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Saturday, 29 August 2009

Indian Muslim women stage protest on veil statement

First Published : 29 Aug 2009 08:27:54 AM IST
Last Updated : 29 Aug 2009 10:06:29 AM IST

HYDERABAD: Tension prevailed at Vani Degree College for women at Mehdipatnam after the its principal is said have asked a burqa-clad student to unveil herself for identification before entering the college premises.

At this, hundreds of agitated undergraduates, joined by Intermediate students of the sister junior college, raised slogans against the principal, Y Annapurna. They also pelted the college building with stones, prompting a lathi-charge by the police.

The trouble apparently began on account of the “unveiling” episode, but in fact it had been brewing over the last few days, with the rift between the students and the principal widening.

On Thursday evening, the students staged a dharna in front of the college demanding an apology from Annapurna. The issue seemed to have been sorted out following the intervention of Karwan MIM MLA Afsar Khan. But surprisingly, on Friday morning, the students gathered outside the college and staged a dharna demanding the principal’s suspension.

Anticipating trouble, policemen had been deployed there in large numbers.

Nevertheless, they had a tough time preventing the agitators from trying to storm the college.

On being thwarted by the police, the students began throwing stones at them. West Zone Deputy Commissioner of Police C Ravi Varma narrowly escaped being hit.

At length, the police resorted to a lathicharge and as the girls ran helter-skelter for safety the locality was gripped by fear for nearly half an hour. Traffic came to a standstill for more than an hour till the situation was brought under control.

Later, Afsar Khan arrived on the scene and pacified the agitated students and their parents and held discussions with college authorities and the police. For her part, principal Annapurna apologised to the students.

“The students alleged that the principal asked them not to wear the burqa to college, but the latter has denied it,” Asifnagar division Assistant Commissioner of Police M Venkateshwar Rao said.

Shops in the locality were closed for nearly two hours, and the college was closed for the day.

‘Not against veil’

Asif Nagar police registered cases under sections 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapons), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to a public servant) of Indian Penal Code against unknown people. Police said that no case was registered with regard to the burqa row as none of the students lodged a formal complaint with the police.

Speaking to ‘Express’, college principal Y Annapurna said some students were annoyed about the discipline insisted by Vani Degree College for Women. “Some students are against the discipline followed in our college and want to make an issue out of nothing.

From our side we will never insist on any student not to wear a burqa,’’ Annapurna clarified.

Jinnah and tonic

Sikandar Hayat’s study of Mohammad Ali Jinnah and his role in bringing about the partition of the Indian subcontinent — or the birth of a homeland for Indian Muslims, if you will — is an elegant exposition of both the Quaid-i-Azam’s personality and the historical circumstances in which it found space to flourish.

Much of the ground that Hayat covers — from the early years of the last century to the decisive months in 1947 when Partition became an inescapable reality — is ground covered in great detail by scholars on both sides of the divide and from beyond the subcontinent. The research is meticulous but does not provide by way of a historical narrative anything substantially new. What is new is the ‘theoretical’ spin he seeks to put on the narrative.

Hayat’s case is that Jinnah was, like many other leaders located in situations of rapidly unwinding colonial rule, a ‘charismatic’ leader. The charisma derived, in Hayat’s telling, both from Jinnah’s personality — in that circumstance his unique ability to combine a rationalistic pursuit of power — and from the historical situation, in which Indian Muslims faced the distressful situation of having to contemplate a substitution of British colonial rule with Hindu majoritarian rule from which there seemed no way out.

Jinnah’s emergence as a leader of men, Hayat further argues, was made possible (if not essential) by the vacuum of leadership the community faced especially from the beginning of the 1930s, by which time the communal faultlines and the difficulties of devising a constitutional modus vivendi had been exposed by the Motilal Nehru report.

It does not become clear after the reading of the last page whether the characterisation of Jinnah as a ‘charismatic’ leader in the manner of others such as Kwame Nkruma or Kemal Attaturk helps us to understand either Jinnah or the Partition of India in a substantially more insightful way, however elegant the exegesis.

But there is certainly a cavil, as there is with most historical narratives that see the elitist domain of politics (and history) as being the driving force of all change and progress or lack of it.

Hayat argues that the final proof or the final act in the development of Jinnah’s charisma came in 1940 when he pulled out the Pakistan demand as the final, non-negotiable solution to the decolonisation endgame. In Hayat’s telling this was Jinnah’s gift to the Indian Muslim nation, something only his genius was capable of bringing about and finally making real.

From another perspective, of course, one could as well see Jinnah as a prisoner of circumstance on his journey from ardent nationalist, to ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity and to ultimately champion of the two-nation theory. The final transformation was wrought by two things: the pressure of mass politics in the shape of the growing Hindu-Muslim chasm over which he had little control and the pressure of the Muslim elite, which wanted a patch of territory it could rule and conduct business in. In this Jinnah was not that different from the Congress leadership — and deserves no greater measure of demonisation or adulation. Nevertheless, Hayat makes his case well, though he does gloss over Jinnah’s partiality to cynical calculation, which, to be fair, could be condoned in any politician playing for serious stakes.

Providing considerable contrast to Hayat’s work is Jaswant Singh’s attempt to re-evaluate Jinnah. To begin with, it is sloppily argued, randomly researched and recounted as a barely coherent historical narrative. It does not help, too, that Singh has not been served with any particular distinction by his editor. In numerous stretches, his prose is barely intelligible. All that he manages to do is revisit a slice of history that is well known and which has been retold with far greater skill and ability by many others before him.

To be fair to Singh, he gets many of his conclusions right, though his short ‘philosophical’ digression into the meaning of ‘secularism’ can, at the most charitable, be described as kindergarten and his incessant attacks on Jawaharlal Nehru neither sustained by the evidence nor the argument.

Finally, Singh does deserve commiseration for the treatment he has got from his party. His re-evaluation has nowhere uncritically deified Jinnah, it has merely attempted to balance blind demonisation. And nothing he says about Vallabhbhai Patel merits the saffron hysteria in evidence. To say that Patel at the end of the long negotiations finally came to accept the inevitability of Partition is hardly saying anything other than the staggeringly obvious. Now expelled, Singh might well reflect that he is well out of the mess that is the Sangh parivar.

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Pakistan qualify for World Cup golf,

Muhammad Shabbir and Muhammad Munir etched their names in the history books as they guided Pakistan to their first Omega Mission Hills World Cup on Saturday.

The unheralded Pakistani duo shot a superb three-under-par 68 in the final round foursomes at Seri Selangor Golf Club to finish third at the Asian qualifier, which was won by pre-tournament favourites Singapore.

Represented by Lam Chih Bing and Mardan Mamat, Singapore carded a closing 72 for a four-day total of 15-under-par 269 to finish one shot ahead of Philippines pair Mars Pucay and Angelo Que.

The top three qualify for the World Cup, which takes place in China in November.

A World Cup appearance continues to elude the Malaysian pair of Iain Steel and Danny Chia as they ended fourth after a battling 71 while Myanmar finished a further three strokes behind following a 74.

"Pakistan have played in the cricket World Cup, hockey World Cup and squash World Cup but never before in our history that we've been in golf's World Cup," said a delighted Munir.

"I don't know how to describe how we feel right now. I'm sure everyone in Pakistan will be very happy," he added.

Pakistan mixed their scorecard with four birdies against two bogeys before nailing a crucial final birdie on the 18th hole to seal a historic debut against the worlThree teams from these qualifiers will make the cut for the main round in China.

'We are in the run for the main round. Today's play will be crucial,' the Secretary General of Pakistan Golf Federation, Taimur Hassan, told APP.

Pakistan had narrowly missed the qualification last year.

The following were respective Day 1 scores of the 13 participating teams:--Philippines (11-under 60), Singapore (seven- under 64, Malaysia (five-under 66), Hong Kong (five-under 66), Myanmar (four-under 67), Pakistan (three-under 68), Indonesia (two- under 69), Bangladesh (two-under 69), Nigeria (one-under 70), Sri Lanka (one-under 70), Brunei (three-over 74) and Mauritius (six-over 77).d's best.

Pakistan army 'hits suicide camp

Pakistani helicopter gunships have destroyed a suspected training camp in the northwest of the country, according to an army statement.

At least six Taliban fighters were killed in the attack near the town of Charbagh in the Swat district of North West Frontier Province, officials said on Saturday.

Several other people were reportedly injured as the camp on a small island on the Swat river was bombarded.

"The place was being used as a launching pad for preparing the suicide attackers," the army statement said.

Bombers trained at the facility were being used in attacks across the Swat valley, including on the main vity of Mingora, the statement said.

Last week two suicide attacks on consecutive days killed at least seven people in the district.

The military is winding down a three-month offensive aimed at pushing Taliban fighters out of the Swat valley and the surrounding areas.

Although Islamabad has claimed success in the battle and the two million people displaced by the fighting have largely returned, sporadic clashes continue to take place across the region.

Is Russia ready for Star Wars?

The United States will be able to strike from space on a global scale, including Russia, Air Force Commander Alexander Zelin told journalists.

"Development of air and space attack weapons by foreign countries shows that by 2030 air and outer space will turn into a single sphere for armed struggle," he said.

Zelin said that to counter this threat, Russia is planning to build a fundamentally new force of air and space defense (ASD) by 2020.

This defense force will be equipped with anti-aircraft missile systems - upgraded S-300s, S-400s, which have recently been launched into production, and eventually with S-500s, which are currently under development. It is reported that the S-500 will not be based on its predecessor, the S-400, but will represent an entirely new system capable of effectively countering ballistic targets.

In addition, ASD will be armed with aviation systems. Zelin announced the decision to reinitiate the program to develop anti-space systems based on the heavy fighter interceptor MiG-31.

But how serious is the aforementioned threat? At the turn of this century, a number of authors wrote about U.S. plans to create expeditionary aerospace forces (EAF), which would combine space vehicles and aircraft of various designations, and would be capable of mounting precision strikes on a global scale.

However, today even the United States cannot deploy an EAF system. It is not clear what will change by 2030. Experts believe that given the inertia of research and time-consuming development and adoption of new hardware, an EAF system is not likely to be built within the next 20 years.

It is also important to consider the problems in relationships between the Pentagon and those who design modern weaponry, as mentioned in a recent report by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA). In effect, the engineers have accused the Pentagon of an inability to grasp what industry and science can realistically develop, and of staking too much on global technological supremacy.

Many specialists believe that 2030 may only see the emergence of the first prototypes of flying vehicles capable of attacking targets on a global scale in a suborbital ballistic and aerodynamic mode. Supersonic vehicle research is playing a considerable role in this respect, and is being developed in Russia among other countries.

Flying at much higher speeds and deployed at much higher altitudes than conventional aircraft, these vehicles will have an impressive capability both militarily and otherwise.

Judging by all that we know, Zelin's recent statement on the development of a fundamentally new high-altitude reconnaissance plane which would be immune to air defense would proceed under the same reasoning. In addition, according to some sources, this technology could be used to develop a strategic bomber under the PAK DA project (perspective long-range air hub). Its appearance is expected in the late 2010s-early 2020s.

To sum up, American and Russian military plans are designed with a very long perspective, and the terms of their implementation may change substantially under the impact of various factors including the global economic crisis.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

Missing girl found after 18 years

A woman in the United States who was snatched from a bus stop as an 11-year-old child in 1991 turned up on Wednesday after being held for the past 18 years in isolation in a backyard compound.

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Jaswant Singh admitted the historical facts

Dear Quraishi, I read your this email entirely and decided to respond for two reasons, first, being a student of Political Science, I cannot remain silent on those events which took place and which are now the part of our history, good or bad, and secondly, I am interested more in highlighting the reality of the past in order to have a better approach for planning our programmes in the future.

According to you the book argues that Mohammad Ali Jinnah did not want Pakistan as a first choice. It is hundred percent correct. If we go back in the history we find that Muslim League was there but Mr. Jinnah joined Congress being a Muslim. He did not bother to think on the reasons of the establishment of Muslim League. He fully knew that Muslim League establishment was just for raising and conveying of the grievances of the Muslims to the British Government.

No doubt, Congress Party was there for the rights of the Indians, both Hindus and Muslims but the Muslims were not aware of the political strategy of the Hindu Leaders. They were under the illusion that that Congress is sincerely working for the rights of all the communities of India but the reality was quite different. Not only Mr. Jinnah but also many Indian Muslim leaders were swayed by the spirit of Indian Nationalism and joined Congress for seeking the remedy of their grievances. I think that those leaders who worked for the establishment of Muslim League had long before realized that Indian National Congress was not a correct forum for the resolution of the grievances of the Muslims.

Even they had no idea of having separate land or making of Pakistan. Their only headache was to convey the grievances of the Indian Muslims to the British Government in an effective manner. Mr. Jinnah then joined Muslim League but kept also his membership of the Indian National Congress which shows that he had no idea of a separate land for the Muslim. Historical events show us that he believed in the communal rights of different communities. He remained to a certain date the member of both the Indian National Congress and Muslim League but later on quit Congress and fully devoted his attention for the rights of the Muslims but even in united India.

It is mainly attributed to his farsightedness and reading deeply the Hindu mentality of the apparently secular leaders of Congress that he long before decided to have a separate course for the struggle otherwise many leaders of Muslims were still under the false impression that Congress leaders were instrumental in giving them their rights. Even Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a Khudai Khidmatgar leader, from NWFP, very lately realized the betrayal of the Congress leaders in his own autobiography. We also find that Mr. Jinnah was not only a law expert of the highest calibre but also extremely shrewd to analyse the mentality of the Hindu Leaders of the Indian Congress and thus swiftly used both his legal and political knowledge for organising the Muslims and giving them an exact direction of goal to be achieved which is a highly commendable act of Mr. Jinnah and was rightly called long before Pakistan as Quaid-e-Azam (Great Leader).

It is hundred percent true that his first choice was to liberate India from the British domination but when he realized that after independent, the system of western democracy would never enable the Muslims to get their rights from the Hindus. It is still unfortunate, that the creation of two Countries, India and Pakistan did not brought that financial and social happiness for which our ancestors gave so much sacrifices. Pakistani Muslims got independence from Hindu domination but they had no idea that they would fall prey to the Punjab Province domination. That is why people in Pakistan now cry for the sub-division of Punjab and equal rights to all the Provinces. A written Constitution is there since 1973 but the people have no access to the resources of their Provinces and injustice is at full swing.

Even separatist movements are there in both countries which are totally against the spirit of the creation of two Countries. That mistrust which existed once between the Hindus and Muslims now exists between the Muslims of different Provinces. Even Constitutional bodies like National Finance Commission and Council of Common Interests have so far failed to satisfy the demands of the Provinces which show that someone is acting in hegemony. The follies which were committed by the Hindu leaders in the pre-partition India and which led to the creation of Pakistan should not be repeated by the Muslim leaders of Pakistan.

It is hundred percent true that unfair Indian politics led to the creation of Pakistan. Almost all the political leaders both Hindu and Muslims were not clear to have a separate homelands but many events which proved eye-opening events only for the Muslims which rendered them justified in demanding for themselves at least in that part of India where Muslims were in majority. If we study the purposes of the establishment of both Indian National Congress and Muslim League, their aims were, neither independence from the British nor creation of two separate countries on two-nation theory. Their aims were to protect the rights of the different communities within the British dominion.

The establishment of Muslim League was on the right perception of the Muslim Leaders that Congress mostly dominated by hard core Hindu leaders having their own agenda for spreading Hinduism in the whole Sub-continent even through educational institutions by singing special kinds of Hindu songs having deep links to Hindu religion. If there had not been any contradiction in the sayings and deeds of the Hindu leaders, first Muslim League would have not been established and secondly, Mr. Jinnah and like him many leaders would not have quit Congress for striving an independent State in shape of Pakistan. Even leaders from North Western Province, lamented the behaviour of the Congress but at much latter stage of their lives when Pakistan had been created which suggest and testifies that Mr. Jinnah�s quitting of Congress at the beginning of the 20th Century was right.

I am very grateful to the Mr. Jaswant Singh for writing such a book and discussing the past events of the history and also confessing the follies of their leaders in the past and acknowledging the right decisions of our Nation’s Father Quaid-e-Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah who can rightly be called a principled man and many have imitated him but failed and proved caricatures in their respective countries. The admission of L.K. Advani and Jaswant Singh have provided us another opportunity to think over the relations of both countries and especially to those who still believe that Indian leaders have changed their stance on many issues. Issue of Jammu and Kashmir and also of the construction of disputed Dams are yet to be resolved by these two Countries for which no mediation of any third Country is needed. Indian Independence Act 1947 is yet to be implemented fully regarding the fate of the Kashmir. Mr. Jaswant Singh, please convince your compatriots to accept the reality.

I love Quaid-e-Azam not for the reason that he created for us Pakistan but for his farsightedness and blending the legal knowledge with his political knowledge which does really a quality wanting in most of the leaders of the World, including India and Pakistan.

Senior Minister Sindh Pir Mazhar Beating Poor Rozedar People At Dadu

Brig retired Imtiaz Ahmed American Agent?

Brig (retd) Imtiaz Ahmed is an American agent planted by the American agencies mainly to defame the Pakistani intelligence agencies, former director Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Malik Mumtaz Ahmad said on Thursday.

While addressing a press conference, he said after having played a key role in toppling the Benazir government in 1990, Brig Imtiaz was now bent on destabilising the present government. Malik Mumtaz claimed that he had informed the then prime minister Benazir Bhutto through her special secretary (security) of the conspiracy plan ‘Midnight Jackal’ of Brig (retd) Imtiaz and Maj (retd) Amar.

She contacted the then Army chief Gen Aslam Baig but he had denied. Malik Mumtaz claimed that Benazir had sent her interior minister Nasirullah Khan Babar to Aslam Baig but the Army chief had again denied the report, asking him to produce evidence about the conspiracy.

“He is playing in the hands of American agencies to destabilise the political system,” Malik Mumtaz averred. “He is opposing Mian Nawaz Sharif to get entrance in the PPP camp,” he added.

He appealed to the Supreme Court to take suo moto notice against Brig Imtiaz and reopen his corruption cases. He claimed Brig Imtiaz’s “anti-state activities” were creating confusion in the political system.

The former FIA chief alleged Brig Imtiaz had collected illegal wealth during his tenure as IB head. Malik said that a corruption case was lodged with the FIA after the brigadierís removal during the Benazir government. However, the FIA did not pursue the case in the court, and, consequently, it was dismissed.

Malik said Brig Imtiaz made 27 valuable properties and a heavy account in a bank of London, adding, he got himself freed from the cases by using his influence during the Nawaz government in 1997.

The second case of corruption against Brig Imtiaz was registered by the Account Appellate Bureau chairman in 2000, Malik said, adding that the detailed list of his properties was attached with the petition. The properties included three houses and three commercial units in Islamabad as well as foreign exchange bearing certificates to the tune of Rs 20.8 million.

He said a court sentenced Brig Imtiaz to eight years rigorous imprisonment with a fine of Rs 7 million, also confiscating his assets. The court disqualified him for ten years for holding any public office or statutory or local authority. But he, taking advantage of the NRO, managed to retake his property.

Malik disclosed that before his “retirement at fault” from the Army in 1988, Brig Imtiaz had declared his total asset as a two-kanal plot at the Lahore Cantt Officers Society (Phase-II) and a 2,000-square-yard plot in the Defence Housing Society, Karachi. He questioned how Imtiaz made property worth billions of rupees as IB chief.

General Hamid Gul on Destabilizing Pakistan

General Hamid Gul is considered by some to be “the most dangerous man in Pakistan. After you read what he has to say, you may wonder, “dangerous to whom?”

Ex-ISI Chief Says Purpose of New Afghan
Intelligence Agency RAMA is to destabilize Pakistan

In an exclusive interview, retired Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul responds to charges that he supports terrorism, discusses 9/11 and ulterior motives for the war on Afghanistan, claims that the U.S., Israel, and India are behind efforts to destabilize Pakistan, and charges the U.S. and its allies with responsibility for the lucrative Afghan drug trade.

Then Maj. Gen. Hamid Gul, Director General of the ISI, with William Webster, Director of Central Intelligence, Clair George, Deputy Director for Operations, and Milt Bearden, CIA station chief, at a training camp for the mujahedeen in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province in 1987. (RAWA)
Retired Lieutenant General Hamid Gul was the Director General of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) from 1987 to 1989, during which time he worked closely with the CIA to provide support for the mujahedeen fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Though once deemed a close ally of the United States, in more recent years his name has been the subject of considerable controversy. He has been outspoken with the claim that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 were an “inside job”. He has been called “the most dangerous man in Pakistan”, and the U.S. government has accused him of supporting the Taliban, even recommending him to the United Nations Security Council for inclusion on the list of international terrorists.

In an exclusive interview, I asked the former ISI chief what his response was to these allegations. He replied, “Well, it’s laughable I would say, because I’ve worked with the CIA and I know they were never so bad as they are now.” He said this was “a pity for the American people” since the CIA is supposed to act “as the eyes and ears” of the country. As for the charge of him supporting the Taliban, “it is utterly baseless. I have no contact with the Taliban, nor with Osama bin Laden and his colleagues.” He added, “I have no means, I have no way that I could support them, that I could help them.”

After the Clinton administration’s failed attempt to assassinate Osama bin Laden in 1998, some U.S. officials alleged that bin Laden had been tipped off by someone in Pakistan to the fact that the U.S. was able to track his movements through his satellite phone. Counter-terrorism advisor to the National Security Council Richard Clarke said, “I have reason to believe that a retired head of the ISI was able to pass information along to Al Qaeda that the attack was coming.” And some have speculated that this “retired head of the ISI” was none other than Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul.

“Do I have a mole in the CIA? If that is the case, then they should look into the CIA to carry out a probe, find out the mole, rather than trying to charge me.”

When I put this charge to him, General Gul pointed out to me that he had retired from the ISI on June 1, 1989, and from the army in January, 1992. “Did you share this information with the ISI?” he asked. “And why haven’t you taken the ISI to task for parting this information to its ex-head?” The U.S. had not informed the Pakistan army chief, Jehangir Karamat, of its intentions, he said. So how could he have learned of the plan to be able to warn bin Laden? “Do I have a mole in the CIA? If that is the case, then they should look into the CIA to carry out a probe, find out the mole, rather than trying to charge me. I think these are all baseless charges, and there’s no truth in it…. And if they feel that their failures are to be rubbed off on somebody else, then I think they’re the ones who are guilty, not me.”

General Gul turned our conversation to the subject of 9/11 and the war on Afghanistan. “You know, my position is very clear,” he said. “It’s a moral position that I have taken. And I say that America has launched this aggression without sufficient reasons. They haven’t even proved the case that 9/11 was done by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.” He argued that “There are many unanswered questions about 9/11,” citing examples such as the failure to intercept any of the four planes after it had become clear that they had been hijacked. He questioned how Mohammed Atta, “who had had training on a light aircraft in Miami for six months” could have maneuvered a jumbo jet “so accurately” to hit his target (Atta was reportedly the hijacker in control of American Airlines Flight 11, which was the first plane to hit its target, striking the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 am). And he made reference to the flight that hit the Pentagon and the maneuver its pilot had performed, dropping thousands of feet while doing a near 360 degree turn before plowing into its target. “And then, above all,” he added, “why have no heads been rolled? The FBI, the CIA, the air traffic control — why have they not been put to question, put to task?” Describing the 9/11 Commission as a “cover up”, the general added,

“I think the American people have been made fools of. I have my sympathies with them. I like Americans. I like America. I appreciate them. I’ve gone there several times.”

At this point in our discussion, General Gul explained how both the U.S. and United Kingdom stopped granting him an entry visa. He said after he was banned from the U.K.,

I wrote a letter to the British government, through the High Commissioner here in Islamabad, asking ‘Why do you think that — if I’m a security risk, then it is paradoxical that you should exclude me from your jurisdiction. You should rather nab me, interrogate me, haul me up, take me to the court, whatever you like. I mean, why are you excluding me from the U.K., it’s not understandable.’ I did not receive a reply to that.”

He says he sent a second letter inviting the U.K. to send someone to question him in Pakistan, if they had questions about him they wanted to know. If the U.S. wants to include him on the list of international terrorists, Gul reasons, “I am still prepared to let them grant me the visa. And I will go…. If they think that there is something very seriously wrong with me, why don’t you give me the visa and catch me then?”

‘They lack character’

“[UNOCAL] wanted to keep the Chinese out … to give a wider security shield to the state of Israel, and they wanted to include this region into that shield … They were redrawing the map.”

I turned to the war in Afghanistan, observing that the ostensible purpose for the war was to bring the accused mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden, to justice. And yet there were plans to overthrow the Taliban regime that predated 9/11. The FBI does not include the 9/11 attacks among the crimes for which bin Laden is wanted. After the war began, General Tommy Franks responded to a question about capturing him by saying, “We have not said that Osama bin Laden is a target of this effort.” The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Richard Myers, similarly said afterward, “Our goal has never been to get bin Laden.” And President George W. Bush himself said, “I truly am not that concerned about him.” These are self-serving statements, obviously, considering the failure to capture bin Laden. But what, I asked General Gul, in his view, were the true reasons for the invasion of Afghanistan, and why the U.S. is still there?

“A very good question,” he responded. “I think you have reached the point precisely.” It is a “principle of war,” he said, “that you never mix objectives. Because when you mix objectives then you end up with egg on your face. You face defeat. And here was a case where the objectives were mixed up. Ostensibly, it was to disperse al Qaeda, to get Osama bin Laden. But latently, the reasons for the offensive, for the attack on Afghanistan, were quite different.”

First, he says, the U.S. wanted to “reach out to the Central Asian oilfields” and “open the door there”, which “was a requirement of corporate America, because the Taliban had not complied with their desire to allow an oil and gas pipeline to pass through Afghanistan. UNOCAL is a case in point. They wanted to keep the Chinese out. They wanted to give a wider security shield to the state of Israel, and they wanted to include this region into that shield. And that’s why they were talking at that time very hotly about ‘greater Middle East’. They were redrawing the map.”

Second, the war “was to undo the Taliban regime because they had enforced Shariah”, or Islamic law, which, “in the spirit of that system, if it is implemented anywhere, would mean an alternative socio-monetary system. And that they would never approve.”

Third, it was “to go for Pakistan’s nuclear capability”, something that used to be talked about “under their lip”, “but now they are openly talking about”. This was the reason the U.S. “signed this strategic deal with India, and this was brokered by Israel. So there is a nexus now between Washington, Tel Aviv, and New Delhi.”

While achieving some of these aims, “there are many things which are still left undone,” he continued, “because they are not winning on the battlefield. And no matter what maps you draw in your mind, no matter what plans you make, if you cannot win on the battlefield, then it comes to naught. And that is what is happening to America.”

“Besides, the American generals, I have a professional cudgel with them,” Gul added. “They lack character. They know that a job cannot be done, because they know —I cannot believe that they didn’t realize that the objectives are being mixed up here — they could not stand up to men like Rumsfeld and to Dick Cheney. They could not tell them. I think they cheated the American nation, the American people. This is where I have a problem with the American generals, because a general must show character. He must say that his job cannot be done. He must stand up to the politicians. But these generals did not stand up to them.”

“And if they are now saying that with 17,000 more troops they can win in Afghanistan — or even double that figure if you like – they cannot.”

As a further example of the lack of character in the U.S. military leadership, the General Gul cited the “victory” in Iraq. “George Bush said that it was a victory. That means the generals must have told him ‘We have won!’ They had never won. This was all bunkum, this was all bullshit.”

Segueing back to Afghanistan, he continued: “And if they are now saying that with 17,000 more troops they can win in Afghanistan — or even double that figure if you like — they cannot. Now this is a professional opinion I am giving. And I will give this sound opinion for the good of the American people, because I am a friend of the American people and that is why I always say that your policies are flawed. This is not the way to go.” Furthermore, the war is “widely perceived as a war against Islam. And George Bush even used the word ‘Crusade.’” This is an incorrect view, he insisted. “You talk about clash of civilizations. We say the civilizations should meet.”

Alluding once more to the U.S. charges against him, he added, “And if they think that my criticism is tantamount to opposition to America, this is totally wrong, because there are lots of Americans themselves who are not in line with the American policies.” He had warned early on, he informed me, including in an interview with Rod Nordland in Newsweek immediately following the 9/11 attacks, that the U.S. would be making a mistake to go to war. “So, if you tell somebody, ‘Don’t jump into the well!’ and that somebody thinks you are his enemy, then what is it that you can say about him?”

‘This state of anger is being fueled’

I turned the conversation towards the consequences of the war in Afghanistan on Pakistan, and the increased extremist militant activities within his own country’s borders, where the Pakistani government has been at war with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP, or Pakistan Taliban). I observed that the TTP seemed well funded and supplied and asked Gul how the group obtains financing and arms.

He responded without hesitation. “Yeah, of course they are getting it from across the Durand line, from Afghanistan. And the Mossad is sitting there, RAW is sitting there — the Indian intelligence agency — they have the umbrella of the U.S. And now they have created another organization which is called RAMA. It may be news to you that very soon this intelligence agency — of course, they have decided to keep it covert — but it is Research and Analysis Milli Afghanistan. That’s the name. The Indians have helped create this organization, and its job is mainly to destabilize Pakistan.”

General Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, former Deputy Minister of Defense of the Northern Alliance under Ahmad Shah Massoud and the Chief of Staff of the Afghan National Army since 2002 — “whom I know very well”, General Gul told me — “had gone to India a few days back, and he has offered bases to India, five of them: three on the border, the eastern border with Pakistan, from Asadabad, Jalalabad, and Kandhar; one in Shindand, which is near Heart; and the fifth one is near Mazar-e Sharif. So these bases are being offered for a new game unfolding there.” This is why, he asserted, the Indians, despite a shrinking economy, have continued to raise their defense budget, by 20 percent last year and an additional 34 percent this year.

He also cited as evidence of these designs to destabilize Pakistan the U.S. Predator drone attacks in Waziristan, which have “angered the Pathan people of that tribal belt. And this state of anger is being fueled. It is that fire that has been lit, is being fueled, by the Indian intelligence from across the border. Of course, Mossad is right behind them. They have no reason to be sitting there, and there’s a lot of evidence. I hope the Pakistan government will soon be providing some of the evidence against the Indians.”

The killing of Baitullah Mehsud

“Whenever a tribal militant has reached a peace agreement with the government of Pakistan, Americans have without any hesitation struck that target”.

Several days after I had first spoken with General Gul, the news hit the headlines that the leader of the TTP, Baitullah Mehsud, had been killed by a CIA drone strike. So I followed up with him and asked him to comment about this development. “When Baitullah Mehsud and his suicide bombers were attacking Pakistan armed forces and various institutions,” he said, “at that time, Pakistan intelligence were telling the Americans that Baitullah Mehsud was here, there. Three times, it has been written by the Western press, by the American press — three times the Pakistan intelligence tipped off America, but they did not attack him. Why have they now announced — they had money on him — and now attacked and killed him, supposedly? Because there were some secret talks going on between Baitullah Mehsud and the Pakistani military establishment. They wanted to reach a peace agreement, and if you recall there is a long history of our tribal areas, whenever a tribal militant has reached a peace agreement with the government of Pakistan, Americans have without any hesitation struck that target.” Among other examples, the former ISI chief said “an agreement in Bajaur was about to take place” when, on October 30, 2006, a drone struck a madrassa in the area, an attack “in which 82 children were killed”.

“So in my opinion,” General Gul continued, “there was some kind of a deal which was about to be arrived at — they may have already cut a deal. I don’t know. I don’t have enough information on that. But this is my hunch, that Baitullah was killed because now he was trying to reach an agreement with the Pakistan army. And that’s why there were no suicide attacks inside Pakistan for the past six or seven months.”

‘Very, very disturbing indeed’

Turning the focus of our discussion to the Afghan drug problem, I noted that the U.S. mainstream corporate media routinely suggest that the Taliban is in control of the opium trade. However, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Anti-Government Elements (or AGEs), which include but are not limited to the Taliban, account for a relatively small percentage of the profits from the drug trade. Two of the U.S.’s own intelligence agencies, the CIA and the DIA, estimate that the Taliban receives about $70 million a year from the drugs trade. That may seem at first glance like a significant amount of money, but it’s only about two percent of the total estimated profits from the drug trade, a figure placed at $3.4 billion by the UNODC last year.

“the U.S. will be assisting to eliminate the competition for drug lords allied with occupying forces or the Afghan government and helping them to further corner the market.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has just announced its new strategy for combating the drug problem: placing drug traffickers with ties to insurgents —and only drug lords with ties to insurgents — on a list to be eliminated. The vast majority of drug lords, in other words, are explicitly excluded as targets under the new strategy. Or, to put it yet another way, the U.S. will be assisting to eliminate the competition for drug lords allied with occupying forces or the Afghan government and helping them to further corner the market.

I pointed out to the former ISI chief that Afghan opium finds its way into Europe via Pakistan, via Iran and Turkey, and via the former Soviet republics. According to the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, convoys under General Rashid Dostum — who was reappointed last month to his government position as Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Afghan National Army by President Hamid Karzai — would truck the drugs over the border. And President Karzai’s own brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, has been accused of being a major drug lord. So I asked General Gul who was really responsible for the Afghan drug trade.

“Now, let me give you the history of the drug trade in Afghanistan,” his answer began …

“Before the Taliban stepped into it, in 1994 — in fact, before they captured Kabul in September 1996 — the drugs, the opium production volume was 4,500 tons a year. Then gradually the Taliban came down hard upon the poppy growing. It was reduced to around 50 tons in the last year of the Taliban. That was the year 2001. Nearly 50 tons of opium produced. 50. Five-zero tons. Now last year the volume was at 6,200 tons. That means it has really gone one and a half times more than it used to be before the Taliban era.” He pointed out, correctly, that the U.S. had actually awarded the Taliban for its effective reduction of the drug trade. On top of $125 million the U.S. gave to the Taliban ostensibly as humanitarian aid, the State Department awarded the Taliban $43 million for its anti-drug efforts. “Of course, they made their mistakes,” General Gul continued. “But on the whole, they were doing fairly good. If they had been engaged in meaningful, fruitful, constructive talks, I think it would have been very good for Afghanistan.”

Referring to the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, General Gul told me in a later conversation that Taliban leader,

“Mullah Omar was all the time telling that, look, I am prepared to hand over Osama bin Laden to a third country for a trial under Shariah. Now that is where — he said [it] twice — and they rejected this. Because the Taliban ambassador here in Islamabad, he came to me, and I asked him,

‘Why don’t you study this issue, because America is threatening to attack you. So you should do something’.

“He said,

‘We have done everything possible …. I was summoned by the American ambassador in Islamabad’ — I think Milam was the ambassador at that time — and I said, ‘Look, produce the evidence’. But he did not show me anything other than cuttings from the newspapers. I said, ‘Look, we can’t accept this as evidence, because it has to stand in a court of law. You are prepared to put him on trial. You can try him in the United Nations compound in Kabul, but it has to be a Shariah court because he’s a citizen under Shariah law. Therefore, we will not accept that he should be immediately handed over to America, because George Bush has already said that he wants him ‘dead or alive’, so he’s passed the punishment, literally, against him’.”

(*Note: The quotes above have been edited by Axis of Logic for clarity. Compare wih the original below this article.)

Referring to the U.S. rejection of the Taliban offer to try bin Laden in Afghanistan or hand him over to a third country, General Gul added, “I think this is a great opportunity that they missed.”

Returning to the drug trade, General Gul named the brother of President Karzai, Abdul Wali Karzai. “Abdul Wali Karzai is the biggest drug baron of Afghanistan,” he stated bluntly. He added that the drug lords are also involved in arms trafficking, which is “a flourishing trade” in Afghanistan. “But what is most disturbing from my point of view is that the military aircraft, American military aircraft are also being used. You said very rightly that the drug routes are northward through the Central Asia republics and through some of the Russian territory, and then into Europe and beyond. But some of it is going directly. That is by the military aircraft. I have so many times in my interviews said, ‘Please listen to this information, because I am an aware person.’ We have Afghans still in Pakistan, and they sometimes contact and pass on the stories to me. And some of them are very authentic. I can judge that. So they are saying that the American military aircraft are being used for this purpose. So, if that is true, it is very, very disturbing indeed.” Shahid R. Siddiqi