The unholy alliance of Nawaz, Osama, Gul and Khawaja
Daily Times Monitor
LAHORE: After claims of close ties between Osama bin Laden and PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif by the British author and journalist Simon Reeves, a former Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) officer named Khalid Khawaja has revealed similar facts during his interview to different media outlets including a Pakistani TV channel.
According to the information given by Simon Reeves in his book “The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousaf, Osama bin Laden and the future of terrorism”, backed by that of Khalid Khawaja, Bin Laden not only sponsored the election campaign of former prime minister and PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif in 1988 but paid him large sums of money to ensure protection of Al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan and to “Islamise” the state and society.
Khawaja, who also runs a non-government organisation with the name of Defence for Human Rights, has claimed in an interview to a local TV channel that Bin Laden had held five meetings with PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif.
He further stated that he had arranged these meetings between the Al Qaeda leader and Nawaz on the former prime minister’s request. He also said that he could produce evidence of these meetings to counter the denial by PML-N spokesman Siddique ul Farooq who said that no such meetings ever took place.
However, Khawaja denied that he ever stated that Osama gave more than Rs 500 million to Nawaz Sharif. He said hopefully Nawaz Sharif would not “tell a lie” in this regard, and added that the statement of PML-N spokesman Siddique ul Farooq was untrue that no such meetings had taken place.
Khawaja said that he used to be a close associate of Bin Laden in the past and might have met him more than a hundred times but he never met him after the 9/11 terror attacks.
A blogger at ABCNews.com had previously quoted the former ISI official as stating that Nawaz took a million dollar payoff from Bin Laden for turning a blind eye to Al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan.
ABC News also confirmed the same incident of payoff by quoting former FBI agent Jack Cloonan who used to interrogate one of the key Al Qaeda operatives in US custody, Ali Muhammad.
Cloonan, who is currently working as an ABC News consultant, claimed that Ali had once told him that Bin Laden paid Nawaz’s representatives $1 million for not cracking down on the militants in the Northwest Frontier Province.
Simon Reeves states in his book that after re-establishing Al Qaeda, one of Bin Laden’s first actions was to try and guarantee the security of his men living in Pakistani refugee camps by throwing money at the election campaign of Nawaz Sharif, “an energetic Pakistani politician” standing for the election of Prime Minister.
He also states in his book that Nawaz had received the money from Bin Laden with a promise to convert Pakistan into a strict Islamic state.
An American website named History Commons Website has not only confirmed Cloonan’s claim but has also mentioned another book by Scott-Clark and Levy, claiming that General Hameed Gul had contacted Osama Bin Laden who was then known to provide financial support to the Afghan mujahideen, to pay for a coup and assassination of the late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
Nawaz Sharif met Osama five times: Ex-ISI official
Speaking in ARY news programme "Eleventh Hour", the former ISI official and now chairman Defence of Human Rights organisation Khalid Khwaja claimed he had arranged meetings between bin Laden and Nawaz Sharif on bin Laden's request and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief had held five meetings with the al-Qaida chief so far.
"I challenge the deniers of such meetings and can present solid evidences in this respect," Khwaja was quoted as saying by ARY News on Wednesday.
He said hopefully Nawaz Sharif would not "tell a lie" in this regard.
He said he had met the al-Qaida chief more than a hundred times "but not after the 9/11 incident".
However, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has termed the claims of the head of Defence of Human Rights organisation as baseless.
The claims by Khalid Khwaja regarding the meetings between Nawaz Sharif and Osama bin Laden were "meaningless", the party's information secretary Ahsan Iqbal told ARY news.
Osama introduced Nawaz Sharif to Saudi royals: ex-ISI officer
LAHORE: Osama bin Laden introduced Nawaz Sharif to the Saudi royal family in the late 1980s and during a meeting the former Premier had asked the Al Qaida Chief to provide employment to Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia, former ISI officer Khalid Khwaja claimed on Sunday.
Khwaja, who was close to Sharif in the late 1980s and early1990s, made the claim in an interview.
"During his first visit to Saudi Arabia as Chief Minister of Punjab in the late 1980s, no one from the royal family had given Sharif importance," he said.
"Thereafter, on Sharif's request, Osama bin Laden introduced him to the royal family and that helped him in getting closer to the Saudis," said Khwaja, who was a squadron leader in the Pakistan Air Force before joining the ISI in 1985.
"A close aide of Sharif family and I arranged at least five meetings between Sharif and bin Laden in Saudi Arabia.
"During a meeting with bin Laden as Prime Minister in the 1990s Sharif asked him to provide employment to Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia and undertake development projects in Pakistan," said Khwaja, who was dismissed from service by late military ruler Gen Zia-ul-Haq in 1988 for reportedly writing a letter in which he disagreed with Zia on certain policies.
Khwaja's disclosure came in the wake of a series of revelations by former ISI and Intelligence Bureau officials about payoffs to politicians by intelligence agencies and the role of the ISI in making or breaking governments.
"Nawaz Sharif had always despised and discarded his well-wishers and bin Laden, (former ISI chief) Hamid Gul and I are included in that long list," Khwaja said.
Khwaja said Sharif got annoyed with him when he asked him not to toe the US line while serving as premier. "Leave America and join hand with Islamic forces, I argued. Sharif said no, I cannot," he said.