Why Pakistan Will Never Catch Terror Leader Alive

Updated 07 Aug 09

Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan chief Baitullah Mehsud. — Photo by Reuters

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Pakistan’s Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, who led a violent campaign of suicide attacks and assassinations against the Pakistani government, was killed in a US missile strike and his body has been buried, three Pakistani intelligence officials said Friday.
But one of the three said no intelligence agent had actually seen Baitullah Mehsud’s body.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said intelligence sources have confirmed Baitullah’s death. more

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The mess in Pakistan’s western areas is not just a battle with religious extremism. A larger part is a battle of proxies. There are credible reports that Indian and Israeli intelligence involvement in U.S.-controlled Afghanistan has deepened in the past seven years. American military and intelligence officials are impressed with the record of both countries in fighting Islamic groups in Kashmir and the Mideast. Israel invested heavily in establishing schools that study the art of Islamic indoctrination. These schools were used to learn how clerics can brainwash recruits and then exploit them politically. Israeli spymasters have used this knowledge to penetrate Islamic groups and plant agents. They have passed this technique on to the Indians to help them counter pro-Pakistan religious groups in Kashmir. In the Kargil war in 1999, Pakistanis and Kashmiris faced a direct Israeli special operations intervention on the side of the Indian military.

By Ahmed Quraishi
Wednesday, 24 June 2009.
WWW.AHMEDQURAISHI.COM

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—Pakistan will probably never catch terrorist leader Baitullah Mehsud alive. Why? For the same reason that we will never really know why uncircumcised dead fighters have been turning up from the bunkers of what is supposed to be Pakistani Taliban. Or why alcoholic beverages were found from some of their hideouts. Or why citizens of China and Sri Lanka – two close military allies of Pakistan – were brutally attacked on Pakistani soil by people claiming to be fighting America. Or why this new Taliban is so eager to kill ordinary Pakistanis and harass anti-India Kashmiri activists and demand they fight Pakistan.

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Similarly we will never know why listed companies like Google and Facebook are speeding up Persian translations of their sites when no profit is involved. [Will their stockholders accept democracy instead of profits?] Or why the government of President Zardari exerted pressure for the removal of the Saudi ambassador in Islamabad. And why the government did not object when the U.S. and other allied donors tried to create a special fund for Balochistan and NWFP with the condition that it operate outside Pakistan’s control. And why the Saudi ambassador strongly opposed the plan when Mr. Zardari’s team almost endorsed it. Could this be one of several reasons why the Saudi ambassador became unwelcome here, received threats to his life and then was unable to meet the President before leaving despite several attempts?

The popular Pakistani understanding of the battle against Baitullah Mehsud is more American than Pakistani. This prevents us from accepting that this insurgency is wrapped in multiple layers of deceit. The entire prevailing narrative of the situation is exclusively American, tailored to suit Washington’s worldview. It talks about a uniform threat of Taliban and al Qaeda with no distinction made between the Afghan Taliban and the new Pakistani version; the American narrative does not explain how or why the ranks of the Pakistani Taliban have been swelling steadily when the Afghan Taliban is not experiencing a similar surge; and why the American narrative suppresses any discussion of Pakistani grievances about an organized anti-Pakistan terror wave emanating from Afghanistan.

The Pakistani counter narrative is missing on the government level and is probably limited to some circles within the Pakistani strategic and intelligence communities. The impression is that the Pakistani government is essentially bartering silence for U.S. aid.

This is a dangerous bargain.

It means that Pakistani officials won’t take a stand on the use of Afghan soil to export terror to Pakistan. In fact, there are strong grounds to conclude that while other parts of the U.S. government engage Pakistan, freewheeling elements within the Central Intelligence Agency are probably conducting their own foreign policy on the ground in the region. The simultaneous trouble in both the Pakistani and Iranian parts of Balochistan is but one case in point.

Another downside to our enthusiasm for U.S. aid money at any cost is our waning ability to resist the upcoming American plan to install India as the resident guardian over Pakistan and Afghanistan. A senior US national security official is expected to bring this plan to Pakistan in the next few days. Islamabad’s obsession with US aid while staying mum on vital Pakistani interest is absurd. Why is Prime Minister Gilani complaining now about the US ‘surge’ in Afghanistan when Mr. Zardari and his foreign minister wasted no time in warmly welcoming it when Mr. Obama unveiled the plan in March?

This explains why Mr. Zardari signed an American-proposed agreement to give India overland trade routes to Afghanistan. No wonder U.S. diplomats in Islamabad are so emboldened that recently some of them spent half the day camped at the federal petroleum ministry to force a rollback of the Iran gas deal.

There are also fresh questions on the extent of support the United States is getting from two of its closest allies India and Israel in Afghanistan. There are credible reports that Indian and Israeli intelligence involvement in U.S.-controlled Afghanistan has deepened in the past seven years. Some American military and intelligence officials are impressed with the record of both countries in fighting Islamic groups, especially the Indian experience in occupied Kashmir. The Israelis have invested heavily in establishing schools that study the art of Islamic indoctrination. These schools were used to learn how clerics can brainwash recruits and then exploit them politically. Israeli spymasters have used this knowledge to penetrate Mideastern Islamic groups. They have passed this technique to the Indians to help them counter pro-Pakistan religious groups in Kashmir. In the Kargil war in 1999, Pakistanis and Kashmiris faced a direct Israeli special operations intervention on the side of the Indian military.

The mess in Pakistan’s western areas is not just a battle with religious extremism. A larger part is a battle of proxies. None of this means that we should treat Washington as an enemy. But it does have an agenda that is increasingly diverging from Pakistan’s strategic interests.
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