Eye on Pakistan

In America’s Sights: First Nigeria…Now Jordan

Posted in Foreign Affairs by onpakistan on January 5, 2010

The capture of a Nigerian would-be bomber by the Americans led to the inclusion of Nigerian travelers to the US into the recently instituted ‘extended security’ list. Well, in my previous blog entry, on this very issue, I mentioned as an aside that Jordan may well end up on this list too. Now that we have learnt that the recent bombing of a CIA base in Afghanistan was carried out by a Jordanian (the Jordanians and the CIA thought he was their double agent, it turned out he was a triple agent), I am sure that Jordan will be added to the list. Perhaps, like Microsoft, they’ll roll-out monthly security updates until all countries have been added…

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PIA the First to Submit to America

Posted in Domestic Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Political Economy by onpakistan on January 4, 2010

Foreign nationals (and American ethnic minorities, no doubt!) flying in from 14 “predominantly Muslim” countries are to undergo “enhanced screening” at American airports. (Official TSA announcement here).

According to press reports, and a statement from the airline itself, PIA was the first airline to submit to these procedures, and had done so from the 2nd of January: “Sultan Hasan said the passengers are subjected to special screening, including full body searches, in a designated area of the departure lounge. He said the airline had run advertisements in newspapers to warn prospective passengers of the increased safety measures.” How kind of PIA to offer itself as an advance guinea pig for the new procedures!

This is part of a wider trend towards increased American jurisdiction and control over Pakistani nationals. This is occurring through both legal treaty, and unofficially. The case of Aafia Siddiqui is already well known ( and quite rightly called the “tip of the iceberg”), but there are other recent insidious trends in the same direction. I have already blogged about how Pakistani government attempts to channel money flows in and out of Pakistan through the institutionalized and regulated banking sector will allow for greater U.S. control of Pakistani money transactions. Now this: the Pakistani government has conveniently discovered that it can actually legally deport Pakistanis to America: “We have an extradition treaty with the US,” Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said at a recent media briefing. The basis is, rather flimsily, a US-UK accord dating back to 1932!! Zardari et al clearly want to protect themselves from torture and human rights-based litigation once they retire to their palatial mansions in the UK or Switzerland.

But why bother with formal extradition, when the Pakistani government has allowed American security forces and mercenaries to harass Pakistani citizens in their own homes…in Pakistan? (At least this ‘fortunate’ woman was not dragged off to Bagram, or reditioned to be tortured in Syria – like this unfortunate, and almost randomly chosen, Canadian citizen).

Talk of tortue, ofcourse, takes one back to the countries chosen for additional screening (strip searches anyone?) by the US authorities. They are:

Cuba
Iran
Sudan
Syria
Afghanistan
Algeria
Lebanon
Libya
Iraq
Nigeria
Pakistan
Saudi Arabia
Somalia
Yemen

What an assorted bunch they are. They include strong allies of the US (Pakistan, Saudi Arabia), sworn enemies (Iran, Cuba, Syria), client-states (Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon) and, interesting, governments which happily torture on behalf of the US: Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Algeria, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya. I would not be surprised if Jordan is eventually added: it is both a client-state and lead-torturer.

A final note on PIA. It is in under imminent threat of bankruptcy. It cannot even now pay for the government’s five (yes, five!!) private VVIP jets.  Responsibility for their financial upkeep has now been transferred to the military. (see this report) This may be in preparation for an eventual privatization of PIA. Once the Arabs purchase PIA (and the Arabs are the only politically viable purchasors), the airline will no doubt further fall prey to American security demands. Whilst Bilawal and his buddies will continue to fly in VVIP comfort, Pakistan’s flying masses will have to get used to used to KESC-style service (KESC having been rather disastr0usly sold to Dubai-based Abraaj Capital a while back).

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US-Nato Forces Execute 10 Afghan Civilians, including 8 Children

Posted in Foreign Affairs by onpakistan on January 1, 2010

With news reports such as this, can anyone now doubt that the American-led occupation of Afghanistan will end soon? When they leave, Karzai’s government will fall faster than Najibullah’s following the Soviet withdrawal….

(Even the US-supporting London The Times concedes the execution of these children, see this).

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Blackwater in Pakistan

Posted in Domestic Affairs by onpakistan on November 26, 2009

The author of the recent Nation article on Blackwater’s operations in Pakistan (see my earlier post), Jeremy Scahill, has recently given an interview to Democraacy Now! in which he talks somewhat more about his understanding of Blackwater’s operations in Pakistan. Some choice excerpts:

And the agency that Blackwater forces are supporting is a federal paramilitary force in Pakistan that’s under the Ministry of the Interior there, called the Frontier Corp. The military intelligence official confirmed the Blackwater executives account ,or at least the specific allegation that Blackwater is working with the Frontier Corps. The benefit of this is it allows the Pakistani government to say, “We’re not using any Western forces to do these things,” because the technicality is that there subcontracted by a Pakistani firm that is working with the official Pakistan forces.

Also, something more on Kestral. Scahill mentions an:

arrangement that Blackwater had made with a Pakistani company called Kestral, that is headed by a man named Ali Bagg [sic]. The Blackwater executive told me, that Erik Prince, the owner of Blackwater, is close with the owner of this Pakistan firm that is sort of like a Blackwater and logistical firm wrapped up into one. This is a company the works for Lockheed Martin and Raytheon and Pakistan the government and does a very robust business in war contracting and servicing the war in Afghanistan as well. And my understanding is that Blackwater is working for this company on a subcontract in a configuration that has Blackwater operatives going out technically as advisers with these paramilitary style forces from this company, and that they are doing as you said in the intro, border interdictions in the Northwest frontier province and elsewhere…

For some more comment on the original Nation article, including a picture of Ali Baig and a link to an interview for Arrehman-Arraheem, see this Teeth Maestro blog entry.

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Blackwater in Karachi?

Posted in Domestic Affairs by onpakistan on November 24, 2009

Another addition to the debate over the presence of Blackwater in Pakistan. Citing a “military intelligence source”, the American The Nation claims that Blackwater has a secret ops centre in Karachi. They stand ready to snatch and assassinate, amongst other things.

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CIA Funding Revolution in Iran?

Posted in Foreign Affairs by onpakistan on June 15, 2009

This news just in from presstv.ir, the Iranian news channel. They are claiming that Aslam Beg recently gave an interview claiming that the CIA spent USD400m funding opposition to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Sounds overblown to me, but the truth will out soon in the midst of the Iranian post-election turmoil.

Full news article follows below:

Former Pakistani Army General Mirza Aslam Beig claims the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has distributed 400 million dollars inside Iran to evoke a revolution. In a phone interview with the Pashto Radio on Monday, General Beig said that there is undisputed intelligence proving the US interference in Iran. “The documents prove that the CIA spent 400 million dollars inside Iran to prop up a colorful-hollow revolution following the election,” he added. Pakistan’s former army chief of joint staff went on to say that the US wanted to disturb the situation in Iran and bring to power a pro-US government. He congratulated President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his re-election for the second term in office, noting that Pakistan relationship with Iran has improved during his 4-year presidency. “Ahmadinejad’s re-election is a decisive point in regional policy and if Pakistan and Afghanistan unite with Iran, the US has to leave the area, especially the occupied Afghanistan,” Beig added.

I can’t any mention of this interview anywhere else. Can anyone else?

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