Header Ads

Pakistan: What I reported In August

By B. Raman

(February 13, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) Feinstein comment on U.S. drones likely to embarrass Pakistan.The Predator planes that launch missile strikes against militants are based in Pakistan, the senator says. That suggests a much deeper relationship with the U.S. than Islamabad would like to admit.

By Greg Miller

February 13, 2009

Reporting from Washington — A senior U.S. lawmaker said Thursday that unmanned CIA Predator aircraft operating in Pakistan are flown from an air base in that country, a revelation likely to embarrass the Pakistani government and complicate its counter-terrorism collaboration with the United States.

The disclosure by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, marked the first time a U.S. official had publicly commented on where the Predator aircraft patrolling Pakistan take off and land.

At a hearing, Feinstein expressed surprise over Pakistani opposition to the campaign of Predator-launched CIA missile strikes against Islamic extremist targets along Pakistan's northwestern border.

"As I understand it, these are flown out of a Pakistani base," she said.

The basing of the pilotless aircraft in Pakistan suggests a much deeper relationship with the United States on counter-terrorism matters than has been publicly acknowledged. Such an arrangement would be at odds with protests lodged by officials in Islamabad, the capital, and could inflame anti-American sentiment in the country.

The CIA declined to comment, but former U.S. intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, confirmed that Feinstein's account was accurate.

WHAT I REPORTED IN AUGUST & SEPTEMBER LAST YEAR

"Even though the US does not rate highly Zardari's leadership qualities, it prefers him to Nawaz because of his willingness to maintain Musharraf's policy of co-operation with the US in its so-called war against terrorism in Afghanistan and his perceived amenability to pressure by the US because of its role in persuading Musharraf, when he was the President, to issue the NRO ( National Reconciliation Ordinance). The US is also hopeful that, unlike Nawaz, Zardari will avoid any humiliation of Musharraf and will let him continue to live in Pakistan without fearing any harassment by the Government. Well-informed PPP sources say that the entire scenario has been proceeding according to a tacit understanding reached with US officials during the visit of Yousef Raza Gilani, the Prime Minister, and Rehman Malik, his Advisor on Internal Security, to Washington DC, in the last week of July, 2008. According to these sources, this understanding provided for: launching of a special land-cum-air operation by the Pakistan military against Al Qaeda and Taliban sanctuaries in the Bajaur Agency, permission to be accorded by the Gilani Government for continuing unmanned Predator strikes by the US intelligence agencies on terrorist hide-outs in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and US pressure on Musharraf to resign thus paving the way for the election of Zardari. The object of the entire exercise was to keep Nawaz out of power, marginalise him and keep up the present level of US-Pakistan co-operation against terrorism. ...... After 9/11, the US tried to project Musharraf as its frontline ally in the war against terrorism. He did co-operate, but not whole-heartedly. It is now hoping that if elected as the President, Zardari will co-operate with it without reservations. Zardari is giving the impression that he will. It is most likely that he will turn out to be as insincere as Musharraf. He will give the impression of co-operating while avoiding it in effect. "

Extract from my article of August 27, 2008, titled "AFTER TRICKY MUSH, TRICKY ZARDARI"


"The same well-informed sources of the Pakistan People's Party cited in the above-mentioned article of August 27, 2008, say that it is correct that Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari had been kept in the picture by officials of the Bush administration, including President George Bush himself, about the new rules of engagement approved by Bush in July before the visit of Gilani to Washington DC. Under these new rules of engagement, the US has been allowed to step up aerial attacks on suspected terrorist hide-outs in Pakistani territory by the Predator pilotless planes and undertake ground operations through special forces within a depth of not more than five kms if warranted by precise intelligence without informing the Pakistan Army beforehand. According to them, these rules of engagement also lay down that ground operations would be undertaken in such a manner as not to involve an accidental confrontation with the Pakistani security forces. As against three Predator strikes and no ground strike during the whole of last year when Pervez Musharraf was the President and the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), there have already been 12 Predator strikes and one ground strike since the Gilani Government came to office on March 18, 2008."

Extract from my article of September 13,2008 titled PAK-US SNAFU

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

-Sri Lanka Guardian

No comments

Powered by Blogger.