Al-Qaeda closing in on Israel: Pakistan's former top spymaster-II
For first part of interview, go to: http://my.nowpublic.com/world/al-qaeda-closing-israel-pakistans-former-top-spymaster-i
Question: What would you say about presence of Blackwater in Pakistan?
Answer: Blackwater was banned in year 2007 so there is no more Blackwater. Now it goes under the title of Xe Worldwide Services and DynCorp. These are two subsidiaries or you can say they have risen from the ashes of Blackwater, although the structure is the same. Musharraf had entered into a contract with the Americans that they would send in the security contractors like Blackwater to train our Frontier Corps. And they would cooperate because they wanted to hunt Osama bin Laden and they thought maybe he is hiding in the cities and bazaars of Pakistan. So they were allowed access, they were given freedom to move around. Initially, they came up with 11 points of immunity — meaning that they could come, they could wear uniform or go without uniform, they could carry weapons without license, they would not be searched and if they are found violating any law of the land, they would not be tried in Pakistan. So there were despicable conditions which were attached to their coming here. There was some kind of hue and cry. I was one of the persons who raised it. Dr Shireen Mazari wrote an article on that. So this information came sometime in 2007 before Benazir was murdered and by 15th of January 2007 their advance party was in place in Qila [Fort] Balahisar in Peshawar. Only 15 men, an advance party, but then something happened. [General] Ashfaq Parvez Kayani took over from Pervez Musharraf and he put his foot down. He said we don’t need any trainers. He was the one who turned it around and he said we don’t need any training from anyone. This was a good act performed by him. So that deal was put on the cold and subsequently they started sending in the security contractors, who were mainly focused on Peshawar and Karachi and some in Quetta as well. These security contractors used a very different technique. They started employing subcontractors, some of the security agencies which were already working here and a workshop and some other carwash facilities, etc. So they went on the rampage, very quickly they moved into the system. Now their objectives are different, not training but recruitment of our people. And even before that if you remember there was a Spider Group that locally recruited people who would do the killing work for them. Basically they are hired assassins or mercenaries. And I think they did some, I have my suspicions although I have no definite information on this. But I have my suspicion that some of the earlier murders carried out in Pakistan of some important personalities had been done by the Spider Group. In the Spider Group, they started employing the retired servicemen also, especially the Special Service Group. So they have developed now a network and I am not surprised that they have penetrated the ranks of some of the political parties as well. This is my fear. They cooperate with RAW [Research and Analysis Wing — top intelligence service of India] that had a network long before these American security operators came here. RAW had set up a very good network in Pakistan, particularly in southern Pakistan — in Karachi and Hyderabad area. And they would have got a readymade material and then they would link in with them, they would dovetail with them and then proceed with that.
Similarly, the Afghan intelligence, which was initially created during the period of communist regime and was known as KHAD, also came in. The operators of KHAD, who went underground during Taliban regime and Ahmed Shah Masood’s people, etc, who were especially from Uzbek and Tajik areas of Afghanistan, were being inducted and also some Indians were taken. So Pakistan was sandwiched security-wise. There were the Indians sitting right at our back and initially they deployed nearly 20 intelligence detachments. And a fulltime brigadier was in-charge of these detachments. So they started developing network in our tribal areas, in other cities. While the original RAW network was already there, now they meshed in with the security contractors from America. So that has created a security scenario for us, which is quite daunting, quite challenging.
Question: In the past there seemed no difference between the Pakistan Army and Pentagon on the Afghan policy. To what extent do you see a difference between the two sides on the Afghanistan issue now and in your opinion what are its causes?
Answer: To tell you honestly, the approach was unnatural although it appeared synchronized. No Pakistani in his right mind would think that Americans should completely win and sit in Afghanistan forever on top of us while they had entered into a strategic contact with India, our eternal enemy. So the Pentagon wanted Pakistan to fall in line. That’s why they were saying shift your forces from the eastern border to the western border. Pakistan was not doing that. So they started creating conditions like drone attacks so that the tribesmen would get angry, attack Pakistan Army and then Pakistan Army will be sucked into these areas. So this is the game they were playing because all along [Admiral Mike] Mullen, [General David H] Petraeus or even before that [General] Tommy Franks and other Western Command commanders are saying one and the same thing that Pakistan has no threat from India and we should move to the western borders.
Now strategically speaking, Pakistan has no threat from the west; it has not had any such threat because this strategic policy for Pakistan’s security was made by Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah himself when in March 1948 when he had ordered to withdraw all of the forces from the western border. All through the years of Pakistan’s existence even though we went to war with India thrice, we never had to pay any need to deploy even a single soldier on our western border.
Historically speaking, by practice or by experience, we have learnt that the threat was not from the west but it was from the east. But now the Americans would say no, the threat is from the west, India is not your enemy because they wanted to deliver us under the hegemony of India and for that they wanted to denuclearize Pakistan, they wanted to shift the Pakistani armed forces but Pakistan was very reluctant. Musharraf, however, played into their hands and went into Jamia Hafsa and Lal Masjid. This was all created. First they were encouraged and once they were encouraged, they were attacked and students were killed there. And that aroused the revenge motivation of the tribesmen and instead of fighting the Americans they started attacks on the Pakistan Army. The Americans gained in three ways: First, there was lesser number of forces opposing them in Afghanistan because they were opposing the Pakistan Army; second, they would force Pakistan Army to go into these areas; and third, these tribesmen who had been strong arm of Pakistan would oppose Pakistan Army and Pakistan would go on the fringes into civil war-like conditions. So all along the Americans were playing a dirty game with us and they were using India to infiltrate into Balochistan as well as into our tribal areas and coming to the cities to carry out all the nasty acts because this is a very typical Mossad technique. If you read the Mossad intelligence literature, then you would find that Mossad is absolutely superb in this. They have mastered this technique. They use somebody else; the front man appears to be someone actually working for another hostile agency. When they [tribesmen] became angry, these people [intelligence agents] would come in the garb of religious scholars and would motivate them that why don’t you take your revenge, we will give you the money, we will give you the vehicles, we will give you the resources; why don’t you fight; these people are Kafirs [infidels] because they are supporting the Kafirs.
We never had any incident of suicide bombing before the 30th of October, 2006, the when a village seminary near Khar in Bajaur was struck in the wee hours and 82 innocent children were killed. And thereafter suicide bombings started against Pakistan Army because Pervez Musharraf was made to claim that we have done it, although he had not done it. This was a drone attack and there had been very few drone attacks before that. But that was one of the most massive, one of the deadliest drone attacks ever launched. They were totally innocent, everyone says so. So some people decided to take revenge and army training centre was hit in Mardan and 43 young recruits were killed in that attack. And then the whole episode started.
Question: If the US and Nato forces quit Afghanistan, what will be the overall situation in that country?
Answer: Afghans have a way of solving things if you leave them to themselves. First of all, you must leave it to them. Nobody must interfere. Interference has never paid in Afghanistan, whether it is friendly interference or any other kind of interference. In a friendly way you can perhaps have influence if they trust you. But do they trust Pakistan anymore? Now after the long haul, only the other day this London conference on Afghanistan was held. Once again they have assigned the role to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia [saying that] please come in, help us. So far they were depending on India to solve their problems in Afghanistan. For example, when President Barack Obama came in, he made a contact group on Afghanistan of four countries — India, Iran, China and Russia.
Amazingly, Pakistan without which it is not possible was left out of it because it is Pashtoon population of Afghanistan which is giving them the opposition; it is not the others, Tajiks and Uzbeks. They are also fighting against the American occupation but not to the extent that the Pashtoon population is doing. And more Pashtoons are settled on the Pakistani side of the border. So Pakistan was always relevant but they did not care for Pakistan.
On 22nd of December, 2002, there was a conference in Kabul in which all the six neighboring countries were asked to lay off their hand. We signed an agreement of non-interference. And six neighboring countries are China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Pakistan. But India was allowed larger than life role there. So if you leave them [Afghans] to themselves and friendly countries and only Islamic countries are deemed friendly countries in Afghanistan, they will find a solution gradually. By and large, India is not considered by the Afghan nation as a friendly country.
Question: If the US and Nato forces are defeated by Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, what would be the nature of Pakistan-US relations?
Answer: The nature of Pakistan-US relations needs not necessarily be bad because the United States has overwhelmingly important interests in this region and without Pakistan those interests cannot be served. So I think if they are defeated, for safe and graceful exist, they would need Pakistan. And I think Pakistan can give a helping hand in that situation. My own opinion is that we must not disgrace them. There is a need for us not to be a party to disgracing the Americans in Afghanistan. And Pakistan is the only country which can help them get out gracefully and with their dignity intact, and thereafter to ensure that there is no attack on American soil from at least our areas and as best as we can influence Afghanistan. Look at the Vietnam experience. Americans got out of Vietnam after so much of massacre, so much of human tragedy that was perpetrated because of them. But after they went out, Vietnam is a friend of America. So both Pakistan and Afghanistan can be friends of America. There is no harm in it.
Question: Will Taliban be able to regain power in Afghanistan? And if they regain power, do you see any change in their policies as compared to their rule in the past?
Answer: Yes, they will regain power. They are the only force which has stood up and the nation looks up to them; they have upheld the Afghan traditions and they have carried through the Islamic spirit; they have not been divided; nobody has abandoned them so far. Americans tried their best to break into the ranks of Taliban but they have failed. They have learnt by experience. For instance, their handling of media — you can see that there is a sea difference; now they appear on the TV, they give press statements and lot of those things. They were young at the time they first came to power. Average age of Taliban at that time was less than 30 years. Now their average age is around 40 because 10 years have passed since. So they have grown not only in age but in experience and maturity as well. So I see no reason why there will not be a different attitude. They do not want to chase anyone outside Afghanistan. No Taliban, no Afghan has ever been found involved in an act of terrorism outside their country. You must notice that Taliban have not been involved in anything. Pakistanis have been involved, Saudis have been involved and so have been Iraqis and Nigerians and other nationalities but no Afghan has ever been involved.
Question: In your opinion, what could be the nature of Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan if Taliban again establish their government?
Answer: I see them good, I see them work out very well because our present relationship is one of suspicion, we suspect why Indians are being given that important role in Afghanistan. India has to go out and when India goes out, this will be a good turn from Afghans to Pakistan because if Afghanistan needs assistance, how can it have it? Afghanistan is a landlocked country. All its transit facilities and routes pass through Pakistan. And there are still millions of refugees on Pakistani soil. So I see no difficulty whatsoever. However, we have to make sure that the Tajik and Uzbek ethnic communities in Afghanistan are also brought on board. This is a very key point. Pakistan has the ability to bring all the Afghan leaders together and our effort should be that there should be ethnic unity within Afghanistan. I have complete plan in my mind but we are the people who have been marginalized. We are not allowed to enter into this dialogue or negotiations. I hope the Americans would also realize that a lasting peace rather than a civil war would be in their best interest.
Question: Will the presence of Al-Qaeda be possible in Afghanistan after the departure of foreign troops? And if it stays in Afghanistan, to what extent Al-Qaeda will have influence in the Afghan affairs?
Answer: No, Al-Qaeda never had any role. This was just propaganda. Mulla Omar is the unquestioned leader, Amirul Momineen [leader of Muslims], and Osama bin Laden has formally sworn allegiance to him in the Islamic way. Many people don’t know this. To the extent of Afghanistan, Mulla Omar is the leader, not Osama bin Laden. In any case, Al-Qaeda has shifted and it is a smart move that they have made. They made the Americans commit their energies and forces in Afghanistan while they have chosen the target of Israel. Now they are closing in on Israel. So they’ve moved all their resources, manpower to Yemen, to Horn of Africa and they are narrowing in on Israel now. And that’s their main cause.
Question: Do you think the United States can engage Al-Qaeda in a dialogue in future?
Answer: Why not. It is the question of Palestine which has to be settled but if people like [Binyamin] Netanyahu continue to call the shots, then, I am afraid, this will not be possible because it is Netanyahu who has to change his attitude. America is in trouble because of Israel and Israel is in trouble because of people like Netanyahu or hardliners, who have declared Israel a Jewish state, people who are insisting that Jerusalem belongs only to Israel and Jews and not to any other community, which is wrong. So Al-Qaeda is defying the Americans. The question is when the Americans are going to realize that the root cause of all their problems is not Al-Qaeda, it is the hard-line Zionist state of Israel, which is the real problem. Whenever this is realized, and I am sure it will be realized, things will change. There is already some kind of realization and once the real 9/11 story comes and an inquiry is held into it, things will start changing for better. So far Osama bin Laden has not been indicted, no charge-sheet has been issued against Osama bin Laden because they do not have any evidence against him. And where is the evidence? The fact is that Henry Kissinger was asked to head an inquiry and he said I am not doing this because he didn’t want to do a cover-up job. If the true story comes out, then surely American people will realize that all their problems — their ills, their economic downfall, the loss of their political clout — are because of Israel.
Question: Can the Pakistan government and army achieve positive results by engaging in a political dialogue with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda elements that have been claiming responsibility for terrorism incidents?
Answer: Al-Qaeda is not at war with Pakistan. Let me clarify this perception because if they had been, then we would have been in deep trouble. No, Al-Qaeda has never declared war with Pakistan. Ayman Al-Zawahiri has been making some wild statements but other than that, as far as my memory goes, Al-Qaeda has not decided to fight a war against Pakistan. The Afghan Taliban are also not averse to Pakistan. They have said that Pakistan is a “Majbooristan” [land of the compelled] and we must understand their difficulty. And they have been sending envoys to Baitullah Mahsud and Hakimullah Mahsud with the message that please do not fight the Pakistan Army. Of course, they carry the label but there is sometime local milieu, local psychological environment. They do things which are very undesirable. As far as our Taliban are concerned, all they want is that you enter into peace with them. After all, in Shakai in 2005 we entered into a peace agreement, then again in 2006 in Srarogha (South Waziristan) we signed a peace agreement. Americans would launch a drone attack every time there was a peace agreement. You remember first Nek Muhammad signed a peace agreement with the army; they garlanded each other and said we are brothers. So where is the problem? Taliban of Pakistan have not burnt Pakistani flag, they haven’t said we want separation, they haven’t said we want a separate homeland for ourselves. Have they said so? Not at all! Have they even spoken against Pakistan Army? When the Indians were trying to browbeat us, they said we will stand by you, finish all our differences and stand by you. So we must understand that there is much in common. The only thing is that we need a shift in our internal and external policy. We have to resist the American pressure. The Americans do not want us to enter into a peace agreement which is why they keep carrying out these drone attacks. The purpose of drone attacks is not to kill the people fighting the Americans but it is to enrage the local population and arouse anger in them. This is the real purpose.
Question: What plan or strategy do you have in your mind to completely overcome the terrorism in the country at the earliest?
Answer: First of all, shift of policy. We have to quickly learn what is in our interest and what is not in our interest. We should care a damn for anyone: What America says, what India thinks, what anybody else says. We should learn to stand up first of all. And unless you stand up, this will continue because the people indulge in acts of terrorism or are used by others; our own people sometime and sometime not our own people. The others we can handle very well. I have been heading an intelligence agency, so I know how effectively we can handle them. But the difficulty is in handling your own people because they move around you. And all their ground logic is that your policies are wrong. And our general public also says that our policies are wrong. Parliament passed a resolution unanimously that there should be no drone attack but the Americans did not care for it. The Parliament has to become assertive, democracy must stay; it must strengthen itself and democracy means that the will of the people of Pakistan must prevail in policy formulation by the government. At the moment, will of the people of Pakistan is nowhere to be seen. Will of people of Pakistan says that corrupt people should leave but the corrupt people are very much in charge. They are our rulers. They are our ministers. Will of the people of Pakistan says that Pervez Musharraf was a culprit and he should be punished but he is going scot-free. Will of the people of Pakistan says that for heaven’s sake we have suffered so much on account of America’s war. It is not our war. But the government says it is our war. These contradictions need to be corrected and removed. Once we remove these contradictions and bring a change in policy which is strictly in line with Pakistan’s own self-interest and according to the will of its people, then things will fall in place. I can assure you that half the problems of Balochistan will go and half the problems of terrorism in the Frontier region will also go as soon as you put Pervez Musharraf on trial. Because then you can say he is the man who is guilty and responsible for all these problems.
Question: What about the recent statement of Indian army chief General Deepak Kapur regarding two-front war with China and Pakistan?
Answer: Don’t take it seriously. It was madness. I am a professional soldier and I am giving a professional opinion. India strategically is disoriented. They do not know how to go about when America pulls out of Afghanistan. Already you have seen in the London conference India’s role has been totally negated. It has not been assigned any role there. So what will be India’s condition? China has taken a position on Kashmir; they have taken a position on Arunachal Pradesh, which they say is a disputed territory; and on several other issues. And China has started asserting themselves in the region. So India finds itself in a limbo; at a very great disadvantage as soon as the Americans go out because if the American ship sinks in this region, then Indians are also onboard this American ship and they will also sink with them. They don’t know how to handle the situation. Now they are trying to sell their case to Americans: Look when you go out give us the role of a proxy power, we can handle your two overwhelming concerns — one is we can handle China and the other is that we can deal with “rogue” Pakistan because Pakistan is the hub of terrorism, its a threat to you and China will be a big future threat to you. Therefore, we can handle both of them; give us the money, give us weapons, and give us all the necessary goodies that we [Indians] are looking for. This was only a political statement.
But look at the other side of it. If the Indian generals have started making important statements on political and policy matters, is it not endangering the Indian democracy? This where the American relationship hurts a country; they deal with a government and at the same time they deal with their armed forces in parallel. And that gives encouragement to the generals to come up and start giving policy statements. I think it’s a moment to worry for India that their generals have become so belligerent that they have started issuing foreign policy statements. And then an opposite statement: We have only 20 per cent ability for night fighting and Pakistan has 80 per cent and China has 100 per cent ability. So they are blowing hot and cold because they are strategically disoriented. They are standing on the wrong side of history.
Question: Which regime was the best during all the 60/62 years?
Answer: I think Ayub Khan’s period was the best but he was a dictator nonetheless and many of the difficulties that Pakistan faced later on was because of his Basic Democracies concept and his toying and experimenting with various other things. Ziaul Haq in his own way harmed the country as he alienated a major political party, which was not an astute political move, by hanging Mr [Zulfikar Ali] Bhutto. He could not really understand to what extent the attitudes of people influence the life of a country. I think the worst was Pervez Musharraf but the current regime, though democratic, is following in his footsteps. If they don’t change their tag, I think Pakistan will be in grave trouble.