Could Media Start Nuclear War?

Jan 10th, 2010 | By | Category: Uncategorized

There are many negative outcomes that can result from media providing misinformation and exaggerated claims: uninformed public, destablized government, and international embarrassment for example. But lately media has been playing a most dangerous game with exaggerated misinformation, namely the statement of Indian General Deepak Kapoor.

Gen. Kapoor’s statement, to be clear, was completely irresponsible and I do not defend his statement at all. But let us look at what was actually said, and how this has been interpreted in the media.

Gen. Kapoor said that he believed there was the potential for a limited war between India and Pakistan under a nuclear overhang. As both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers, there is obviously some “nuclear overhang” to any battle between the two. But the media immediately began to say that the Indian was threatening nuclear war, which has the obvious result of setting back any peace process and making unnecessary fear in the minds of the people.

Retired Air Vice Marshal and formed Ambassador Shahzad Chaudhry noticed this right away:

Just a couple of weeks back General Kapoor opined that a ‘limited’ war was possible under a nuclear overhang. The statement got morphed and misrepresented as if he had spoken of a ‘limited nuclear war’.

This same observation was again made recently by Abbas Rashid in his column, “The difficult road to peace.”

Consider, for example, the bolt from the blue delivered last November by none other than the Indian army chief about the possibility of a limited conventional war between the two countries under a ‘nuclear overhang’. It was a highly irresponsible statement and not one for him to make, in any case. It did not help that on our media it was more than once articulated as ‘limited nuclear war’ by talk show hosts and guests, underlining the need for a greater sense of responsibility and professionalism on the part of the media.

In many matters, media misinformation and exaggeration can be simply an annoyance. But when it comes to the delicate peace between two nuclear powers, the stakes are too high for the media to play to the gallery and exaggerate the statements of Indian generals, no matter how ridiculous they are. Mr. Rashid’s advice would be well considered by media commentators:

The media too needs to play a supportive role rather than focusing disproportionately on the negative aspects, and resist the temptation of playing to the gallery. The South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) has been doing useful work in this context for some years now by facilitating extensive interaction between media persons belonging to the region, not least those from India and Pakistan. This has contributed to greater sensitivity to each other’s perspectives and concerns. But there is obviously a long way to go as was so clearly depicted by the media coverage in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks of November 2008. In that context it is certainly good news that two large media groups in Pakistan and India have joined hands in a commitment to work for peace between the two countries. Both have extensive outreach and can also help in setting the tone for many others in the media whose role has not been particularly helpful. 

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  1. If we examine and review the contents which various media offers in different types of messages,they are very much anti democratic,anti people,anti peace anti neighbors and anti west.The questions like ownership and allied commercial interest of the media houses continously compel to pursue its anti democratic and anti west agenda. unfortunately trends and contents of our media is very much conservative and anti democratic.Media is just spreading rumors,speculations and sensationalism..People of South Asia want peace,stability,coexistence democracy Trade and Development..media should facilitate peace and democracy in this underdeveloped region..

  2. If we examine and review the contents which various media offers in different types of messages,they are very much anti democratic,anti people,anti peace anti neighbors and anti west.The questions like ownership and allied commercial interest of the media houses continously compel to pursue its anti democratic and anti west agenda. unfortunately trends and contents of our media is very much conservative and anti democratic.Media is just spreading rumors,speculations and sensationalism..People of South Asia want peace,stability,coexistence democracy Trade and Development..media should facilitate peace and democracy in this underdeveloped region and spread enlightenment liberalism, moderation and rationalism…It’s very important for peace and development…

  3. Jang Group – Times of India joint Campaign against ISI.

    http://chagataikhan.blogspot.com/2010/01/jang-group-times-of-india-joint.html

    Jang Group/GEO TV had played a very dirty role during Mumbai Tragedy in 2008 while relaying a bogus “Investigative Report on Ajmal Kasab” on GEO TV and the same Jang Group particularly Mr Mahmood Sham (Group Editor Daily Jang), Mr Shaheen Sehbai (Group Editor The News International), Mr Kamran Khan (Senior Correspondent Jang/The News and GEO TV) and Mr Rauf Klasra (Senior Correspondent Jang/The News International) played a very dirty role after the murder of US Journlaist Daniel Pearl in Karachi in 2002. This very same Jang Group/GEO TV is now lecturing Pakistanis for Peace with India had itself launched a Vilification Campaign againt PPP and raised doubts on the Patiroitsm and Loyalty of PPP and President Asif Ali Zardari when they tried to formulate a policy on Kerry Lugar Bill, No First Strike, and Dialogues wih India. Now read what Jang and Times of India have jointly been saying and Jang Group/GEO TV/The News International have introduced a permanent link on their websites to promote Pakistan-India Peace.

    READ MORE ON JANG GROUP’S ANTI PAKISTAN ARMY/ISI CAMPAIGN: REFERENCE: Mahmood Sham’s Advice & Shaheen Sehbai’s Anti Pakistan Army Columns & Jang Group. http://chagataikhan.blogspot.com/2009/11/mahmood-sham-shaheen-sehbais-anti.html Mahmood Sham & Shaheen Sehbai on ISI. http://chagataikhan.blogspot.com/2009/11/mahmood-sham-shaheen-sehbai-on-isi.html Credibility of Shaheen Sehbai, Mir Shakil ur Rahman and Jang Group of Newspapers. http://chagataikhan.blogspot.com/2009/11/credibility-of-shaheen-sehbai-mir.html

    “QUOTE”

    The Times of India Group and the Jang Group have come together to energize the process of peace between our two countries. We believe that this is an intervention whose time has come. We recognize that set backs will occur but these should not derail the process. We will need to reach out and pluck the low hanging fruit in the beginning before we aim higher. Issues of trade and commerce, of investments, of financial infrastructure, of cultural exchanges, of religious and medical tourism, of free movement of ideas, of visa regimes, of sporting ties, of connectivity, of reviving existing routes, of market access, of separated families, of the plight of prisoners, will be part of our initial agenda. Through debates, discussions and the telling of stories we will find commonalities and space, for compromise and adjustment, on matters that have bedevilled relations for over 60 years. Our subcontinent needs to follow the footprints left behind by the great poets, sufi saints and the bhakts who preached and practiced love and inclusiveness. This is the land of Tagore and Ghalib, of Bulleh Shah and Kabir, of Nanak and Moinuddin Chisti. It is their spirit that will guide us in this journey. The one and half billion people of this region await the dawning of an age where peace, equality and tranquility prevails. This will happen when every heart beats with Aman ki Asha. REFERENCE: Aman Ki Asha – Destination Peace http://www.geo.tv/amankiasha/Eng_joint.asp

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    Jang Group/The News International/GEO TV also support this Anti Pakistan Army/ISI Campaign of Times of India. Just a Glimpse

    “QUOTE”

    ISI helped Taliban supremo Mullah Omar flee from Quetta to Karachi PTI, 20 November 2009, 12:53pm IST WASHINGTON: Fearing that Taliban supremo Mullah Omar might be targetted by US drones, Pakistan’s ISI has helped him to flee from the border town of Quetta to the mega port city of Karachi, where he has established a new Shura council. One-eyed leader of the Afghan Taliban recently found refuge from potential US attacks in Karachi with Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) assistance, the Washington Times reported quoting US intelligence officials.

    “Mullah Omar travelled to Karachi last month after the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. He inaugurated a new senior leadership council in Karachi, a city that so far has escaped US and Pakistani counter-terrorism campaigns,” the officials said. The paper said the ISI helped Mullah Omar move from Quetta, where they felt he was exposed to attacks by unmanned US drones. “The development reinforces suspicions that the ISI, which helped create the Taliban in the 1990s to expand Pakistani influence in Afghanistan, is working against US interests in Afghanistan as the Obama administration prepares to send more US troops to fight there,” the daily said.

    Bruce Riedel, a CIA veteran and analyst on al Qaeda and the Taliban, confirmed that Mullah Omar had been spotted in Karachi recently, the daily said. “Some sources claim the ISI decided to move him further from the battlefield to keep him safe” from US drone attacks, Riedel was quoted as saying. “There are huge madrassas in Karachi where Mullah Omar could easily be kept,” he said. Riedel noted that there had been few suicide bombings in Karachi, which he attributed to the Taliban and al Qaeda not wanting to “foul their own nest”. At the same time, the daily said so far there has been no indication that the top Al Qaeda leadership too had moved to Karachi.

    Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri are still thought to be in the tribal region of Pakistan on Afghanistan’s border, he said. However, the newspaper said according to intelligence officials, other mid-level al Qaeda operatives who facilitate the travel and training of foreign fighters have moved to the Karachi metropolitan area, which with 18 million people is Pakistan’s most populous city. “One reason, [al Qaeda] and Taliban leaders are relocating to Karachi is because they believe US drones do not strike there,” a official was quoted as saying adding that it is a densely populated urban area.URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/ISI-helped-Taliban-supremo-Mullah-Omar-flee-from-Quetta-to-Karachi/articleshow/5250365.cms

    Go to jail or join jihad against India: ISI tells surrendered Taliban Vishwa Mohan, TNN, 7 October 2009, 12:13am IST – NEW DELHI: In a new shift in tactics, Pakistan is planning to push as many as 60 “surrendered” Taliban into Jammu and Kashmir to become part of the “jihad” against India. The ISI is said to have offered the extremists the option of either going to jail or crossing the Line of Control. The “jail or jihad” option offered to the Taliban seems a useful diversion for ISI. The Pakistan military establishment has had to fight the Taliban, once its close allies in Afghanistan, but is looking to turn the situation to its advantage. Apprehensions in Indian security circles that the crackdown by the Pakistan army on Taliban — seen as a last resort after the jihadis turned their guns on the Pakistani state — could mean trouble in Kashmir are being proved correct. Not only have infiltration attempts by regular jihadi outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba gone up, the presence of Taliban poses a new threat.

    Highly placed sources said BSF and the Army had been alerted about the developments after intelligence intercepted talk about infiltration bids in the next 15 to 20 days. “Although the Taliban is yet to successfully infiltrate into India, the coming days will pose a challenge as their attempts to sneak in are expected before the onset of winter,” said a senior official. The infiltration is closely controlled and monitored by the ISI and Pakistan army which is often involved in the crossings. The issue cropped up as a major security concern during the two-day visit to Srinagar by a high-powered central team led by cabinet secretary K M Chandrashekhar and comprising home secretary G K Pillai, defence secretary Pradeep Kumar and other senior officials.

    Top security and intelligence officials deliberated over the move by state actors in Pakistan to utilize the Taliban for their objectives in Kashmir. Taking note of the assessment, officials are learnt to have unequivocally noted during the reviews in Srinagar that there was no change in Pakistan’s support to terror groups post 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. The Taliban, who recently fought against Pakistan army in Swat Valley and other areas along the Pak-Afghan border, were well trained and battle-hardened. They could put their experience of fighting US troops to use in Kashmir. Apart from the group of 60, there are nearly 250 to 300 jihadis — armed with sophisticated weapons, Thuraya satellite phones and Indian mobile SIM cards — poised at launch pads along LoC. This feeds into the view that violence could escalate in J&K in the winter months.

    The meeting in Srinagar, attended by senior Army and paramilitary personnel, also took note of repeated use of Pakistani Air Force helicopters to evacuate injured infiltrators along the LoC and as many as 42 terror camps in PoK and Pakistan. “Such incidents (like use of choppers) clearly show the involvement of Pakistani authorities in facilitating infiltration. Though our forces are fully alert to thwart Pakistani designs, the next 15-20 days are quite crucial as this is the period when they will do everything to infiltrate as many terrorists as possible,” said a senior official. That is when winter will begin to set in. URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Go-to-jail-or-join-jihad-against-India-ISI-tells-surrendered-Taliban/articleshow/5095277.cms

    CIA paid millions of dollars to ISI since 9/11: Report IANS, 16 November 2009, 12:24pm IST LOS ANGELES: The CIA has paid millions of dollars to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) since 9/11, accounting for as much as one-third of the foreign spy agency’s annual budget, says a media report. The ISI also collected “tens of millions of dollars through a classified CIA programme”, which pays for the capture or killing of wanted militants, the Los Angeles Times reported on Monday citing current and former US officials. An intense debate has been triggered within the US government due to “long-standing suspicions that the ISI continues to help Taliban extremists who undermine US efforts in Afghanistan and provide sanctuary to al-Qaida members in Pakistan”. But US officials have continued to make the payments as ISI’s assistance is considered critical: “Almost every major terrorist plot this decade has originated in Pakistan’s tribal belt, where ISI informant networks are a primary source of intelligence.”

    The report went on to say that the payments to Pakistan are authorised under a covert programme initially approved by then president Bush and continued under President Obama. “The ISI has used the covert CIA money for a variety of purposes, including the construction of a new headquarters in Islamabad, the capital. That project pleased CIA officials because it replaced a structure considered vulnerable to attack; it also eased fears that the US money would end up in the private bank accounts of ISI officials.” “What we didn’t want to happen was for this group of generals in power at the time to just start putting it in their pockets or building mansions in Dubai,” a former CIA operative was quoted as saying. CIA officials argue that their own disbursements – particularly the bounties for suspected terrorists – should be considered a bargain. “They gave us 600 to 700 people captured or dead,” a former senior CIA official, who worked with the Pakistanis, was quoted as saying.

    “Getting these guys off the street was a good thing, and it was a big savings to (US) taxpayers.” Another US intelligence official said Pakistan had made “decisive contributions to counter-terrorism”. “They have people dying almost every day,” the official said. “Sure, their interests don’t always match up with ours. But things would be one hell of a lot worse if the government there was hostile to us.” The ISI is a highly compartmentalised intelligence service, with divisions that sometimes seem at odds with one another. Units that work closely with the CIA are walled off from a highly secretive branch that has directed insurgencies in Afghanistan and Kashmir, the Los Angeles Times report said. “There really are two ISIs,” the former CIA operative said. “On the counter-terrorism side, those guys were in lock-step with us,” the former operative said. “And then there was the ‘long-beard’ side. Those are the ones who created the Taliban and are supporting groups like Haqqani.”

    The network led by Jalaluddin Haqqani has been accused of carrying out a series of suicide attacks in Afghanistan, including the 2008 bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul. URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/CIA-paid-millions-of-dollars-to-ISI-since-9/11-Report/articleshow/5235067.cms

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  4. Jang Group: Ansar Abbasi, ISI and Peace with India [Aman Ki Asha]

    http://chagataikhan.blogspot.com/2010/01/jang-group-ansar-abbasi-isi-and-peace.html

    It is very disgusting that Prejudice take you to a level when you blatantly lie and distort history. Mr Ansar Abbasi just did that in his column in Daily Jang Monday, January 04, 2010, Muharram 17, 1431 A.H, wherein [Read the text below] he says that Political Cell of ISI was formed by Bhutto whereas in reality it was formed by General Ayub Khan. Read Ayub Khan’s Information Secretary’s Late Altaf Gauhar’s Column on ISI published in The Nation in English 17 Aug 97 p 4. After reading the last paragraph of Ansar Abbasi’s Lies on ISI. Ansar Abbasi and Jang Group have no shame left in them they forget while lecturing PPP and Zardari about Kerry Lugar Bill, No First Strike, Patriotism and National Security that Ansar Abbasi’s very own Jang/The News and GEO are running the campaign of “Joint statement by editors of the Jang Group and Times of India” Friday, January 01, 2010 Aman Ki Asha”. http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=26398 AMAN KI ASHA – DESTINATION PEACE http://www.geo.tv/amankiasha/default.asp

    http://www.jang.com.pk/jang/jan2010-daily/04-01-2010/col14.htm

    Read Ayub Khan’s Information Secretary’s Late Altaf Gauhar’s Column on ISI published in The Nation in English 17 Aug 97 p 4 – Islamabad The Nation in English 17 Aug 97 p 4 Article by Altaf Gauhar.

    “QUOTE”

    “How Intelligence Agencies Run Our Politics”

    I had an opportunity to watch quite closely the working of our intelligence agencies during the 1965 war with India. At that time the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was headed by Brigadier Riaz Hussain, who later became the Governor of Balochistan, the Military Intelligence (MI) was under Brigadier Muhammad Irshad and A.B. Awan was the Director of the Intelligence Bureau (DIB). Each agency had its own sphere of duties but they had a common goal — preserving the national security. Since there is hardly any significant political activity, domestic or foreign, national or international, which does not, directly or indirectly, impinge on national security, there was much overlapping in the work of the three agencies. Despite the all-embracing definition of national security unnecessary conflict in day to day working was avoided as the lSl and the MI confined themselves to matters of direct military interest and the IB concentrated on domestic political activities. The DIB reported directly to the Prime Minister and the two military agencies to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army (C-in-C). It was left to the C-in-C to bring all matters of interest to the notice of the Prime Minister through the Ministry of Defence. This arrangement continued fairly smoothly until the imposition of Martial Law in 1958. I was in the Prime Minister’s Secretariat during the last days of parliamentary government in 1957-58 and Malik Feroz Khan Noon used to get reports of the contacts which military intelligence agencies were making with the political leaders of different parties. There was little that he could do about it since President Iskander Mirza was drawing up his own plan of action to put an end to parliamentary rule in collusion with the C-in-C, General Ayub Khan. Noon was resisting Mirza’s pressure to grant a four-year extension of term to Ayub Khan. I remember Ayub Khan bursting into my office one afternoon in full, uniform. I was relieved when he said: “Since the Principal Secretary has gone for lunch I thought I would ask you to request the Prime Minister to stay with me in Rawalpindi when he comes on a formal visit next week.” He left the room before I could recover my breath. When I conveyed the message to the PM he said: “I know he wants me to give him an extension of term. His term does not end till 1959. Why is he in such a hurry?” Years later when I mentioned this incident to Ayub Khan he said: “The fellow was under the influence of his wife. He wanted to promote General Sher Ali. My boys were keeping tabs on him.”

    Once the Martial Law was promulgated in 1958 all the intelligence agencies came under the direct control of the President and Chief Martial Law Administrator. The maintenance of national Security, which was the principal function of these agencies, came to mean the consolidation of the Ayub regime; any criticism of the regime was seen a threat to national security. The three intelligence agencies started competing with each other in demonstrating their loyalty to Ayub Khan and his system of government. Since Ayub Khan was reluctant to increase the military budget, neither the ISI nor the MI could post their officers in the districts and because of that limitation their domestic activities remained quite restrained. But they continued to be assigned specific duties to keep a watch on ‘undesirable’ politicians and civil servants. When I came to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, I found a psychological warfare unit under operation in the office of the Secretary. It was, headed by Col Mujibur Rahman, who later became the Secretary of the Ministry in the Ziaul Haq regime. Was it an intelligence plant meant to keep an eye on the working of the civil government? Whatever its purpose, I found it a complete waste of time and I was able to persuade the President to have it recalled by the GHQ.

    The President used to receive regular reports on the political situation in the country from the ISI and the MI. These reports in sealed envelopes marked ‘Eyes Only’ were usually handed over to the President by the C-in-C. On a few occasions the President gave me these reports and it seemed to me that the agencies were keeping the politicians, particularly the East Pakistanis, under close surveillance. I rarely found anything insightful in these reports. The DIB had direct access to the President and his weekly reports used to be fairly exhaustive. It was during the presidential election in l964 that the ISI and the MI became extremely active.. While the DIB gave the President a detailed, assessment of his prospects in the election the ISI and the MI kept him informed of the trend of public opinion based largely on gossip. The election results showed that the three agencies had seriously under estimated the popularity of Mohtrama Miss Fatima Jinnah and given Ayub Khan too optimistic a picture of his prospects.

    The crisis of intelligence came during the 1965 war. Brigadier Riaz was good enough to show me his set-up, an impressive affair judging by the sophisticated equipment and the operators at work. He told me that he had contacts inside the Occupied Kashmir and in other major Indian cities. “I will flood you with news. Don’t worry”. When the war started there was a complete blackout of news from all the intellience agencies. When I got nothing out of the ISI for two days I went to Brigadier Riaz only to learn that all his contacts had gone underground. The performance of the MI was even more frustrating. The mobile transmitter which the MI had acquired to broadcast the Voice of Kashmir conked out and Brigadier Irshad came to me to find him a spare transmitter. When I told him that it would take at least a month to import another transmitter he pleaded with me to take over the broadcast part of the operation. “How can I do that I know nothing about the operation?” I protested. “But that is the beauty of it.” said Irshad, “even I know very little about it.” It did not take the Indians long to extract the whole operational plan out of the ‘infiltrators’ whom they captured the moment they entered the Indian occupied territory in Kashmir. Four of them were put on All India Radio to make a public confession. I heard the details of the operation on the air in utter disbelief. I rushed to Muzaffarabad to acquaint Irshad with what I had heard. He fell back in his chair and moaned: “The bastards have spilt the beans.”

    After the cease-fire I brought these incidents to Ayub Khan’s notice and urged him to review the working of these agencies. “They have no idea of intelligence work,” I submitted “all they can do is investigative work like sub-inspectors of police, tapping telephone conversations and chasing the suspects.” Much later Ayub Khan set up a committee to examine the working of the agencies under General the Yahya Khan. Both A.B. Awan and I were members of the committee. The GHQ tried to put all the blame on IB for their own incompetence. Yahya wanted the committee to recommend that officers of ISI and the Ml should be posted at district headquarters. Awan strongly opposed the idea and I backed him. We could not understand the purpose of getting the military agencies involved in domestic administration. As we left the meeting Awan said to me “They are planning to impose martial law.” He proved right though it took the Army quite some time to get rid of Ayub Khan after unleashing a popular campaign against him.

    The intelligence agencies got even more deeply involved in domestic politics under General Yahya Khan. The ISI jumped headlong into the Political crisis in East Pakistan. A National Security Council was created under the chairmanship of General Yahya Khan with Major General Ghulam Umar as second in command to control the intelligence operation which was meant to ensure that no political party should get an overall majority in the general election. An amount of Rs 29 lac was put at the disposal of General Umar for the purpose. Before the Army action General Akbar, who was the head of the ISI and with whom I had good relations when I was in service, requested me that I should introduce him to some Bengali academics and journalists. The ISI was trying to infiltrate into the inner circles of the Awami League. Had I given him any names they too have been put on Rao Farman Ali’s hit list of Bengali intellectuals. The operation proved a total disaster. Lawrence Ziring says: “New efforts at a political solution might have been attempted later, but army intelligence failed time and again to correctly assess the situation, and the demeanor of the generals was hardly conducive to rational decision-making.” (Lawrence Ziring, The Tragedy of East Pakistan, OUP, 1997). For General (retd) Aslam Beg to claim on solemn oath before the Supreme Court of Pakistan that the ISI got involved in the internal politics of the country only after a special cell was created by Prime Minister Bhutto in 1975 is a culpable attempt at concealing the truth and distorting the record of the operations of the military intelligence agencies since independence. The present government has only to report to the Supreme Court that the ISI deals with matters relating to Pakistan’s national security and that would be the end of Asghar Khan’s writ petition against Aslam Beg. Who will provide a definition of national security to rule out the involvement of the ISI and the MI in domestic politics which is seen as the biggest threat to the security and solidarity of Pakistan?

    “UNQUOTE”

    THE END

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  6. Kamran Khan [Jang Group]’s Malicious campaign against ISI.

    http://chagataikhan.blogspot.com/2010/01/kamran-khan-jang-groups-malicious.html

    Jang Group particularly Mr Mahmood Sham (Group Editor Daily Jang), Mr Shaheen Sehbai (Group Editor The News International), Mr Kamran Khan (Senior Correspondent Jang/The News and GEO TV) and Mr Rauf Klasra (Senior Correspondent Jang/The News International) played a very dirty role after the murder of US Journlaist Daniel Pearl in Karachi in 2002. This very same Jang Group/GEO TV is now lecturing Pakistanis for Peace with India had itself launched a Vilification Campaign againt PPP and raised doubts on the Patiroitsm and Loyalty of PPP and President Asif Ali Zardari when they tried to formulate a policy on ISI, Kerry Lugar Bill, No First Strike, and Dialogues wih India. Now read what Jang and Times of India have jointly been saying and Jang Group/GEO TV/The News International have introduced a permanent link on their websites to promote Pakistan-India Peace. Now read as to how Kamran Khan with malafide intent involves Pakistan Army/ISI with Militants while giving an Interview to FRONTLINE PBS an American Public Affairs News Organization.

    “QUOTE”

    Kamran Khan – He is a Pakistani journalist and special correspondent for the Washington Post, based in Karachi. He maintains that Al Qaeda definitely moved into the tribal areas of Pakistan after the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan, but that Pakistani officials deny it because they fear U.S. intervention. He argues that at the same time Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has allied himself with the U.S., he also has made an “unwritten compromise” to give more political power to Pakistani Islamist groups. This interview was conducted on Sept. 13, 2002.

    Let’s talk about Al Qaeda since Sept. 11, and what happened to them.

    It has been bruised. It has been hurt, definitely. It lost the main hideout it had. It has lost the main sanctuary. There has been a tremendous blow to the prestige of the organization. So it’s a wounded tiger, I would say.

    [Is it] even still an organization?

    I believe that it’s an organization, as long as Osama bin Laden is alive, as long as Ayman al-Zawahiri is alive, as long as the other key players are still alive. I think, as an organization, Al Qaeda is still alive.

    You think top leaders still in place?

    Yes, Ayman al-Zawahiri is alive; Osama bin Laden is alive. If you talk about the cause and the motives of the organization, Mullah Omar is alive. We have new characters, new players in the game. …

    Many think, after 9/11, Al Qaeda went to the tribal areas [of Pakistan]. What you know about that?

    Definitely they did. Definitely. The whole of Al Qaeda’s moved into Pakistan. First they moved into the tribal areas. Pretty much they are there — even today they are there. There is pretty strong evidence available to suggest that some of the Arabs who speak local native language, the Pashto, that wear native dresses, they look like native people. They are the guest of tribal people in South Waziristan and North Waziristan. I’ve been meeting people who know it for sure in their own areas –there are Arabs living there as guests of some tribal people.

    I would think that some people in the government may also know, have some ideas. But as long as these people are not creating trouble and they are just sitting quiet, the government are not ready to confront them. They don’t want to create a problem for themselves. So they moved into tribal areas, and then they moved into major cities, urban areas.

    The greatest manifestation was the arrest in March this year of Abu Zubaydah in Faisalabad. The key players of Al Qaeda [were] in Faisalabad — Abu Zubaydah and at least 11 Al Qaeda-ers. Faisalabad is a place — it won’t strike you at the first place that they are hiding at the central Punjab somewhere. So that shows that, yes, they moved across border into Pakistan. They moved into tribal areas, and from there they are now moving towards the cities. And we have very credible info that many of the Arabs were hiding in Karachi and in Lahore; maybe other places. …

    What is it about the tribal areas? I mean, people watching this program don’t know what these tribal areas are or what they represent. What is it about these places that makes them such a good hiding place for Al Qaeda?

    They are often categorized as semi-autonomous areas. But for all practical purpose, before 9/11, they were autonomous areas. There was no law there. The law was gun and drugs. These people trade in gun and guns only. There was no other thing. Maybe smuggling. So it was a lawless terrain, completely out of Pakistan’s control.

    These people don’t accept any laws. They didn’t even accept the Durand Line, the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. They never had any travel documents to go into Afghanistan or coming back from there. So there are tremendous linkages there. These people have no law, no Pakistani law, government.

    And they’re in the same tribe as the Taliban?

    Yes, in most cases. There are different types, but they share the area. They share the terrain. They share the culture, and they all share a very deep, religious leanings. They consider themselves ultra-religious people. Yes, the rest would like to call them the sheer fundamentalists.

    We sent someone with a camera and a list of questions into [the tribal areas] recently. He asked questions of tribal leaders and whatnot, on the record, on camera. And they said, “No, we support the government. We are not going to harbor Al Qaeda.” Why would they say that to us and say something different?

    No, they are very intelligent people; don’t consider them a [naÔve] tribesman and all. They are very intelligent people. They are talking to an American TV crew. They are not stupid. …

    They are serious about the business, what they are doing. There is a fire of remains and settling score with the Americans. Nobody should doubt that at all. That’s why you see this activity in the east and in the south and southeast in Afghanistan. It can be that whatever is happening there is not indigenous Afghan reaction. There has to be some sanctuary across the border. There has to be some supplies from across the border. If nothing, some hideouts. …

    The basic thing, the bottom line with Pakistan is that they don’t want to have an armed rebellion in the tribal areas. They don’t want to take things to a limit where there is an armed rebellion, and there can be, because these people are armed to the teeth. They have heavy machine guns, they have got artillery, they have got light artillery, they have got tremendous amount of firepower with them. So the government of Pakistan is not really to challenge them. …

    So what about the war on terrorism and the coalition and cooperation with the United States?

    It will continue. It will continue, but not at the cost of internal strife. Not at the cost of creating anarchy within Pakistan. Not at the cost of creating chaos within Pakistan. Not at the cost of creating the rebellion from the very strong religious lobby in Pakistan.

    Mind you, this is the army is half a million, a very, very religious [faction]. I mean, these people are very religious. They cannot stand to any notion that the government or army is challenging the people who are religious people, who are religiously motivated people. So the army and the government, General Musharraf, has to be very cautious. That’s why he’s walking on a very tight rope. …

    What was [Abu Zubaydah] doing in Faisalabad?

    He was just hiding there. They were having a very low profile there. They didn’t have weapons, a lot of weapons, with them. They why they wanted to just stay cool there and waiting for their chance to react. …

    They’ve also come to Karachi, and we had an event here [on Sept. 11. 2002]. What happened?

    There were many, many incidents there. The incident two days ago in Karachi, there was an information from neighborhood to the police that there are some suspicious people living here. Police did some reconnaissance, and then they went for a raid early morning Sept. 11. They faced fierce resistance from these guys. They are all definite Al Qaedas in the sense that they are Tajiks and they are Central Asians and two Arabs and all.

    And Yemeni, apparently?

    Yes. That’s an Arab or Yemeni.

    Have you received any briefings letting you know what’s going on in that case?

    They are still questioning these guys. But they have been told that, “We ran from Afghanistan and for the hideout. For us, this is a Muslim country.”

    Whenever these people are caught, they always play Islamic card. They always play a Muslim card. They like to influence their interrogators, and in many cases, they successfully do that. …

    They say that, “We have devoted our lives to Islam and Quran and Allah. So what problem do you have with us?” They usually ask their interrogators, and these people are very confident.

    In most cases, they say, “You can kill us. No problem.” That really baffles their interrogators, because if they are questioning a person who is ready to die, who says, “[If] you release me, you leave me, I’ll go and I’ll hit again.” So that really baffled because an interrogator, to go to an extent to use a third degree, which may put some fear in the person he’s interrogating that maybe he’ll be killed. But these guys say, “Do whatever.” These are very, very hard nuts. You can’t make them speak without the third-degree measures, which are quite common in Pakistan, you know.

    In terms of nationality, who are these people that are coming out of Afghanistan since October and coming to the tribal areas, coming to Faisalabad, coming to Karachi? What nationality are we talking [about]?

    Mostly Arabs. Yemenis, I would say, Saudis, some Kuwaitis, some Palestinians.

    Gulf Arabs?

    Yes, yes, yes. And of course, Pakistanis, and of course, Afghanis, Chechens.

    Are they going home? Are they going down to Karachi in order to catch a boat or–

    Yes. Basically, it’s not stationed to plot more action. These people at the moment who have escaped from Afghanistan — I’m talking about the Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, which escaped from Afghanistan — is looking for a hideout. It’s on the run.

    We can’t say that they’re sitting quiet and they are plotting, and they have been successful and all. We can’t say that. They are on the run. They really fear that they may be caught any days. There is a great degree of mistrust in the ranks, because they think that the information going out, these raids and stuff, these arrests and all, it may be coming in from within their ranks. So there is some mistrust. But it’s not a very, very well-entrenched organized force at the moment. …

    Any evidence that they’re leaving Pakistan and going back to the Gulf?

    Yes, yes, yes. There has been, yes. The some people who have their passports intact and all, these people have left and have gone off to Dubai. I understand that some people took also boats from Karachi and went off to the to U.A.E. There are several ports in the U.A.E. which you can access without being severely monitored.

    Also, what about Iran?

    Iran, of course. I understand that soon after October raids, there was a request made by some key Arabs to the Iranians in asking for passage. There is a Islamic code under which when some Muslims ask you for passage, you are obliged to provide that passage. I understand through a key U.A.E. diplomat that that passage was provided in the early days, and some people really went out. …

    There is talk we’ve heard that some of the major madrassas in Pakistan have harbored Al Qaeda — the Haqqania Madrassa up near Peshawar, but also the Binori Madrassa here in Karachi.

    I would think that not in the madrassas premises; there’s a major intelligence penetration in these madrassas.

    The ISI is in the Binori Madrassa?

    Yes, yes, yes. They know what’s going on there. But at the same time, you must understand that some of the key people are already with the ISI. I mean, they report back to the ISI. Maybe they are in the forefront of the anti-U.S. campaign or whatever–

    So some of the Islamists are inside the ISI? And the ISI is looking–

    And they report back to the ISI, yes, yes.

    How does that work?

    It works quite good, yes. I think that they have a very reliable penetration source of information. The bottom line here is that, “Look. Whatever you are doing, whatever you do, we understand. But mind you, we cannot afford to harbor Arabs here. We cannot afford to harbor non-Pakistanis here. So please, please cooperate with us on that count.” There is a very deep connections between the religious madrassas, and the key religious scholars, and the establishment. …

    Doesn’t President Musharraf need the Islamists in order to prosecute the Indians? Doesn’t he need them to keep pressure on the Indians in Kashmir?

    Absolutely.

    So he can’t offend these groups that are akin to Al Qaeda in their sympathies?

    By all means. … It’s also because there are 50,000 strong, militant, armed people. That most of these people have deep connections with the establishment, with the security–

    Security — ISI?

    –operators of Pakistan, the security operators, yes. The intelligence agencies. And they just can’t do things which may provoke them, and which may create an internal rebellion of sorts. Not only that. Of course, these people have devoted themselves to jihad in India, at least, to jihad in Kashmir. …

    A lot of Pakistani security people say that no country has such a tremendous fifth column. You have 50,000 armed people who are ready to give their lives without asking for any favor or anything. These motivated people are an asset for any country with such a massive, such a big enemy. And with such a major problem boiling there. Of course, yes.

    So can Americans trust Musharraf to crack down on his own people to rat out terrorists in Pakistan?

    I don’t know, because my perception is the Americans are basically interested in Al Qaeda — people who were in Afghanistan, who have an anti-West, anti-America agenda. I’m not sure if the U.S. is really terribly interested about the people who were fighting in Kashmir. …

    Yes, but the Americans are concerned, [about] if you have good connections inside the ISI, inside this government. And you’re telling me that the government or that the Pakistani militant groups, the fifth column, if you will, is serving as a sort of bed and breakfast for Al Qaeda.

    In some cases, yes. But there has been a very intense pressure from the government on these groups — I would say not pressure, but lobbying — trying to convince these guys that, “Please don’t have connections with Al Qaeda. Please don’t have ties with Al Qaeda.”

    We have reasons to believe that the key jihadi organizations at their top level have severed their ties. Or they are not really to have connection, ties, with the Arabs, but maybe some breakaway factions doing this.

    Kind of a messy situation to untangle, if you’ve got Al Qaeda and these jihadi groups being tight before 9/11, and now, after 9/11, the Americans pressure Musharraf to sort of untangle this mess. It’s not something that gets done overnight.

    It’s very complicated. It’s very complicated. It’s a very difficult message to convey to these jihadis. But for these jihadi organizations, the focus is Kashmir. The agenda is Kashmir. And they have been told that, “If you have the focus on Kashmir, then you better not compromise your cause.” …

    I think that the government is really satisfied that those groups now understand the language, and they don’t want to be involved in any active anti-U.S. terrorist operation.

    So the line is something like this: If you’re fighting India, you’re a freedom fighter. If you’re fighting the Americans, you’re a terrorist?

    They have been told that you have been fighting as a freedom fighter in Kashmir, then no problem. It all started in 1990. Since 1990 until September 2001, there was no problem. There was no severe pressure on Pakistan to cut ties with these groups, to rein in these groups. There was some whispers here and there. But nothing serious. That’s why it all continued here.

    Why should the Pakistanis fight America’s war for it?

    For its own survival, for the economic reasons, to stay viable. If the country is facing economic crunch before 9/11, and also because General Musharraf, a military leader, wants legitimacy. He wants to survive. He wants to continue as the leader of the country. There are plenty of reasons.

    I’m surprised that you think that Al Qaeda has any capability. My sense is that there’s only a few hundred guys, they’re scattered, they’re in a defensive position and aren’t in any position to be offensive.

    That’s very correct. But it doesn’t mean that it’s a dead organization, it cannot react, it will not react or whatever. The people who are on the run are basically who were in Afghanistan. But the sleepers, the sleeper cells all over the world — it’s not a very tightly knitted organization.

    We are talking about people who floated around, who went to Afghanistan and returned back to these places. But these are people who are now self-energized, self-motivated. You don’t need a central order to act from Osama bin Laden. So we are talking about loose sleeper cells all over the world.

    Even before 9/11, I used to talk [to] people who are supposed to know all that. And they used to say very much before 9/11, that these people are not restricted to Afghanistan. …

    We talked to General Taj of the Frontier Corps in Peshawar. He contradicts you on the tribal areas. He says there’s no Al Qaeda.

    This is his job.

    It’s his job to say there’s no Al Qaeda in tribal areas?

    Absolutely. Because if now, the tribal area belongs to Al Qaeda, it means a direct American intervention. Americans would go mad. They’ll say that “Yes, but you also agree with us, you must move fast. Otherwise, we’ll come. We are coming. We’re going to bomb these places out.” So this is crucial for Pakistan to negate this impression that there are any Al Qaeda in Pakistan. …

    What do you know about the decision to let the FBI operate in the tribal areas? That must have been a difficult negotiation.

    Oh, yes. But they always say that it’s part of the 9/11 agreement which Pakistan had with the U.S., which included providing intelligence, allowing intelligence, technical facilities. They say that allowing Americans to have technical access in Pakistan.

    But that’s what the repeated assertion is from the government of Pakistan and President Musharraf also, that these people — yes, they are doing something in tribal areas and other areas. But their work is restricted to technical cooperation.

    Well, we know that the troops, the [U.S.] Special Forces come across the border, because the border’s not demarcated.

    That’s right, yes.

    Clearly, they’re patrolling inside the Pakistani [territory].

    Special Forces, they come and they say that “We don’t know [whether] this was Pakistan or Afghanistan or whatever.” They come and go and they come and go. Pakistan also allowed this to happen, because it gives them some leverage against the tribal leaders. They tell them, “Look. If you don’t listen to the Americans, I’m going to come.”

    Three months ago, about four months ago basically, the tribal leaders were called and told that if you don’t listen to the Americans, they are going to bomb you out here. And so you must understand this. That’s why this very intelligent face from the tribal leaders. “No, no, no Al Qaedas, no, not at all. We do not provide any shelter. There’s nothing.”

    How come reporters can’t go into this area anymore?

    Reporters can go. But the government says that we cannot guarantee your safety.

    But they won’t let me past a roadblock.

    Yes. They would say that you have to have a government permission, a written government permission to–

    A non-objection certificate?

    Yes, that’s right, yes.

    But I can’t get a non-objection certificate.

    Yes, because they think that if you go inside, you’ll be kidnapped, and you’ll be made another Daniel Pearl.

    You think that’s true?

    Partly, yes.

    You think it’s true that if I went into the–

    You run a great risk if you go inside there. Sure. …

    No question in your mind that Al Qaeda has used those tribal areas as a sanctuary?

    A sanctuary? Yes, absolutely, yes. Definitely. Oh, sure. Yes.

    There’s this notion that Musharraf is holding onto power. He’s quashing opposition parties. At the same time, that’s creating a real valid viable opening for Islamist extremists in the country.

    Except for very few months just after 9/11, the Pakistani establishment and army had never had a direct confrontation with the religious groups or religious bodies. …

    You won’t find now the government having any crackdown against any of the religious groups or any religious political parties. The religious political parties are much freer today than the Pakistan People’s Party, or Pakistan Muslims. Their leaders are much freer than the key, say, the former prime ministers and the former ministers of the government. And now, we don’t find any fireworks from the religious parts against Musharraf. …

    I have reason to believe, that there is an unwritten compromise between these religious groups — erstwhile anti-Musharraf religious parties, and the government. The religious group now are back in action and they are moving freely. They are participating in election. There is no restriction. There has not been a single key religious leader who has been debarred from contesting election. …

    You’re saying Musharraf has managed to do the impossible — to cozy up with the Americans, give the Americans want they want, and at the same time, give more political power and more political space to the radical extremist, to Islamist parties?

    Excellent job. Excellent job. I’ll give him full marks for that. He is an ally to the U.S. and the war against terrorism, and now the religious parties are also not saying anything against him. This is an ideal situation for him.

    It sounds like Saudi Arabia. It sounds like the same sort of power-sharing arrangement that the Saudis have worked out — loyal to the Americans but give the religious extremists full rein over certain parts of society.

    It’s a good comparison. I would say it’s a good comparison. …

    Do you think President Bush knows what kind of arrangement that he’s gotten himself into here?

    Oh, sure. He does, but I think he cannot afford to disturb the situation. He just cannot afford to, because he doesn’t know. Because if Musharraf goes, what comes next?

    But if the Islamist parties become stronger, that’s going to end up biting them back as well.

    My sense is that the Islamic parties, though they have compromised with Musharraf, but they have not lost the focus. And the campaign at the moment is squarely anti-U.S., is squarely anti-war-against-terrorism. It is overwhelmingly pro-Taliban. It is overwhelmingly pro-Al Qaeda. But nobody’s touching them. Nobody’s questioning them.

    So it just gives them time to regroup?

    Yes. These rabble rousers are out there. I mean, look at their statements. Look at their public rallies. Yet, there’s no restriction.

    It’s a funny place, this. I go around, I talk to people. They say, “We like the Americans, we like–”

    This is the whole issue, you know. How can this work? How can you be an ally with the U.S., and you have the jihadi parties, you don’t have that kind of a comfortable tie with the same government?

    And who’s the architect of this?

    General Musharraf himself.

    “UNQUOTE”

    COURTESY: FRONTLINE PBS.

    IN SEARCH OF AL-QAEDA -INTERVIEW KAMRAN KHAN

    URL: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/search/interviews/khan.html

  7. […] have already seen how the media has almost started a nuclear war in the past. As we said then, “when it comes to the delicate peace between two nuclear […]

  8. I am agree with Sir Zaid Hamid. Because Pakistani media is not playing vital role against Indian media… as we have seen there (Indian) blames on Pakistan army and on ISI.. but instead of countering there view they start participating in that non-scene game… i must say it is because of there financial benefits that had been given by Indians..XYZ..

    One more thin ALLAMA-IQBAL wrote letter when there was British government and the scene is saying that he wanted the merger of these four provinces but Any Intelligent person give us Answer that WHAT WILL HAPPENED when the Britishers Had gone????

    every one know 5million killed in cumming towards pakistan.. that number will lead to may be 50 million.

    PAKISTAN KA MATLAB KIAAAA

    LA_ILLAH_ILLAA…

    Do SAFMA BELIEVE that what they are spreading is acceptable in PAKISTAN.???

    I must Give Them Name ” intelligent Duffers”

    SIR ZAID WE WILL SUPPORT YOU

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