Britain says Pakistan is hiding Taliban chief
Christina Lamb, Kabul
THE British general commanding Nato troops in Afghanistan is to confront Pakistan’s president over his country’s support for the Taliban.
Among the evidence amassed is the address of the Taliban’s leader in a Pakistani city.
Lieutenant-General David Richards will fly to Islamabad tomorrow to try to persuade Pervez Musharraf to rein in his military intelligence service, which Richards believes is training Taliban fighters to attack British troops. He will request that key Taliban leaders living in Pakistan be arrested.
The evidence compiled by American, Nato and Afghan intelligence includes satellite pictures and videos of training camps for Taliban soldiers and suicide bombers inside Pakistan.
Captured Taliban fighters and failed suicide bombers have confirmed that they were trained by the Pakistani intelligence service, known as the ISI. The information includes an address in Quetta where Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, is said to live.
Musharraf had publicly acknowledged “a Taliban problem on the Pakistan side of the border”, said Richards. “Undoubtedly something has got to happen,” he added.
“We’ve got to accept that the Pakistan government is not omnipotent and it isn’t easy but it has to be done and we’re working very hard on it. I’m very confident that the Pakistan government’s intent is clear and they will be delivering on it.”
The initiative emerged as the commander of British forces in Afghanistan, Brigadier Ed Butler, called for more troop-carrying helicopters. He was responding to a promise by Tony Blair that the forces could have whatever extra resources they needed. But a defence source said it was difficult to see where new British transport helicopters could be found.
Political leaders have been reluctant to put pressure on Musharraf for fear of destabilising a nuclear-armed country in which Islamic fundamentalists are strong.
This week’s intervention comes at a sensitive time for Blair after the ISI apparently helped avert the alleged planned bombing of transatlantic airliners flying from Heathrow. But the Taliban’s re-emergence has coincided with mounting evidence of ISI involvement, prompting frustration in Afghanistan, where 30 British servicemen have been killed.
“I feel real vitriol seeing our boys dying because of Pakistan,” said one British officer.
A senior US commander added: “We just can’t ignore it any more. Musharraf’s got to prove which side he is on.”
Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, has repeatedly complained of Pakistan’s role in providing a haven for Taliban fighters, saying they have openly run camps in Karachi and Quetta. “There is an open campaign by Pakistan against Afghanistan and the presence of coalition troops here,” he said.
In Washington two weeks ago^Karzai handed Pakistan the names and addresses of alleged handlers of suicide bombers using a camp near Peshawar that had been infiltrated by an Afghan informer. Last Wednesday a rubbish bag was discovered in the camp containing his body.
Who is planning to terrorize Pakistan's ISI now?
Oct. 7, 2006
After initial claims of conducting a ''mock exercise,'' security officials today said they defused two live rockets, found along with a launcher and a mobile phone, in the vicinity of the headquarters of Pakistan's intelligence agency here.
Who is planning to terrorize Pakistan's ISI now? Believe it or not someone left bombs with cell phone attached just outside Pakistani ISI head quarter!
International think tanks are making it a biggest joke of the year. It seems like some one is saying Pakistan's ISI is a target of Islamic Jihadists too. Well that is real interesting and we can only hope ISI will allow Indian authoroties to test those bombs and cell phones.
According to media reports, Earlier, TV channels had quoted the capital's police chief Choudhary Iftikar as saying that it was a "mock exercise" conducted with "dud" rockets. But Iftikar later told media that the confusion occurred due to a misunderstanding between security departments.
The rockets found today bore similarities to the ones defused on Thursday in a construction site near the Parliament and official residence of President Pervez Musharraf. On the night before, an explosion rocked a public park near the army residence of Musharraf in Rawalpindi.
Officials remained clueless about the mysterious blast and the defused rockets. Security for Musharraf, one of the most highly-guarded leaders in the world, has been tightened further after the blast and detection of rockets.
The recovery of rockets on Thursday came minutes before Musharraf was to arrive at a nearby convention centre to address an meeting on earthquake reconstruction. Vehicles with jammers were reportedly used to defuse the rockets to prevent anyone igniting them through mobile phones which were also recovered.
Nato's top brass accuse Pakistan over Taliban aid
By Ahmed Rashid in Kabul
Commanders from five Nato countries whose troops have just fought the bloodiest battle with the Taliban in five years, are demanding their governments get tough with Pakistan over the support and sanctuary its security services provide to the Taliban.
Nato's report on Operation Medusa, an intense battle that lasted from September 4-17 in the Panjwai district, demonstrates the extent of the Taliban's military capability and states clearly that Pakistan's Interservices Intelligence (ISI) is involved in supplying it.
Commanders from Britain, the US, Denmark, Canada and Holland are frustrated that even after Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf met George W Bush and Tony Blair last week, Western leaders are declining to call Mr Musharraf's bluff.
"It is time for an 'either you are with us or against us' delivered bluntly to Musharraf at the highest political level," said one Nato commander.
After the September 11 attacks in 2001 America gave Mr Musharraf a similar ultimatum to co-operate against the Taliban, who were then harbouring Osama bin Laden.
"Our boys in southern Afghanistan are hurting because of what is coming out of Quetta," he added.
The Taliban use the southern province of Balochistan to co-ordinate their insurgency and to recuperate after military action.
The cushion Pakistan is providing the Taliban is undermining the operation in Afghanistan, where 31,000 Nato troops are now based. The Canadians were most involved in Operation Medusa, two weeks of heavy fighting in a lush vineyard region, defeating 1,500 well entrenched Taliban, who had planned to attack Kandahar city, the capital of the south.
Nato officials now say they killed 1,100 Taliban fighters, not the 500 originally claimed. Hundreds of Taliban reinforcements in pick-up trucks who crossed over from Quetta – waved on by Pakistani border guards – were destroyed by Nato air and artillery strikes.
Nato captured 160 Taliban, many of them Pakistanis who described in detail the ISI's support to the Taliban.
Nato is now mapping the entire Taliban support structure in Balochistan, from ISI- run training camps near Quetta to huge ammunition dumps, arrival points for Taliban's new weapons and meeting places of the shura, or leadership council, in Quetta, which is headed by Mullah Mohammed Omar, the group's leader since its creation a dozen years ago.
Nato and Afghan officers say two training camps for the Taliban are located just outside Quetta, while the group is using hundreds of madrassas where the fighters are housed and fired up ideologically before being sent to the front.
Many madrassas now being listed are run by the Jamiat-e-Ullema Islam, a political party that governs Balochistan and the North West Frontier Province. The party helped spawn the Taliban in 1994.
"Taliban decision-making and its logistics are all inside Pakistan," said the Afghan defense minister, General Rahim Wardak.
A post-battle intelligence report compiled by Nato and Afghan forces involved in Operation Medusa demonstrates the logistical capability of the Taliban.
During the battle the Taliban fired an estimated 400,000 rounds of ammunition, 2,000 rocket-propelled grenades and 1,000 mortar shells, which slowly arrived in Panjwai from Quetta over the spring months. Ammunition dumps unearthed after the battle showed that the Taliban had stocked over one million rounds in Panjwai.
In Panjwai the Taliban had also established a training camp to teach guerrillas how to penetrate Kandahar, a separate camp to train suicide bombers and a full surgical field hospital. Nato estimated the cost of Taliban ammunition stocks at around £2.6 million. "The Taliban could not have done this on their own without the ISI," said a senior Nato officer.
Gen Musharraf this week admitted that "retired" ISI officers might be involved in aiding the Taliban, the closest he has come to admitting the agency's role.
NATO to confront General over ISI support to Taliban
Press Trust Of India
Posted online: Monday, October 09, 2006
London, October 8:^The Commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan plans to confront President Pervez Musharraf with evidence that ISI is training Taliban fighters to attack British troops in the war-torn country and urge him to arrest deposed militia leader Mullah Omar “hiding in Pakistan”.
Lieutenant General David Richards, British general commanding NATO troops in Afghanistan, will fly to Islamabad on Monday to try to persuade Musharraf to rein in his military intelligence which he believes is training Taliban fighters to attack British troops.
He also intends to give Gen Musharraf the address of the Taliban leader hiding in a Pakistani city and request that he be arrested. He says he has satellite pictures and videos of training camps for Taliban soldiers and suicide bombers inside Pakistan.
Captured Taliban fighters and failed suicide bombers have confirmed that they were trained by the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI. The information includes an address in the city of Quetta where Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, is said to be living quite openly.
The addresses of other senior members of the Taliban shura, or ruling council, have also been compiled. Musharraf had publicly acknowledged “a Taliban problem on the Pakistan side of the border”, said Richards. “Undoubtedly something has got to happen,” he was quoted as saying.
“We’ve got to accept that the Pakistan government is not omnipotent and it isn’t easy but it has to be done and we’re working very hard on it. I’m very confident that the Pakistan government’s intent is clear and they will be delivering on it.”
The initiative emerged as commander of British forces in Afghanistan, Brigadier Ed Butler called for more troop-carrying helicopters. He was responding to a promise by Prime Minister Tony Blair that the forces could have whatever extra resources they needed. But a defence source said it was difficult to see where new British transport helicopters could be found.
The Taliban’s re-emergence has coincided with mounting evidence of ISI involvement, prompting frustration in Afghanistan, where 40 British servicemen have been killed. “I feel real vitriol seeing our boys dying because of Pakistan,” said one British officer.
The report quoted a senior US commander saying: “We just can’t ignore it any more. Musharraf has got to prove which side he is on.”
Police did not want to ‘jump the gun’on train blast probe
Published: Friday, 6 October, 2006, 01:29 PM Doha Time
MUMBAI: It may have taken Mumbai police’s elite Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) all of three months to sew together the July 11 serial blasts that ripped through the city’s train network leaving at least 187 dead. But officials say they did not want to jump the gun by making any premature statements.
Police Commissioner A N Roy and ATS chief Krishan Pal Raghuvanshi say they first wanted to make sure that the information gathered during the investigation was converted into evidence.
"Although we had rounded up the main accused as early as July 16, just five days after the blasts, we did not want to jump the gun by making any premature announcements," Roy said.
"We had two major factors in consideration before making any claims. Firstly, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) had trained the suspects to confuse and mislead interrogators. Secondly, we wanted to convert all the information collected into concrete evidence," Roy told reporters.
The police chief claimed last week that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was behind the blasts.
"Although most of the suspects during interrogations admitted that they had allegedly been to Pakistan, where they were indoctrinated into the LeT and trained to handle arms and make explosives, they maintained that they had no hand in the blasts," Roy said.
Police so far have arrested five of the seven Indian bombers. Roy had claimed that 11 Pakistani nationals had sneaked into India to carry out the bombing in three batches.
The bombings, Roy claimed, were carried out by seven different groups, each comprising one Indian bomber and one Pakistani counterpart, who planted a pressure cooker packed with explosives and ammonium nitrate with quartz timers in the packed first class carriages.
Police have so far arrested five Indian bombers but are tight-lipped about the identity of the two others who are still at large.
"We expect to nab them soon," said ATS chief and Joint Commissioner Raghuvanshi.
"All the accused have been booked under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), under which a confession made to an officer above the rank of a superintendent of police is permissible as evidence."
"When those who planted the bombs are admitting to their acts, why should there be any doubts?" Raghuvanshi asked.
A senior ATS official added: "We were faced with a blinder after the blasts. We had picked up the main suspects, including blast masterminds Faizal Sheikh, allegedly the LeT’s western India commander, Tanvir Ansari, LeT operative and a herbal doctor, and Ehtesham Siddiqui, a small-time publisher and Students Islamic Movement of India’s Maharashtra chief, as those who could lead us to the perpetrator. But we initially had had no idea that they were the actual conspirators."
The breakthrough came from Ansari and another suspect Zamir Sheikh, a key-maker, who spoke at length during interrogation and gave details that establish the roles of the others in the conspiracy, the official said.
Prem Shankar Jha
October 6, 2006
The revelations made on September 30 by Mumbai police chief AN Roy of the way in which the July 11 bomb blasts were planned and executed have emboldened the hawks in the Indian armed forces and intelligence establishment who have been arguing that it would be rank folly to trust Pervez Musharraf's declarations on Kashmir or his desire for peace with India. Their scepticism has been strengthened by Roy’s bald assertion that not only the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT), but also Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was directly involved. According to him, the LeT could not have dispatched as many as 10 operatives from Pakistan without at least a nod from the ISI. The fact that LeT’s operatives seem to have entered India through Nepal and Bangladesh, where the ISI is well entrenched, has strengthened their belief.
This assumption needs to be treated with caution. The conception of Pakistan as a monolithic State in which all organs of government and^ civil society work in perfect harmony is fanciful, to say the least. Pakistan is, in fact, a somewhat chaotic, half-formed State in which the authority of the rulers is being constantly contested. The most that the LeT’s involvement with the Mumbai blasts and the possible involvement of the ISI with the LeT reveals is that the disarray in the Pakistani State is far greater than the most pessimistic assessments made so far. The alternative explanation, that Musharraf is backing attempts to trigger a communal holocaust and bring about the disintegration of the Indian State while lulling it into a false sense of security is far-fetched, because it requires a level of brinkmanship that is not far from suicide.
Musharraf already faces threat of insurgency in North Waziristan and Balochistan. These have forced him to deploy more than a quarter of the Pakistani army in these areas, dangerously thinning Pakistan’s defences on the Indian border. Since his military commitments in Waziristan and Balochistan are open-ended, he needs to keep the Indian border quiet at any cost. Inciting and assisting the LeT to spread terror in India is hardly the best way to do so.
On the contrary, common sense would expect a head of State in his predicament to minimise the number of fronts on which he has to fight in order to concentrate on the ones most important to him. By this yardstick, maintaining peace in Waziristan and bringing the rebellion in Balochistan under control are infinitely more important than poking away at India in the hope that it will blow up, for India poses no immediate threat to Pakistan’s existence.
Viewed from this perspective, all of Musharraf’s overtures to India in the last two years — from his retreat from the demand for a plebiscite in Kashmir before the Saarc summit at Islamabad in 2004, to his carefully unveiled plan for limited autonomy to a federal Kashmir in October 2004, to his visit to Delhi in April 2005 — make perfect sense. Even India’s ‘postponement’ of the composite dialogue after the Mumbai blasts did not end his overtures. In the interview he gave to A.G. Noorani for Mainstream, he mooted the need for the two countries to control the activities of their intelligence agencies, a tacit admission that he did not have the measure of control over its activities that he would like, but also an indirect rebuke to India for allowing the R&AW to meddle in Balochistan. He also took advantage of the exposure of the London bomb row to put LeT head Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed in jail and has kept him there since. Thus, if the LeT continues to operate with impunity or, worse, with the help of elements within the Pakistani State, it is because Musharraf is unable to fully control one or both of them.
In recent weeks, the pressure exerted on Musharraf by developments within Pakistan for brokering a peace with India has, if anything, become greater. Not only has his attempt to invoke (not for the first time) the help of the Sardars of Waziristan to control the Taliban run into a storm of criticism from a beleaguered US and Nato, but the flare-up in Balochistan after the killing of Sardar Bugti has brought him face to face with the possibility of an insurrection that he may not be able to control. These developments paved the way for the resumption of the dialogue with Manmohan Singh in Havana and the decision to create a joint mechanism for intelligence sharing between the two countries.
But if the Pakistani State is in disarray, so is policy-making in India. Nothing underlines this more sharply than the way in which Roy’s press conference has all but destroyed the Havana initiative. The arrest and interrogation of 12 out of the 15 Indians who were allegedly involved in the bombing had created a golden opportunity for the Indian government to test Pakistan’s sincerity. For they had revealed the names and whereabouts of several of the Pakistani participants in the plot as well as the LeT’s involvement. Had these names and the supporting proof been given quietly to Pakistan, its agencies would have had an opportunity to cooperate with India, shielded from the public gaze. We would soon have found out how much control Musharraf genuinely had over them and how sincere he was in Havana. But that opportunity was destroyed by Roy’s public accusation of the ISI. Not only did it leave the Pakistani foreign office with no option but to make a blanket denial, but it also forced its spokesperson, Tasneem Aslam, to make it clear, in advance of any investigation, that the question of deporting anyone to India did not arise. For those in the ISI who looked at the Havana initiative with as much horror as their counterparts in India, Roy’s press conference must have been pure music.
Had Roy done this on his own, he could have been accused of jumping the gun in order to capture kudos for^ the Maharashtra police. But as he himself made clear, he was given the^ green light to hold the press meet by the Centre. One is, therefore, forced to ask who in the central government? Was it the Home Ministry or the PMO? Did it have the clearance of the Prime Minister and, if so, did Singh not realise that it would make a mockery of his Havana initiative? If Singh was not consulted, then who went out of his or her way to sabotage the Havana initiative and hold up the Prime Minister to ridicule?
These questions have not only to be asked, but answered. For, the accusation that Roy jumped the gun is not being made by the ‘doves’ and ‘peaceniks’ alone. It has also been echoed by some in the intelligence services who have complained that they were not given enough time to tie up the loose ends of the investigation. It is, therefore, difficult to avoid coming to the conclusion that while Roy’s press conference may have been designed to reassure the Mumbai public, its timing was designed to torpedo Singh’s Havana initiative.
Close watchers of the political scene in Delhi have remarked during the past year that the government is virtually paralysed by its own internal dissensions. Many have jumped to the conclusion that this is because of the ‘dyarchy’ within the Congress that has resulted from power being shared by Sonia Gandhi and Singh. But the sorry tale of the peace-that-may-now-never-be shows that the dissension exists within Singh’s government and because he allows it to exist. Over two years, it has grown to the point where it is no longer a battle to give advice to the government. Today, the struggle is over control of the government’s agenda.
Pakistan's shadowy secret service
By Mahmud Ali
Pakistan's directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, usually called the ISI, is accused of many vices.
Critics say it runs "a state within a state", subverts elected governments, supports the Taleban and is even involved in drug smuggling.
Pakistan's government denies the allegations.
Like many other military intelligence organisations, the shadowy ISI zealously guards its secrets and evidence against it is sketchy.
However, the agency is a central organ of Pakistan's military machine which has played a major - often dominant - role in the country's often turbulent politics.
The ISI was established in 1948 - as Pakistan engaged India in the first war over Kashmir - to be the top body co-ordinating the intelligence functions of its army, air force and navy.
In the 1950s, when Pakistan joined anti-communist alliances, its military services and the ISI received considerable Western support in training and equipment.
The ISI's attention was focused on India, considered Pakistan's arch-enemy.
But when Ayub Khan, the army commander-in-chief, mounted the first successful coup in 1958, the ISI's domestic political activities expanded.
As a new state bringing together diverse ethnic groups within what some described as contrived borders, Pakistan faced separatist challenges - among Pashtuns, Balochis, Sindhis and Bengalis.
Much of the country's early history was shaped by politicians seeking regional autonomy and the central civilian and military bureaucracies trying to consolidate national unity.
The ISI not only mounted surveillance on parties and politicians, it often infiltrated, co-opted, cajoled or coerced them into supporting the army's centralising agenda.
Defeat and disgrace
The army ran the country from 1958 to 1971, when East Pakistan broke away with Indian and Soviet help to become Bangladesh.
The ISI and the Pakistani military were thoroughly discredited and marginalised after the war.
But they gained fresh purpose in 1972 when Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the new civilian leader, launched a clandestine project to build nuclear weapons.
A year later military operations were launched against nationalist militants in Balochistan province.
These two events helped rehabilitate the ISI and the military.
After Bhutto was ousted by General Zia ul-Haq in 1977, the Balochistan operations were ended but the nuclear programme was expanded.
The Marxist revolution in Afghanistan in the same year threatened Pakistan by opening a second "strategic front" (the first being with India to the east).
The ISI was restored to its past eminence.
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979 transformed the regional setting.
President Carter and his national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, built a Western-Muslim coalition with Britain, France, West Germany, China, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates playing key roles.
Revolutionary Iran offered some aid to anti-Soviet guerrillas in western Afghanistan.
But all other foreign assistance to the mujahideen arrived via Pakistan, to be handled by the ISI whose Afghan Bureau co-ordinated all operational activities with the seven guerrilla militias.
This was done in such secrecy that the Pakistani military itself was kept in the dark.
Just to get a sense of the scale of the operation - the CIA provided enough arms to equip a 240,000-man army, and the Saudis matched US funding dollar for dollar.
Other countries provided arms and money and Muslim countries also encouraged volunteers to join the jihad or holy war.
Foreign money helped to establish hundreds of madrassas (religious schools) in Pakistan's cities and frontier areas.
These turned out thousands of Taleban (students) who joined the mujahideen in the anti-Soviet campaign.
The ISI managed this operation, handling tens of thousands of tons of ordnance every year and co-ordinating the action of several hundred thousand fighters in great secrecy.
Eventually, in 1988, the Soviet Union agreed to withdraw its forces by 1989, and did so.
This was seen as a great victory for the mujahideen and their patrons in Pakistan and farther afield, and a trigger for the subsequent Soviet collapse.
This is why Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf feels it necessary to defend the ISI.
He has pointed out that the West backed the mujahideen, which went on to engender groups like al-Qaeda and the Taleban in the post-Soviet violence which consumed Afghanistan and brought about the US-led "war on terror".
Following the attacks of 11 September, 2001, Gen Musharraf has sought to rid the military, including the ISI, of Islamists within its ranks - a hangover from the Zia era.
Elements in the military have been accused of complicity in failed attempts on his life.
Pakistani government and ISI support for militant groups who left Afghanistan to fight Indian rule in Kashmir has been the cause of much friction with India.
India has repeatedly accused Pakistan, and especially the ISI, of involvement in Kashmir and in attacks elsewhere in India.