Ahmad Rashid rose to prominence after the Marxist-leninist insurgency in Baluchistan. He was part of the marxist nucleus which was fighting in Baluchistan. Another young man in this group was Najam Sethi who along with Tariq Ali are considered first of the “New Left” in Pakistan. Those who introduced Trotsky’s writings for the first time in Pakistani Left wing (which was hard core Stalinist and Maoist in those days). Both Rashid and Sethi soon quit being revolutionaries and emerged as seasoned political commentators and analysts operating in the “Post-marxist” paradigm. Amongst them Rashid is more academic, his work on Taliban and United States policy towards Afghanistan and central Asia is considered authoritative. He is perhaps the most objective analyst on Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the following article he puts Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti’s murders in perspective . While its fundamental to criticize the role of military establishment the abject surrender by Zardari regime should never be underestimated. Its the vacum being left by the weaker “political establishment” which is being filled in by the proto-fascist elements.  This sense of proportion is lacking in most progressive analysis coming from Pakistan but Ahmad Rashid’s highly analytical mind superbly achieves this balance. This is without any question one of best writing on recent crisis of Islamic Republic.

Shaheryar Ali

 

Ahmad Rashid : New York Review of Books Blog (With Thanks)

The assassination on Wednesday of Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s Federal Minister of Minorities, killed in broad daylight in Islamabad by four gunmen, is one of the most shameful acts of political violence committed by Pakistani extremists. That it comes just two months after the murder of Salman Taseer, the Governor of Punjab and one of the country’s leading liberal voices makes it all the more chilling. Yet the government and state’s reaction to the two killings has been even more shameful—raising the disturbing possibility that extremism is still being used by the security services in its efforts to oppose Western policies in the region.

The 40-year-old Bhatti was a Roman Catholic and the only Christian member of the cabinet of Prime Minister Yousf Reza Gailani. It was a death foretold. Taseer had been assassinated for his courageous struggle to amend Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which has been used to persecute minorities—a struggle to which Bhatti had also dedicated himself. Bhatti made a videotape some months ago that he wanted released to the BBC if he was killed. In it he said he would carry on the campaign to amend the blasphemy law.

“I will prefer to die for the cause [of defending] the rights of my community rather than to compromise on my principles,” Bhatti said in the tape. “The forces of violence, militants, banned organizations, Taliban and al-Qaeda, want to impose their radical philosophy in Pakistan and whosoever stands against it, they threaten him.”

Bhatti knew his life was in danger; he had been threatened repeatedly in recent weeks and had asked the government to provide him with security and a bulletproof vehicle. But even after Taseer’s murder, the government did nothing. Like Taseer, he ended up riddled with machine gun fire—though it is unclear whether a security detail might have helped, since Taseer was shot dead by his own bodyguard, a highly trained police officer. In both cases, the killers have come from a culture that has grown increasingly intolerant in recent years, abounds in conspiracy theories, and wrongly interprets Islam solely in terms of jihad and violence.

As leaders worldwide—from the Pope to Hillary Clinton to Nicolas Sarkozy—strongly condemn Bhatti’s murder, the reaction of the Pakistani government has been vapid. No action has been taken or promises made to curb the freedom of violent extremist groups, who have hailed both murders and who have meanwhile been staging daily street demonstrations in Lahore to demand the death sentence for Raymond Davis, the American CIA agent who is now in Pakistani custody after killing two Pakistani men believed to be agents for the army’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). (Davis was part of a secret team working in the country; the exposure of his activities puts further strain on the uneasy alliance between the US and Pakistan.)

For its part, the army has so far failed to express regret about either Bhatti’s murder or Taseer’s. The army chief General Ashfaq Kayani declined to publicly condemn Taseer’s death or even to issue a public condolence to his family. He told Western ambassadors in January in Islamabad that there were too many soldiers in the ranks who sympathize with the killer, and showed them a scrapbook of photographs of Taseer’s killer being hailed as a hero by fellow police officers. Any public statement, he hinted, could endanger the army’s unity.

Behind this silence lies something more sinister. For decades the army and the ISI have controlled the extremist groups, arming and training them in exchange for their continuing to serve as proxy forces in Afghanistan and Kashmir. But in recent years, the army has lost control of them and they are striking targets of their own. Yet the army has refused to help crack down on its rogue protégés—despite the fact that extremists have increasingly attacked the army and the ISI itself, and at least 2,000 military personnel have died at their hands in the past five years. This is all the more ominous in view of the resources the military commands: half a million men, another half a million reserves, 110 nuclear weapons (according to US media estimates) and one of the largest intelligence agencies in the world, the ISI, which has an estimated 100,000 employees.

If the army has now surrendered any willingness to take on the extremists, the political establishment had already given up long ago. Prime Minister Gailani and President Asif Ali Zardari head the Pakistan People’s Party, the largest national party in the country—some would say the only national party left. Zardari, as the husband of slain leader Benazir Bhutto, is no stranger to extremism himself, and his populist base has traditionally voted for the party’s anti-mullah, anti-army and pro-people policies. Unfortunately those principles were abandoned by a series of corrupt and ineffectual leaders, and the PPP today is not even a shadow of what it once was.

Zardari has backtracked on foreign policy goals such as improving relations with India and Afghanistan, as well as on domestic efforts to curb the power of the extremists and impose new taxes—on almost everything that may have helped Pakistan move towards becoming a modern state. There is no doubt that the army has tried to thwart the civilian leaders at almost every turn—but rather than resist or resign, the politicians have just been brow beaten into compliance and abject submission.

As a result, there is a vicious double game playing out in the streets, fueling the tensions that resulted in Bhatti’s death. The security agencies have unleashed Lashkar-e-Taiba (LT)—the largest and most feared extremist group in Pakistan, which was behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks—on to the streets of Lahore. The group has been banned by the US, Britain and the United Nations and supposedly by Pakistan too. LT stalwarts have been demonstrating daily outside the US consulate to ensure that Raymond Davis—who was apparently charged with monitoring their activities—hangs. By giving free reign to such banned groups the security agencies may have inadvertently signaled to all extremist groups, including the sectarian groups who hate Christians, that they are free to take the law into their own hands. What is behind this complex and mind-boggling strategy? It is all part of a wider cat and mouse escalation between the US and the Pakistani military. The army wants to control any future peace talks that the US may have with the Taliban, so that the army’s aims for a future pro-Pakistan Afghan government in Kabul are met. Its leaders also want to make doubly sure that any long-term American arrangements do not leave Pakistan’s rival India in a stronger position in Afghanistan.

So far the US seems unmoved; and it has already circumvented the ISI to start indirect peace talks with some Taliban. One consequence is that the military are allowing extremist groups considered anathema to the US on the streets. This is also why Davis is not being freed, and why US-Pakistan relations are at their worst in many years. In the meantime, the army and the government continue to receive about $3 billion a year in US military and economic aid.

On March 3, Senator Bob Corker, who recently visited Islamabad, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he found Pakistan “the most disheartening place in the world to be, where you are talking the type of relationship that we have.” He added, “I think that in many ways we get played like a piece of music” by the Pakistanis.

The ISI may well be playing the Americans, but it does so at the cost of steadily ceding ground to the extremists. Right now Pakistan is becoming a place where there is an army without a country.

 

Source: http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2011/mar/04/army-without-country/

With thanks: Online Journal

WMR has learned from U.S. intelligence veterans that the secret intelligence operation run by Vice President Dick Cheney was not under the aegis of the Central Intelligence Agency but was a component of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Department of Defense.

The JSOC unit carried out assassinations of foreign individuals, including politicians in countries friendly to the United States, under the direct orders of Cheney. One former intelligence official described the operation as a new “Phoenix Program.”

Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto

During the Vietnam War, the CIA’s Phoenix program, carried out, with the cooperation of U.S. Special Operations forces, identified key Vietcong leaders in South Vietnamese villages and towns and later assassinated them. What the CIA was involved with from the days subsequent to the 9/11 attacks was a similar operation in Afghanistan and Pakistan that identified key leaders of “Al Qaeda” and the Taliban and planned their assassinations.

However, what the CIA abandoned was Cheney’s use of the operation, in part organized under then-CIA director George Tenet’s “Worldwide Attack Matrix” or “WAM,” to target real or perceived political enemies in other countries, possibly including individuals in the United States. CIA director Leon Panetta officially terminated the CIA’s residual role in the assassination program after an eight-year involvement and informed Congress that they had been misled about the nature of the program.

The only actual part of the CIA that worked with the Pentagon’s assassination unit under JSOC was the Special Activities Division (SAD) of the CIA, itself largely comprised of former U.S. Special Operations personnel, including a number of former Delta Force members.

Far from being concerned about revelations about the program, WMR has learned that rank-and-file CIA officers are ecstatic about the revelations concerning Cheney’s operations. In knowing that most in the CIA, perhaps with the noted exceptions of deputy director of the CIA, Stephen Kappes, and acting CIA general counsel John Rizzo, were not involved in Cheney’s assassination ring, which is considered by many CIA officers to have been illegal, there is a certain amount of glee in realizing that Cheney may soon face the legal music on ordering illegal assassinations.

One retired CIA officer who was involved in the original clandestine targeting program before it was altered by Cheney, believes that the CIA has Cheney “by the balls” over the new revelations about the death squads.

WMR has been told by a U.S. intelligence source that the one person who poses the greatest threat to Cheney is former CIA director George Tenet, who claims that Cheney’s operation was so secretive he was not aware of its details. Tenet has been described as having few friends from the Bush-Cheney administration and has nothing to lose by making public what he knows about Cheney’s role in the assassination operation. Although the Cheney/JSOC operation continued under CIA directors Porter Goss and General Michael Hayden, neither are considered particularly vulnerable, except for their possible testimonies under oath before congressional committees.

The most high-profile target of the secret Cheney assassination squad, according to high-level CIA sources, allegedly was former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, assassinated on December 27, 2007, in Rawalpindi, the heart of Pakistan’s military and intelligence community.

WMR reported the assassination as follows on December 27, 2007: “Bhutto was reportedly first shot in the neck and chest and then killed in a suicide bomb blast at a campaign rally. Bhutto’s closest advisers immediately suspected the involvement of Pakistan’s military and intelligence complex in the assassination, an event which is thought by many to strengthen the hand of Musharraf and Pakistan’s dictatorship. The global corporate media, in practical unison, began echoing the tired tripe that ‘Al Qaeda’ was responsible for Bhutto’s assassination. However, ‘Al Qaeda’ was fostered by Pakistan’s military and intelligence community with large amounts of funding from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.”

According to our CIA sources, Cheney decided that every effort should be made to ensure that his friend, Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, remain in power in Pakistan and not be replaced by Bhutto. Cheney allegedly authorized his secret assassination unit to hit Bhutto and then maximize his political gain by blaming the attack on “Al Qaeda.”

Cheney’s alleged hit on Bhutto also involved U.S. and Pakistani electronic surveillance of her communications. On February 21, 2008, WMR reported: “The late former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto knew that all her phone conversations and e-mails were being monitored by Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and ‘other intelligence agencies,’ according to her long time friend and co-author Mark Siegel. Siegel made his comments last night in a speech at the National Press Club highlighting ‘Reconciliation,’ a book he co-authored with Bhutto shortly before her assassination. Siegel said he and Bhutto were convinced that during her five years of exile in Dubai that all their phone calls between Washington, DC, and Dubai were being monitored by ISI. Since ISI does not possess its own significant eavesdropping capability in the United States, Bhutto’s reference to ‘other agencies’ is an indication that the US National Security Agency (NSA) was eavesdropping on Bhutto and passing some of the intelligence to the ISI and the government of Pakistani dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf.”

The House Intelligence Committee is promising to investigate the details of the program and on July 12, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said he believes there will be additional revelations forthcoming about the super-secret Cheney program.

Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.

Copyright © 2009 WayneMadenReport.com

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report

From the BBC

“The news regarding our respected chief is propaganda by our enemies,” he said.

“We know what our enemies want to achieve – it’s the joint policy of the [Pakistani intelligence service] ISI and FBI – they want our chief to come out in the open so they can achieve their target.”

A close associate of Pakistan’s most wanted man, Baitullah Mehsud, who was reportedly killed in a US drone attack, has told the BBC he is alive.

Commander Hakimullah Mehsud said reports of the Taliban leader’s death three days ago in an attack on a house in South Waziristan were “ridiculous”.

The US said on Friday it was increasingly confident its forces had managed to kill Mr Mehsud.

Neither side has provided evidence to back up their claims so far.

Pakistan’s foreign minister said on Friday he was “pretty certain” Baitullah Mehsud had been killed.

The White House described Baitullah Mehsud as "a murderous thug"

The White House described Baitullah Mehsud as "a murderous thug"

But Commander Hakimullah Mehsud – who some analysts suggest may be positioning himself to succeed Baitullah Mehsud – told the BBC the reports of his death were the work of US and Pakistani intelligence agencies.

“The news regarding our respected chief is propaganda by our enemies,” he said.

“We know what our enemies want to achieve – it’s the joint policy of the [Pakistani intelligence service] ISI and FBI – they want our chief to come out in the open so they can achieve their target.”

He said the Pakistani leader had decided to adopt the tactics of Osama bin Laden and stay silent. He said he would issue a message in the next few days.

‘Safer’

The missile fired by the US drone hit the home of the Taliban chief’s father-in-law, Malik Ikramuddin, in the Zangarha area, 15km (9 miles) north-east of Ladha, at around 0100 on Wednesday (1900 GMT Tuesday).

On Friday, another of Baitullah Mehsud’s aides told the Associated Press by telephone that his leader had been killed along with his second wife in the attack.

The White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, described Baitullah Mehsud as “a murderous thug”, saying the Pakistani people would be safer if he was dead.

“There seems to be a growing consensus among credible observers that he is indeed dead,” he told reporters.

South Waziristan is a stronghold of the Taliban chief, who declared himself leader in late 2007, grouping together some 13 factions in the northwest of the country.

Believed to command as many as 20,000 pro-Taliban militants, he came to worldwide attention in the aftermath of the 2007 Red Mosque siege in Islamabad – in which the security forces confronted and forcibly ejected militant students who were mostly loyal to him.

He has been blamed by both Pakistan and the US for a series of suicide bomb attacks in the country, as well as suicide attacks on Western forces across the border in Afghanistan

Tehrik-e- Taliban Pakistan has also denied the news of Mehsood’s death, see the story at BBC Urdu. Please also see this analysis by Haroon Rashid

Its Shameful the way Pakistani media has destroyed the Objectivity. Shame on those pro establishment pseudo secular clowns who are calling a “unconfirmed” new “Confirmed”. We dont know weather he is dead or Alive, we will only believe when we will see an evidence.

SA