In an interview with Express News [transcript on DoD], Robert Gates confirmed in some clear terms that private security firms Blackwater and DynCorp are operating inside Pakistan. “They’re operating as individual companies here in Pakistan” – so technically by all counts this statement more or less proves that Anne Patterson, Hilary Clinton and Rehman Malik all have being LYING to the people of Pakistan. Where over the past few months they have one after the other vehemently denied the presence of Blackwater and its operatives in Pakistan. Rehman Malik is on record to quit. In an attempt to soften the blow the US Department of Defense is covering up their statement by that updating reporters that Mr. Gates had been speaking about contractor oversight more generally and that the Pentagon didn’t employ Xe in Pakistan – which we all know is yet another lie, since even Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, confessed to his organizations involvement in Pakistan barely a month back in the Vanity Fair article.
I can’t complain much if foreign agents like Anne Patterson and Hilary Clinton lied to our people, as they probably were protecting the interests of their own government, but what irks me is that our own Ministers (& President) knowingly continue to lie to their people literally selling our soul to the highest bidder and yet had the audacity to deny the real facts while our country continued to burn under our noses.
Jermy Scahill, the defense analyst who recently published an article in The Nation, is interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now. Jermey Scahill says that when he was about to go to press with the article, he got some frantic calls from US Joint Chief of Staff General Mullen. He goes on to discuss the Kestral Logistics a Pakistani firm and its owner Liaquat Ali Baig having close contacts with being the front end for Blackwater’s operations in Pakistan. The numerous covert drone attacks were also analyzed. The first 20 minutes are relevant to the Blackwater controversy
Jeremy Scahill writes a must read detailed report on the operations of Blackwater in Pakistan. His extensive investigation naturally starts off from The White House which refused to comment or respond to his emails but a spokesperson from the US Department of Defense denied the presence of Blackwater in Pakistan to categorically say “We don’t have any contracts to do that work for us. We don’t contract that kind of work out, period”
I share some important points from the article, while I strongly suggest to read the full write at The Nation
Allow me to apologize to you for not being able to be present during your address to civil society at the hallowed campus of Government College University in my beloved city of Lahore. Much as I would have wanted to benefit from the wisdom of your analysis and foresight, I could not make the journey quickly enough from the remote town of Chilas where I was in consultation with the proponents of a major dam which shall displace 32,000 people and submerge 32,000 ancient rock carvings if and when built. Allow me to further explain that since flights were cancelled from the nearest airport in Gilgit, a tedious five hour journey on the Karakoram Highway, I was compelled to take the road journey over the Babusar Pass situated at an altitude of 14,000 feet above sea level, travelling a total of eighteen hours to Islamabad.
Your Excellency, it was during this eighteen hour journey through some of the most desolate yet spectacular landscape of my country that I imagined speaking to you, being unable to join the privileged few who were invited to hear you speak both in Lahore and in Islamabad. As the vehicle carrying us made its way carefully over open culverts fashioned by the able engineers of the China Construction Company, as it slid over six inches of freshly falling snow, as it dipped into crevices swirling with glacial melt, and as it glided smoothly over the bits of tarmac which have survived the devastation of the 2005 earthquake which killed 70,000 people in these remote parts, I spoke to you, imagining that you were truly interested in what I, an ordinary citizen of this, my beloved, blighted country had to say.
Matthew Hoh, A former Marine Corps captain stationed in the Zabul province in Afghanistan tendered his resignation to the US Ambassador Nancy Powel, becoming the first U.S. official known to resign in protest over the Afghan war, which he had come to believe simply fueled the insurgency.
“I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan,” he wrote Sept. 10 in a four-page letter to the department’s head of personnel. “I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end.”
With effect from 1st July 2009 the US State Department has revised the pay scale of all US personnel and contractors stationed within USG civilian compounds in Islamabad from high of a $289/day to a present low of $110/day, while the lodging rates have dropped even more significantly from $213/day to a paltry $70/day. This is compounded with a 35% Danger Pay which is to-date the highest in the world going shoulder to shoulder with Afghanistan and Iraq, while Yemen and Lebanon come as second most dangerous place for US contractors and personnel receiving 30% danger pay
The sudden fall in lodging rates may suggest a massive acquiring of housing locations in Islamabad, while the simultaneous reduction in the ‘per deim’ pay scale for US personnel and contractors may suggest that they maybe living inside a ‘secure compound’. Such low rates across the world are seen in locations where the Americans have a proper base and a secure compound, while interestingly Karachi and Lahore fetch the same high living rates like before. Somethings definitely cooking in Islamabad
It seems all these reports quite apparently points towards a definite buildup of US military personnel and subsequent a good security cordon around them as well which may hint towards the presence of BlackWater / Xe, the American rogue militia
Jameel Jaffer and Amrit Singh may not mean anything to most readers. Jameel Jaffer is a London, Ont. born litigator for the American Civil Liberties Union and Director of the ACLU's National Security Project. Amrit Singh is Manmohan Singh's daughter and is a Staff Attorney at the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project.
credit Ruby Washingon, NYT and wikipedia
Jameel Jaffer, was "instrumental in filing and fighting an unlikely Freedom of Information Act request that eventually unearthed thousands of pages of secret documents which illustrated damning evidence of U.S. government complicity in violations of international humanitarian law." link. and link
An exclusive Al Jazeera survey of public opinion in Pakistan has revealed widespread disenchantment with the United States for interfering with what most people consider internal Pakistani affairs. This survey was done interviewing more than 2,500 men and women across the rural and urban areas in all four provinces of Pakistan on July 26 and 27. The margin of error is + 2-3 per cent at 95 per cent confidence level. Al-Jazeera wraps up the results in a detailed analysis but a quick look at the survey is as follows
- On the Military Operation; 41% were in Favor, 24% in Opposition, 22% remained neutral and 13% were undecided
- On US-Led Drone Attacks: 9% were in Favor, 67% were in Opposition and 24% chose to remain neutral
- On Dialog vs Offensive: 41% felt the need for Military Action, 43% wanted a Dialogue while 16% did not have an opinion
- On President Zardari: 11% felt he was Good, while a majority of 42% considered him Bad, 34% responded as Neither Good or Bad leaving the remaining 13% as undecided
- On Pakistan Peoples Party: 20% felt it was Good, 38% responded that PPP was Bad, 30% said it was Neither good or Bad while the remaining 12% did not know.
- On their choice of the Best Leader for Pakistan: President Zardari came at measly 9%, Prime Minister Gilani at 13%, Nawaz Sharif at 38%, 8% favored a Military Government, while 11% felt a joint PPP and PML-N govt was good, only 6% felt Religious Parties were beneficial for Pakistan, 6% of the respondents chose other leaders leaving the last 8% of undecided
- On the threat from the Taliban vs the USA and India: 11% felt that Pakistani Taliban were a threat, India factored at 18%, while the US topped the threat radar at 59%, leaving the remaining 12% as undecided
We have long since known that the Taliban entity is not a mere single unified front waging a war in the North Western regions of Pakistan but a hodge podge of various groups working independently for their own vested interests. There are potentially three Taliban factions one headed by Baithullah Mehsud which was working against the interests of Pakistan, while Jalaluddin Haqqani and Mullah Omar were given protective custody by the ISI
London Review of Books – Taliban v. Taliban by Graham Usher
In the Bajaur tribal area, for example, the army is fighting an insurgency led by Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of one of Pakistan’s three Taliban factions, but it’s not because he is a friend of al-Qaida. What makes him a threat, in the eyes of Pakistan’s army, is that he is believed to be responsible for scores of suicide attacks inside Pakistan (including the assassination of Benazir Bhutto). He is also thought to have recruited hundreds of Afghan fighters, among them ‘agents’ from the Afghan and Indian intelligence services – ‘Pakistan’s enemies’, in the words of a senior officer.
An enemy in Bajaur, the Taliban is a friend of Pakistan in North and South Waziristan. Like Mehsud, the guerrilla commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, who directs the Afghan Taliban’s ‘central front’ from bases in Pashtun villages in Pakistan, has ties to al-Qaida. Unlike Mehsud, he’s not attacking Pakistan, and his fight against the US and NATO enjoys the support of the army and of broad sections of the Pakistani public. The same courtesy has been extended to Mullah Omar, whose headquarters are in Quetta, where he’s reportedly sheltered by the ISI. ‘They are our people; they’re not our enemies,’ one ISI officer says.
Guest Blog by Insocuient
Much has been already written criticizing the performance of the government in FATA areas as Pakistan fights as the ‘major non-NATO ally’ of the U.S. in this so-called ‘war on terror’. Discussions have largely been focused on the growing resentment against collateral damage and the increasing extremism that is now engulfing other major cities in the country elsewhere. While one section of the society has been vocal against Talebanization condemning all the peace deals, the other segment is criticizing the policy of drones and for toeing the line of Washington by waging a war against ‘own people’. Very few have come up with a comprehensive solution to the problem that is now a direct threat to the viability of the state. The world is pointing fingers, and our adversaries are pushing to isolate us further. State of denial is not an option and the status quo is not working. It is imperative that we come with our own policy with a consensus and address the problem with an approach that is state-centric even if we have to make a few sacrifices abroad. Framing the policy
It has been 7 years now since Pakistan jumped on the U.S. bandwagon but no serious effort has been made to chalk out a popular transparent policy. The 3 D’s of Gillani is a nebulously farce notion. A lackadaisical effort was made last year when a resolution was passed by consensus in a joint in-camera session of the Parliament. Even though the Parliamentarians got sensitive briefing from the agencies, the resolution that came out of the Assembly hall was vague to say the least. Everybody enjoyed the privilege of their own interpretation which they exercised. Owais Ghani, the NWFP governor, recently revealed in a Private television interview, “the government has a FATA policy on paper but it is not a public document”. One wonders, what is the rationale behind keeping the population aloof from the policies of the government especially about those issues on which their survival is at stake. How do we know which think-tank was consulted for this policy? How much input from the intelligentsia was included in it? The Obama’s AfPak policy, even if it is largely criticized in the local sections, is something that clearly defines the goals and the means through which they will be pursued. We know the people like Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst, who supervised the policy formulation.
President Obama unveiled today the much awaited new AF-PAK policy. Addressing from Executive Office building, he strived for a “stronger, smarter and more comprehensive strategy” to confront the menace of Al Qaeda. While the cynics will just throw away the new policy as another hackneyed rhetoric from the U.S. President, it is imperative that one must go deep to bring out the ramifications of this outlined policy on Pakistan and on the region in the time to come. Let me first mention here the highlights of his new AF-PAK policy:
- He stressed to recognize the connection between the future prospects of Afghanistan and Pakistan. He unequivocally put this in these words, ”So let me be clear: Al-Qaeda and its allies the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks — are in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”
- He will be sending another 4,000 troops to Afghanistan along with hundreds of civilian specialists. The troops which are in addition to the 17,000 the president announced earlier, would be sent to Afghanistan will be charged with training and building the Afghan army and police force.
- He called upon Congress to pass a bill authorising a tripling of US spending in Pakistan to $1.5bn (£1.05bn) each year over the next five years, to help rebuild “schools, roads and hospitals”, which is also know as Kerry-Lugar bill.
- The United States will be seeking to work with the United Nations to develop “greater progress for its mandate to coordinate international action and assistance, and to strengthen Afghan institutions.”
The bloodshed in Gaza is escalating while diplomats talk — the death toll now stands at over 600 people and rising, almost half of them civilians and over 100 children dead. As Israeli tanks, airplanes and artillery bombard thickly populated urban areas, hitting UN schools yesterday, thousands more have been injured and 1.5 million terrified civilians have no escape from this prison-like enclave — the borders have been sealed. Hamas continues to fight and fire rockets deep into Israel: 11 Israelis have died, including from friendly fire.