The News, August 05, 2008
By Kamran Khan
KARACHI: Pakistan has complained to the United States military leadership and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that Washington’s policy towards terrorism in Pakistan was inconsistent with America’s declared commitment to the war against terror.
Impeccable official sources have said that strong evidence and circumstantial evidence of American acquiescence to terrorism inside Pakistan was outlined by President Pervez Musharraf, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and Director General Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt. Gen. Nadeem Taj in their separate meetings with US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen and CIA Deputy Director Stephen R Kappes on July 12 in Rawalpindi.
The visit by the senior US military official along with the CIA deputy director — carrying what were seen as India-influenced intelligence inputs — hardened the resolve of Pakistanís security establishment to keep supreme Pakistan’s national security interest even if it meant straining ties with the US and Nato.
A senior official with direct knowledge of these meetings said that Pakistan’s military leadership and the president asked the American visitors “not to distinguish between a terrorist for the United States and Afghanistan and a terrorist for Pakistan”.
For reasons best known to Langley, the CIA headquarters, as well as the Pentagon, Pakistani officials say the Americans were not interested in disrupting the Kabul-based fountainhead of terrorism in Balochistan nor do they want to allocate the marvellous predator resource to neutralise the kingpin of suicide bombings against the Pakistani military establishment now hiding near the Pak-Afghan border.
In the strongest evidence-based confrontation with the American security establishment since the two countries established their post-9/11 strategic alliance, Pakistani officials proved Brahamdagh Bugti’s presence in Afghan intelligence safe houses in Kabul, his photographed visits to New Delhi and his orders for terrorism in Balochistan.
The top US military commander and the CIA official were also asked why the CIA-run predator and the US military did not swing into action when they were provided the exact location of Baitullah Mehsud, Pakistan’s enemy number one and the mastermind of almost every suicide operation against the Pakistan Army and the ISI since June 2006.
One such precise piece of information was made available to the CIA on May 24 when Baitullah Mehsud drove to a remote South Waziristan mountain post in his Toyota Land Cruiser to address the press and returned back to his safe abode. The United States military has the capacity to direct a missile to a precise location at very short notice as it has done close to 20 times in the last few years to hit al-Qaeda targets inside Pakistan.
Pakistani official have long been intrigued by the presence of highly encrypted communications gear with Baitullah Mehsud. This communication gear enables him to collect real-time information on Pakistani troop movement from an unidentified foreign source without being intercepted by Pakistani intelligence.
Admiral Mullen and the CIA official were in Pakistan on an unannounced visit on July 12 to show what the US media claimed was evidence of the ISI’s ties to†Taliban commander Maulana Sirajuddin Haqqani and the alleged involvement of Pakistani agents in the bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul.
Pakistani military leaders rubbished the American information and evidence on the Kabul bombing but provided some rationale for keeping a window open with Haqqani, just as the British government had decided to open talks with some Taliban leaders in southern Afghanistan last year.
Before opening new channels of communication with the Taliban in Helmand province in March this year, the British and Nato forces were talking to leading Taliban leaders through†Michael Semple, the acting head of the European Union mission to Afghanistan, and Mervyn Patterson, a senior UN official, before their unprecedented expulsion from Afghanistan by the Karzai government†in January this year.
The American visitors were also told that the government of Pakistan had to seek the help of Taliban commanders such as Sirajuddin Haqqani for the release of its kidnapped ambassador Tariquddin Aziz, after the US-backed Karzai administration failed to secure Aziz’s release from his captors in Afghanistan.
Admiral Mullen and Kappes were both provided information about the activities of the Indian consulates in Kandahar and Jalalabad and were asked how the CIA does not know that both Indian consulates are manned by Indian Intelligence who plot against Pakistan round the clock.
“ We wanted to know when our American friends would get interested in tracking down the terrorists responsible for hundreds of suicide bombings in Pakistan and those playing havoc with our natural resources in Balochistan while sitting in Kabul and Delhi,”, an official described the Pakistani mood during the July 12 meetings.
Throughout their meetings, the Americans were told that Pakistan would like to continue as an active partner in the war against terror and at no cost would it allow its land to be used by our people to plot terror against Afghanistan or India . However, Pakistan would naturally want the United States, India and Afghanistan to refrain from supporting Pakistani terrorists.
Pakistani officials have said that the current “trust deficit” between the Pakistani and US security establishment is not serious enough to lead to a collapse , but the element of suspicion is very high, more so because of† the CIA’s decision to publicise the confidential exchange of information with Pakistan and to use its leverage with the new government to try to arm-twist the Army and the ISI.
The Pakistani security establishment, officials said, want a fresh round of strategic dialogue with their counterparts in the US, essentially to prioritise the objectives and terrorist targets in the war against terror, keeping in mind the serious national security interests of the allies.
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