Exclusive: Pakistan: An Inconsistent Ally?

by THE EDITOR July 30, 2010
Financial Corruption
 
Since late 2001, when then-president Pervez Musharraf agreed to be a partner in the “War on Terror”, Pakistan has received $18 billion in aid, with more than half of this money being spent on the Pakistan military.
 
In June 2008, at the end of the Bush administration’s tenure, a report by the Government Accountability Office (GOA) suggested that there was corruption or poor accounting on the part of Pakistan. More than a third of the funding given to Pakistan appeared to have been subject to accounting issues. Roads which had been paid for and were reported to have been built had not been constructed. On June 24, when the GAO report was discussed by the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on national security and foreign affairs, one Congressman (John F. Tierney, D-Mass) noted:
 
“The more I learn about U.S. Coalition Support Funds to Pakistan, the more I am troubled: first, in terms of waste, fraud, and abuse of a huge amount of U.S. taxpayer funds; second, about the program's failure to achieve vital U.S. security objectives; and third, about the program's incompatibility with a long-term strategic partnership between the U.S. and Pakistan.”
 
Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) of the Senate Appropriations Committee claimed:
 
“It seems as though the Pakistani military went on a spending spree with American taxpayers' wallets and no one bothered to investigate the charges.”
 
In August 2009, Foreign Policy reported that:
 
“For the last eight years, U.S. taxpayers' money has funded hardly any bona fide counterterrorism successes, but quite a bit of corruption in the Pakistani Army and intelligence services. The money has enriched individuals at the expense of the proper functioning of the country's institutions. It has provided habitual kleptocrats with further incentives to skim off the top. Despite the U.S. goal of encouraging democratization, assistance to Pakistan has actually weakened the country's civilian government. And perhaps worst of all, it has hindered Pakistan's ability to fight terrorists.”
 
Foreign Policy’s analyst Azeem Ibrahim stated that US money targeted for anti-terrorism work had been used by the Pakistan military to purchase weaponry more suited for conventional combat – such as a potential combat with India – than on equipment designed for genuine anti-terrorism needs.
 
In September 2009, the Times of India reported that the Obama administration was providing 10 Mi-17 troop transport helicopters, spare parts for Cobra helicopter gunships, infrared sensors for F-16 jets, and sophisticated surveillance equipment. This was being done in secret within Pakistan, due to the desire on the part of Pakistani authorities to link counterinsurgency activities to the Americans, who were distrusted, particularly in the tribal regions where the terrorist groups are headquartered.  
 
In the same month, while concerns about Pakistan corruption were at their highest, Pakistan’s president Ali Asif Zardari was claiming that his country could not continue to fight terrorism without American help. Zardari  was wanted for trial on corruption charges by Switzerland and other countries, and was once known as “Mr. Ten Percent” for alleged skimming deals on imports when his wife Benazir Bhutto was president. Zardari was imprisoned in Pakistan from 1997 until 2004 for corruption.
 
On March 28 this year, the LA Times reported on tensions that were arising in Pakistan as a result of American demands for oversight of US funding, to ensure it was being spent properly. John F. Tierney stated that:
 
“I want to make clear to the government of Pakistan that U.S. civilian assistance comes as a package -- funding, programming and oversight. Pakistan cannot accept the funding but deny U.S. agencies the personnel or the access critical to conduct oversight.”
 
This week, Members of Congress voted down (372 to 38) a resolution to withdraw US troops from Pakistan.
 
Pakistan and Terrorism
 
Wikileaks documents on Afghanistan’s War were officially released on Monday morning. These revealed that Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), had been closely involved with insurgents, and had been giving training and support to Afghanistan Taliban who were fighting coalition troops.
 
The release of the leaked US military reports on Afghanistan came shortly after the London School of Economics had compiled a report, authored by Harvard analyst Matt Waldman that stated the same claims – that Pakistan’s ISI had been involved in support for Taliban insurgents in Pakistan and Afghanistan:
 
“As the provider of sanctuary and substantial financial military and logistical support to the insurgency, the ISI appears to have strong strategic and operational influence – reinforced by coercion. There is thus a strong case that the ISI orchestrates, sustains and shapes the overall insurgent campaign.”
 
The ISI report also mentioned that Pakistan’s president, Ali Asif Zardari, had met with Taliban prisoners and had told them that they had been arrested only because he had been under pressure from Americans. Zardari had allegedly told them that they were “Our people” and had also given authorization for some to be released from prison.
 
Waldman wrote that “Pakistan appears to be playing a double-game of astonishing magnitude”:
 
“Although, the Taliban have a strong endogenous impetus, according to Taliban commanders the ISI orchestrates, sustains and strongly influences the movement. They say it gives sanctuary to both Taliban and Haqqani groups, and provides huge support in terms of training, funding, munitions, and supplies. In their words, this is ‘as clear as the sun in the sky’…
 
…. Without a change in Pakistani behavior it will be difficult if not impossible for international forces and the Afghan government to make progress against the insurgency.”
 
Wardman also claimed that:
 
“Pakistan appears to be playing a double-game of astonishing magnitude… The Pakistan government’s apparent duplicity — and awareness of it among the American public and political establishment — could have enormous geopolitical implications.”
 
The report had been corroborated by “former Taliban ministers, a Western analyst and a senior UN official based in Kabul, who said the Taliban largely depend on funding from the ISI and groups in Gulf countries.”
 
David Cameron’s comments
 
This week, Britain’s prime minister David Cameron was in India. While at a technology firm, addressing workers, he made statements about Pakistan. These statements would cause controversy. Cameron said:
 
“We should be very, very clear with Pakistan that we want to see a strong, stable and democratic Pakistan. We cannot tolerate in any sense the idea that this country is allowed to look both ways and is able, in any way, to promote the export of terror, whether to India or whether to Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world….
 
….We – like you – are determined that groups like the Taliban, the Haqqani network or Lashkar e Taiba should not be allowed to launch attacks on Indian and British citizens in India or in Britain.”
 
Pakistan’s government denied Cameron’s claims. This morning, Asif Ali Zardari announced that he would postpone his planned visit to London.
 
The Pakistan government had denied claims in the London School of Economics report, authored by Matt Waldman, that the ISI had been involved in assisting the Taliban. Pakistan has also denied claims made in Wikipedia’s leaked US military reports that maintained that the ISI, and particularly a former ISI director called Hamid Gul, had been directly involved in supporting and liaising with the Taliban.
 
 
As reported earlier on FamilySecurityMatters.org, three people had been kidnapped in North Waziristan, Pakistan, on March 24 this year. Originally it was suggested that the kidnappers were called the “Asian Tigers” a group that had never been heard of before. The three men included two former senior ISI officials, Khalid Khwaja and retired Colonel Sultan Amir Tarar (aka “Colonel Imam”). The men were returning after visiting Pakistan Taliban leaders Sirajuddin Haqqani (pictured above), who was acting head of the Haqqani network, and Waliur Rahman Mehsud.
 
Originally it was suggested that the kidnappers were called the “Asian Tigers” a group that had never been heard of before. FlashPoint-Intel has recently received a video of Colonel Imam, in which he claims that he is being held by “Lashkar Jhangvi al-Alami, [led by] Abdullah Mansoor". He gives a statement (pdf) in this video, which he says he delivered on July 24. Colonel Imam said that he had been abandoned by the Pakistani government, and threatened to release sensitive information. He stated:
 
"You people know about the services I rendered for my country. If the Pakistan government does not care about me, then I don’t have any reason to care about the nation either, and [I] will reveal all the weaknesses of our nation. Whatever game is being played with Afghanistan, India, Russia, and America, I know about all of it."
 
Imam had been instrumental in helping to set up the Taliban in Afghanistan, who took control of the country in September 28, 1997 after murdering, castrating and hanging Mohammad Najibullah and his brother. “Colonel Imam” – through his involvements with the ISI - may have genuinely sensitive information that could damage the Pakistani authorities.
 
Lashkar Jhangvi al-Alami is reportedly an offshoot of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni extremist group known for using bombings and fomenting sectarian conflict against Shia Muslims, and also against Pakistani Christians. In April this year, Lashkar Jhangvi al-Alami claimed responsibility for a suicide attack carried out in Kohat by two burka-clad women. That attack killed 44 and injured 70. 
 
On April 24, Asia Times released a video that it had been given, in which Khalid Khawaja had confessed that:
 
"I brought here a list of 14 commanders and was aiming to malign them among militant circles ... Abdullah Shah Mazhar, Fazlur Rahman Khalil, Masood Azhar and jihadi organizations like Laskhar-e-Taiba, al-Badr, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Harkatul Mujahideen, Jamiatul Mujahideen etc operate with the financial cooperation of the Pakistani secret services and they are allowed [to] collect their funds inside Pakistan.”
 
Khawaja was shot dead on April 28, and his body had been left by a roadside.
 
In an earlier video, Khawaja and Colonel Imam had stated that they had been following advice given by former Army Chief General Aslam Baig (Beg) and former ISI Lieutenant General (ret’d) Hamid Gul. Khawaja also claimed that a currently-serving ISI official, Colonel Sajjad, had urged them to visit Taliban leaders.
 
 
There is an Abdullah Mansour who is closely involved with the Turkistan Islamic Party, which is based in North Waziristan, the region where Colonel Imam and Khalid Khawaja were kidnapped. A NEFA Foundation document from 2008 (pdf) describes the group’s battle against China. It is possible that he is head of the newly-formed Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami group.
 
In the recent videotape released by Colonel Imam’s kidnappers, the colonel asked for PresidentZardari, prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, the ISI director-general, Hamid Gul and retired General Mirza Aslam Beg to accept the demands of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami. These demands had been sent in CDs and statements to the Pakistan government, but had not been publicly released. By specifically mentioning Hamid Gul – who has denied his involvement in any illicit ISI activities in Afghanistan – there appears further confirmation that Gul never retired from the ISI and is still active and influential in the agency’s undercover and illicit activities.
 
The problems of the Pakistan and the ISI also involve the military. The leadership of the ISI has almost exclusively been drawn from the Pakistani army. The current head of the army, General Ashfaq Kayani, replaced General Musharraf as army chief when he stepped down in late 2007. At the time that he took over the role of army head, Kayani was the head of the ISI.
 
 
 In an earlier FSM report, I discussed the stories that alleged that General Ashfaq Kayani, assisted by the current head of the ISI, had recently met with Hamid Karzai, president of Afghanistan, and also Sirajudin Haqqani, active head of the Haqqani network, who is also involved with the Pakistani Taliban. The Haqqani network is also said to have close links to Al Qaeda.
 
Kayani, apparently acting in concert with the ISI in secret deals in Afghanistan, will remain in his post until 2013, it has recently been announced. The military in Pakistan cannot be trusted, and there is no reason why anyone should trust Kayani’s intentions.
 
One person does seem to think that the situation in Pakistan is changing.
 
In today’s edition of the Pakistan Daily Times, there is a report that vice president Joe Biden has announced that the ISI was “changing” its behavior towards Afghanistan. On NBC, Biden said:
 
“I’m getting very close to what I shouldn’t be talking about in terms of classification. But what was talked about in those leaks were the intelligence community within the ISI. That is the sort of the CIA of Pakistan. That has been a problem in the past. It is a problem we’re dealing with and is changing…
 
… There are not monies being diverted from the public works and economic projects that are needed to sustain a democracy in Pakistan to the bad guys that exist within Pakistan. There’s not money being diverted from the military purposes that are designed to deal with counter-terrorism to those areas…. We’re in Afghanistan for one express purpose, al Qaeda, the threat to the US. Al Qaeda exists in those mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan. We are not there to nation build. We’re not out there deciding we’re going to turn this into a Jeffersonian democracy and build that country.”
 
In another article in today’s Pakistan Daily Times, the attitudes of the Pakistani public are explored. Even if the Pakistani army, the Zardari-Gilani government and the ISI all decide to change their currently duplicitous patterns of behavior, there is still little support for America from the Pakistani people.
 
The article, based on research by Pew Research Center, declares that 59 per cent of Pakistan civilians regard the USA as an enemy. In 2009, 64 per cent thought of America as the enemy. Interestingly, more than eight out of ten Pakistanis (84 per cent) regard China as a “partner”.  More people in Pakistan think that India is a greater threat to their country than al Qaeda.
 
There are worries among the American people about the war being waged in Afghanistan. There should also be worries about how far Pakistan can be trusted, and whether or not it deserves the amount of American money being given to it.
 

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