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Monday, 30 March 2009

Amir Mir: Punjabi and Pushtun militants behind Manawan attack



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9 comments:

Ranjha said...

Is Amir Mir Hamid Mir's brother? How come this bother's analysis makes sense whereas the other brother (Hamid Mir) is on the ISI's payroll? Allah ki shan.

Anonymous said...

Breaking News
11:00pm: An unknown organization, “Fadaeen-e-Islam” from S. Waziristan has accepted the responsibility - Aaj News ticker

Nahi Yeh nahi Ho sakta S.Wazirstan mein to Frishtay rahtein hein..wahan par to shariat nafaz hein

fanaticmulla
MF beardos ..they should be hanged from their beards ..

Aamir Mughal said...

Is Amir Mir Hamid Mir's brother? How come this bother's analysis makes sense whereas the other brother (Hamid Mir) is on the ISI's payroll? Allah ki shan. [Ranjha]
===========================

LeT commander furious at JuD chief By Amir Mir Thursday, January 15, 2009

http://thenews.jang.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=19630

LAHORE: Chief operational commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LT) Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, arrested on December 10 by the Pakistani authorities in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, is furious at the Jamaat-ud-Daawa (JuD) leadership’s decision to publicly disown him in his hour of trial instead of trying to bail him out.

According to circles close to the Pakistani authorities, involved in grilling Lakhvi to ascertain whether the LT is actually involved in the Mumbai mayhem, the commander is extremely hurt by a recent statement from a JuD spokesman that both the arrested Lashkar leaders Zakiur Rehman and Zarar Shah never had any link with either Hafiz Mohammad Saeed or the JuD.

In a bid to shield Saeed, JuD spokesman Abdullah Muntazir told the Times of India on January 9, 2008: “In any case, Lakhvi and Zarar, the two men India is talking about, were never associated with the JuD, which has always been into charity work only.”

It had been conveyed by Hafiz Saeed himself in the wake of the Mumbai terror strikes, the spokesman said, adding there were elements in the Pakistan government that wanted to target religious organisations. Circles close to Hafiz Saeed say there was nothing new in the JuD spokesman’s stance as its leadership had repeatedly denied any link with them.

But a former LT office-bearer — now a part of the JuD — confirmed on condition of anonymity that Lakhvi was extremely upset over the U-turn taken by his former close associates and complains they had abandoned him at a time when he desperately needed their backing.

Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, alias Abu Waheed Irshad Ahmad, comes from the Okara district of the Punjab province. Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone Mumbai attacker caught alive by the Indian authorities, belongs to the same area.

Born on December 30, 1960 to the lower middle class family of Hafiz Azizur Rehman in Chak No. 18 of Rinala Khurd in Okara, Lakhvi is considered to be a close associate of Hafiz Saeed and has been named by Ajmal Kasab as his trainer as well as the planner of the Mumbai carnage. While Pakistan has already turned down an Indian demand for Lakhvi’s extradition despite American pressure, the JuD has deemed it fit to disown him.

In 1988, Abu Abdur Rahman Sareehi, a Saudi national and allegedly a close associate of Osama bin Laden, founded in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Kunar an organisation which recruited Afghan youths and Pakistanis from the Bajaur Agency to fight Soviet occupation troops in the Central Asian country.

Sareehi, the brother-in-law of Zaki Lakhvi, is believed to have contributed a hefty amount of Rs10 million to the construction of the Muridke headquarters of the Lashkar-i-Taiba, called the Markaz Daawa Wal Irshad, way back in 1988. The organisation flourished in Kunar and Bajaur areas as thousands of youths from Pakistan belonging to the Deobandi Salafi school of thought instantly joined its camps set up in Afghan provinces of Kunar and Paktia, both of which had a sizable number of Ahle Hadith (Wahabi) followers of Islam, besides hundreds of Saudis and Afghans.

International media reports say Zaki Lakhvi was one of the main trainers at the Kunar camp of anti-Soviet militants. As the Lashkar had joined the Afghan jihad at a time it was winding down, the group did not play a major part in the fight against the Soviet forces, which pulled out in 1989.

However, the participation of the Lashkar cadres in the Afghan jihad helped its leaders, particularly Hafiz Saeed and Zaki Lakhvi, win the trust of the Pakistani establishment. The insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir, beginning in 1989, came at an appropriate time to provide an active battleground for the Lashkar fighters when its leadership was made to divert its attention from Afghanistan and devote itself to the jihad in Kashmir, where it gained fame.

As Lakhvi was subsequently made the supreme commander of the military operations in Jammu and Kashmir, his prime responsibility was to identify young men and indoctrinate them in jihad.

In an April 1999 interview to an English daily from Muzzaffarabad, Lakhvi said: “We are extending our Mujahideen networks across India and preparing the Muslims of India against India. When they are ready, it will be the start of the break-up of India.” A few months later, at the three-day annual congregation of the LT held at its Muridke headquarters, 30 kilometres from Lahore, Lakhvi justified the launching of fidayeen missions in Jammu and Kashmir.

He continued: “Following Pakistani withdrawal from the Kargil heights and the Nawaz-Clinton statement in Washington, it was important to boost the morale of the Kashmiri people... These fidayeen missions have been initiated to teach India a lesson as they were celebrating Pakistani withdrawal from Kargil. And let me tell you very clearly that our next target would be New Delhi.” Incidentally, the Indian parliament was attacked later on December 13, 2001.

Subsequently, the US State Department declared the Lashkar a terrorist outfit, followed by a similar decision by the Musharraf regime. The LT later renamed itself as Jamaat-ud-Daawa (JuD) in a bid to separate its military actions in Kashmir from its religious undertakings in Pakistan. While stepping down as the Lashkar ameer at a press conference in Lahore on December 23, 2001, Hafiz Saeed appointed Maulana Abdul Wahid Kashmiri as his successor. But Lakhvi was retained as the supreme operational commander of the LT.

However, differences soon erupted between Saeed and Lakhvi over distribution of the organisation’s assets, prompting the latter to revolt against Saeed and launch his own splinter group with the name of Khairun Naas (KuN). Their animosity grew to the extent that some of the Zaki-led rebel group members — largely consisting of LT fighters — reportedly took oath to assassinate Hafiz Saeed.

According to Saeed’s aides, he first came under fire from Zaki when he decided to launch JuD and separated the LT infrastructure from the Jamaat. Lakhvi, being the chief operational commander of the LT, disapproved of the decision, saying it was meant to put the JuD in control of all the funds collected locally and abroad. He was of the view that as heavy donations were being collected in the name of the Kashmir jihad from all over Pakistan as well as abroad, the JuD leadership had no right to the money because it was only a preaching organisation.

Sources close to Lakhvi revealed many of the dissident aides to Saeed were basically annoyed at his second marriage with a fallen mujahid’s 28-year-old widow. Saeed was 58 at the time of his marriage and had justified his act by saying the wedding was only meant to provide shelter to the widow of the fighter, who had lost his life in Jammu and Kashmir and had left behind two kids.

However, a year later, Saeed and Lakhvi were made to mend fences and the two were the best of friends at the time of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. But Zaki Lakhvi had already moved the LT headquarters from Muridke to Muzaffarabad by then. In July 2006, the Indian authorities alleged that Azam Cheema, a LT operative accused of being the ring leader in the 2006 bombing of the Mumbai rail network [that killed over 200 people] was trained and sent to the Indian port city by Lakhvi.

The Mumbai police commissioner then claimed that an arrested militant, Abu Anas, has confessed to being the bodyguard of Lakhvi. In May 2008, the US Treasury Department announced freezing the assets of four LT leaders including Lakhvi. In October, 2007, Lakhvi’s 20-year-old son Mohammad Qasim was reportedly killed in an encounter with the security forces at the Gamaroo village in Jammu and Kashmir’s Bandipora area.

In the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, the Indian authorities alleged Zaki Lakhvi, usually based in Muzaffarabad, had moved to Karachi in August 2008, the port city from where LT militants set off, so he could direct operations. The sole survivor of the Mumbai attacks, Ajmal Kasab, apparently told police Lakhvi had helped indoctrinate all the attackers.

On December 3, 2008, India finally named him as one of four major planners behind the Mumbai terror attacks. And that he had allegedly offered to pay the Kasab family Rs150,000 for his participation in the assaults. On December 7, 2008, the Pakistani security forces arrested Lakhvi after raiding the JuD headquarters in Muzaffarabad.

The Indian dossier handed over to Pakistan on January 5 includes transcription of intercepted telephonic conversation between the Mumbai attackers and Lakhvi. However, circles close to the arrested LT chief operational commander reject the Indian dossier as a pack of lies and insist Lakhvi has nothing to do with the Mumbai strikes.

Aamir Mughal said...

Is Amir Mir Hamid Mir's brother? How come this bother's analysis makes sense whereas the other brother (Hamid Mir) is on the ISI's payroll? Allah ki shan. [Ranjha]
====================

Dear Mr Ranjha,

Sometimes even the TOUTS make sense!!!

De facto Sindh CM finally transferred By Hamid Mir Monday, April 21, 2008

http://thenews.jang.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=14221

ISLAMABAD: The man who has ruled Sindh as a de facto chief minister for many years finally lost his powers on Saturday.

Brigadier Huda, who was an ISI commander in Sindh, was in fact the caretaker of the MQM-PML-Q provincial coalition government. He was responsible for running the coalition in a smooth manner. All major decisions
were taken after his consultation.

He resolved the differences between former CM Arbab Ghulam Rahim and the MQM many a time. Many provincial ministers even used to say "ooper Khuda aur neechay Huda". The brigadier’s name figured in the power circles of Islamabad in the evening of May 12, 2007.

Brigadier Huda was given credit for the show of
massive government power in Karachi on that day.

Initially, the MQM was reluctant to hold a rally in Karachi on May 12. The then ISI DG Gen Ashfaq Kayani also had the same opinion that the MQM should not come out on the streets when Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry would visit Karachi. It was Huda who played an important role in convincing the MQM not to cancel its rally. He assured the MQM leadership that there will be no riots on that day though he was proved wrong. He was supposed to be very close to the then Army chief General Pervez Musharraf. However, no
action was taken against him.

The blasts in the rally of Benazir Bhutto on October 18, 2007 in Karachi were another failure of Brigadier Huda. He was responsible for the security of Benazir Bhutto on that day more than anybody else. However, he was not transferred despite his repeated failures. His downfall started on April 9, 2008, when many people
including lawyers were killed in the Karachi violence. It was another failure on the part of Huda. The new PPP government in Sindh felt that Brigadier Huda was still having immense political influence. It believed that he was in contact with the anti-PPP forces. Many
important bureaucrats reported to the provincial
government that Huda was interfering in different
departments. He was more interested in "political
makings and breakings" than doing his security job.

After the episode of April 9, PPP leaders asked ISI Director General Lt Gen Nadeem Taj through the prime minister that Huda must be transferred. It took just a few days and Huda was transferred. He was replaced by
another brigadier. The PPP gave a message that it
means business and it will not tolerate any ambitious spymasters.

There are rumors in the capital that the ISI DG will also be transferred soon but highly-placed sources in the new government dispelled all these rumours. "The prime minister has the authority to change the ISI DG anytime but right now we don't need to change him," claimed a top PPP leader.

Aamir Mughal said...

Is Amir Mir Hamid Mir's brother? How come this bother's analysis makes sense whereas the other brother (Hamid Mir) is on the ISI's payroll? Allah ki shan. [Ranjha]
=========================

Hamid Karzai worked for ISI’ By Amir Mir

10/11/06 "DNA" -- - LAHORE: Afghan President Hamid Karzai is a former agent of the Inter-Services Intelligence, when it had its horns locked with Soviet occupation forces in Afghanistan.

“Karzai had been with us during the entire jihad. He was commissioned with me. Not only him — his brother, his father — all of them were working with us — I know the whole family,” claimed a former ISI officer Col (retd) Shuja Khanzada in an interview.

“They (Karzais) had bases in Peshawar and used to call on me every week for instructions. Today, the same Karzai is talking rubbish,” said Khanzada, a member of the Punjab Chief Minister’s Inspection Team, in an interview with The Post.

Asked about General Musharraf’s recent disclosure that some former ISI officers were assisting the Taliban, Khanzada said no serving ISI officer was aiding the Taliban in their insurgency.

“Certain retired officers may have emotional ties with the Taliban along with whom they fought for 10 years, but they cannot offer them any tangible help because retired personnel are not capable of supporting a movement.”

“This appears to be the sequel to the campaign launched by American media in 1992 when they wanted to clip the wings of the ISI, which is one of the best intelligence agencies in the world. The Afghan jihad could never have succeeded without the ISI”, he added.

The bear trap could never have been laid and the Soviet superpower could never have been brought to its knees had the ISI not planned, coordinated and conducted the Afghan resistance for 10 long years,” said Khanzada.

The ISI defended the world from Soviet expansion. The agency has shielded Pakistan from threats to our nuclear capability and to our sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Khanzada said.

COPYRIGHT © 2006 DILIGENT MEDIA CORPORATION LTD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15269.htm

Aamir Mughal said...

Is Amir Mir Hamid Mir's brother? How come this bother's analysis makes sense whereas the other brother (Hamid Mir) is on the ISI's payroll? Allah ki shan. [Ranjha]
=========================

Plot to kill Musharraf unearthed By Amir Mir Thursday, December 18, 2008

http://thenews.jang.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=19033

LAHORE: In a sensational development, authorities have claimed busting a clandestine terror network set up by jailed killer of Daniel Pearl inside the Hyderabad Jail and the Sindh government has suspended senior police and jail officials after a large number of cell phones, SIMs and other equipment were recovered.

Highly-placed Interior Ministry sources confided to The News on Wednesday the jailed terrorist had also threatened Gen Pervez Musharraf on his personal cell phone in the second week of November and planned to get him eliminated by a suicide bomber.

The caller reportedly told the former president: “I am after you, get ready to die.” Subsequent investigations by the authorities revealed the threatening phone call was made by someone from the Hyderabad Central Jail. Being a suspect, Sheikh Omar was placed under observation before it transpired that he was the one who had threatened the former strongman.

The authorities came to know that a plot had been hatched by Sheikh Omar to eliminate the then-president with the connivance of some Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) militants, with whom he had long been in touch over the phone.

As Omar’s death cell was thoroughly searched, three mobile phones, six batteries, 18 SIMS of almost every cellular company and chargers were seized from his possession. Further scanning of the alleged terror mastermind’s telephone records revealed he had been making calls all over Pakistan to former Jihadi associates as well as relatives in Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi and Peshawar.

Interestingly, however, his mobile phone records revealed besides having revived his contacts with the outer world, Omar had also been in touch with Attaur Rehman, alias Naeem Bukhari, a key Lashkar-e-Jhangvi operative arrested by the Karachi police on June 5, 2007 in connection with the January 2002 Daniel Pearl murder case.

When the barracks of Naeem Bukhari, being held in the Sukkur Central Jail, were searched, the authorities recovered one mobile phone and three SIMs he had been using to stay in touch with Omar and some other LeJ accomplices in Karachi and Rawalpindi.

During the ensuing interrogations, Naeem Bukhari was learnt to have revealed that the LeJ operatives had already been directed by Sheikh Omar to target Musharraf either in Rawalpindi or in Karachi, preferably by using a suicide car bomber.

The LeJ militants had thus been monitoring Musharraf’s movements to target him while travelling between his Army House residence in Rawalpindi and his Chak Shehzad farmhouse on the 1-A Park Road on the quiet suburbs of Islamabad or to blow up the bridge on Shara-e-Faisal during his next visit to Karachi at the precise moment when his convoy would reach there from the Quaid-e-Azam International Airport.

It was after the unearthing of the assassination plot that Musharraf decided to leave for London on Nov 22, 2008 for a short trip — for the first time since his resignation as president in August 2008. Although, he has already returned home, Musharraf is still occupying the Army House due to grave security concerns.

Following the recovery of mobile phones and SIMs from Sheikh Omar, the Sindh Home Department took serious action and suspended (on Dec 1, 2008) Hyderabad Central Jail Superintendent Abdul Majid Siddiqui, his deputy Gul Mohammad Sheikh and four other jail officials on charges of showing criminal negldigence.

According to the Sindh inspector general prisons, both had been suspended by the Home Department on complaints of corruption and maladministration. The IG prisons said there were complaints of serious nature against them, such as providing cell phones and other banned facilities to prisoners, corruption and maladministration. An inquiry officer has already been appointed to probe the charges.

The most astonishing aspect of the episode is that the scrutiny of Omar Sheikh’s mobile phone records proved he had been even calling Maj-Gen (retd) Amir Faisal Alavi, the former General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the elite Special Services Group (SSG) of the Pakistan Army. He was shot dead in Islamabad on Nov 19, 2008 by unidentified gunmen.

Although, the Interior Ministry officials are not ready to speak on the issue, a recent story filed by Carey Schofield of Sunday Times had quoted Maj-Gen Amir Faisal Alavi as having told her during an Islamabad meeting four days before his murder that he knew he would be killed by his own comrades, as he had threatened to expose the Pakistani generals who had been cutting deals with Taliban insurgents.

Sheikh Omar Saeed has not divulged any information so far as to why he had been calling Alavi. But Musharraf has stated in his book “In the Line of Fire” that Omar was originally recruited by the British intelligence agency MI-6 while studying at the London School of Economics.

Omar was sent to the Balkans by MI-6 to engage in Jihadi operations, according to Musharraf, who went on to opine: “At some point, he probably became a rogue or double agent. Sheikh Omar happens to be a British citizen of Pakistani descent, who had first served five years in prison in Delhi in the 90s in connection with the 1994 abduction of three British travellers. But he was released in the first week of 2000 along with Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar and eventually provided a safe passage to Pakistan by the Taliban regime, after India was forced to accept demands of the hijackers of Indian Airliner IC-814.

“Two years later, on Feb 12, 2002, Omar surrendered to Brigadier (retd) Ejaz Hussain Shah, his former handler in the ISI, after being accused of abducting Daniel Pearl. At an initial court appearance in April 2002, Omar had almost confessed to his crime by stating: “I don’t want to defend myself. I did this... Rightly or wrongly, I had my reasons. I think our country shouldn’t be catering to American needs.”

As a matter of fact, it is five-and-a-half years since an anti-terrorism court in Karachi sentenced him to death. Omar, a graduate from the London School of Economics, became a Jihadi for the high-profile Pearl murder.

It was on July 15, 2003 that Omar and his three accomplices were awarded life imprisonment by Justice Ali Ashraf Shah in a heavily fortified makeshift court, set up in a bunker underneath a prison inside the Hyderabad Jail. No journalist was allowed to attend the court proceedings and the venue had to be changed three times because of bombing threats and security concerns.

The trial judge was also changed thrice. Forensic scientists initially refused to attend the exhumation of the court for fear they would be killed. Police personnel who were known to confront all kinds of savage criminals behaved like lambs in front of the terrorist and police officers were intimidated by him in the court of law in front of the judge.

As soon as the July 15, 2003 verdict was announced, Omar, who had already been declared a dangerous prisoner and confined to an isolation death cell, reacted defiantly, saying that he would retaliate against the authorities for arranging the sentence. In a message read out by his lawyer outside the court room, Sheikh Omar said: “We shall see who will die first. Either I or the authorities who have arranged the death sentence for me.” Almost six months later, in December 2003, Gen Musharraf survived two separate assassinations attempts in Rawalpindi. The authorities suspect that Sheikh Omar had links with the two suicide bombers who blew themselves up to assassinate Musharraf and the attempts owed to the death penalty awarded to Omar.

As things stand, the anti-terrorist court’s verdict has not been implemented so far and Sheikh Omar continues to avoid being sent to the gallows due to repeated adjournments of his appeal against conviction, pending in the Sindh High Court for years now. Reports emanating from the Hyderabad Central Jail say the guards stationed outside Omar’s death cell are rotated almost daily because he has the ability to influence anyone he meets.

As a matter of fact, Omar had actually managed to prevail upon the first four police constables deployed outside his cell, with all of them growing beards within days after they were assigned to guard his ward. The jail authorities say if the guards outside his cell are not rotated every day, Omar is fully capable of bringing the entire jail staff round to his view. He is presently reading books on history, particularly on World War-I and II, the Cold War and the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.

Aamir Mughal said...

Is Amir Mir Hamid Mir's brother? How come this bother's analysis makes sense whereas the other brother (Hamid Mir) is on the ISI's payroll? Allah ki shan. [Ranjha]



OUTLOOK INDIA


Out, Out Jackboot! by Amir Mir Dated Magazine | Feb 18, 2008

http://www.outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodname=20080218&fname=Pak+(F)&sid=1

http://www.outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodname=20080218&fname=Pak+%28F%29&sid=1&pn=2

Aamir Mughal said...

Pak Army:- The True Face of Jihadis- Amir Mir
Book on Pakistan Army Reveals Simmering Discontent, Conflict and Rivalry

Special SAT Report

http://baithak.blogspot.com/2005/11/pak-army-true-face-of-jihadis-amir-mir.html

ISLAMABAD, Sept 23: A new book written by a bold and brave young journalist of Pakistan speaks of “simmering resentment, raging ideological conflict and internecine rivalry” within the Pakistani Army and reveals that General Musharraf himself was pitted against a few of his own Generals.

The book, The True Face of Jihadis, written by Amir Mir, the former Editor of Lahore weekly The Independent, who was forced out of his job by the military regime a few months back because he would not stop reprinting articles in the South Asia Tribune, almost dares General Pervez Musharraf to hit him with sedition, like the jailed Opposition leader Javed Hashmi.

In great detail the book says everything, and much more than what PML-N leader Javed Hashmi was sentenced to 23 years in jail for.

“The resentment within the country’s most-disciplined force is believed to be simmering at two levels: among junior officers who view with contempt General Musharraf's attempts at getting the army to combat rather than abet Islamist militancy. And at the higher echelons where General Musharraf finds himself pitted against a few of his senior generals,” it says.

The author claims that the letter for which Javed Hashmi was sent to jail was not fabricated and that other members of parliament too had received copies of it.

“It is through anonymous missives that disgruntled officers now seem to be waging their battle,” the author says. “For instance, in the recent past, one such letter had divulged information about the arrest of Pakistan Army’s officers (Lt. Col. Khalid Abbasi etc), which was being kept secret by the military authorities.

“Though its contents were dismissed outright, the Inter Services Public Relations subsequently announced the arrest of army officers for their links with the al-Qaeda and other militant outfits.

The book quotes military circles saying that Army Intelligence had been reporting about the discontent brewing in the army. “For one, some sections are not pleased with the talk about striking a compromise with India on Kashmir. Second, they are opposed to Pakistan reducing its role in the region, on America's insistence. “

“In an attempt to mount pressure on Musharraf, the Islamist dissidents allegedly distributed an audiocassette titled Crush India among the border villages and the army camps, units and forward posts. “

“Given all these developments, it seems unlikely that General Musharraf's efforts to transform the Pakistan Army from a fundamentalist force into a moderate and liberal one will succeed in the near future.”

Following is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of the Book titled: Pakistan Army: Islamists vs Reformists

“Since the 9/11 terror attacks in the United States and General Pervez Musharraf’s subsequent decision to make Pakistan a frontline state in the US-led war on terror, conflicting ideologies have seemingly caused fissures in the Pakistan Army, pitting the Islamists against the Reformists.

These fissures, though, had rarely spilled out in the open, merely articulated as they were, through whispers in the corridors of power or innuendos in newspaper articles. All this changed in August 2003 following the arrest of a group of officers from the Pakistan Army for their alleged links to al-Qaeda and other extremist militant organizations. These arrests were followed by release of a letter in October 2003, allegedly by renegades within the force, written on a GHQ letterhead and sporting the monogram of the Pakistan Army. The letter, which launched a scathing attack against General Musharraf and his pro-US policies, literally brought to the fore the raging ideological conflict and internecine rivalry within the Pakistani Army.

As a matter of fact, the Pakistan Army became a politicized army in the very first decade after the creation of Pakistan. It literally became the power behind the throne in Pakistani politics and soon seized political control. Thereafter, the Pakistan Army has intervened frequently to seize political power by imposing military rule for protracted periods. While General Zia ul Haq’s dictatorial regime lasted for 12 years, General Musharraf seems to be headed for an equally long run. The Pakistan Army has thus ceased to be apolitical. Having tasted political power, it is subjected to the same corrosive influences of corruption and influence peddling as the politicians are accused of. At the same time, the top military leadership, despite claiming to pursue a liberal political agenda, continues to exploit Islamic fundamentalists as political allies.

The politicization of the Pakistan Army has already caused the spread of Islamic fundamentalism at all levels, which seems to be a natural phenomenon in Pakistan because of socio-economic causes. The large masses of the urban and rural poor, with no avenues for economic advancement, are being drawn to fundamentalism. As the soldiery of the Army is largely drawn from the rural and urban masses, it would be inescapable for them not to be infected with the virus of Islamic fundamentalism being propagated by thousands of deeni madrassas across Pakistan. During the Zia regime, the composition of the Pakistan Army cadre was changed at the expense of the urbanized, western looking middle class and upper class elite and preference in officers’ commissions was given to the emerging rural educated generation, which had strong leanings towards conservative Islam. This large body of Islamist officers, commissioned during the Zia regime, forms the backbone of the present day Pakistan Army, after being moved into the higher echelons since then.

The resentment within the country’s most-disciplined force is believed to be simmering at two levels: among junior officers who vie with contempt General Musharraf's attempts at getting the army to combat rather than abet Islamist militancy. And at the higher echelons where General Musharraf finds himself pitted against a few of his senior generals. Musharraf himself admitted on May 27, 2004 that personnel at a junior level within the Army and the Air Force were involved in assassination attempts on him in December 2003.

“Well, there are some people in uniform, junior level, ... Air Force and Army ... but they are very small," Musharraf said while responding to queries in Geo TV’s talk show “Follow up with Fahd” at his Army House residence in Rawalpindi. He informed that most of the armed forces personnel that were involved were now in custody and would be tried in a military court. But he did not disclose the category (commissioned officers or others) and ranks of the personnel accused of being involved in the plot.

Musharraf, however, claimed that the armed forces personnel already in custody were motivated by greed. “Some of them are not even for religious motivation, some of them are for money”, he said. However, Musharraf added that he was very much sure that none of the senior people of the armed forces were involved in the attempt on his life. “We have unearthed everything, we know exactly who is involved, we know the entire picture of both the actions and exactly the names, we know their faces, we know their identities, we know their families, we know everything”, he said.

Yet, this was not the first instance of involvement of army personnel in activities motivated by Islamic militancy in contravention of the military professionalism. It was a Hong Kong-based web newspaper (Asia Times) that on August 30, 2003 reported the arrest of several army officers, claiming that they were conspiring to stage a coup against General Musharraf. As other Pakistani newspapers began to speculate on the number of the officers arrested—and the conspiracy they were involved in—the normally reticent Inter-Service Public Relations Department, which handles the media and the army, issued a brief statement on August 31, 2003: “Three to four army officers of the rank of lieutenant colonel and below are under investigation by the agencies for possible links with some extremist organizations”.

Director General of the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), Major General Shaukat Sultan, however, remarked: “There is no senior officer among them.” Two lines of investigations were pursued in the post-arrest scenario: one, the connection between the incarcerated officials and extremist organizations; two, and quite incredibly, a possible link between some of them and India's Research and Analysis Wing. According to defence sources, those investigated for their RAW connections belonged to the ranks of non-commissioned officers. A dozen junior commissioner officers were arrested in Islamabad, Karachi and Hyderabad, primarily on charges of spying for India.

The investigations, which had actually begun in July 2003, came as a shock to intelligence authorities when it was revealed that the concerned officers, all of whom emanate from non-commissioned ranks, were in fact trained RAW agents. According to the intelligence sources, the whole episode kicked off with an anonymous call made to Mumbai from a Public Call Office in Hyderabad in December 2002. Though the caller, who provided sensitive Army information to the Indian side, could not be traced, he did drop a lead to the intelligence agencies by mentioning an address in the phone call. The Pakistani intelligence got its first break a few months later when a non-commissioned officer was arrested in Hyderabad. During the interrogation, he repeated the same address mentioned in the phone call. Subsequently, a few more Army officers were taken into custody from Karachi and Hyderabad.

During interrogations, the arrested officers conceded that they were trained RAW agents of Indian origin, planted in the Pakistan Army. However, it was the group allegedly connected to the al-Qaeda that posed an ideological challenge to the fourth military ruler of Pakistan – General Musharraf. The provenance of the episode goes back to March 15, 2003, when top al-Qaeda leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammad was nabbed from the Rawalpindi residence of a Jamaat-e-Islami office-bearer, Ahmed Quddus. Subsequently, Pakistani authorities were made to arrest Quddus' uncle, Major Adil Quddus, from Kohat in the NWFP on March 16, 2003.

The next round of arrests was made in August 2003, with the nabbing of five more middle ranking Pakistan Army officers, which appeared to be the first case of defiance within the Pakistan Army at the Colonel’s level. Two Colonels, two Majors and one Captain were picked up by the agencies over a period of two weeks in August 2003. Those arrested included Colonel Abdul Khalid Abbasi (General Headquarters), Lt. Col. Abdul Ghaffar (Headquarters Army Aviation Command), Major Muhammad Rohail (2nd Corps), Major Attaullah (2nd Corps) and Captain Dr. Usman Zafar (Mujahid Battalion).

Of them, Lt. Col. Abdul Khalid Abbasi was considered to be a religious-minded person who used to deliver daily lessons from the Holy Koran to junior officers of the Pakistan Army. One of the arrested army officers, Lt. Col. Khalid Abbasi was finally charged with giving asylum to the al-Qaeda operatives, one of whom was a foreigner. Khalid Abbasi was suspected when an alleged terrorist made a telephonic contact with him and sought his consent for two people to stay with him for a few days. This call was intercepted by the Americans who have laid down a state-of-the-art espionage system in Pakistan to monitor communications conducted through the airwaves.

But the interrogators failed to ascertain whether or not Lt. Col. Khalid Abbasi was connected to Major Adil Quddus, whose house in the Kohat Cantonment was thoroughly searched by army officials before his arrest—in a sequence of rapid events set off by the capture of the FBI's Most Wanted, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad. Those who interrogated Khalid believe that he might have shifted from his Karachi hideout to Rawalpindi in order to facilitate an assassination attempt on Musharraf. The assassination theory, however, received a fresh boost through an audiotape that the al-Qaeda released on the second anniversary of 9/11 (September 11, 2003).

In it, Osama bin Laden's deputy Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri exhorted Pakistanis, "We ask our Muslim brethren in Pakistan: till when will you put up with the traitor Musharraf, who sold Muslims' blood in Afghanistan and handed over the Arab mujahideen to crusader America? The officers and soldiers of the Pakistani army should realize that General Musharraf will hand them over as prisoners to the Indians...." He then went on to add, "Act, O Muslims in Pakistan before you wake up from your slumber to find Hindu soldiers raiding your homes in complicity with the Americans.”

Zawahiri’s tape predictably fanned suspicions in the Pakistan army, prompting Musharraf to tell the BBC: “I have the full support of the armed forces of Pakistan and I must be the poorest commander if none of my Generals are with me. I have spent 40 years in uniform and I’m proud to say that I have always commanded from the front. I have been in the front and I have led from the front through personal example. Every man down to the sepoy is with me and behind me - let me assure you that. There should be no such misperception that anyone is against me,” Musharraf claimed while answering queries in a live BBC program, ‘Talking Point’, aired on September 11, 2003 on the second anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The General was actually asked to comment on the tape-recorded message from Osama’s second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in which he denounced him as a traitor.

Musharraf’s assertions apart, political analysts believe that the Pakistan Army has two schools of thought at present -- the Islamic fundamentalists and relatively more liberals. The split has sharpened because of the General's half-hearted attempts to give the Army a liberal outlook, acceptable to the West. Yet, his efforts are being resisted by some rogue elements that are the product of Zia era when public display of Islamic orthodoxy and conservatism was considered to be an asset. At the same time, the Army officers were taught during the days of Zia; who was the son of an Imam Masjid; that Islam was integral to the ideology of the Army. Before that, the Pakistan Army used to project a moderate and liberal face of Islam.

Whether a person strictly observed Islamic teachings and rituals or not was viewed as a matter of personal choice. However, Islam’s relation with the Army underwent a change in the 1980s due to domestic and external factors. Chief of Army Staff General Zia, who grabbed power in July 1977 by overthrowing an elected government, used Islam and conservative Islamic groups to legitimize his military rule and undercut the opposition to his rule. He pampered conservative and orthodox Islamic groups in the political and cultural domains and encouraged Islamic orthodoxy and conservatism in the Army. Zia was the first Army Chief and head of state to attend the annual congregation of the Tablighi Jamaat at Raiwind. Encouraged by this, many officers began to openly associate with the Tablighi Jamaat and publicly demonstrated their religiousness, something Army personnel avoided in the past.

Other religious groups also cultivated links with the army personnel. This fitted in with the Zia regime’s identification with conservative and orthodox Islamic values and the rise of Islamic conservatism in the society. Zia used to encourage his officers to say their prayers five times a day, and those who did so were looked at favorably when promotion time came around. Indeed, with the passage of time, it became essential that anyone seeking a top position in the army or the ISI displayed the appropriate religious fervor. Even better would be if an officer had a background in the Islami Jamiat Tulaba (the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami). Such a connection led to the emergence of the likes of Lt. Gen. Hameed Gul, Brigadier Imtiaz Ahmed Billah and dozens of others who made their names in political operations in favor of Islamic parties or in launching conspiracies to unseat secular parties, such as the Pakistan Peoples Party’s twice-elected Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Even after Zia’s death in an airplane crash on August 17, 1988, people are careful to at least pay lip service to the Zia legacy. Musharraf himself, who claims to be a liberal compared to the former military dictator, praised Zia’s policies in these words: “He was a patriot and was a very God-fearing person”. Musharraf proved his affection for Zia by inducting the latter’s elder son [Ejazul Haq] in the federal cabinet in 2004 as Minister for Religious Affairs. The fact remains that even after Zia’s death, the Pakistani Army largely through the Inter Services Intelligence, as part of its strategic vision for the region, actively supported and promoted the Taliban in its formation and ultimate seizure of power in Afghanistan in 1996. The external factor contributing to this trend was Pakistan’s active involvement with the Afghan resistance against Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan (1979-89) and the subsequent activism of the Afghan mujahideen. The struggle against Soviet troops in Afghanistan enabled conservative Islamic groups to obtain acceptability and material resources they were armed with during this period.

The ISI’s active role in support of the Afghan resistance brought Pakistan Army personnel in contact with conservative Islamic groups who were engaged in armed struggle against the Soviet occupation. This popularized the strategy of armed struggle in support of Muslim causes. After the withdrawal of Soviet troops, the ISI maintained contacts with some Afghan mujahideen groups; the Taliban being the last of them. This factor adversely affected the delicate balance the Pakistan Army had traditionally maintained between Islam and professionalism. Many officers and men were attracted to radical Islamic ideology and thought that it could take precedence over professionalism. They talked of ‘jihad’ as a legitimate political strategy for the state of Pakistan. This line of thought persisted as the ISI was allowed to encourage many of the militant Islamic groups operating from Pakistan to pursue Islamabad’s official policy of supporting insurgency in the Indian Held Kashmir.

A decade-long ISI-sponsored Islamic militancy was bound to have implications for the army, whose personnel were directly exposed to Islamic militancy and propaganda by Islamic groups in support of militancy and a genuinely Islamic order for Pakistan. The Pakistani state openly identified with Islamic orthodoxy and militancy and it became fashionable to publicly support the militant Islamic groups engaged in insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir.

Having realised that the Islam-oriented activism adopted by the Pakistani Army officers was now affecting the organization’s professionalism and discipline, the military hierarchy is attempting to push back the politicized Islamic elements and to reassert the army’s tradition of keeping Islam and professionalism together. Under General Musharraf, the selection process for the higher echelons of the Army has been made rigorous with a strong emphasis on service record and professionalism. This minimizes the chances of an officer having a record of political activism or having links with extremist groups reaching the senior command level. The Army also looks after the material interests of its senior officers, both in service and after retirement, in a bid to dissuade them from giving in to extraneous religious or political influences.

Unfortunately, however, some religious-minded (pro-jehad) officers already inhabit the top echelons of the Pakistan army. The military top brass aside, the alleged release of an unsigned letter on the GHQ letterhead in October 2003 had hinted at the prevalent resentment among the second-ranking leadership of the Pakistan Army. The letter, written in Urdu in the form of a petition, had been circulating among army officers for quite some time before being made public on October 20, 2003 when the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy president, Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, addressed a press conference in Islamabad to release the same. But Hashmi's decision to make it public was construed as sedition and he was subsequently sentenced to 23 years in prison for inciting mutiny in the army.

Among other things, the letter on the GHQ letterhead had allegedly demanded that the army high command permit the Pakistani parliament to debate the Kargil venture, determine the motives behind the operation and the causes of its failure. It also launched a scathing attack against General Musharraf and his pro-US policies. Addressed to the ‘national leadership’, the letter states, “We, on behalf of the Pakistan Army, assure the nation that it is your army—the army of Islam and Pakistan, and we expect every member of the parliament, from whichever party he belongs, to work for the sovereignty of the parliament”. It goes on to describe Musharraf and his cabal as ‘national criminals’ who have not only plundered the national wealth with impunity but have also helped the Americans, Jews and Christians to kill ‘our Afghan brothers’.

“Pervez Musharraf has turned Pakistan—the fort of Islam—into a slaughterhouse of the Muslims”. The letter applauds the parliament, claiming that had it not been constituted, the Pakistani army would have been dispatched to Iraq to kill ‘our brothers’. The letter asked the parliament to discuss a range of issues: “What were the objectives behind the Kargil venture? Why did Pakistan suffer massive losses, even higher than what it sustained in the 1965 and 1971 wars? Why has not Pakistan, like India, instituted an inquiry commission into Kargil?” The letter then revealed information quite sensational—and incredible—in its sweep. It alleged that the commander of the Kargil war, Major General Javed-ul-Hasan, had been a military attaché in the US for four years, and had worked there under the CIA's supervision. “The Kargil war was waged at the behest of the US. He (Major General Javed) was even attacked by the officers and jawans for his poor planning of the (Kargil) war. But his mentors got him promoted as Lieutenant General, though he should have been sacked”.

Through a series of questions, the letter brought under the scanner the coup Musharraf staged against the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on October 12, 1999. It asked: “What happened on October 12, 1999 (when General Musharraf seized power)? Which units of the Pakistan Army were directed to surround Islamabad?” Then the spotlight was turned on corruption in the army, questioning the allotment of prime plots of land to brigadiers and generals in Lahore.

Finally, the letter demanded that the parliament institute a national judicial inquiry comprising of those chief justices of the Supreme Court and provincial high courts who were in office at the time of the 1999 coup. “The patriotic elements in the Pakistan Army will reveal these national secrets before the national judicial commission so that the culprits are brought to task in accordance with Article 6 (awarding death penalty to anyone who overturns the Constitution) of the 1973 Constitution”. Just in case anyone had doubts about the agenda of those who wrote the unsigned letter, it concluded: “Our aim—a free army and a sovereign Pakistan”. Such damning information and prickly demands infuriated the military top brass, especially Musharraf.

Inter Services Public Relations Director General, Major General Shaukat Sultan thought the letter Hashmi had released was forged and meant to harm the unity of the armed forces. He had further said: “A high-level probe has been initiated into the communication and delivery of the letter, allegedly dispatched from the GHQ, though it seemed nothing more than a pack of lies”. Federal Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed dismissed the letter as a ploy by India's Research and Analysis Wing to damage Pakistan's armed forces.

However, there are those in the military circles who believe that the letter Javed Hashmi had released was not fabricated and that other members of parliament too had received copies of it. It is through anonymous missives that disgruntled officers now seem to be waging their battle. For instance, in the recent past, one such letter had divulged information about the arrest of Pakistan Army’s officers (Lt. Col. Khalid Abbasi etc), which was being kept secret by the military authorities. Though its contents were dismissed outright, the Inter Services Public Relations subsequently announced the arrest of army officers for their links with the al-Qaeda and other militant outfits.

According to the military circles, the Army Intelligence had been reporting about the discontent brewing in the army. For one, some sections are not pleased with the talk about striking a compromise with India on Kashmir. Second, they are opposed to Pakistan reducing its role in the region, on America's insistence. In an attempt to mount pressure on Musharraf, the Islamist dissidents allegedly distributed an audiocassette titled Crush India among the border villages and the army camps, units and forward posts.

The cassettes contained provocative songs, speeches and apocryphal stories about martyrs hoping to imbibe in soldiers the spirit of jihad The cassette reportedly stated: “Since Independence, our army has been fighting with the enemy which is five times larger and equipped with latest weapons. But our army is equipped with a special weapon the enemy doesn't have—the spirit of jihad Every Pakistani soldier is a soldier of Islam. He will be rewarded by Allah”.

The renegades had further circulated a booklet among junior officers, underlining the benefits of waging jihad against India. It stated, “One who kills a kafir (non-believer) will not go to Hell ever and there will be no shortcoming in his prosperity as regards to wealth and good food. The soldiers of Islam should know that winning or losing is in the hands of the Almighty and defeat can only be provided by God...” and that even if soldiers die during a jihad, “their pain would be equivalent to that of a mosquito bite”.

Given all these developments, it seems unlikely that General Musharraf's efforts to transform the Pakistan Army from a fundamentalist force into a moderate and liberal one will succeed in the near future. But the General, inexplicably, remains upbeat. Sample his response in the live BBC program, Talking Point, aired on September 11, 2003, "...Let me tell you, all my commanders are with me totally—each and every general is with me.” One hopes the General is right.

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