Another Conspiracy Theory


Editor’s Note: Is Pakistan Army the ultimate US target?If so, what is the motive? US has turned upon Pakistan with vengeance. What is the end game? Also read Reuters Report on Perspectives on Pakistan:Now or Never?

How far will the US go to target the Pakistan Military? 

By: Brig Shaukat Qadir (R)

I think it was in June this year that I posted an article by Anatol Lieven on Facebook. For those who are not familiar with his name, Anatol is from the UK and numbers among the few journalists whom I always enjoy reading. I have met Anatol a few times and he is the kind of person who likes to get acquainted with the psycho-social environment of the people he writes about. Written in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s execution, Anatol’s article was critical of the US approach to the region, particularly Pakistan.

Among those responding to this post was an American whom I would rather not embarrass by naming; so let’s just call him X. Admitting that he hadn’t read through Anatol’s article and was judging its contents by earlier articles of the author, he went on to add, “let me put this as simply as possible, for you to understand. The US has concluded that the Pakistan army is part of the problem, not the solution; and that the interests of the Pakistan army are not identical with those of Pakistan. Consequently, the US has decided that the Pakistan army has to be cut to size and, if in the process of doing so, the Pakistan army is destroyed, so be it. And, I agree”.

The first thing that hit me was the arrogance of his statement. The “US has decided (on behalf of, and for, the people of Pakistan) that its army’s interests and theirs are not identical”, and will, on behalf of, and for Pakistan, cut its army to size! Typical arrogance expected of the American establishment. The only issue was that this American had hitherto seemed pretty level-headed and very far from arrogant. Nor was he a Mansoor Ijaz or even an expatriate American. I commented on the arrogance of his words, to which he chose not to respond. However, I did not take the contents of his comment very seriously; not at that time.  

The “Memo-gate” Scandal

Most readers will be familiar with this scandal, so I will cover just the bare outline of the incident from my perspective. On October 10th, Mansoor Ijaz, a multi millionaire American of Pakistani origin, wrote an op-ed for the Financial Times which, as it was expected to do, set Pakistan’s political landscape on fire.

His op-ed titled, “Time to take on Pakistan’s Jihadist spies”, as the title indicates, ostensibly seemed to target the ISI and the Pakistan military for maintaining ties with Jihadists. However, it mentioned the fact that in the aftermath of Osama bin Laden’s execution, he was contacted by a “senior diplomat”, who was known to be close to Pakistani President, Zardari. Apparently, Zardari feared the possibility of a military coup. Everybody knew that the senior Pakistani diplomat referred to Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US.

They had, between the two of them drafted a memo requesting US President Obama’s help by asking Admiral Mullen to warn off the Pakistani army chief, Gen Kiyani and, in return Zardari would put in place a “new security team”  of Obama’s choice, close down the “S” Wing of the ISI, which was responsible for Strategic Ops, including maintaining links with the Haqqani Network. Ijaz hinted at the fact that the memo promised much more.

All hell broke loose in Pakistan with everybody denying knowledge of everything, including Admiral Mullen. Accusations flew back and forth, till Mullen regained his memory and Gen James Jones confirmed that he had conveyed the memo to Mullen. Then the actual Memo appeared on the blog of the prestigious Journal, Foreign Policy! 

To the horror of all Pakistanis, their worst fears proved true. Between Zardari and Haqqani, the two had even been prepared to compromise on Pakistan’s holiest of “holy cows”; the nuclear program!

Haqqani was sacked; Zardari sorely troubled.

But Mansoor Ijaz wasn’t done yet. In another op-ed, he asserted that the Zardari-Haqqani duo had advance notice of US intention to execute Osama bin Laden on May 2nd! But this was in early December; lots more transpired in between his first provocation and the last.

NATO (read US) helicopters and aircrafts attack the twin posts at Salala

On November 26th, NATO aircrafts and helicopter gunships launched an attack on the recently constructed twin-posts “Volcano” and “Boulder” in Salala region of the Mohmand Agency in Pakistan. Of the 40 soldiers, including two officers, occupying these posts, 26, including both officers, were killed and 14 wounded. Not a single soldier escaped unscathed.

These posts were constructed in September 2011, before the onset of winter about 2 ½ kilometers inside the Durand Line1 for the express purpose of preventing movement on either side of the Durand Line by Pakistani Taliban. As per international agreements, the Afghan government was informed of the intention to construct these posts and map coordinates along with specifications were provided. In the period when these posts were under construction, ISAF/NATO helicopters often kept surveillance over them from across the Durand Line to ensure these weren’t violating specifications.

Since these were “anti-infiltration”  posts, they had no overhead protection nor were they equipped to respond to an air attack. The only weapon capable of effective anti-aircraft fire was an antiquated 12.7 MG. Knowing the kind of firepower that NATO/ISAF forces could retaliate with, it is preposterous to imagine that anyone at the post would engage a NATO helicopter first.

The contention that NATO helicopters were pursuing Taliban is also singularly unconvincing. Anybody who has some idea of how Taliban operate is aware that they move in ones and twos to collect at a given RV, attack and immediately disperse. Even if they intended to remain together to carry out another attack the next night, they would find a hideout in a valley; certainly not on the top of a ridge.

The final excuse presented by NATO forces for this massacre is that some Taliban probably engaged them with a rocket and, their response, resulted in the confusion. While the excuse offered is plausible but it too is given the lie by two facts: a) the manner of the attack as described by the survivors and b) we are talking about the most high-tech aircraft in the world. Would they not know exactly where the Pakistani posts are?

The survivors state that a helicopter flew over, fired a couple of flares to view them all, and then flew away. A few minutes later, some more helicopters and aircrafts appeared, kept lighting up the posts with flares, and firing at us indiscriminately. Major Mujahid tried contacting HQs but couldn’t (communication must have been jammed) and finally ordered the gunner of the 12.7 MG to retaliate. A helicopter killed the gunner with its MG fire. Mujahid took the place of the gunner, was targeted by a rocket that killed him and destroyed the 12.7. Thereafter, we were targeted individually. 

Whatever excuses are offered, it was a deliberately planned massacre that ended in a Turkey shoot.

Now, the only question that arises is why?

An Analysis

June this year, I wrote an article published under the title, “Who is gunning for Pakistan’s top generals”. I had become convinced by then that the western, particularly American mainstream, media was targeting Pakistan’s army chief and the ISI chief.

It was not till we were well into Memogate that I adverted to the comment made by X; which I referred to earlier. Could it really be true? 

Let’s review the facts. Now Mansoor Ijaz, a dubious character by any standards, claims to have been the conduit in numerous negotiations on behalf of the US and Pakistan. However, the continued utility of such a conduit lies in his anonymity, certainly not his notoriety! So, apart from whatever havoc he created in Pakistan’s domestic scene, he has also ensured the termination of the one role that ensured his entry in the US corridors of power. He must have had a compelling reason to do so.

If the fire he lit was intended to tarnish the military’s image, it did succeed to a very limited extent but it back-fired far more on Pakistan’s president. Did he then go whole hog to denounce Zardari in the hope of instigating a military coup, hoping that would embarrass the military? If so, he failed again.

But one thing is beyond dispute. Ijaz is an American, with no ties, no stakes in Pakistan. With such a high profile and such high stakes in the US, he certainly can’t afford to be an agent of the ISI. On the other hand, if he is an agent of the CIA, he would be as safe as houses.

Since he, individually, may have lost something but certainly hasn’t gained anything, at least not on the face of it, he must have had some compelling reasons to expose this charade. His compulsions could not, equally certainly, be Pakistani, in origin. Whatever the source of his compulsions, they had to be American. The same would apply to Admiral Mullen’s memory loss and subsequent recovery of his memory. 

Let’s move on and attempt to examine the Salala attack.

My understanding of how things work in ISAF/NATO HQ in Afghanistan is that any officer can initiate the request for a “routine” operation, based on unidentified information received. The lowest level at which such an operation can be approved is at one-star level. In routine, thereafter, this “approved”  request will travel up channels; it may or may not even be seriously viewed thereafter and, very rarely is it questioned.

While I have no way of knowing exactly what happened in NATO/ISAF or Pentagon/CIA, the impression that I got from the body-language and the response of senior military personnel of ISAF/NATO/Pentagon, is that this “hit” was not sanctioned at the highest level. Certainly not by the so-called American C-in-C; maybe not by the recently appointed Chairman Joint Chiefs; and perhaps not even the Commander NATO forces in Afghanistan. 

Is it possible that there are “rogue elements” within the US military which could order and execute such a massacre on their own? I think so; if this is an attack by such rogue elements; it wouldn’t be the first time and, perhaps not the last time.

But it would explain why so much time was required to “investigate” the incident. An inquiry should, in my view, not have taken more than 48 hours to find out what happened and who was responsible; OK, if they’re slow and very meticulous, let’s say one week. By no stretch of imagination should it require four weeks! 

Unless, the Chairman immediately realized what had really happened and the need for wasting time; time for things to cool down a little; time to discover whose ass was exposed; whose to cover and who, if anyone, was to be hung out to dry!

I am convinced that the Pakistan army, its top brass, and the ISI are being subjected to a well-planned, coordinated psychological warfare campaign; “and if in the process it (the Pakistan army) is destroyed, so be it”!

But it keeps backfiring! The attack on Salala should have destroyed the army but, while there is a seething rage within the rank and file of the army and considerable recriminations leveled at the top brass, there is also the awareness that if anyone in Pakistan is going to say NO to US demands; it won’t be the president or PM, it can only be the army chief; there are other reasons too but this is the most powerful one.

The army responded strongly, firmly, and without losing its cool; but the gloves are off now. The US is, at best, a “frenemy”; not a friend, closer to an enemy, and it is up to the US to prove otherwise. There are still critics of the army wondering, with good reason, why it did not respond to the attack, while it was in progress. The breakdown of communication is understandably responsible for this but I do not think that scrabling the Pakistan air force at that time would have helped. 

In fact that might have been exactly what the person ordering the US attack on Salala might have hoped for. Consequent to an air battle with the Pakistan air force, we could well have been at war with the US. And, in that eventuality, what happened at Salala and why, might have become irrelevant.

I fear, however, that the US psy-war campaign against Pakistan army isn’t quite over yet.

On December 5th, Eli Lake, perhaps the one journalist most well connected with Pentagon/CIA wrote an article titled “America’s shadow state in Pakistan”. It’s artistically subtle in its accusations; but being Pakistani and a former soldier to boot, maybe I am biased. But very interestingly, M. K. Bhadrakumar, a former Indian diplomat responded to it in his, “Why someone is blackmailing Kayani”. Now he, certainly isn’t biased, but he is bright and balanced; not a Paki-hater. Let me conclude by quoting him.

“Surely, someone in the know of things on the US’s intelligence operations in Pakistan gave him a peep into…’someone’ very special of the stature of David Petraeus….someone is softly, gently rocking Pakistani army chief Ashfaq Kayani, suggesting it’s time to wake up from the reverie. After all, Iran just showed how to shoot down America’s latest stealth drone aircraft. And Kayani just told his men in the border with Afghanistan that they could shoot at what they want…. And Lake reminds us gently that all these deadly US inroads into the ISI’s bowels began when Kayani was heading the ISI….slips in the intriguing thought as well that Musharraf “handpicked Kayani as his replacement as Army chief ….So, the ISI’s pro-American “T-Wing” was formed during Kayani’s stewardship….Lake informs us that Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of US Joint chiefs of staff, was known back in Washington among the folks as the “Kayani whisperer”…. Why is someone in a key position in the US security establishment in Washington deliberately slandering Kayani at this point? I think, with Haqqani gone out of the loop, with President Asif Zardari probably stepping down soon….It seems increasingly that Washington has no Plan B. The setback has come as an avalanche. The Pakistan military has turned the table squarely on the US….how the US doesn’t hesitate to degrade the state structures of even its allies if American interests are involvedIf this was the ruthless fate that visited ISI – an organization that is considered second only to Mossad – I shudder to think what would be the case with lesser mortals like, say, we Indians who live on vegetables and fruits. At the end of the historic “defining partnership” between US and India, will anything be left of our Bharat mata?”


NOTE:The writer is a retired Brigadier of Pak Army & is based in Islamabad. This is an Exclusive Article for PAKPOTPOURRI.


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  • Shahbaz  On December 19, 2011 at 10:22 am


    Muhammad Shahbaz Thuthaal
    Multan road,lahore.

  • sharafs  On December 19, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    I know this certain American for many years and communicate frequently. I had intentionally avoided joining that thread because unlike Brig Qadir, rather than defend, I needed his expose. Most of my articles ever since 2002 and many talk shows are premised on this assumption that gets stronger by each day. Back in 2002, I had suggested that for the sake of clear thinking. let us also start looking at USA as a possible contender if not wholly an enemy. To end the status, I threw back an American phrase about Pakistan ‘Neither Friend nor Foe”. Because like Anatol, I also tend to assess this WOT from a social perspective, I predicted in 2002 that ‘US War of Hate’ will ultimately end in its defeat due to the fallacy of superior technology and failure to take cognizance of numbers. As Clausewitz said, everything else apart, numbers finally matter.

  • Hamid Qazi  On December 19, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    I have slightly different views on Memogate, Mansoor Ijaz was used only as a tool to make this deliberate leak. The leak is not only intended to disrespect the Army and the ISI, but it also is an attempt to create a wedge between the government and the army. The hype created by our own media are understandably very deliberate. However examining the memo minutely, one can safely say it has once again back fired, costing HH his appointment. If something has to come out of it, it could only be your neck versus mine. Therefore HH’s neck is preferred. It has certainly taken its toll on AZ too. Yes what is of serious consequences, is the revelation that, HH and AZ knew about the 2 May attack. I don’t tend to believe that the US would have done it without anyones knowledge in Pakistan. After all they entered deep in to our territory. What if a surface to air missile was fired at them? It could have been construed as mistakenly fired, or it was fired by someone, who was not taken into confidence. Why was AZ the first person, to praise the action? Where as the whole nation condemned it.
    I don’t understand which ever political party that comes to power always end up getting difficult with the Army, although this government gave Army ample opportunities to go for the final kill. But Army and her commanders did well to keep away from bringing any change. Lets say for a change, AZ gave extensions to both The COAS and the DG ISI, why would AZ like to replace them, but if US was pivotal in the extensions, why would they become Kiyani or Pasha haters. I think the Government and the Military are complimenting each other quite well.

  • MAB  On December 19, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    It is quite disturbing that our establishment gets so easily upset, and our Media is so gullible.

    We are not going to ride all these storms if we get so nervous so easily.

    We definitely need to cool down.


  • TMH  On December 19, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    AS suggested in your article, it is CIA/US plan to teach a lesson to Pakistan, by destroying ISI, cutting
    down to size Pak Army, but their main target is to destroy our nuclear program. This is because ISI/PA
    say no to many US moves through AAZ/YRG. The latest attack was to tell Pakistan they mean
    business, Memo scandal is a serial in that direction, Puppets were caught with their pants down.
    They are still singing in unison that HH is innocent, if they get away with this subterfuge they
    are home free. They will muddied the water to such an extent that eventually they will put
    the whole blame on ISI/PA. They have many mole working to that end, which include
    HH’s lawyer. This will again will serve US better.


  • Khan Zia  On December 20, 2011 at 2:16 am

    Thanks. A commendable piece by Brig. Shaukat Qadir. The following extracts from two different books may also be relevant in the same context:

    The Director of U.S. National Intelligence (DNI) Mike McConnell gave a briefing to President-elect Barack Obama on top national security issues on Nov. 6, 2008. The following is an excerpt from that briefing (‘Obama’s Wars’, by Bob Woodward, chapter 1, p.4) .

    “Dealing with the ISI would break your heart if you did it long enough, McConnell had explained. It was as if there were six or seven different personalities within the ISI. The CIA exploited and bought some, but at least one section—known as Directorate S—financed and nurtured the Taliban and other terrorist groups. CIA payments might put parts of the ISI in America’s pocket, McConnell had said, but the Pakistani spy agency could not or would not control its own people.”

    And this following from ‘The way of the world’, by Ron Suskind, (pages 334-335):

    Benazir Bhutto was a guest at the Quetta house of PPP Senator Lashkari Raisani, younger brother of Aslam Raisani, Chief Minister of Balochistan. According to Ron Suskind, Lashkari “is currently on the payroll of at least three intelligence agencies—the American, the British, and the French.”

    ‘They start in the shadows, talking through the kind of backchannel deals that Bhutto is comfortable with. The only way Musharraf and his team will give any ground, Bhutto says, is if the United States does something like “freeze the accounts of the key people around Musharraf. That’s the only path to getting any results. ————-

    “In America, elected people walk out the door and make tens of millions with Halliburton or dealing with Saudis for some investment bank,” she says, nibbling on a pine nut. “Here, they take a cut of the money on its first pass through official hands. That’s the way it is in most of the world.”

    ‘She pauses. “It’s important to be honest about all this, because there’s opportunity here, to get results,” she says. Freeze their accounts, she says, and the men “can’t buy jewelry for their mistresses.” [Naheed] Khan and [Farhatullah] Babar begin to laugh. “The wives will say, ‘Are you telling me our son has to withdraw from Georgetown, and I won’t have the money for what I need?” This is the way you get results. The signal to them is, fine, you love the life in America, the things you can buy, the colleges, or in England? If you want a taste of that, you have to play by certain rules.”

    ‘She starts running through leading officials, their names and profiles – from top ministers to intelligence chiefs. “And the key is no warning,” she adds, “which is what Americans do too much of – always threatening this and that. Then people will hide their money. No, freeze it and say it will be unfrozen if certain things happen.”

    ‘This, after all, is not a far cry from what the United States threatens to do to her the previous summer, to get her to accede to its term, to support Musharraf, to behave, to do as she was told. Bhutto didn’t know about the NSA [National Security Agency] intercepts, but a U.S. official let her understand that the United States could, if need be, “constrain her assets,” just as she was now suggesting they do to Musharraf.

    ‘The darker question in Bhutto’s mind: Why hasn’t the United States done the same to Musharraf and his team?

    “The vice president needs to make the call—he’s the only one that Musharraf will respect—and say, ‘Here, boy, is how things will work,” Bhutto says, her eyes flashing. ————–‘

  • Admiral Sirohey  On December 20, 2011 at 11:41 am

    It is a well thought over article. There will much more yet to be added in due time. Pak /US relations in the past terminated with acrimony. It would be no different. This time it is the Pakistanis in high positions who have been the instrument of aiding and abbeting the enemical intent of aggressive deed against Pakistani posts.

    The memo issue started immediately after attack at Abbotabad. Adm Mullen shouting accusation against the Pak Army and ISI, I have no doubt was in compliance with the Memo. Slala attack followed Haqqani exit. Adm Mullen diatribe astounded even Gen Kayani. ISI has been a thorn in the sides of many countries who would wish to destroy it. The Rulers frequently assisted in their objective. It started with the appointment of retired Lt Gen as the DG ISI. It did not succeed. The present administration placed it under ministry of Interior but quickly retracted.

    The stance of the Government is not understood. If it is not involve it should assist in ensuring the institutions being targeted are aggressively defended.


  • Ian Ombima  On December 21, 2011 at 5:54 am

    Scary stuff. The best way for Pakistan to be allies with America is to keep them closer, as the saying goes keep your friends close and your enemies closer..


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