Feb 25, 2009
It is now getting clear as to why FATA has been declared most dangerous place on earth. After making series of allegations that FATA is the main breeding ground where militants and suicide bombers are trained for launching into Afghanistan; where the entire senior leadership of Al-Qaeda and Taliban is housed; and from where possible attack on US homeland would take off, so far not a single training camp has been located in FATA, nor any high-profile militant leader nabbed or killed. This is in spite of continuous hovering of spy planes and next door US-NATO troops equipped with latest state-of-the-art surveillance and detection gadgets breathing over Pakistan’s neck, and RAW-CIA-Mossad agents having infiltrated into FATA in big numbers.
If CIA controlled drones can hit suspected houses, madrassas and Hujras based on intelligence, why have they been unable to detect so-called training sites and the top wanted leaders? Why have the drones not taken a pot shot at Baitullah Mehsud or Maulana Fazlullah if the US considers Pakistani Taliban a threat? The fact is that whatever has been said about FATA is pack of white lies uttered with sinister designs. All sorts of harrowing stories were cooked up to justify drone attacks as well as ground raids in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt. Blatant lies are similar to the WMD falsehood to justify invasion of Iraq. Why not Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan or for that matter India which has become the hub-centre of extremism and terrorism been added to the list of most dangerous places?
Other than the militants, which the US is keen to eliminate, Pakistan army and the ISI also continue to remain in CIA’s firing line. CIA is deliberately leaking out stories in US leading newspapers while CNN, Fox News drum beats scandalous news on electronic media to malign the two institutions. The allegations made against the two institutions range from collaboration with the Taliban and playing a double game. The themes played are: One, the army is either incapable of dealing with militants or is soft towards them; Two, the army has surrendered FATA and Swat to the Taliban; Three, the army uses the Taliban as a weapon to regain strategic depth in Afghanistan; Four, the army is not under civil government control; Five, the ISI trains, equips and launches militants into Pakistan to hit Afghan-Nato targets.
In order to nullify the negative impact of deadly drone attacks which have killed mostly innocent men, women and children, USA has launched a bizarre campaign in its bid to convince Pakistanis and the world that drones are flown from air bases in Baluchistan and not from Afghanistan. Earlier on it was stated that there was a tacit understanding between Gen Musharraf and USA and that Zardari on his visit to Washington had given his blessing to continue drone attacks. It was also said that missile attacks were conducted without informing Pakistan because of strong suspicion that the army and the ISI forewarned the Taliban about the intended attack.
David E Sanger and Ron Suskind, both from USA have belatedly come up with news that Gen Musharraf had played a double game. In his book 'Inheritance’, Sanger claims that he learnt about the ISI and Pakistani Generals protecting the Taliban by listening to the highly classified tapes in which telephonic conversations of top Pakistani Generals with the then ISI chief were recorded. Who will buy this crap for everyone knows that Generals use highly secured communication system which cannot be breached. More so, why the hell they should be discussing Taliban over phones? Diane Feinstein, chairperson of US Senate Committee on Intelligence came out with a startling disclosure that US drones were operating form certain ISI bases within Pakistan and that USAF and US army had nothing to do with it. The ISI was deliberately added to generate feelings of hatred against it. Who doesn’t know that the ISI do not control any bases and that drones are flown from Bagram air base in Afghanistan? It is also a known fact that Shamsi and Dalbaldin air bases are utilized by CIA and FBI for covert operations in Baluchistan and Iran.
The CIA and ISI have always enjoyed cordial relations. The Afghan war against the Soviets brought the two very close to each other. This closeness got reinvigorated when Pakistan volunteered to become the frontline state against war on terror. The two sailed along smoothly till as late as 2007 after which there was a sudden shift in CIA’s attitude. This change in attitude occurred after ISI learnt about CIA playing a double game in FATA and Baluchistan by providing all out assistance to RAW to destabilize the marked regions. When ISI became cautious and started to take protective measures, it irked CIA and started to distance itself. CIA’s relations with Pak army and the ISI became strained when the army-ISI outspread details of drug trade in Afghanistan in which CIA, RAW and Mossad were deeply involved. This disclosure with proofs was made when the USA had begun to tantalize Pak army and blamed it for its woes in Afghanistan. Pakistan argued that one of the principle reasons for USA not being able to control militancy in Afghanistan was the unchecked drug trade which was also a source of income for the militants to fund their militancy. It transpired that CIA assisted by India was sponsoring multi-billon dollar Afghan drug trade. The duo banks on $3 trillion worth of drug money each year, generated through heroin production and its subsequent sale across the world. Drug money is used by CIA for carrying out covert operations in the world. RAW utilizes drug money for running tens of training camps, for recruiting and equipping agents and suicide bombers and funding dissident elements within Pakistan.
Exposure of this racket angered CIA and relations of the two soured. Matters worsened when the Indian defence attaché serving in Indian Embassy in Kabul got killed on 7 July 2008 suicide bombing. He was a lynchpin arranging drug deals and hence very dear to the CIA. RAW convinced CIA that the attack had been perpetrated by ISI. It infuriated CIA so intensely that it vowed to teach ISI a lesson. We remember how Deputy Director CIA and Adm. Mullen came fuming to Pakistan and expressed their deepest concern. Ever since, CIA is not missing any opportunity to fire salvos to defame and axe this premier organization which provides first line of defence to Pakistan.
Otherwise too, both CIA and RAW consider the army and ISI as the only bottlenecks which are blocking their route to denuclearize Pakistan. Among the many conditions attached to Benazir return to Pakistan was to turn the army into a counter terrorism force and to bring the ISI and the nuclear program under civilian control. A serious attempt was made in August last year when the ISI had nearly been placed under Ministry of Interior. CIA was part of the gory drama of Mumbai in which the army and ISI in particular were blamed. The CIA not only exercises control over US media and think tanks which it uses for propaganda purposes and for forming perceptions, it has also cultivated intellectuals, writers, journalists, English newspapers and TV channels in Pakistan and uses Pakistani brigade to supplement its propaganda warfare. Among the latter category some are based in foreign countries but subscribe their articles in Pakistan’s leading English newspapers. Of late this brigade has become very active and is parroting dictated themes with greatest vigor.
There is no denying the fact that the CIA used drug money to finance war against the Soviets in the 1980s. Earlier on it had also used drug money in Nicaragua in 1979-80 to finance Contras. By the close of Afghan war in 1989, Afghanistan was the second biggest opium producing country in the world. It was almost cleansed of the curse of drugs by the Taliban during their rule from 1996 to 2001.
It has now been converted into the largest heroin producing state in the world. Hamid Karzai brother Izzatullah Wasifi is the biggest heroin producer and there are dozens of heroin factories established across the country and run by Wasifi and other Afghan warlords. Ahmad Wali Karzai in Kandahar handles all exports of heroin to Europe through Turkmenistan. The 7 July attack on Indian Embassy had been masterminded by Wasifi once he learnt that the Indian officer was betraying him to US Drug Enforcement Agency.
It is surprising that neither CIA has ever recommended to US government to launch a crackdown on heroin factories that finance militants and warlords nor the US military command or NATO command in Kabul have raised this issue. It seems as if all are party to the drug game. Without Pentagon and CIA blessing it is not possible to export thousands of tons of heroin. Reportedly, even US military cargo planes are in use to shift heroin and on occasions coffin boxes were used. Possibility of NATO countries and Afghan army and police indulging in this lucrative business cannot be ruled out. It is to be seen whether the hard taskmaster Holbrook would be able sort this critical matter without which any amount of troop surge will not produce any tangible results.
Asif Haroon Raja is a retired Brig and a defence analyst.
- Asian Tribune -