General (R) Musharraf had agreed that would convince his nation that, officially, the US was not allowed to carry out any secret operation inside Pakistan without the consent of the regime, but the JSOC would continue its mission, Blackwater was also directed to deny its presence in Pakistan.
By Musa Khan Jalalzai
There are many stories available in leading Pakistani newspapers about the US’s secret operations, run by the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), in major cities, specifically in Karachi, Peshawar and Lahore. The notorious private contractor, Blackwater, has been at the centre of the killing fields and targeted assassinations in both Afghanistan and Pakistan since 2001. According to well-placed military sources in Pakistan, members of this militia are gathering secret information to help direct the drone attacks in FATA and Waziristan regions. Blackwater also controls drone strikes and gathers intelligence for JSOC in Pakistan. There are debates in the Pakistani press about Blackwater and JSOC military operations and under what law they have retrieved the licence to kill.
Not going into the details of the story, the case is simple. On May 9, 2011, The Guardian reported a secret agreement signed between General Pervez Musharraf and US President George Bush in 2001, which allowed US special forces, the CIA and JSOC to carry out secret operations and drone attacks inside Pakistan. This agreement was renewed in February 2008. Afterwards, The Guardian reported that both sides agreed on the point that Pakistan would protest the incursion. Having referred to the recent Abbottabad operation, a government official in Islamabad said that the US had just implemented the said agreement.
Before signing the deal, General Musharraf had agreed that he would convince his nation that, officially, the US was not allowed to carry out any secret operation inside Pakistan without the consent of the regime, but the JSOC would continue its mission. Moreover, in all major cities of the country, Blackwater was also directed to deny its presence in Pakistan. The deal is still a secret but the recent operation in Abbottabad has exposed the intentions of US imperialism in Pakistan. Political parties criticised the army and ISI for their connivances and some demanded the resignation of the ISI chief, and Mr Pasha himself offered to resign.
At the government level, the prime minister expressed concern over the US operation in his National Assembly address and said that Pakistan had some differences and reservations regarding this operation and complained that US forces had violated the country’s sovereignty. The killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad created many doubts and misunderstandings among the politicians, ISI and army generals. This unauthorised operation further dilapidated relations between Pakistan and the US. The Pakistan Army chief conveyed a warning message about future attacks: “Any similar action violating the sovereignty of Pakistan will warrant a review on the level of military/intelligence cooperation with the US.” Several questions are being asked such as why the US did not inform the Pakistan Army. Some people ask about the ability of the Pakistan Army to protect the country while it was not even aware of a major military operation taking place a short distance away from one of its top military academies.
The US’s secret operations and the unlawful activities of Blackwater across the country have created some doubts about the US’s secret agenda in Pakistan. Opposition parties have raised some questions about the presence of CIA contractors while Interior Minister Rehman Malik offered his resignation if the presence of the private contractors is proved in Pakistan. According to recent revelations within Blackwater circles, the company’s members are working for the CIA and JSOC in Pakistan. Sources within the company have recently confirmed that it has established various facilities in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar and has personnel deployed elsewhere in Pakistan.
During the Musharraf regime in 2007, the secret operation programme of JSOC in Pakistan was started under the leadership of William McRaven, who took over the post from General Stanley McChrystal who headed JSOC from 2003 to 2008. Blackwater, as a private military and intelligence force, is operating under the instructions of JSOC in Karachi and coordinating every plan with the task force based in Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. US military intelligence says that Blackwater classified contracts keep getting renewed at the request of JSOC.
Sources in the Afghan defence ministry told this author that Blackwater signed its first contract with the CIA in 2002 for operations in Afghanistan while Afghan intelligence sources say that the company and JSOC operation in Karachi is referred to the base in Qatar as the planning centre for the US invasion of Iraq. Blackwater is not only making strategies for drone attacks in Waziristan, FATA and Afghanistan, but in Karachi it also makes plans for the CIA and JSOC against extremist groups. In August, the New York Times reported Blackwater jobs in hidden bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In its underground places, members of Blackwater assemble and load Hellfire missiles and 500-pound laser-guided bombs on remotely piloted Predator aircraft. In September last year, Pakistani newspapers reported a secret ISI report about the suspicious activities of Blackwater and a federal minister who had been providing houses and helping them clear shipments of weapons and vehicles through Port Qasim in Karachi.
The arrest of Raymond Davis in 2011 in Lahore further increased the hurdles of opposition politicians who have often demanded a thorough investigation into the secret deal between the Musharraf regime and CIA. The print and electronic media in Pakistan reported various politicians alleging that the government and military establishment know about the secret activities of Blackwater on their soil but officials vehemently deny these charges. Who is Raymond Davis? Nobody knows in Pakistan but it is clear that he was not a regular diplomat. As we mentioned earlier, Pakistan had already agreed on the diplomatic status of the members of Blackwater during the Musharraf regime, and therefore Raymond Davis was treated as a diplomat as well. According to newspaper reports, Davis also worked for Blackwater. The same story is being repeated in Afghanistan. American secret agencies distribute money among the members of President Hamid Karzai’s administration so as to control the president and his decision making machine.
The recent political inclinations of the president towards China and Russia further increased the headache of American policy makers. The US is reeling under the $ 100 billion package a year and is negotiating a new strategic partnership agreement with the Afghan president. Security in Afghanistan has deteriorated recently, but much of that is due to stepped-up military operations, drone attacks and private criminal militias. The current Afghan structures are untenable and cannot sustain themselves. After the withdrawal of US forces and the winding down of operations, the US may maintain some military bases in Afghanistan.
The writer is the author of Britain’s National Security Challenges and can be reached at email@example.com