America’s Foot Soldiers In Islamabad

 

 

 

Report by A Khokar,

 

National Security Advisor Mehmud Ali Durrani was busy leaking information to embarrass Pakistan internationally. He was part of an influential group in Islamabad that worked overtime to ensure Pakistan accepted blame for Mumbai and initiated action against the military and ISI without verifying the so-called evidence.  Mr. Durrani says his leaks had the blessings of President Zardari. Who are they working for? Alarmingly, Pakistan’s security stands breached at the highest levels in the capital, where shady individuals are working for foreign interests with impunity. It is time for a major purge to cleanse Pakistani government and politics of foreign assets. Mr. Durrani should brought to the mat and be debriefed as to whose interests he was serving in his sensitive position.[1]

 

 

It is said that a secretive powerful group in the top corridors of the Pakistani government has been working overtime for the past few weeks to push Islamabad into publicly accepting the half-cooked ‘evidence’ provided by the United States and India that implicates Pakistan, its military and the ISI in the Mumbai attacks.

 

Two prominent names in this group are national security adviser Mehmud Ali Durrani and the Ambassador in Washington Husain Haqqani.  They pushed hard for Pakistan to accept blame without verification and without pursuing other compelling leads in the Mumbai attacks. These other leads cast a wider net and significantly weaken India’s ‘Pakistan-only’ fixation.

 

The behaviour of Mr. Durrani became particularly glaring in the last few days, and especially on Wednesday, Jan. 7.  His boss, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, was not off the mark when he cited betrayal of Pakistan’s national security as the main reason for sacking Mr. Durrani.

 

The question is: Who was Mr. Durrani working for? There is even chatter about the possibility that he might be arrested and interrogated to determine whose interests he was serving.  There is no question that his bold moves were sanctioned by President Zardari. It is also interesting to note that information minister Sherry Rehman came to Mr. Durrani’s rescue in the final stage of the bizarre power struggle that marked Durrani’s last few hours in office.

 

Given the traps created by this government for Pakistan and especially for the ISI after the Mumbai attacks, it is safe to conclude that Pakistan’s power echelons stand breached by individuals, like Mr. Durrani, who are keenly pursuing policy objectives of a foreign government of USA as well as of India.

 

 

The conduct of Mr. Durrani, coupled with massive recent policy failures with direct bearing on national security, reinforce the need for a purge within the government and within the country’s political elite. Foreign governments have been able to penetrate both and cultivate assets. These ‘assets’ conduct their own private foreign policies directly with foreign powers without the approval or knowledge of the Pakistani state.

 

The Signs

 

Sitting in Washington, Ambassador Husain Haqqani has been wrangling with the Pakistan Foreign Office for several days now over the FBI evidence shared with Pakistan, which apparently includes a tape recording purporting to show a Pakistani citizen inside Pakistan talking to a Mumbai terrorist over telephone. Mr. Haqqani wants Pakistan to accept this piece of evidence as final proof that elements within Pakistan executed the attack on Mumbai. Other Pakistani officials disagree and say the audio tape and other information need to be verified by Pakistani experts to determine if it is fake or real. We don’t trust India and they don’t trust us. It’s as simple as that.

 

Durrani’s Suspicious Role

 

Behind the scenes, Mr. Durrani has been playing what amounts to a dirty role in this whole crisis with India. In the last week of December, he contacted a known Pakistani journalist working for the Wall Street Journal and leaked to him a ‘breaking’ a story: an activist of the defunct Lashkar Tayyeba in Pakistani custody had confessed to making phone calls to Mumbai terrorists. 

 

It was strange that Mr. Durrani chose to leak this information to a U.S. newspaper. If the story was true [it wasn’t. It was officially debunked later] the Pakistani government would have released it through its spokes persons.  The only plausible purpose of the leak was to embarrass Pakistan, quash the voices calling for evidence and verification, and push a weak government into accepting responsibility for the Mumbai attacks.  It was a classic pressure tactic, in this case used by an insider – Mr. Durrani – against his own government.

 

Using this deliberate leak, the Wall Street Journal came out with an elaborate story . Its editors somehow linked the alleged confession to ISI’s tense relations with elected governments in the 1990s. There was a separate box in the story that gave a timeline to the supposed tense relations.

 

In short, Durrani’s leak to Wall Street Journal became a condemnation of the ISI which seems to be the whole purpose of the Indian drama anyway. The leak also weakened the effect of foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s rare bold statement that demanded India deactivate its forward air bases, withdraw troops and defuse the war hysteria.[2]

 

Durrani’s leak in effect threw the ball back in the Pakistani court.

 

 

 

Desperation

 

With Ambassador Haqqani’s failure to convince Pakistani officials to accept the American evidence, the pro-American lobby in Islamabad began to get desperate. U.S. military chief Adm. Mike Mullen flew into Islamabad to convince President Zardari to allow the Indian air force to conduct limited ‘surgical strikes’. He asked Zardari to deactivate the state of alert in the Pakistan Air Force for this purpose. The deal was sealed if not for the strong stand taken by the Pakistani military. Mullen returned empty handed.

 

The ‘Charge Sheet’

 

Mr. Durrani’s reign of double dealings at the top, as Prime Minister’s adviser on national security, makes the list of foreign policy blunders by the government appear deliberate and calculated and not just the work of incompetent administrators:

 

One remembers Habib jalib who used to reiterate: Apnay Naheen Logo-Yeh Mazaray; yeh Lagharay; (yeh zardaray)

 

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[1] Koi aur tou Naheen haey Passey khanjar Aazmaee

     Hameen Katal hou rahey hain; Hamenn Katal Ker rahey hain

[2] [Wall Street Journal article; Pakistan’s Probe Finds Local Links To Attacks On Mumbai  published on 31 December 2008. To read link: 

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123068308893944123.html ]

 

Source reference; Pak Alert Press