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Tuesday, 15 September 2009

US military bases 'will destabilize Pakistan'

The following is a transcript of a Press TV interview with Pakistan's former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Hamid Gul.

Q: The US is planning to establish military bases inside Pakistan. Can you expand on that?

A:They are expanding the embassy and they are bringing in security staff, in the garb of security staff which is not according to the diplomatic norms. And I think the Chinese are objected to that. The Chinese ambassador held a press conference here in Islamabad about a week or ten days ago and he said that, for instance, this is infringement of Pakistan's sovereignty and secondly that we have also struck at expansion of embassy but we trust Pakistan's security apparatus to look after us and why are the Americans are doing that. So I think this is a quite big indicator that the Chinese are concerned about our security and so should be everybody else because we know that these security contractors which are being brought like the old Blackwater now under the name of, the new name of Xe and there is the Extreme Dynamic company and there are several others. They are recruiting people from here at very high wages. They are mostly the ex-servicemen, ex-Army officers and men. And besides we think that there are special forces who operate into the garb of locals but basically are American agents and it is a cross mix of the CIA which is known as Delta Force, which is the Marines and the Navy Seals and the Orange Force, which means the Orange Force are actually the hired killers. They are either recruited locally or from abroad or brought in from America and they speak the local lingo. They wear the same dress. And they sort of grow beard, etc. So this is a very dangerous move they are making. So that is the basis on which I said. Besides, I have feared that the new policy which Obama will probably announce in March next year as they have already said so. That is going to be taking bases on long leases in Afghanistan because of the weak Karzai government which is likely to emerge after the announcement of the polling results. And secondly, they are making a tremendous investment in Afghanistan. They are bringing in troops again as security guards but really they are the hardened, trained military men. There are already three thousand five hundred of them and one thousand more are coming. So slowly and gradually, the Indians are moving into this area. The same model is going to be, I think, applied rather at a limited scale in Pakistan because of these security arrangements they are making. They have an excuse. They are trying to create an excuse. They have announced for Pakistan over a period of five years 7.5 billion dollars that is 1.5 billion dollars per year and so far for this year they have disbursed only 174 million dollars which is nothing to the government. There is still the money they are making it quite open that it is going to be spent directly by the Americans in Pakistan in various areas. So they are going to set up a large intelligence network inside Pakistan. And for that the excuse is that because we are spending this money directly on projects, therefore we need the security guards and we are bringing in the contractors. But in reality, what I fear is that, they really want to go for Pakistan's nuclear assets. They are inching close to those nuclear assets day by day. They are getting very close and I am sure they are, because of their intelligence tentacles there, they are trying to gather information so that whatever surgical operation they have to carry out against our nuclear assets in connivance with Israel and India those will be totally taken out and nothing will be left in the hands of Pakistan. And there is plenty of evidence to suggest this because they have been saying in the past that the end game of war against terrorism is going to be in Pakistan. And that is what disturbs us the most because now they are saying that Taliban are in control of 80 percent of Afghanistan and that al-Qaeda is no longer present in Afghanistan but that a large number of al-Qaeda people are present inside Pakistan and if we think that they are there then we have a right to strike them and we will. That is what the last statement, a very categorical statement made by Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen that was very alarming because he very categorically said that if they find that there are targets inside Pakistan, al-Qaeda targets, then we will strike them. So it is a preparation which is being made. A psychological conditioning which is being done of the international communities, the real powers as well as the Pakistani nation and the Pakistani government.

Q:Do you think the Americans are trying to disintegrate Pakistan through this process?

A:I know the Indians are playing games inside Baluchistan. They are trying to create subversion and acts of sabotage are occurring every day. And they are trying to destabilize Pakistan. But disintegration is a very strong word. I do not think this words needs to be used. But I think they are trying to destabilize Pakistan at the moment so that it feels weak and economically has to go begging on its knees to Americans and ask for succor and help. And in that process they will want to expect certain concessions with regards to nuclear power and also with regards to setting up their facilities here in Pakistan.

Q:And the United States who wants to use Pakistan as a front against China, Iran and other countries in the region.

A:No, I do not think Pakistan can be [used for this purpose]. Even if Pakistan is very weak and is lost hypothetically, I do not think they will pluck out all the nuclear assets of Pakistan. It is not possible. I think the Americans should think twice before they attempt this because a frustrated Pakistan can do a lot of damage. But off course they have designs against Iran. They have designs against China. But, at the moment, I do not see Pakistan being used as a proxy for America against China or Iran for that matter.

Q:You talked about Blackwater. What role these contractors have been playing in the region? Mr. Aslan Beik said on a television interview in Pakistan that Blackwater has played a role in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Rafik Hariri in Lebanon.

A:I do not know about Aslan Beik's statement but what I think is that Blackwater has a very bad record. They were operating in Iraq and they were guilty of many acts of misconduct and killings and rape and kidnapping and also pillage of property but this was settled at that time because I think North Carolina indicted them and they were banned. But now they have started operating under a new name, a new title of Xe Worldwide Services. So, as far as this issue is concerned, I think this comes out from some report from Seymour Hersh, the famous American journalist. He has supposed to have said that Dick Cheney's agency Blackwater had something to do with the assasination of Benazir. So that is what I know.

Q:You earlier said that American is going to establish military bases in Peshawar and there was a hotel which was bombed in the city and it is said that the hotel was going to be used by the Americans as their base. Can you comment on that?

A:Yes, that is right, because initially they were trying to come in the days of Pervez Musharraf. I think he had entered into some kind of agreement for them to allow 750 people from Blackwater to claim Frontier Corps which is a paramilitary force operating on our border with Afghanistan. And they were to set up this in a fort in Peshawar. Then their presence was reported in this hotel. And this was bombed and it was commonly believed, although no official reports have ever come out, that two floors of that hotel had been occupied by Blackwater basically, I mean, this security contractor. But some people suggested that the marines were also there. It is possible that they were the special forces because, when we say marine, it formally becomes the Armed Forces of America. But the Special Forces are known to have been operating in this area for some time now and they were the ones who created probably some of the trouble in Swat valley where the Pakistani army is still engaged in operations.

Q:If you wanted to put it in one sentence, what is America's long-term goal that it is seeking in Pakistan?

A:Well, long-term goal for America is that they want to keep Pakistan destabilized; perhaps create a way for Baluchistan as a separate state and then create problems for Iran so that this new state will talk about greater Baluchistan and, I think, a Baluch leader in London held a press conference and he talked a greater Baluchistan and he talked about the Kurd areas, he talked about Iranian Baluchistan and he talked about the Pakistani Baluchistan. So it appears that the long-term objectives are really to fragment all these countries to an extent that they can establish a strip that would be pro-America, pro-India, pro-Israel. So this seems to be their long-term objective apart from denuclearizing Pakistan and blocking Iran's progress in the nuclear field.

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