Tag Archives: ISI

Imran Khan’s tsunami is flooding Pakistan!

By: Agha Haider Raza

Pakistan’s media airwaves have gone haywire over the spectacle that has emerged since renowned journalist, Hamid Mir, was shot at multiple times in Karachi a few weeks ago. In response to the audacious attack, Mir’s employer, GEO News openly hinted that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was responsible for the attempt on Mir’s life.  As expected, the ISI sprung into action; flexing their muscles through the “independent” media and “civil society” by protesting against the allegations leveled by GEO News.  Rather than using the unfortunate attack on Hamid Mir as an opportunity to engage in a frank discussion on the safety of journalists in Pakistan (deemed one of the world’s least safe place for journalists), this incident has opened a debate on the credibility of Pakistan’s first democratic transition and reignited long-standing tensions between the incumbent government and the country’s most powerful institution, the Pakistan Army.  Using the bold attack on Hamid Mir as a springboard, Imran Khan is boycotting GEO News and has resorted to street protests to declare the sham of a democracy we have at present. Khan and his party claim that the general elections of 2013 were stolen from them via alleged rigging committed by the PML-N and GEO News and after exhausting all appropriate avenues have decided to utilize there street power.  This is not the time. What the country really needs are its politicians to embolden and strengthen Pakistan’s fragile Parliament by passing electoral reform and acting on the discrepancies in the last election to avoid repeating similar mistakes in the future.

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Silence is Not Always Golden

By: Agha Haider Raza

It’s not every day that you are woken up by the statement “oi jaago, Bin Laden ko khatam kur diya hai” (wake up, Bin Laden has been finished).

As soon as I heard the rumor, I did exactly what millions of others around the world must have done, and swiftly turned on the television. Indeed, blaring upfront was the breaking news that the world’s most wanted terrorist had been shot dead.  Tickers were already running below the screen on all news channels, as they anticipated President Obama’s remarks that would turn the rumor into reality. The President of the United States soon came on the air and with a straight face announced the death of Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad.  All eyes now turned to Pakistan.

In order to understand the audacity of Osama Bin Laden hiding in Abbottabad, eager news junkies waited for a statement from the Government of Pakistan.  After all, it had been hours since the Operation to eliminate Bin Laden had been carried out on Pakistani soil. President Obama had already made his statement acknowledging the role of Pakistan’s intelligentsia at 8.35AM PST.  “It [is] important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding”.  With pride, I awaited the response from a government I am rarely proud of.  Pakistan had suffered tremendous losses over the past decade because of 19 hijackers on 9/11 and an uncomfortable policy in Afghanistan known as ‘strategic depth’ carried out by the ISI.  But here was our shining moment.  To silence those who consistently called on Pakistan to “do more”.

As the day progressed, the conventional and social media exploded.  Fox News had their stories while MSNBC captured live images of Americans celebrating in the streets in the wee hours of the night.  With little information in regards to the Operation, information released from various media outlets started portraying their own stories.  Questions arose about the extravagant compound Bin Laden was residing in with such close proximity to the PMA, while many inquired about the sincerity of the Pakistan Military.  Sohaib Athar who happened to be tweeting about a low-flying helicopter announced that he heard a loud explosion during the night, became an instant celebrity.  CNN published the news about his tweets and instantly @ReallyVirtual found himself as the most sought out tweeter.  The poor man was bombarded for media interviews from around the world.  I guess that explains how he was able to garner over 90,000 followers (and counting) within a matter of hours.

While the world dissected and deciphered any news story about Osama Bin Laden, the Pakistan Government chose to remain silent.  Soon the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a rather awkward but amusing statement.  “This operation was conducted by the US forces in accordance with declared US policy that Osama bin Laden will be eliminated in a direct action by the US forces, wherever found in the world”.  The press release was truly mesmerizing.  It implied that the United States unilaterally undertook the Operation to root out Bin Laden – in stark contrast to what President Obama had announced earlier.  I tried to find President Zardari’s schedule, to see if there was any slot for a public announcement.  Luckily, via http://www.president.gov.pk I was able to understand Zardari’s absence from a public announcement in regards to Bin Laden’s capture only a 100 kilometers from the Presidency.  Asif Zardari was accepting credentials from newly inducted Ambassadors at Diplomatic Enclave along with presiding over the Oath-taking ceremony for 18 new Ministers (which in itself is shrouded in mystery).

While the international media openly criticized the Government of Pakistan (GoP) and the Pakistan Military for allowing Bin Laden to reside so closely to Islamabad and the PMA, our civilian leader chose to remain away from the mic and camera.  Assuming that the GoP may have let the Military handle such a worldwide story due to the sensitivity of the issue, I scanned the ISPR (Pakistan Military Press Dept.) but found nothing.  Here we were, at the core of the biggest news story of the century and beyond the 243 words of the press released issued by MoFA, nothing.

The entire day has passed by and world leaders have spoken on the death of Osama Bin Laden. Yet, our Government and Military have remained silent.  With hundreds of unanswered questions, the GoP and the Military have lost the opportunity to tackle the bull by the horns. when it missed an occasion to discuss the Operation in the morning.  Rather than acknowledging the role of Pakistan and her military, the Foreign Office snubbed the United States by hinting they operated unilaterally.  I find it rather hard to believe that US Helicopters were in Pakistani Airspace, conducted a 40 minute “solo” mission, and escaped with the body of Osama Bin Laden –without the knowledge of the GoP or Pakistan Military.

By choosing to remain quiet, the GoP and the Pakistan Military have allowed the conspiracy theorists (found in abundance) and international media to construe their own stories and draw their own conclusions.  I cannot fathom the fact that on such a monumental news story, the GoP and the Military would revert to silence. However, this morning President Zardari deemed it necessary to publish an Opinion piece in the Washington Post.  Yet again, President Zardari assumed it was a better approach in reaching out to the American public rather than quashing the fears and queries of Pakistani’s.  Sending out bland statements (by PM Gilani and MoFA) should have been done once the President or Prime Minister addressed the citizens of Pakistan and the world.  It has been more than 24 hours since Bin Laden was shot dead and we are still awaiting a public statement by the President, Prime Minister, Defence Minister or Senior Military Officials.

In a globalized day and age, where social media has brought down dictatorships and reinforced democratic ideals, the sheer recklessness of those in power is mind-boggling.  The tranquility of the Government has only garnered more suspiciousness and resentment towards a fledgling and weak leadership.  At a time when the whole world is eyeing Pakistan for a statement on the death of its most notorious terrorist, it is shocking that Zardari or Prime Minister Gilani would remain silent.  With plenty of damage done to Pakistan’s reputation over the course of 24 hours, I sure hope Firdous Awan has her talking points ready for a media and country that still needs answers to many questions.

Sick and Tired!

By: Agha Haider Raza

Over the past week Pakistan has read many different news items. From the passing of the 18th amendment to the bomb blast at the US Consulate, much is happening. Some may say the stories are for the betterment of our country while others may disagree. In my mind the successful visit of the Foreign Minister and his entourage to the United States gave Pakistan some much needed positive press. However, the current witch-hunt carried out by the Chief Justice and the ugly battle over the reopening of Zardari’s corruption cases has embarrassed many of those who fought for the independence of the judiciary. Now do not get me wrong, as much as I enjoyed protesting on the streets of Lahore for the reinstatement of the nation’s top judge, I can’t fathom Mr. Iftikhar’s current agenda of picking and choosing his enemies. When will we be able to see actual results from the “democratically” elected officials and the “independent” judiciary we as a nation have struggled to achieve for 62 years? When will stop pointing fingers and vilifying those whom we disagree with? Or have we gotten used to being stuck in this whirlpool of revengeful politics. Honestly, we Pakistanis have gotten sick and tired of the lies and broken promises. Continue reading

A new dawn

By: Agha Haider Raza

Over the past few days – out-of-public viewing – Pakistan has witnessed a welcoming shift in policy.  With the capture of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Mullah Abdul Salam, the trust deficit between the United States and Pakistan or rather the ISI and CIA is slowly diminishing.  With a joint effort by these two premier intelligence agencies, a significant blow has been dealt to the top brass of the Taliban.  The capture of these Mullahs seems to have brought upon a new dawn upon the horizon. Continue reading

Learn from yesterday for a better tomorrow

By: Osama Bin Javaid

Afghanistan is a mess and a byproduct of the Cold War. It has reached its present state due to plundering, both intentional and unintentional, by vested interests of internal and external powers. As is well known by now, in the 1980s, the CIA-funded extremist literature and systematic brainwashing created monstrous killing machines, not just in numbers, but in generations. Meanwhile, the Pakistani intelligence agencies knowingly remained tools in the grander scheme because they could salvage two cents from the dollars being pumped in. Continue reading

Pakistan conspiracy theories stifle debate

By: Ahmed Rashid

Switch on any of the dozens of satellite news channels now available in Pakistan.

You will be bombarded with talk show hosts who are mostly obsessed with demonising the elected government, trying to convince viewers of global conspiracies against Pakistan led by India and the United States or insisting that the recent campaign of suicide bomb blasts around the country is being orchestrated by foreigners rather than local militants.

Viewers may well ask where is the passionate debate about the real issues that people face – the crumbling economy, joblessness, the rising cost of living, crime and the lack of investment in health and education or settling the long-running insurgency in Balochistan province.

The answer is nowhere. Continue reading

So what its just the NRO!

By: Agha Haider Raza

So the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) beneficiaries list comes out.  The media is happy that those persons who enjoyed taking advantage of the NRO have light casted upon them, while the government is trying to push forward the argument of how they have respected the Supreme Court’s judgment and have publicized the list.  It seems to be a win-win situation for all parties.  But is it really?  Calls for the resignation of ministries and portfolios have echoed from all corners.  How has this zero-sum game turned into a finger-pointing-name-calling battle? Continue reading

Why not a civilian head of ISI?

By: Kamran Shafi

In view of the fact that the cardinal sin of the federal government to try and put the ISI under civilian control is cited as a reason behind all the obituaries presently being written about the imminent fall of a) just the president; b) all the major politicians; and c) the whole shoot, I’ve been trolling through the Internet to see how just many of the world’s top intelligence services are headed by serving military (in Pakistan’s case, read ‘army’) officers.

And how many are appointed by the army chief. Consider what I’ve come up with.

Except for two retired army officers in the early days, one a lieutenant colonel the other a major general, all the DGs of MI5, the “United Kingdom’s internal counter-intelligence and security agency were civil servants. The director-general reports to the home secretary, although the Security Service is not formally part of the home office”, and through him to the prime minister. Continue reading