Jihad goes on in Pakistan —by Khaled Ahmed
The Fluttering Flag of Jehad


By Amir Mir Mashal Books Lahore 2008 Pp306; Price Rs 700

Amir Mir has developed into an informed commentator on the state of jihad with an uncomfortable inside track with those who are supposed to counter it in Pakistan. Of course jihad has unfortunately become another name for terrorism and those who have taken it out of the roster of the functions of the state and privatised it are to blame for this development.

Amir Mir was able to interview Benazir Bhutto just before she fell to the terrorism of Al Qaeda or whoever it was who assassinated her in December 2007. She thought Pervez Musharraf was secretly in league with the terrorists and had tried to kill her in Karachi in October 2007, and was sure he would get terrorists like Abdur Rehman Otho of Lashkar-e Jhangvi and Qari Saifullah Akhtar of Harkat Jihad Islami, protégés of the ISI, to do the job. She named Brigadier Ijaz Shah and Brigadier Riaz Chibb etc. in her final writings. She predicted her death and blamed it on the army; months later, Major General Faisal Alvi too predicted his own death at the hands of the army and was shot down in Islamabad.

Musharraf claimed that Benazir was killed by Baitullah Mehsud through his suicide-bombers whose minder was taped talking to him on the phone about the achievement. Evidence in place was destroyed by the establishment, and questions arising from her murder could not be answered although Al Qaeda was at first quoted in the press as having taken care of ‘the most precious American asset’ in the words of Mustafa Abu Yazid, the Al Qaeda commander in Afghanistan. Benazir had her moles inside the ISI (p.28); but Amir doesn’t accept that Baitullah Mehsud killed her and gives a convincing critique of the findings of Scotland Yard.

Now a lot of writers use inside information from the US government to claim that Musharraf was sympathetic to the Taliban as they fled from the US attack in 2001. Amir Mir tells us that Corps Commander Peshawar General Safdar Hussain, who signed the peace accord with Baitullah Mehsud at Sararogha near Wana in February 2005, had called him a soldier of peace even as Mehsud’s warriors shouted ‘Death to America’. Major General Faisal Alvi was to accuse some elements in the army high command of being on the side of the Taliban before his assassination in 2008. Baitullah rewarded General Hussain with 200 captured Pakistani troops in August 2007.

Benazir believed Qari Saifullah Akhtar was involved in the attempt on her life in Karachi in October 2007 (p.43). Qari was in prison for trying to kill Musharraf in 2004 and was sprung from there to do the job on Benazir. Musharraf was outraged when he got to know that an ISI protégé had tried to kill him from his safe haven in Dubai after fleeing from Afghanistan in 2001. Qari was special because he was rescued by the spooks after he was found involved in trying to stage a military coup in league with Islamist fanatic Major General Zaheerul Islam Abbasi in 1995. He along with his Harkat Jihad Islami was to become the favourite of the Taliban government.

The place to be mined for leadership talent was Karachi’s Banuri Mosque where the Qari and that other protégé Fazlur Rehman Khalil had received their Deobandi orientation. The third Banuri Mosque protégé of the state was Maulana Masud Azhar, who formed Jaish-e Muhammad and was rescued from an Indian jail together with Omar Sheikh, the man who later helped kill Daniel Pearl in Karachi. Qari was recalled from Dubai and kept in custody, and the Lahore High Court did not release him on a habeas corpus petition. But he was released quietly before Benazir arrived in Pakistan in October 2007 (p.45).

After Benazir named him in her posthumous book, Qari was arrested again in March 2008. The reaction came in the shape of a suicide attacks on the Naval War College and the FIA office in Lahore where Qari’s terrorists were being kept for interrogation into the War College attack (p.47). A Karachi terrorist court heard the case against Qari and freed him on bail because the proof with which the prosecution could have proved him guilty had ‘disappeared’. Later he was rearrested but then quietly released by the Home Department because the spooks wanted him freed (p.48).

Fazlur Rehman Khalil is another protected person who lives in Islamabad but governments hardly know what he has been saying to the American authors who visit him. When Islamabad got into trouble with its own clerics in Lal Masjid, it was Khalil who was taken out and made to negotiate with them (p.109). He is the sort of person who can some day get Pakistan into trouble after which Islamabad will have to say he has mysteriously left the country and cannot be produced. He is Osama bin Laden’s man and his Harkatul Mujahideen was prominent among the jihadi organisations in Kashmir and ran training camps for warriors in Dhamial just outside Rawalpindi, at least that is what an American suspect Hamid Hayat told the FBI after visiting it (p.108).

It is not only Dr AQ Khan whom Pakistan has to save from being kidnapped by the anti-proliferationist West, there is also Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, the top scientist who enriched uranium at Khushab and then conferred with Osama bin Laden about building a nuclear bomb when he was in Kabul looking after his charity organisation called Umma Tameer Nau (p.111). He is the crazy bearded man who once presented a paper to General Zia saying Pakistan could make electricity from jinns. He also thought he could use a nuclear bomb to clear up a silted Tarbela Dam. Daniel Pearl was on to him, but he got killed when he got close to another protected person.

The other person was Mubarak Shah Gilani, a scion of the great Sufi of Lahore, Mianmir, who actually controlled jinns and ran a jihadi organisation named Al Fuqra still alive and doing well in the UK’s Londonistan. He had recruited Richard Reid, the Shoe Bomber terrorist who was caught before he could blow up an aircraft. Daniel Pearl had traced Mubarak Shah Gilani to Karachi and was going to interview him when he was tricked by Omar Sheikh into going with Lashkar-e Jhangvi gunmen who then handed him over to Khaled Sheikh Muhammad, who confessed at Guantanamo to personally beheading him (p.116). Omar Sheikh, who got involved in planning the 9/11 strike, was finally made to surrender after sheltering in home secretary and ex-ISI officer Ijaz Shah’s residence in Lahore for a week.

The book says on page 122 that the ISI chief General Mehmood was later investigated by FBI for sending $100,000 to plane hijacker Atta, who led the 9/11 strike on the World Trade Centre. The conduit for Mehmood was Omar Sheikh. The Wall Street Journal, Daniel Pearl’s paper, reported that an examination of Omar Sheikh’s telephone record showed him talking to General Mehmood, proving also that the money sent by General Mehmood through Omar Sheikh was funding for the New York strike (p.122). General Musharraf in his book reported, as if in rebuttal, that Omar Sheikh was first recruited by the British spy agency MI6.

The book also reports that the hijacking — done by Masood Azhar’s brother Abdul Rauf and brother-in-law Yusuf Azhar — of an Indian airliner that led to the release of Omar Sheikh and Masood Azhar from an Indian jail was linked to the ISI because its Quetta-based officers talked to the hijackers on the wireless set at Kandahar (p.128). Masood Azhar then went on to attack the Parliament in New Delhi in 2001, a month after 9/11. ISI chief Javed Ashraf Qazi on March 6, 2004 admitted that Jaish was involved in the New Delhi parliament assault (p.134). Later Jaish militants were to be housed in Lal Masjid during its siege by state troops in 2007 (p.141).

An interesting chapter is included on the infiltration of the Pakistani cricket team by the Tablighi Jama’at. As a result, the team under captain Inzamam-ul Haq lost its playing ability to its obsession with tabligh and conversion. Media manager PJ Mir accused the team of neglecting the game during the 2007 World Cup and spending all the time trying to convert the innocent people of the West Indies (p.204). *