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Consequences of a terrible leadership.

Byline: Mohammad Jamil

LAST week, DG ISPR, Major General Asif Ghafoor in his press conference dwelt on many

issues; and told a questioner that there was intelligence sharing between Pakistan and the United States on Usama Bin Laden (UBL). He added that it was Pakistan's first lead which helped in detecting UBL, but the US betrayed Pakistan and took the unilateral action. Indeed, it was Pakistan's ISI that had tracked down and nabbed scores of Al-Qaeda fleeing rumps, including high-value like Khalid Shaikh Muhammad from Westridge, Rawalpindi. Others including Abu Faraj al-Libi were also arrested from urban hideouts in the country, but it was American sleuths who took all the credit. With the leaks in their media, they created an impression worldwide that it was CIA's leads that had resulted in those arrests and detentions, not Pakistan intelligence agencies' initiative.

Abu Faraj al-Libi, a Libyan citizen, became the operational head of Al-Qaeda after the capture of Khalid Shaikh Muhammed in 2003; and he was captured in Pakistan in May 2005. He was one of 16 detainees held by the US at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who were considered of high-value. Both apparently played a role in the development of the intelligence that led to the killing of Usama bin Laden on 2nd May, 2011. In 2002 and 2003, interrogators first heard about Al-Qaeda courier who used the pseudonym Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti - Pushto-speaking. After al-Libi was captured in May 2005 and handed over to the CIA, he was also asked about Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, but he gave a different name for Bin Laden's courier. The accumulating intelligence about al-Kuwaiti persuaded CIA officials to stay on his trail, and because of advanced technology and with the help of voice data, they could trace him.

It led the Agency to Bin Laden's lair, where al-Kuwaiti (real name Ibrahim) and his brother Abrar were among those who died in the raid. The fact of the matter is that Pakistan intelligence had kept a track on a telephone number, which was being operated from Pak-Afghan border areas. For a while it was operative from Peshawar, but became dormant at Abbottabad; yet its ally - the US - did not trust; and in efforts to hunt UBL, the ISI was deliberately side-lined by the CIA. On the contrary, they accused Pakistan of ensconcing UBL. However in 2017, former US President Barack Obama said: 'We had no evidence that Pakistani government was aware of Usama bin Laden's presence there'. Former CIA Director General David Petraeus said a few days back that he was convinced that the Pakistani intelligence agencies did not know Usama bin Laden's presence in Pakistan.

Externally, UBL episode had precipitated gigantic problems for Pakistan. Firstly, it had given tremendous grist to Pakistan's detractors campaigning to project it as global terrorism's epicenter. Secondly, it had opened gates wide open to the Americans not only to intensify their drone attacks but also mount ground raids. Yet, none of the leaders of the major political parties - the PPP and the PML-N - could convince US leadership about Pakistan's sacrifices in the war on terror or had the spine to tell America off. In fact, they tried to appease the US and denigrated Pakistan military; and Memogate scam is a case in point. Could there be such a clueless, directionless and inept leadership, even ignorant of how the public felt about it for its ineptness and also indifference to their sufferings. On 2nd May 2011, Navy Seals had conducted operation in Abbottabad killing Usama bin Laden.

On 26 November 2011, an early morning attack by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) helicopters killed at least 24 security personnel and injured 12 soldiers on a Pakistani check post in Salala located in the Tehsil Bayzai area of Mohmand Agency on the Pak-Afghan border. When already the relations between the US and Pakistan were at the lowest ebb, and both countries were said to be in a 'low intensity conflict', there was need to convince and make the US to understand Pakistan's position and the sacrifices Pakistan gave in the war on terror. As regards hullabaloo by US State Department and Generals about Haqqani Network, it has to be mentioned that Jalaluddin Haqqani, once close friend of the US had the privilege to meet President Ronald Reagan in the White House. He was also described 'goodness personified' by Congressman and architect of the Afghan jihad Charlie Wilson.

As regards attacks on Kabul, US officials and Generals said that Jalaluddin Haqqani ordered the attacks from his hideout in neighboring Pakistan, which was travesty of the truth, because Jalaluddin Haqqani was in Afghanistan; as his Network was in the eastern Afghanistan enjoying support and backing of the people. United States had repeatedly pressed Pakistan to go after the Haqqani Network it believed, was based in the North Waziristan tribal region along the border with Afghanistan. Unfortunately, PPP government played foul to denigrate military leadership, which was obvious from the Memogate scam whereby it had asked US help, as Pakistan military supported the militants. So audacious and so criminal was it, yet the only action was that Hussain Haqqani was removed from ambassadorship in the US. The authenticity of the memo and the identity of its authors and its masterminds had unarguably been established, yet the matter was pushed under the rug.
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Publication:Pakistan Observer (Islamabad, Pakistan)
Date:Sep 10, 2019
Words:953
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