A claim, which has been a matter of pride for the Pakistani authorities, has been presented in the shape of a charge sheet against the country by a US general.
In a recent interview, US forces commander in Afghanistan Lt Gen David Barno has said Usama Bin Ladin and Ayman al-Zawahiri are more likely to be present in Pakistan than Afghanistan. Asserting his claim, he said all the important Al-Qa'ida leaders who were arrested in the past three years were caught in Pakistan. He added that not a single important Al-Qa'ida leader was nabbed from Afghanistan.
If Barno's statement is minutely reviewed, many important points will come to light. The pro-Al-Qa'ida Taliban government in Afghanistan was removed about three years ago. But up to now peace and stability could not be established in that country. Resistance against the United States and its allies started in Kandahar, and spread to Ghazni, Helmand, Paktia, Paktika, Gardez, Khost, and Konar. And now, it has entered Kabul and Kunduz. Afghan Vice President Haji Abdul Qadeer Khan and Tourism Minister Abdul Rahman were killed in broad daylight in Kabul.
President Hamid Karzai narrowly escaped attempts on his life in Kandahar and Gardez. The situation today is that after the sunset the government's influence is not visible outside the cities of Kabul and Kandahar. The commanders of Mullah Mohammad Omar and Said Akbar Agha are running an anti-election campaign in the south while Jalaluddin Haqqani's and Golboddin Hekmatyar's men are active in the east. They are going to every village asking people to boycott the election.
The Taliban, who used to break cameras and televisions, are recording their guerilla activities and sending the videotapes to TV channels. Why has the United States failed to eliminate the Taliban despite the presence of video cameras? The reason is very obvious: the United States does not want to be diverted from the war on terror in Iraq. The United States sent 125,000 troops to Iraq while their strength in Afghanistan is hardly 19,000. These soldiers are not sufficient to eliminate or arrest Taliban and Al-Qa'ida leaders.
This point also carries much importance that Pashtoon people in most parts of southern and eastern Afghanistan are not willing to serve as informers for the Americans. Rather, the informers are killed.
General Musharraf seriously and sincerely used the entire state machinery of Pakistan against Al-Qa'ida. The US authorities on several occasions did acknowledge General Musharraf's sincerity, but stated that some important people in sensitive agencies are still secretly cooperating with Al-Qa'ida. General Musharraf personally tried several times to tell the Americans that their information is wrong and that Pakistani agencies are functioning in a disciplined way.
When Abu Zubedah, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, and other important Al-Qa'ida leaders were arrested from Pakistan, the US authorities started saying that General Musharraf and ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) chief General Ihsan are very good people, but some bad people are still cooperating with Al-Qa'ida. When an important US State Department official stated this, he was asked to identify these people who are allegedly cooperating with Al-Qa'ida. But, he declined to give their names. But when Pakistan insisted, he wrote two names on a piece of paper and handed it over to the Pakistani authorities. And when Pakistani officials read these names, they started laughing. The first name was that of ex-ISI Chief Lt Gen (Ret) Hameed Gul and the second name was of Pakistan's former consul general in Herat, Col (Ret) Amir Imam.
Controlling their laughter, Pakistani officials asked the US official as to what responsibilities both of them have these days. The answer was: both of them work for the ISI. After hearing the answer, Pakistani officials told the honorable US personality that Hameed Gul had retired 10 years ago and Col (Ret) Amir Imam was working as Pakistan's consular general in Kandahar three years ago. He had retired from the army several years ago.
This made Pakistani authorities think a lot. They came to know that US agencies may get correct information through a satellite system, but their human intelligence is defective and wrong. It is believed that the United States receives such defective information from Afghanistan's opportunist warlords, Indian secret agencies, or from Pakistani experts who never visited Kabul or Kandahar but who are earning dollars by writing imaginary stories about the Taliban and Al-Qa'ida.
As the US election approaches, General Barno will be repeatedly asked about Usama Bin Ladin's whereabouts. And, each time he will reply that Bin Ladin is not present in Afghanistan, so that the US media may not call him incompetent. US officials insist that their information about Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan proved to be correct; therefore, their information about Usama has to be correct. The difference is that the International Atomic Energy Agency got information about Dr Khan through a satellite system and Iran, while the Americans got information about Usama through the sources, which have grudges with Pakistan.
The Pakistani authorities have silently described US information on the secret cooperation between Al-Qa'ida and some officials of sensitive agencies as wrong. But, General Barno's claim was not satisfactorily countered. If David Barno gives this statement again, he should be asked as to who provided this information to him. And, if his information was correct, why did he not inform Pakistan about Usama's hideout?
(Description of Source: Rawalpindi Jang in Urdu -- Influential, largest circulation newspaper in Pakistan, circulation of 300,000. Champions conservative Islamic views, pro-free enterprise, politically neutral.)
Translated from the original by WNC.toolkit.dialog.com/intranet/cgi/present?STYLE=739318018&PRESENT=DB=985,AN=196450E-mail this article