Is NRO reporting fair and factual?

Sep 23rd, 2010 | By | Category: Ethics

Media sings NRO chorusIt is often said that the media has an attention span of about two weeks. Issues come and go from front pages quickly as reporters look for the next big story. This can been seen by the short shelf-life of headlines and analysis about terrorist attacks such as took place in Lahore and Data Darbar. But there are some stories, like the NRO, that become regular reports. We have discussed before the question of how what is reported reflects media priorities, but it is also important to consider how particular issues are discussed and what that says about media priorities also.

Let us take the example of NRO, which has made its way back to the headlines after a short nap. This week has seen headlines like On the chopping block? (Express Tribune), PM seeks list of NRO-beneficiary baboos (The Nation), and Will President Zardari’s name be included in NRO list? (The News International).

Many of these articles are filled with speculation and little factual reporting. For example, the article by Ahmed Noorani, “Will President Zardari’s name be included in NRO list?”, is less a news report than an argument for removing the President.

But more than simply being speculation and predictions, the vast majority of news articles and commentaries are based on a premise that the NRO list is accurate. But is it? Judging by some news reports, that is not decided.

An article that appeared in The News yesterday reminds readers that the original NRO list contained many errors.

The original NRO list that was revealed to the media and later submitted to the Supreme Court by the then state minister for law Afzal Sandhu proved to be full of many mistakes. “Some of names were included with malafide intentions in the list by the NAB officials who owed their positions to General Musharraf’s era,” NAB sources said and added the NAB was now defending cases in the courts, but did not have sufficient grounds to defend its actions.

It is worth mentioning here that Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar had to face embarrassment at the hands of some over zealous bureaucrats when his name was put on the exit control list and he had to cancel an official visit to China. Ahmad Mukhtar’s name was also included in the list of NRO beneficiaries but later both the NAB and the Law Ministry admitted that his name was included by mistake.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to US Husain Haqqani’s inclusion in the list is also unique in the sense that the NAB had not filed any reference against him. Investigation agencies never had sufficient basis for prosecution against him, but still his name was included on the basis of an inquiry that was started in 1997. Haqqani was arrested in 1999 on the then accountability czar Saifur Rehman’s orders and kept in detention for more than 70 days.

Haqqani had immediately challenged the inclusion of his name in the list in the Lahore High Court where his writ petition is being heard now. The NAB has admitted in the court that his name was included by mistake by NAB’s legal department.

This should be no surprise, actually. We have already seen acquittals of so-called NRO “beneficiaries” such as Usman Farooqui earlier this year, and the LHC is even asking NAB to show documents explaining why some people were included on the list in the first place.

Despite NAB’s own admission that the NRO list contains inaccuracies and mistakes – even after the national embarrassment caused when Ahmad Mukhtar was refused to leave on an official visit – the media continues to write about the issue as if it were an accepted conclusion that the names included on the list were guilty.

The truth is that the media seems to have a memory problem. This could be because its short attention span makes it forget what it has already reported, or it could be because some reporters are ignoring facts to promote a political agenda. Either way, it is an example of the media repeating past mistakes and not giving proper reporting on an important issue.

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  1. How this “Game” was played in 1990, read


    NOTE: On August 9, 1990, another one of the country’s short-lived experiments with democracy came to an end. While “The Empire Strikes Back” published in the August 1990 issue of the Herald describes the events that took place on the day of Benazir Bhutto’s ouster, “The Invisible War (See Herald Monthly Issue of January 2008, page 87), printed in the same issue, provides an analysis of the factors that led to the sacking of her government. [Courtesy Monthly Herald Pakistan January 2008, page 84-85-86]

    The Invisible War by Abbas Nasir [Monthly Herald January 2008]

    Was there a covert war raging between a sophisticated intelligence agency and the PPP government? And did the crisis in the Gulf have anything to do with Ms Bhutto’s ouster from office? After the dust begins to settle over the dissolution of the assemblies, it becomes clear that Benazir Bhutto’s ouster was directly linked to the fact that the army’s patience with her government had run out. Differences between the two had fuelled much media speculations for the entire duration of the PPP’s 20 month tenure. Issues as diverse as Sindh, Kashmir, postings, corruption, and Afghanistan had caused much tension between the ruling party and the military establishment. But the differences were more deep-rooted than a mere disagreement on some issues. It was clear, from the very outset, that the army had very reluctantly allowed Ms Bhutto to take office, and motivated every move and mistake she made during her 20 – Month Rule.

    General Retd. Mirza Aslam Beg – The distrust between the Prime Minister and the army has never been too far below the surface and dates back to the period when Ms Bhutto’s father, the executed Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was in power. According to one analyst, “The defence establishment would have never allowed Benazir to come to power, had it not been for the pressure exerted by the US. Reluctantly, the army bowed to this pressure – probably because Washington controlled its purse strings” The attitude of the military towards the PPP and its leader was clearly evident during the run-up to the elections in 1988. One unreported incident from that period perfectly reflects this deep distrust. Knowledgeable sources maintain that a high official of the intelligence set-up came to Karachi just before polls, and convened a meeting of all the candidates contesting from the Lyari constituency, where Ms Bhutto was a candidate. “We can beat her if all of you agree to withdraw and put-up a single candidate against her, “he was quoted as suggesting to them. But such was the foresight of this hotshot that not only did most of the candidates not agree to withdraw, but the PPP leader subsequently won from the area with a margin of votes that six times that of the votes won by all her opponents put together. Another official of the same agency has been credited with the formation of IJI and sources say, he was largely responsible for masterminding the anti-PPP campaign in Punjab, which was to work with devastating effect both before and after elections.

    Lt General Retd Hamid Gul – However, on coming to power, Ms Bhutto secured one of the few concessions from the military establishment when she successfully pushed for the removal from the Inter Services Intelligence Directorate of its then Director General Major General Hamid Gul and his Assistant Director General (Internal Security) Brigadier Imtiaz Ahmad. But the removal of Hamid Gul had sting in its tail. Ms Bhutto was not chastened by the fact that the military had forced her to allow the promotion of the ISI strongman, or his posting to the strategically important corps in Multan. Following the appointment as DG of a Benazir nominee, Lt. General (Retd) Shamsur Rehman Kallue, the powers of the Political Cell of the ISI, working in the guise of the Internal Security (IS), were drastically curtailed. However a serving Major General, Khalid Latif Mughal was posted to run the Afghanistan and Kashmir policies. Mughal, formally, and Hamid Gul informally, continued to have a major say in both these spheres. While the Prime Minister was willing, perhaps, to allow the army a free hand in handling the Afghanistan and Kashmir policies as a price to keep herself in power, her government appeared to have relaxed because the army’s earlier meddling in domestic politics through the ISI had been curtailed. But a couple of transfers and postings were hardly enough to ensure a pliant military high command. And a determined army was hardly something that the inept Benazir Administration could tame quite easily. Although the political cell at the ISI was closed down, the army launched a two-pronged offensive primarily through the media, which to the credit of the PPP government, remained free all through the party’s short, but eventful, tenure in office.

    Lt General Retd. Asad Durrani – While on one hand, Brigadier Riazullah, an articulate and charming officer, moved into the barracks outside the GHQ which houses the Inter Services Public Relations Directorate, another officer, known for his competence and pleasant demeanor, occupied an office inside the walls of the GHQ. This was the Director General of the Military Intelligence, Major General Asad Durrani. Brigadier Riazullah’s task was to execute General Aslam Beg’s policy of “glasnost” – to wash from the minds of the public, through the media, the negative image of the armed forces had acquired, following the more than a decade long period of Martial Law. The new face of the army was much in evidence when it launched its biggest ever maneuvers – Zarb-e-Momin – in the winter of 1989-90. As a result of an unprecedented media blitz, the “professional soldier” image that the army was beaming out began to sink into public mind slowly but, surely.

    Brig (Retd) Imtiaz – Side by side with the rehabilitation of its image, the army (with ammunition provided by the antics of the PPP government itself) set about destroying the populist aura of the PPP and succeeded in making corruption the most talked about subject in the country. The army was aided in this endeavor, of course, by the blundering Johnny-come- latelies who came to represent the public face of the PPP. It is clear that a great deal of homework was done, in gathering as well as fabricating evidence against prominent PPP members and the Prime Minister’s husband. Mush of this information and disinformation was handed over mainly to the right-wing journalists belonging to some key papers and periodicals, who saw themselves as the natural allies of the army, having enjoyed close ties with the Zia Regime. At least three people were assigned to feed corruption stories to the foreign media. The DG, MI also adopted an increasingly high-profile role. Although traditionally the DG, MI is hardly someone, given the sensitivity of his assignment, to come before newsmen, the balding Durrani is understood to have personally briefed more than one journalist about the lack of sincerity on the part of the PPP in handling the Sindh situation. This same officer reportedly maintained contact with dissident PPP members of parliament and dictated strategy to them. Similarly, in Karachi, where the MI had grown to many hundreds-strong since the early 80s, Brigadier Jamil and a couple of other officers personally briefed a select band of newsmen time and again, offering them “evidence” of corrupt and criminal activities of the government. While in Hyderabad these stories were leaked by a Colonel Ayub, in Lahore the main channel of contact with the media was a top aide to fromer Chief Minister, Nawaz Sharif, who coordinated closely with a group of Pro-Estbalishment Right Wing Journalists planted in different papers and periodicals.

    Masood Sharif Khan Khattak (Former Director General Intelligence Bureau – Pakistan) – And this was not all. There was something more deep-rooted going on, as an interview with at least one Corps Commander revealed. The gentleman insisted on blaming a PPP minister for planting stories against him although this was not the case as independent investigations subsequently revealed. To this day, however, it is not clear who was briefing the Corps Commander on the “enemy-like” attitude of PPP ministers. The urgency of the army’s desire to see Benazir removed is clear from an article by a journalist, reputed to have very close ties with the army bosses. The report, published soon after the fall of the Bhutto government, alleged that while Ms Bhutto was an opposition leader, her mail used to leave the country courtesy the diplomatic pouch of the Indian mission. The journalist proceeded, without naming sources, to question the patriotism of the elected prime minister. But despite this deep rooted prejudice, the army tolerated Benazir Bhutto for 20 months. What then was the catalyst to her being pushed out of the office in a “constitutional coup”? Knowledgeable quarters point towards two factors that may have served as the proverbial straw that broke the Camel’s back. The first of these was the Alam Jan Mehsud incident. Lt General Mahsud, the Corps Commander at Lahore enjoyed the reputation of being a top class professional soldier. His excellent strategy during the course of Zarb-e-Momin, defence experts say, earned him the reputation of “Pakistan’s Rommel”. The Prime Minister reportedly conveyed her desire to the GHQ to grant Mahsud an extension, and post him as the Deputy Chief of Army Staff – an act that military establishment viewed as direct interference in the army affairs.

    Ghulam Ishaq Khan (Former President of Pakistan) What they suspected was that Ms. Bhutto was placing a well known dove in a strategic position as a potential successor to the present COAS. The army’s response was swift. A replacement, Lt General Ashraf, was rushed to Lahore and, the day after, Mahsud’s photograph was carried by various newspapers, receiving the Corps Shield as a farewell gift. Within days, Mahsud had left for a month long holiday to the tribal areas Waziristan, to spend time in his home village. Knowledgeable quarters say it was in the wake of the Mahsud incident, that a Corps Commander tried to convey to the government that the army was planning to move against it. He reportedly said that the military leadership complained to the President that Ms Bhutto was attempting to foment “divisions” in the rank of the army. The army, which has prided itself on its discipline and the unity in its ranks even during the imposition of Martial Law, couldn’t possibly be expected to tolerate what it perceived to be an attempt to divide it. The other important factor that could have acted as a catalyst was the tilt in the balance of relations between the Pakistan Army and the US administration. Ironically, Ms Bhutto has alwayslooked towards the US as a staunch ally. While it is true that the US administration had much to do with the restoration of democracy in Pakistan – as well as the nomination of Ms. Bhutto as prime minister after her party emerged as the largest single party in the elections – it is equally true her party emerged as the largest single party in the elections – it is equally true that the US strategic interest vis a vis Gulf, are far more crucial to it then romantic notions of third world democracy. Well informed sources in Islamabad say that on a number of occasions in the past, Washington had told the army that any attempt to brush aside democracy would be met with a stiff reaction, including a cut off in aid – particularly now that the Soviets had vacated Afghanistan. Given Pakistan’s tension with India, the defence establishment was hardly likely to jeopardize relations with its key hardware supplier.

    US Ambassador Robert Oakley – However, with Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and the threat of an onward march into Saudi Arabia, the US apparently needed the support of the Pakistan Army. In fact, US Ambassador Robert Oakley told a meeting at the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad, just two days after Benazir’s ouster, that Saudi Arabia had requested troops from Pakistan. Although the once again retained Foreign Minister Sahibzada Yaqub Khan, as well as an army spokesman, denied having received any such request, the US envoy has neither retracted nor clarified his earlier statement. Although there has been no report yet of Pakistani troops being sent to Saudi Arabia, eyewitnesses say that they recently saw at least a couple of giant US Air force transport (C-141) aircraft taking off from a Pakistan Air Force Base. To further confirm American acquiescence in recent events in Pakistan, there was highly significant meeting between the three services chiefs, Bob Oakley and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairman of the latter’s headquarters in Chaklala, Rawalpindi. This meeting took place on the weekend preceding the dissolution of the assemblies. In it, sources say, the issue was discussed threadbare, after which admiral Sirohey quietly left for Multan on a routine inspection tour.

    The State Department’s quick reaction is hardly attributable to any efficiency at Foggy Bottom. It is clear that prior information was available to them – the denial to the contrary of a USIS official in Islamabad notwithstanding. One thing, however, is clear. The haze of disinformation is still as thick as any fog. But keeping in view the well-oiled machinery that the army has at its disposal, its main political rival, the PPP appears to have been knocked out and has little chance of staging a quick or easy comeback. But whether the army comes out in the open or prefers operate through remote control, only the course of events in the next few months will tell. [Courtesy Monthly Herald Pakistan January 2008, page 87-88-89] REFERENCES: Kamal Azfar & Threats To The Democracy in Pakistan.


  2. The Empire Strikes Back by Abbas Nasir [Monthly Herald January 2008]

    August 6, 1655 hours… a group of army officers-whose men have already thrown a ring around the Prime Minister’s Secretariat – enter the multistory white building and advise all the staff to leave and not to return until further orders…

    A similar scene is being enacted at most other key buildings and installations in Islamabad as battle ready troops jump out of their gun-mounted trucks to surround the radio and television stations, the Directorate of Intelligence Bureau, the Federal Investigation Agency, important ministries and, of course, the erstwhile Sindh House – the official residence of the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

    Jawans and officers of the FF Regiment, and contingents from a battalion of the Special Services Group take up positions near the parliament building as the president prepares to address a press conference that has just been announced. The high-profile army presence in the Federal Capital leaves a little doubt in any mind that President Ghulam Ishaq Khan’s announcement has the solid backing of the country’s powerful defence forces..

    By this time, everybody in Islamabad, with the exception, perhaps, of the Pakistan’s People’s Party government has a fair idea of what is happening. The turbulent 20-month honeymoon between PPP and the establishment is all but over. A little after five, the President administers the last rites at a press conference at the Aiwan-e-Sadr. The Empire – which allowed the PPP to take office following polls in November 1988 – has finally decided to strike back.

    After reading from a lengthy charge sheet, President Ishaq quotes a number of constitutional clauses and then announces the dissolution of the national assembly and the dismissal of Benazir Bhutto’s government. Unlike the speech of the late General Ziaul Haq on May 29 1988 – in which he announced the dismissal of Junejo’s Government – Ishaq steps doesn’t surprise anyone. The action comes on the heels of a multitude of corruption scandals, the government’s abject failure in arresting the Sindh situation, reports of serious differences with the army, as well as acrimonious confrontation between the Centre and the Provinces of Punjab and Balochistan.

    Shortly afterwards, the nominated Caretaker Prime Minister Ghulam Mustaf Jatoi takes oath of office, fulfilling a long-standing ambition, and four ministers are sworn in simultaneously. There are two surprise inclusions in the cabinet – Rafi Raza, a man known in the past primarily as an aide to Zoulfikar Ali Bhutto, and for his strong US Connections. Raza has returned following a long absence in the political wilderness. The second surprise is the inclusion of the controversial Ghulam Mustafa Khar, on whom the establishment is reported to have a stack of files as high as the Margalla Hills.

    The two other ministers – Illahi Bux Soomro, who was a minister in the Martial Law period but was pushed out into the cold after having lost in the 1988 elections, Senator Sartaj Aziz, also a minister in the Zia period – are both known Zia loyalists.

    Meanwhile, the Chief of Army Staff, General Mirza Aslam Beg, comes out with the quote of the moment when mobbed by journalists following the oath taking ceremony. “We are not involved in politics. We have never been involved in politics. We will never be involved in politics.”

    Within a matter of hours, Sindh Governor Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim refuses Ishaq’s request to dissolve the provincial assembly and is replaced by Mahmoud A. Haroon , former interior minister in General Zia’s Martial Law government, who then signs the dissolution order. Jam Sadiq Ali, until days earlier a staunch Benazir Bhutto supporter, is sworn in as caretaker chief minister of the troubled province.

    Frontier Governor, Amir Gulistan Janjua, meanwhile sends the Sherpao government and the legislature packing, and Mir Afzal Khan, an industrial tycoon and a former Z.A. Bhutto government minister, takes over as the caretaker chief executive.

    For the opposition-led provincial governments, a more dignified and, perhaps cosmetic exit if facilitated. In the Punjab, Mian Nawaz Sharif is not sacked and give time to advise dissolution to the new governor, Mian Muhammad Azhar, the Lahore mayor and a close relative of the Punjab strongman himself, who replaces General (Retired) Tikka Khan. Meanwhile a close associate of Nawaz Sharif, Ghulam Haider Wyne, takes oath of office as caretaker Chief Minister of the most populous province of the country. Mir Humayun Khan Marri, the son-in-law of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti replaces him as Chief Minister after the latter sends advice to the Governor, General (Retired) Muhammad Musa, to dissolve the Balochistan assembly.

    Meanwhile, in the Federal Capital itself, correspondents who rush to file their dispatches, find all telex, fax and international dialing lines out of order. The lines are not restored till 2230 hours. In effect, Islamabad is cut off from the rest of the world until the new order is safely put into place. Benazir Bhutto gives her reaction at a press conference at 1930 hours. She says she has been ousted in a “Constitutional Coup”, but informs journalist that President Ishaq’s hand was forced. Asked who forced the president to dismiss her government, she responds, “I leave that to your imagination.” After the press conference, a PTV crew that has covered the vent, hands over the video to an army officer at the gate of Sindh House.

    Inside Sindh House itself, the STD lines are cut off and restored about seven times and the T&T authorities inform an aide to Ms. Bhutto that they are only following orders. As the just-ousted Prime Minister sits down to dinner, some party people, mainly former ministers, drop in. She picks up the phone, tells her ADC to send in more food, then laughs at his response and puts the phone down. Benazir Bhutto turns round and apologizes to her guests for not being able to lay out a proper dinner for them. The kitchen staff – as well as the crockery – have been summoned out of Sindh House. Even the next day, lunch is eaten out of boxes ordered from a caterer.

    While the troops clear out of Sindh House and the TV and Radio Stations the next morning, the PM Secretariat, as well as the DIB and FIA offices are visited by a steady stream of army men – some in plainclothes – for several more days. Hundreds of files are taken away from the premises, no doubt to reappear as a damning indictment of the fallen government. Meanwhile, Major (Retd.) Masud Sharif, the Joint Director of the IB, and later, six of his staffers, are reportedly arrested and taken to an unknown destination for interrogation.

    Two days after his nomination as Caretaker Prime Minister, Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi addresses a press conference and lays a great deal of emphasis on the accountability of the previous government. The forthcoming elections, that are barely 77 days away, are played down somewhat, fuelling much speculation and reviving bitter memories of the past. The same day, in Karachi, Benazir Bhutto finally explodes at a press conference and charges that the Military Intelligence (MI) was responsible for her ouster. She goes to the extent of alleging that the draft of the President’s speech was prepared by the JAG (Judge Advocate General) branch of the Pakistan Army at the GHQ.

    Either naively, or reflecting her own political compulsions, she absolves the Chief of Army Staff and the Corps Commanders of any blame, thus distancing them from the MI and JAG Branch, and perhaps leaving the door ajar for any future compromises.

    Those in control now also seem to be in a hurry to acquire more and more bargaining chips. Significantly half a dozen persons reputed to be very close to Asif Zardari, are picked up in pre-dawn raids. As their interrogation begins, there are reports of deals and offer of immunity from prosecution. Events take a mysterious turn, as Begum Nusrat Bhutto leaves the country in a departure that is still unexplained. In the wake of the ouster of Benazir, numerous theories are being floated in the Federal Capital, with conspiracy theorists in hot demand. From deals between the PPP and the army, culminating in the exit of the Bhuttos from the Pakistani political scene, to a grand design by the army to completely discredit civilian politicians through appointments like those of caretaker set-up – all kinds of scenarios are being discussed and debated in Islamabad. Democracy in Pakistan, it is clear, has entered a critical new phase. REFERENCES: Kamal Azfar & Threats To The Democracy in Pakistan.


  3. An Open Letter to Mian Nawaz Sharif Friday, August 28, 2009

    An Open Letter to Mian Nawaz Sharif
    Mian Nawaz Sharif,
    Raiwind Palace &
    H-180 Model Town,

    Dear Sharif Sahib,

    I hope you are doing well? It seems you are, you look young everday. I remember you as Prime Minister of Islamic Republic of Pakistan very well. You were the youngest one if I am not wrong? And indeed a very active one.

    I will not waste your time, Mian Sahib as a student of history, I saw you coming to power as an alternate to Benazir Bhutto’s government as an enterprising leader who enjoyed support from the military. Earlier you came in prominence with the slogans like, “Jaag Punjabi Jaag” and became finance minister of Punjab taking oath from General Gillani under another dictator General Zia ul Haq who publicly branded you as his own ‘son’. In 1990 , I remember you winning 92 out of 105 parliamentary seats in Punjab alone defeating Pakistan Democratic Alliance who relied on it’s Sindh bastion. You were appointed as the youngest prime minister ever in December, 1990 and indeed as Ishaq Dar claims (much like Manmohan Singh’s Economic Policies in 1990’s) set the country on the path of economic liberalism – steps which should be acknowledged but then around 1991 you my dear prime minister, relaxed exchange controls and privatized 89 public corporations where atleast more than half of the 89 corporations by directly and indirectly owned by Itefaq Group – a company your father, owned.

    A few months later you showed your loyalties to General Zia and “re-launched” Islamization policy and passed Shari’ah Bill passed in May, 1991. During this time, those who accuse you being a power-hungry autocrat, accuse you of proposing 12th amendment authorizing yourself to take control of a province.
    Earlier in 1990’s Late former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto who signed the ground-breaking Charter of Democracy alleged in her book that you took money from Osama Bin Laden. Khaled Khawaja a former ISI spymaster who had spend time with you writes in his book a remarkable communication between you and Osama Bin Laden.
    According to Khawaja, Nawaz replied, ‘I love jihad’. Unimpressed, Osama stood up and pointing to a pillar in the room said, “Yes, you may love jihad, but your love for jihad is this much,” indicating a very small part of the pillar. ‘Your love for your children is this much,” pointing to a larger portion. “And your love for your parents is this much,” he continued, pointing towards the largest portion. “I agree that you love jihad, but this love is the smallest in proportion to your other affections in life.” However, to Osama’s dismay the argument went over Nawaz Sharif’s head.

    Khawaja revealed that Osama gave Nawaz just a minuscule of the Rs 500 million cash that he wanted, but more importantly, for the Pakistani, what he received in kind proved to a virtual windfall.
    My former prime minister, these are serious allegations – something you should publicly come out and defend. Sir, there’s obviously a serious issue of atleast two bank transfers from ISI to your andJaved Hashmi’s account of Rs. 6 million and Rs.50 million somewhere around early nineties – details and documentary evidence of which has been with the petition lodged at Supreme Court by General Asad Durrani on April, 20, 1994.

    Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif it is now alleged that you took part and give out consent to kill more than 15,000 members, voters, sympathizers of MQM during the infamous, “Operation Cleanup” with the establishment. I remember during those time, you gave out strong statements against MQM and showed MQM’s men on PTV who were obviously drugged to give out confessional statements against “MQM’s involvement with the Jinnahpur Maps” – something which after 17 years been exposed by your closest ally Brigadier Imtiaz. Brigadier Imtiaz, former IB chief who reported directly to you apart from actually giving out details of “Operational Midnight Jackel” where you, Mian Nawaz Sharif with the helped of establishment conspired to dislodged an elected democratic government – certainly an act against the State which constitutes high treason and merits Article 6. You first government finally fell prey to the vary people whom you conspired with Ghulam Ishaq Khan then president who dismissed your government on grounds of corruption and law & order but the Supreme Court decision in an unprecedented decision restored you which shows that : Supreme Court always had good relations with you. Your government didn’t lasted long and you had to announce for an early election which paved way for Late Benazir Bhutto to come to power.

    In February, 1997 elections due to one of the lowest turn outs in history of Pakistan which was only 35.92% because of boycott of virtually all major parties and where PPP voters didn’t came out, you were elected Prime Minister of Pakistan for the second time through a crushing majority where you won 134 seats out of 204 and got powers to amend constitution and true to your character of “more and more power” and perhaps learning from history: you amended the constitution.

    On April Fools Day, 1997 the two chambers passed the 13th Amendment over turning the 8th Amendment where 58 (2) which allowed the president to dissolve the NA was annulled; Article 101 obliged the president henceforth to consult the prime minister before nominating governors; Paragraph 112 (2b) which gave governors the power to dissolve provincial assembles was abolished ; Paragraph 243 (9) (2) was modified so the president lost his discretionary power to appoint military leaders and became the most powerful Prime Minister in the history of Pakistan.
    They say that with power comes responsibility but you Mian Sahib, systematically used yout authority to undermine the opposition in defiance of the separation of powers. The judiciary which you now champion was your first victim where you all of a sudden reduced the number of judges of Supreme Court from 17 to 12 and violated Article 190 of Constitution but you Mian Sahib, blackmailed the nation, judiciary and president by passing a motion with the view to making the president dismiss the chief justice, Sajjad Ali Shah. It was during this time that a mob attacked Supreme Court which your spokesman, claimed to be “the anger of people”.

    During all this quarrel President and Chief Justice left offices and you again took the advantage and got Rafiq Tarar a friend of your father as President of Pakistan. All this time Itefaq Foundation grew to be a multi-billion company. You brother ran the province of Punjab and you ran Pakistan as your family business. While your brother was running the affairs of Punjab and his politices like those of Islamabad largely served the Punjabi’s interests and business interest in general. Turning his back on the calls for austerity which the IMF and stipulated as a condition for your latest loan, Finance Minister Sartaj Aziz in fact announced that from 28th March there would be a supply policy based on tax xoncessions to the employers.
    My dear former prime ministers, your enemies also issued a list of loans which you defaulted during that time. Kindly confirm that either you and your businesses defaulted on following loans or not?
    ITTEFAQ FOUNDRIES (PVT) LTD Rs.18 carors, 84 lakhs, 41,000
    ITTEFAQ BROTHERS (PVT) LTD Rs. 12 cr, 87 lakhs
    BROTHERS STEEL MILL Rs.9 cr. 52 lakhs.
    ILYAS ENTERPRISES 56.753,000
    RAMZAN SUGAR MILLS LTD 146,697,000
    Prime Minister this is indeed serious allegations something which you should come out personally and not ask your advisers who are now seen as “DEVILS ADVOCATE” and nothing less.

    And then as if you didn’t had enough of power, you somehow introduced 15th Amendment on the 9th of Octuber, 1998 and tried becoming “Ameer-ul-Momineen” in the name of Islam apart by taking name of imposing Shiria law and powers to dictate whats right and wrong. I also remember your treatment to the press and freedom of speech during those time where you limited Jang Newspaper to only one page apart from arresting lot of journalists.
    Every politician, like any other celebrity, has his or her tryst with destiny. Mian Sahib, this is my first letter of series of letter. I understand you have physically, mentally and spiritually reformed a lot but you should now seriously come clear yourself in public and apologize for what you have done or at least clear out the misconceptions if it is a misconception at all.
    I look forward for your reply at

    Yours Truly,
    Ali Kamran Chishti.

  4. Mehrangate Scandal Friday, August 28, 2009

    Mehran bank scandal also known as “Mehrangate” was a major political scandal in Pakistan between 1990-1994 in which senior politicians and political parties were found to have been bribed by military and intelligence officers to prevent the re-election and destabilize the government of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

    Initiated by Chief of Army Staff Mirza Aslam Beg with the alleged support of President Ghulam Ishaq Khan payments of up to 140 million Rupees were done by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Chief Asad Durrani and Javed Nasir via the owner of Mehran Bank Yunus Habib. Intelligence funds were deposited in Mehran bank in 1992 propping up what was an insolvent bank as a favour for its owners help in loaning money to the Inter-Services Intelligence in 1990 that was used in the creation of the right wing alliance Islami Jamhoori-Ittehad and bankrolling the campaigns of many opponents of the PPP.
    The scandal subsequently broke after the new ISI Chief Lt. Gen Javed Ashraf Qazi decided to transfer the intelligence fund back to state owned banks as per official rules. Mehran Bank was unable to return the money due to its poor financial state and collapsed. It was later discovered that large sums had been siphoned of to 39 fictitious parties.

    In 1995, Mehran Bank was amalgamated with the National Bank of Pakistan and in 1996 the NBP had to make full provision for Mehran’s liabilities which resulted in a net loss that year to the bank of Rs 1.260 billion. .

    A Supreme Court Petition was lodged by Air Marshal Asghar Khan with the bank transfer details. I wonder as to if Chief Justice of Pakistan could actually take up the case or not?

    On April 20, 1994, giving details about the payments made by Mr Habib to generals, politicians and political parties, the then Interior Minister, Naseerullah Babar, told the National Assembly that the main beneficiary of his largesse was former army chief General Mirza Aslam Beg who received Rs140 million.

    Key politicians named as recipients of ISI funds included Jam Sadiq Ali (Rs70 million from Habib Bank and Rs150 million from Mehran Bank), Journalist Altaf Hussein Qureshi (Rs.20 million); Yousuf Memon for Ijaz-ul Haq and Javed Hashmi (Rs.50 million); Nawaz Sharif (Rs6 million); former Sindh chief minister Muzaffar Hussain Shah through his secretary (Rs13 million), MQM Haqiqi (Rs5 million), former Sports Minister Ajmal Khan (Rs1.4 million), Jam Mashooq Ali (Rs3.5 million), Liaqat Jatoi (Rs1 million), Dost Mohammad Faizi (Rs1 million), and Jam Haider (Rs 2 million).

    Yunus Habib was arrested on April 7, 1994 for misappropriation in the sale proceeds of the Dollar Bearer Certificates. On Dec 14, 1995, Younus Habib was convicted of fraud and embezzlement and given a sentence of 10 years rigorous imprisonment by the Special Court for Offences in Banks in Sindh.

  5. Ittefaq, Redco, AWT among top defaulters, NA told By Our Staff Reporter September 2, 2003 Tuesday Rajab 4, 1424

    ISLAMABAD, Sept 1: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Ittefaq Foundries, former Ehtesab Bureau chief Saifur Rehman’s Redco Textile Mills, Uch Power, Army Welfare Trust and Bayindir Construction Tourism Trade and Industries Corporation are among the top 99 loan defaulters of the country, the National Assembly was informed on Monday.

    Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz in his written reply to a question by People’s Party Parliamentarians member Syed Naveed Qamar informed the house that the list contained the information till Feb 1.

    The list was provided from the records of State Bank’s banking supervision department, credit information bureau.

    The names of the borrowers are: Fateh Textile Mills, Uch Power, ARY Traders, Ilyas H. Usman, Spinning Machinery Company of Pakistan, Northern Polyethylene, Army Welfare Trust, Anwarzaib White Cement, Ittefaq Foundries, Mohib Textiles Mills, Kohinoor Industries Faisalabad, Bela Chemical Industries, Resources Development Corporation, Karachi Development Authority, Abdul Shakoor Ismail Kaloodi, Ghee Corporation of Pakistan, Mekran Fisheries, National Fibres, Kiran Sugar Mills, Chaudhry Cables, Sarela Cement, Faruki Pulps Mills, Marhaba Textile Mills, State Engineering, Murtuza Haseeb Textile Mills, Mehr Dastagir Spinning Mills, Zarak Textile Mills, Dadabhoy Cement Industries, Kohinoor Edible Oils, Pakland Cement, West Pakistan Tank’s Terminal, Global Marketing, Redco Textile Mills, Bachani Sugar Mills, Punjab Cooperative Board for Liquidation, Service Fabrics, World Automobiles, Pioneer Cement, Quarel Cassettes, Aziz Spinning Mills, Kashmir Sugar Mills, Utility Stores Corporation, Bawany Sugar Mills, Chaudhry Wire Rope Industries, National Fructose Industries, Cofcot Textile Mills, Mian Mohammad Sugar Mills, Tharparker Sugar Mills, Pakpattan Dairies, Consolidated Sugar Mills, Sun Flow CIT-RUSS, Stone Craft Industries, Trans Mobile, Haral Textile Mills, Firdous Spinning and Weaving Mills, Crystal Chemicals, Pak China Fertilizer Company, Tri-Star Polyester, National Motors, Bilal Spinning Mills, Zenith Coating, Ravi Agri and Dairy Products, Regency Textile Mills, Qand Ghar, Dannemann Fabrics, Marmitex Industries, Pearl Fabrics, Millrock Quarrying, Tristar Shipping Lines, Dadabhoy Energy Supply, Spinghar Textile Mills, Pangrio Sugar Mills, Hala Spinning Mills, Synthetic Chemicals, R.K. Textile, Raja Weaving Mills, Anoud Power Generation, Sunshine Jute Mills, Pakistan Concrete Products, Ghandhara Nissan, Pak Exports, Crescent Knitwear, Mak Dying and Finishing Mills, Multan Edible Oil, Mumtaz Shahbaz Textile Mills, Mohib Exports, Ansari Sugar Mills, Consolidated Spinning and Textile Mills, Mohib Fabric Industries, Spencer Distribution, International Ghee Industries, Indus Fruit Products, Aleemsons Weaving Dying and Printing, Ittefaq Bros, Bayindir Construction Tourism Trade and Industries, Montgomery Modern Flour and Rice Mills, Hilal Corporation, Nimir Industrial Chemicals and Saadi Cement.

    Replying to another question, the minister said there were 491,372 defaulters of different banks and development financial institutions, of whom 7,981 were defaulters of Rs1 million and above.

  6. Rs3 bn loan outstanding since ’98 – Ahsan terms it ‘technical default’, no loan write-off ever sought Sunday, December 20, 2009 By Rauf Klasra

    ISLAMABAD: A loan of Rs3 billion against the Sharif brothers remains outstanding despite a lapse of about ten years when the physical assets of four industrial units — Ittefaq Foundries, Brothers Steel, Ittefaq Brothers and Ilyas Enterprises — were surrendered to nine lending banks, who haven’t got a penny back since 1998. The Sharif brothers were lauded in the national press in 1998 for surrendering their physical assets to nine banks but in actual terms, these banks did not get a single penny back after one of their (Sharif’s) own directors moved the court and got a stay order against selling of these assets. The stay order in favour of Ittefaq Brothers remains effective till date. Meanwhile, the representatives and legal experts of these nine banks are said to have recently met at Lahore to decide a new course of action to recover the loans from the Sharif brothers who have been shown as “defaulters” of the banks. The National Bank of Pakistan is the worst affected bank with a stuck up loan of Rs1.5 billion. Earlier, in his capacity as Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif in a highly charged televised address to the nation, had announced to surrender all the physical assets of Itefaq Foundries, Brothers Steels, Ittefaq Brothers and Ilyas Enterprises to the nine banks, whom the Sharifs reportedly owed Rs3.09billion. The process of selling the Ittefaq Foundries was stopped when one of the relatives of Sharif Brothers moved an application in the Lahore High Court in 2005 and the matter is still pending with the courts without any payment to the concerned banks.

    According to official documents available with The News, in 1998, the directors of Ittefaq Group offered to surrender these units to settle the claims of all the banks instead of making cash payments to settle their accounts. Nawaz Sharif as the prime minister had then announced to hand over these assets to the Lahore High Court to monitor the sale of assets of his units. The names of directors of Ittefaq Foundries are Mian Tariq Shafi, Mian Javed Shafi, Mian Abbas Shafi, Mian Riaz Miraj, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, Mian Yousuf Aziz and Mian Nawaz Sharif. Likewise, the directors of Brothers Steels included Mian Yousuf Aziz, Mian Yahya Siraj, Mrs Nusrat Shahbaz, Mian Naseem Tariq, Mian Memoona Idris, and Hussain Barkat. The directors of Ittefaq Brothers were Mian SHahbaz Sharif, Mian Mohamamd Idris and Mian Pervaiz Shafi.

    According to the official papers, Shahbaz Sharif and Nawaz Sharif owed bank loan of Rs1.5billion to National Bank of Pakistan, HBL Rs717million, UBL Rs340million, MCB Rs239million, Ist Punjab Mudraba Rs110millino, Bank of Punjab Rs61million, ADBP Rs58million, PICIC Rs17million and ICP Rs8million. The papers reveal that when the assets of these four defaulting units were surrendered to the LHC, in a bid to settle their claims all the banks unanimously agreed to get the court order to this deal. The documents showed that while hearing this application under section 284, the Lahore High Court ordered to constitute a committee comprising 3 members, a representative of banks, a chartered accountant and an advocate being the court representative. The mandate of the committee was to take the possession of the said units of the Ittefaq Group, to protect and preserve their assets and to auction them through court procedure. Under the said committee a bid of Rs2.48billion was received which was about half a billion rupees less than the actual loan money. The bid was submitted to the court in 2005. However, the final court order for auction has not been yet issued till today following the petition filed by some of directors of the Ittefaq Group. In 2006, committee member Iqbal Haider Rehman after his appointment as additional judge Lahore High Court was replaced by Pervaiz Akthar Malik, advocate and Kamran Amin NBP, due to change of his assignment in the banks, was replaced by Mr Salaim Ansar. Now this committee comprised Salim Ansar, Khajwa Abdul Qadir and Pervaiz Akhtar Malik. The official papers show that since filing of the bid of Rs2.48billion with the court in 2005, duly accepted by all the banks and recommended by the committee, the matter was still stuck up at the Lahore High Court for an order and despite all efforts of the committee, no progress has been made. The documents show that several meetings of the creditor banks had been convened by NBP at Lahore where the legal experts other than the dealing councils of the banks were also invited to consider the alternative course of action to expedite this matter. However, legal complications have arisen to such an extent that no concrete solution of the problem could so far be unanimously adopted. Talking to The News, president NBP Ali Raza confirmed that a sum of Rs1.5billion was outstanding against the Sharif brothers as the loan was yet to be settled. He said the physical assets were surrendered by the directors of these units but the court had yet to give its approval to the bidding price of Rs2.4billion obtained in 2005. Talking to The News, PML-N spokesman MNA Ahsan Iqbal said that there was an understanding with the banks in 1998 and the physical assets were handed over to them as part of “settlement”. He said actually the Sharif brothers never got their loans written off and the matter was declared “technical default” after the banks were put under pressure during the second government of PPP to seek the payment of loans prematurely. He said this was a sort of “technical default” and the cases later landed in the court.

  7. ‘Sharifs used paper mill to whiten money’ By Azaz Syed
    Friday, 13 Nov, 2009

    ISLAMABAD: The Musharraf government prepared a money laundering reference against PML-N leaders Mian Nawaz Sharif and Mian Shahbaz Sharif in 2000 on the basis of a statement recorded by one of their trusted lieutenants, Senator Ishaq Dar, according to a court document seen by Dawn here on Thursday.

    Senator Dar’s handwritten statement, given before a magistrate back on April 25, 2000, had alleged that Sharif brothers used the Hudaibya Paper Mills as cover for money laundering during the late 1990s.

    The reference was prepared on the orders of then president Pervez Musharraf, but it was shelved after the Sharif brothers went into exile in December of the same year.

    The Musharraf government tried to reopen the reference in 2007 after Nawaz Sharif announced his return to the country.

    The confessional statement of Senator Ishaq Dar was recorded before a district magistrate in Lahore. He was brought to the court from a jail by Basharat Shahzad, who was then serving as assistant director in the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

    According to legal experts, the senator’s deposition was an `irrevocable statement’ as had been recorded under section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

    Senator Ishaq Dar has always been regarded as one of the closest aides of the Sharif family, and is now also a relative as his son is married to Nawaz Sharif’s younger daughter.

    However, the NAB record clearly shows that back in 2000 he had agreed to give a written statement against the Sharifs about their alleged involvement in money laundering.

    The top PML-N leaders had hit a rough patch by then as some of their lieutenants were busy developing a new political system for Gen Pervez Musharraf after his Oct 1999 military coup.

    In the statement, Ishaq Dar accused Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif of money laundering in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case.

    At one point in the 43-page statement, Mr Dar said that on the instructions of Mian Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif, ‘I opened two foreign currency accounts in the name of Sikandara Masood Qazi and Talat Masood Qazi with the foreign currency funds provided by the Sharif family in the Bank of America by signing as Sikandara Masood Qazi and Talat Masood Qazi’.

    He said that all instructions to the bank in the name of these two persons were signed by him under the orders of ‘original depositors’, namely Mian Nawaz Sharif and Mian Shahbaz Sharif.

    ‘The foreign currency accounts of Nuzhat Gohar and Kashif Masood Qazi were opened in Bank of America by Naeem Mehmood under my instructions (based on instructions of Sharifs) by signing the same as Nuzhat Gohar and Kashif Masood Qazi.’

    The document shows Dar stated that besides these foreign currency accounts, a previously opened foreign currency account of Saeed Ahmed, a former director of First Hajvari Modaraba Co and close friend of Dar, and of Mussa Ghani, the nephew of Dar’s wife, were also used to deposit huge foreign currency funds provided by ‘the Sharif family’ to offer them as collateral to obtain different direct and indirect credit lines.

    Senator Dar had disclosed that the Bank of America, Citibank, Atlas Investment Bank, Al Barka Bank and Al Towfeeq Investment Bank were used under the instructions of the Sharif family.

    Interestingly enough, Ishaq Dar also implicated himself by confessing in court that he — along with his friends Kamal Qureshi and Naeem Mehmood — had opened fake foreign currency accounts in different international banks.

    Mr Dar said an amount of $3.725 million in Emirates Bank, $ 8.539 million in Al Faysal Bank and $2.622 million were later transferred in the accounts of the accounts Hudaibya Paper Mills.

    He said that the entire amount in these banks finally landed in the accounts of the paper mills.

    The Hudaibiya Paper Mills case is still pending in the National Accountability Bureau.
    If it is opened again, the Sharif brothers may be in for a rude shock: a confidant is to blame for the albatross around their necks.

    In this regard Dawn made repeated efforts to contact Senator Dar on telephone, but without luck as his mobile number was switched off and he did not reply to text messages.

    However, a PML-N spokesman Siddiq ul Farooq alleged that the signed statement was extracted from Mr Ishaq Dar under duress.

  8. Record of criminal cases withdrawn under NRO goes ‘missing’ By Tahir Siddiqui Thursday, 10 Jun, 2010

    KARACHI, June 9: The Sindh home department has washed its hands of the material and record of the criminal cases withdrawn under the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) saying that the files and summaries are no longer available.

    Well-placed sources told Dawn that the home secretary informed Sindh Prosecutor General Shahadat Awan through a letter on June 4 that his office could not produce the details of implementation of the criminal cases revived after the NRO was repealed on Dec 16, 2009 by the Supreme Court.

    On May 21, Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry had ordered the home secretary to provide a list of all criminal cases abolished under the NRO in Sindh. The order was issued following a meeting that was also attended by Justice Ghulam Rabbani and Chief Justice of the Sindh High Court Sarmad Jalal Osmany. The prosecutor general and the member inspection team of the SHC were also present.

    The meeting had discussed the progress of the implementation of the criminal cases revived after the NRO was repealed and the prosecutor general had assured the court that a complete report on the progress of all such cases would be provided as soon as possible.

    However, the sources said, the home secretary through his letter categorically stated that no material evidence — ie files, applications, orders abd approved summaries of the criminal cases withdrawn under the controversial ordinance — was available with the home department.

    They said that only 32 files submitted by retired Justice Roshan Essani to the home department and a few summaries were submitted to the prosecutor general office for the perusal of the apex court.

    The sources said that the few summaries available in the home department apparently did not bear any clear orders of the competent authority.

    They said that the home department suggested to the prosecutor general that the officials posted at that time, including then home secretary retired Brigadier Ghulam Mohammed Mohtaram, then Advocate General Khawaja Naveed, then prosecutor general Rana Shamim Ahmed and the section officer concerned might be summoned on ‘court’s notice’ to explain the whereabouts of the record pertaining to the withdrawal of the cases under the NRO.

    The sources said that the home department also suggested that the then adviser on home affairs, Waseem Akhtar, could also be asked to assist the court “as the whole working about these cases was done while he was the home affair advisor”.

    “This office is handicapped to produce before the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan anything beyond what is being submitted,” the home secretary’s letter said.

    According to a statement of Law Minister Ayaz Soomro, as many as 3,576 cases were withdrawn under the NRO in Sindh, among them, are included corruption and criminal cases.

    The NRO beneficiaries include politicians, bureaucrats, industrialists and capitalists.

    The controversial ordinance was promulgated by retired General Pervez Musharraf in order to grant amnesty to all those against whom ‘politically-motivated’ cases were registered between Jan 1, 1986 and Oct 12, 1999.

    According to official sources, over 3,500 criminal cases were registered only against different leaders and activists of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement in Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Mirpurkhas and Nawabshah.

    These cases were withdrawn as part of the reconciliation policy for which a review board was formed under the supervision of retired Justice Ghous Mohammad. The members of the board had included Law Secretary Ghulam Nabi Shah and the then AG Khwaja Naveed Ahmed.

    According to an official list, the highest number of cases were withdrawn against MQM chief Altaf Hussain — ie 72, including 31 on murder and 11 on attempt to murder charges.

    Dr Farooq Sattar, the MQM’s parliamentary leader in the National Assembly, occupied the second slot. A total of 23 cases were withdrawn against him, including five murder and four attempt to murder cases.

    The third biggest beneficiary appeared to be provincial minister Shoaib Bukhari of the MQM against whom 21 cases were withdrawn, including 16 on murder and attempt to murder charges.

  9. Recently and Intellectually Dishonestly, the Jang Group of Newspapers/The News and GEO TV released some part of Bob Woodward’s interview in their newspapers to gain some cheap political point but they forget to mention the complete contents… here it is:

    Obama: ‘We need to make clear to people that the cancer is in Pakistan’ By Bob Woodward Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, September 29, 2010; 3:03 AM

    President Obama dispatched his national security adviser, retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones, and CIA Director Leon Panetta to Pakistan for a series of urgent, secret meetings on May 19, 2010.

    Less than three weeks earlier, a 30-year-old U.S. citizen born in Pakistan had tried to blow up an SUV in New York City’s Times Square. The crude bomb – which a Pakistan-based terrorist group had taught him to make – smoked but did not explode. Only luck had prevented a catastrophe.

    “We’re living on borrowed time,” Jones told Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari at their meeting in Islamabad. “We consider the Times Square attempt a successful plot because neither the American nor the Pakistani intelligence agencies could intercept or stop it.”

    Jones thought that Pakistan – a U.S. ally with an a la carte approach of going after some terrorist groups and supporting others – was playing Russian roulette. The chamber had turned out to be empty the past several times, but Jones thought it was only a matter of time before there was a round in it.
    Fears about Pakistan had been driving President Obama’s national security team for more than a year. Obama had said toward the start of his fall 2009 Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy review that the more pressing U.S. interests were really in Pakistan, a nuclear power with a fragile civilian government, a dominant military and an intelligence service that sponsored terrorist groups.
    Not only did al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban operate from safe havens within Pakistan, but – as U.S. intelligence officials had repeatedly warned Obama – terrorist groups were recruiting Westerners whose passports would allow them to move freely in Europe and North America.

    Safe havens would no longer be tolerated, Obama had decided. “We need to make clear to people that the cancer is in Pakistan,” he declared during an Oval Office meeting on Nov. 25, 2009, near the end of the strategy review. The reason to create a secure, self-governing Afghanistan, he said, was “so the cancer doesn’t spread there.”

    Jones and Panetta had gone to Pakistan to tell Zardari that Obama wanted four things to help prevent a terrorist attack on U.S. soil: full intelligence sharing, more reliable cooperation on counterterrorism, faster approval of visas for U.S. personnel traveling to Pakistan and, despite past refusals, access to airline passenger data.

    If, God forbid, the SUV had blown up in Times Square, Jones told Zardari, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Should a future attempt be successful, Obama would be forced to do things that Pakistan would not like. “No one will be able to stop the response and consequences,” the security adviser said. “This is not a threat, just a statement of political fact.”

    Jones did not give specifics about what he meant. The Obama administration had a “retribution” plan, one of the most sensitive and secretive of all military contingencies. The plan called for bombing about 150 identified terrorist camps in a brutal, punishing attack inside Pakistan.

    Wait a second, Zardari responded. If we have a strategic partnership, why in the face of a crisis like the one you’re describing would we not draw closer together rather than have this divide us?

    Zardari believed that he had already done a great deal to accommodate his strategic partner, at some political risk. He had allowed CIA drones to strike al-Qaeda and other terrorist camps in parts of Pakistan, prompting a public outcry about violations of Pakistani sovereignty. He had told CIA officials privately in late 2008 that any innocent deaths from the strikes were the cost of doing business against senior al-Qaeda leaders. “Kill the seniors,” Zardari had said. “Collateral damage worries you Americans. It does not worry me.”

    As part of the partnership, the Pakistani military was billing the United States more than $2 billion a year to combat extremists operating in the remote areas near the Afghan border. But that money had not prevented elements of the Pakistani intelligence service from backing the two leading Afghan Taliban groups responsible for killing American troops in Afghanistan.
    “You can do something that costs you no money,” Jones said. “It may be politically difficult, but it’s the right thing to do if you really have the future of your country in mind. And that is to reject all forms of terrorism as a viable instrument of national policy inside your borders.”

    “We rejected it,” Zardari responded.

    Jones and Panetta had heard such declarations before. But whatever Pakistan was doing with the many terrorist groups operating inside its borders, it wasn’t good or effective enough. For the past year, that country’s main priority was taking on its homegrown branch of the Taliban, a network known as Tehrik-e-Taliban, or TTP.

    Panetta pulled out a “link chart,” developed from FBI interviews and other intelligence, that showed how TTP had assisted the Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad.

    “Look, this is it,” Panetta told Zardari. “This is the network. Leads back here.” He traced it out with his finger. “And we’re continuing to pick up intelligence streams that indicate TTP is going to conduct other attacks in the United States.”

    This was a matter of solid intelligence, Panetta said, not speculation.
    Jones and Panetta then turned to the disturbing intelligence about Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the group behind the horrific 2008 Mumbai attacks that had killed 175, including six Americans.

    Pakistani authorities are holding the commander of the Mumbai attacks, Jones said, but he is not being adequately interrogated and “he continues to direct LeT operations from his detention center.” Intelligence shows that Lashkar-e-Taiba is threatening attacks in the United States and that the possibility “is rising each day.”

    Zardari didn’t seem to get it.

    “Mr. President,” said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who was also at the meeting, “This is what they are saying. . . . They’re saying that if, in fact, there is a successful attack in the United States, they will take steps to deal with that here, and that we have a responsibility to now cooperate with the United States.”

    “If something like that happens,” Zardari said defensively, “it doesn’t mean that somehow we’re suddenly bad people or something. We’re still partners.”

    No, both Jones and Panetta said. There might be no way to save the strategic partnership. Underscoring Jones’s point, Panetta said, “If that happens, all bets are off.”

    Afterward, the Americans met privately with Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, chief of the Pakistani army and the most powerful figure in the country.

    Although Kayani had graduated from the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., he was a product of the Pakistani military system – nearly 40 years of staring east to the threat posed by India, its adversary in several wars since both countries were established in 1947.

    This was part of a Pakistani officer’s DNA. It was hard, perhaps impossible, for a Pakistani general to put down his binoculars, turn his head over his shoulder and look west to Afghanistan.

    Jones told Kayani that the clock was starting now on Obama’s four requests. Obama wanted a progress report in 30 days, Jones said.

    Kayani would not budge much. He had other concerns. “I’ll be the first to admit, I’m India-centric,” he said.

    Panetta laid out a series of additional requests for CIA operations. Obama had approved these operations during an October 2009 session of the Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy review.

    The CIA director had come to believe that the Predator and other unmanned aerial vehicles were the most precise weapons in the history of warfare. He wanted to use them more often.

    Pakistan allowed Predator drone flights in specified geographic areas called “boxes.” Because the Pakistanis had massive numbers of ground troops in the south, they would not allow a box in that area.

    “We need to have that box,” Panetta said. “We need to be able to conduct our operations.”

    Kayani said he would see that they had some access.

    Jones and Panetta left feeling as though they had taken only baby steps. “How can you fight a war and have safe havens across the border?” Panetta asked in frustration. “It’s a crazy kind of war.”

    The United States needed some kind of ground forces to eliminate the safe havens, Panetta concluded. The CIA had its own forces, a 3,000-man secret army of Afghans known as Counterterrorism Pursuit Teams. Some of these pursuit teams were now conducting cross-border operations in Pakistan.
    “We can’t do this without some boots on the ground,” Panetta said. “They could be Pakistani boots or they can be our boots, but we got to have some boots on the ground.”

    Army Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, the National Security Council coordinator for Afghanistan and Pakistan, also traveled with Jones and Panetta to Pakistan. He supervised the writing of a three-page trip report to the president that Jones signed.

    It contained a pessimistic summary, noting first the gap between the civilian and military authority in Pakistan. The United States was getting nowhere fast with these guys. They were talking with Zardari, who could deliver nothing. Kayani had the power to deliver, but he refused to do much. Nobody could tell him otherwise. The bottom line was depressing: This had been a charade.
    Jones said he was alarmed that success in Afghanistan was tied to what the Pakistanis would or would not do. As he saw it, the United States could not “win” in Afghanistan as long as the Pakistani safe havens remained. It was a “cancer” on the plan the president had announced at the end of 2009.

    Second, the report said the Pakistanis did not have the same sense of urgency as the Americans. There were regular terrorist strikes in Pakistan, so they could not understand the traumatic impact of a single, small attack on the U.S. homeland.

    The Pakistanis were making another mistake by applying that same logic to India, in Jones’s view. If Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group behind the Mumbai attacks, struck there again, India would not be able to show the kind of restraint that it had then. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had barely survived Mumbai politically, would have to respond.

    The options for Obama would be significantly narrowed in the aftermath of an attack originating out of Pakistan. Before such an attack, however, he had more options, especially if Pakistan made good on his four requests.
    After the Jones-Panetta trip, Pakistan’s cooperation on visa requests did improve. When I interviewed Obama two months after the failed Times Square bombing, he highlighted Pakistan’s recent counterterrorism efforts. “They also ramped up their cooperation in a way that over the last 18 months has hunkered down al-Qaeda in a way that is significant,” he said.

    “But still not enough,” I interjected.

    “Well, exactly,” Obama said.

    Joshua Boak and Evelyn Duffy contributed to this report.

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