and agreement, which was not published for the media in the declaration, suggests that military and intelligence cooperation will follow some rules and will remain within some limits. For each case the ToRs of cooperation and responsibilities will be prepared in written shape in future, the IH reliability learnt.

Both the parties have agreed to reduce number of US defense personnel from existing more than 120 to 40. They also agreed to reduce CIA operatives in Pakistan according to the list prepared by the recent corps commanders conference and was handed over to CIA Station Chief in Islamabad, sources further confided.

The all three pillars were on the same page even before Senator Kerry arrived, sources in the power corridors confided. The US might not be sincere with Pakistan even after the recent agreement but Secretary of State Clinton’s call to president Zardari at the time when Kerry was meeting the COAS and later to the PM when he concluded his meeting with Kerry indicates that the US feared that loosing Pakistan may also be tantamount to loosing Afghanistan and putting 130,000 US soldiers in Afghanistan at stake especially in view of the recent attack by Taliban with an improvised device on British soldiers, and thus Pakistan took advantage of this psychological barrier, sources maintained.

On the other hand, the internal situation is still undergoing rapid changes, although all parties in the parliament along with PMLN willingly or unwillingly provided invisible support to the government, and situation is bit eased up for the civilians at the helm of the affairs, but still threats to system and civil military relations are at stake. Policy makers and the security agencies still fear that the US will not digest the strong reaction by Pakistan and will make another attempt to subvert Pakistan’s sovereignty. This time the target could be Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, father of the nuclear program.   
Pakistani scientist, A. Qadeer Khan

The government is being constantly apprised by the security apparatus that the security threats for Dr. AQ Khan are at peak, the house around AQ Khans’ residence has been hired by foreigners and they can harm or abduct him for their gains, sources maintained.

The security of AQ Khan is being beefed up, but the future of civil military relations remains a million dollar question as the country is passing through the post Kargil like situation when Mian Nawaz Sharif was sent to Washington to cover up the blunder committed by General Musharraf and his cronies, sources confided.

The indications for the very fact were witnessed during the recent joint parliamentary sitting, which lasted for more than 10 hours. Indeed the military leadership admitted its failure, but the briefing given to the sitting was not very significant, says Syed Zafar Ali Shah, a PML-N hawk. Although general Pasha surrendered before the parliament, it was for the sake of their institution, and not for the supremacy of the civilian rule, he added. The attitude of the uniformed top brass was rather contemptuous towards the elected representatives of the country, sources said adding that it was evident from the tone of the soldiers and the response they given to the elected representatives who asked tough questions or pointed out political hobnobbing by the agencies.

The tone was harsh and not like that of a person wanting to admit his mistakes, said Zafar Ali Shah. He however, was silent on the question that why PML-N did not ask for certain resignations over the Abbottabad incident. Sources closed to Mian Nawaz Sharif on the other hand answered this question. The close circles of Mian Nawaz Sharif have confided that the Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani had a one on one meeting with Mian Nawaz Sharif on May 9th at his residence in Murree. The said meting took place on the first day of PML-N central leadership’s meeting in Islamabad when Mian Sb asked his party men to demand for the resignation of military top brass.

PML-N sources are of the view that Mian Sb was to demand resignations during his next day press briefing, and some how this was conveyed to the Army leadership that created bit of worry in Rawalpindi, thus the COAS rushed himself to his Murree residence and requested him not to do so. Mian Sb, according to the sources while accepting the suggestion, changed his words, but kept very harsh tone. This was also indicated in 15th May media briefing when he demanded agencies budget and expenditure to be presented in the parliament.

The said statement was delivered short after his meeting with US Ambassador Cameron Munter, thus created an impression that he is trying to mend fences with US to once again coming in the good books, but in present situation it will reflect negatively for his politics in his strong hold of central Punjab.

On the other hand, some more information has been revealed regarding ObL investigations through the record recovered from his residence in Abbottabad, and sources said that the issue is being raised with the US authorities, as the same record is also available with them.

The intelligence communiqué sent to the PM House and presidency shows initial investigation results. The agencies in the initial report have claimed that a large quantity of drugs having tags of “Dawa Khana” famous clinic of Hyderabad (India) owned by Hakim Nasir Hyderabadi was recovered from the ObL compound. This shows that he was under treatment of the said quake.

The report also revealed that apart from Passports of his wives, letters and telephone numbers of certain Indians having reported links with ObL’s network were also recovered. The letters reveal that he was in constant touch with not only Hakim Nasir but also was in touch with Madan Lal Kohli, Praveen Kumar Advani and others.

The facts are still to be ascertained, but may be substantiated with the recent claims of Western media indicating some Indian connection being used for money transaction by ObL and Al-Qaeda. Report further reveals that a box of mobile SIMs was also recovered from ObL’s bedroom and these SIMs were used for making contact with these and other people around the globe. The letters, according to the report were sent to some other address and then taken to ObL’s house; thus the address of the house in which ObL was killed was not mentioned.

Madan Lal is a trader of onions and also supplies food items to Indian Consulate at Kandhar, Afghanistan, thus suspected of having links with intelligence agencies as well. The letters and the record also indicate that ObL also had contacts with Afghan Taliban and also with some other factions of Taliban elsewhere including Pakistan. About Mr. Advani report does not say much except that he is an Afghan business Tycoon having links and business with India.

It is also indicated in the report that shortly after the operation, security in Abbottabad was beefed up. During the house-to-house search in the area it was revealed that residents of another nearby house have disappeared. No clue about the missing residents of nearby house was indicated, but it is suspected that they were also working as messenger for ObL. It is also reported to the government that three persons were arrested from the same and nearby localities in Abbottabad last year. Record of All hotels of Abbottabad and Nathia Gali is also taken into possession to ascertain whereabouts and background of the foreigners who resided there during last five years.

Closing Note:  Meetings of Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador at Washington with Military and civilian leadership are about to produce productive and positive results for him. Although he was in town in relation to Senator Kerry’s visit, he had meetings with military top brass and Agency chiefs and apparently succeeded to restore their confidence and thus is expected to complete his present extension in tenure as ambassador, sources maintained.

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