Posts Tagged ‘army’

The 10 Most Brazen War Profiteers

Halliburton has become synonymous with war profiteering, but there are lots of other greedy fingers in the pie. We name names on 10 of the worst.
The history of American war profiteering is rife with egregious examples of incompetence, fraud, tax evasion, embezzlement, bribery and misconduct. As war historian Stuart Brandes has suggested, each new war is infected with new forms of war profiteering. Iraq is no exception. From criminal mismanagement of Iraq’s oil revenues to armed private security contractors operating with virtual impunity, this war has created opportunities for an appalling amount of corruption. What follows is a list of some of the worst Iraq war profiteers who have bilked American taxpayers and undermined the military’s mission.

No. 1 and No. 2: CACI and Titan

In early 2005 CIA officials told the Washington Post that at least 50 percent of its estimated $40 billion budget for that year would go to private contractors, an astonishing figure that suggests that concerns raised about outsourcing intelligence have barely registered at the policymaking levels.

In 2004 the Orlando Sentinel reported on a case that illustrates what can go wrong: Titan employee Ahmed Fathy Mehalba, an Egyptian translator, was arrested for possessing classified information from the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

Critics say that the abuses at Abu Ghraib are another example of how the lines can get blurred when contractors are involved in intelligence work. CACI provided a total of 36 interrogators in Iraq, including up to 10 at Abu Ghraib at any one time, according to the company. Although neither CACI, Titan or their employees have yet been charged with a crime, a leaked Army investigation implicated CACI employee Stephen Stefanowicz in the abuse of prisoners.

CACI and Titan’s role at Abu Ghraib led the Center for Constitutional Rights to pursue companies and their employees in U.S. courts.

“We believe that CACI and Titan engaged in a conspiracy to torture and abuse detainees, and did so to make more money,” says Susan Burke, an attorney hired by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), whose lawsuit against the companies is proceeding into discovery before the Federal Court for the District of Columbia.

The private suits seem to have already had some effect: In September 2005 CACI announced that it would no longer do interrogation work in Iraq.

Titan, on the other hand, has so far escaped any serious consequences for its problems (in early 2005, it pleaded guilty to three felony international bribery charges and agreed to pay a record $28.5 million Foreign Corrupt Practices Act penalty). The company’s contract with the Army has been extended numerous times and is currently worth over $1 billion. Last year L-3 Communications bought Titan as part of its emergence as the largest corporate intelligence conglomerate in the world.

No. 3: Bechtel: precast profits

The San Francisco-based construction and engineering giant received one of the largest no-bid contracts — worth $2.4 billion — to help coordinate and rebuild a large part of Iraq’s infrastructure. But the company’s reconstruction failures range from shoddy school repairs to failing to finish a large hospital in Basra on time and within budget.

Recall that USAID chief Andrew Natsios originally touted the reconstruction as a Middle Eastern “Marshall Plan.” Natsios should have known that all would not go smoothly with Bechtel in the lead: Prior to joining the Bush administration, he was chief executive of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, where he oversaw the Big Dig — whose costs exploded from $2.6 billion to $14.6 billion under Bechtel’s lead.

In July, the company’s reputation for getting things done unexpectedly plummeted like a 12-ton slab of concrete when Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), released an audit of the Basra Children’s Hospital Project, which was $70 million to $90 million over budget, and a year and half behind schedule. Bechtel’s contract to coordinate the project was immediately cancelled.

Now that the money is running out, American officials are beginning to blame Iraqis for mismanaging their own infrastructure. But as Bowen warns, contractors like Bechtel, the CPA and other contracting agencies will only have themselves to blame for failing to train Iraqi engineers to operate these facilities (esp. water, sewage and electricity) when they leave.

No. 4: Aegis Defense Services

The General Accounting Office (GAO) estimates 48,000 private security and military contractors (PMCs) are stationed in Iraq. The Pentagon’s insistence on keeping a lid on military force requirements (thereby avoiding the need for a draft) is one reason for that astronomical growth, which has boosted the fortunes of the “corporate warriors” so much that observers project the industry will be a $200 billion per year business by 2010.

Yet the introduction of PMCs has put “both the military and security providers at a greater risk for injury,” the General Accounting Office says, because PMCs fall outside the chain of command and do not operate under the Code of Military Justice.

George Washington University professor Deborah Avant, author of Market for Force and an expert on the industry, says that while established PMCs may act professionally, the government’s willingness to contract with a few cowboy companies like Aegis — a U.K.-based firm whose infamous founder and CEO Tim Spicer was implicated for breaking an arms embargo in Sierra Leone — only reinforces the fear that U.S. foreign policy is being outsourced to corporate “mercenaries.”

An industry insider told Avant that the $293 million contract was given despite the fact that American competitors had submitted lower bids, suggesting the government wanted to hire the foreign company to shield both sides of the transaction from accountability for any “dirty tricks.”

Industry critics, including Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., say that, at a minimum, Spicer’s contract suggests that government agencies have failed to conduct adequate background checks. While it’s hard to say how often PMCs have committed human rights violations in Iraq, the Charlotte News-Observer reported in March that security contractors regularly shoot into civilian cars. The problem was largely ignored until a “trophy video” of security guards firing with automatic rifles at civilian cars was posted on a web site traced back to Aegis.

Although the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division says no charges will be filed against Aegis or its employees, critics say that only proves how unaccountable contractors are under current laws. Since the war on terror began, just one civilian, CIA contract interrogator David A. Passaro, has been convicted for felony assault associated with interrogation tactics.

Even The International Peace Operations Association, a fledgling industry trade association that insists the industry abides by stringent codes of conduct has rejected Aegis’ bid to join its ranks.

No. 5: Custer Battles

In March, Custer Battles became the first Iraq occupation contractor to be found guilty of fraud. A jury ordered the company to pay more than $10 million in damages for 37 counts of fraud, including false billing. In August, however, the judge in the case dismissed most of the charges on a technicality, ruling that since the Coalition Provisional Authority was not strictly part of the U.S. government, there is no basis for the claim under U.S. law. Custer Battles’ attorney Robert Rhoad says the company’s owners were “ecstatic” about the decision, adding that “there simply was no evidence of fraud or an intent to defraud.”

In fact the judge’s ruling stated that the company had submitted “false and fraudulently inflated invoices.” He also allowed the jury’s verdict to stand against the company for retaliating against the whistleblowers that originally brought the case under the False Claims Act, the law that allows citizens to initiate a private right of action to recover money on taxpayers’ behalf. During the trial, retired Brig. Gen. Hugh Tant III testified that the fraud “was probably the worst I’ve ever seen in my 30 years in the Army.”

When Tant confronted Mike Battles, one of the company’s owners, with the fact that 34 of 36 trucks supplied by the firm didn’t work, he responded: “You asked for trucks and we complied with our contract and it is immaterial whether the trucks were operational.”

The Custer Battles case is being watched closely by the contracting community, since many other fraud cases could hinge on the outcome. A backlog of 70 fraud cases is pending against various contractors. Who they are is anyone’s guess (one case was recently settled against Halliburton subcontractor EGL for $4 million), since cases filed under the False Claims Act are sealed and prevented from moving forward until the government decides whether or not it will join the case. The means some companies accused of fraud have yet to be publicly identified, which makes it difficult for federal contracting officers to suspend or debar them from any new contracts. The U.S. Air Force moved to suspend Custer Battles from new contracts in September 2004, after the alleged fraud was revealed.

In May, however, the Wall Street Journal reported that attempts were made to bypass the suspension order by two former top Navy officials who had formed a company that purchased the remnants of Custer Battles. Meanwhile, Alan Grayson, the attorney who filed the Custer Battles case, says that because of orders passed by the CPA, Iraqis have no chance of recovering any of the $20 billion in Iraqi money used to pay U.S. contractors. The CPA effectively created a “free fraud zone,” Grayson says.

No. 6: General Dynamics

Most of the big defense contractors have done well as a result of the war on terror. The five-year chart for Lockheed Martin, for instance, reveals that the company’s stock has doubled in value since 2001.

Yet The Washington Post reported in July that industry analysts agree that of the large defense contractors, the one that has received the most direct benefit from the war in Iraq is General Dynamics. Much of that has to do with the fact that the company has focused its large combat systems business on supplying the Army with everything from bullets to tank shells to Stryker vehicles, which made their debut during the 2003 invasion.

In July, the Post reported that the company’s profits have tripled since 9/11. That should make some people happy, including David K Heebner, a former top aide to Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, who was hired by General Dynamics in 1999, a year before the Stryker contract was sealed. According to Defense watchdogs at the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), General Dynamics formally announced it was hiring Heebner on November 20, 1999, just one month after Shinseki announced a new “vision” to transform the Army by moving away from tracked armored vehicles toward wheeled light-armored vehicles, and more than a month prior to Heebner’s official retirement date of Dec. 31, 1999.

Less than a year and a half later, Heebner was present for the rollout of the first Stryker in Alabama, where he was recognized by Shinseki for his work in the Army on the Stryker project.

Although the Pentagon’s inspector general concluded from a preliminary investigation that Heebner had properly recused himself from any involvement in projects involving his prospective employer once he had been offered the job, critics say the current ethics rules are too weak.

“It’s clear that the Army was leaning toward handing a multibillion-dollar contract to General Dynamics at the very time Heebner may have been in negotiations with the company for a high-paying executive position,” says Jeffrey St. Clair, author of Grand Theft Pentagon, a sweeping review of war-profiteering during the “war on terror.”

Heebner’s case is similar to Boeing’s infamous courtship of Darlene Druyan, the Air Force acquisition officer who was eventually sentenced to nine months in prison and seven months in a halfway house for arranging a $250,000 a year job for herself on the other side of the revolving door while negotiating contracts for the Air Force that were favorable to Boeing.

This March, Heebner reported owning 33,500 shares in the company, worth over $ 4 million, along with 21,050 options.

Not everyone has been happy with the outcome of the Stryker contract. Tom Christie, the Pentagon’s director of operational testing and evaluation, sent a classified letter to Donald Rumsfeld before it was deployed in Iraq, warning that the $3 million vehicle was not ready for heavy fire. Meanwhile, the GAO warned of serious deficiencies in vehicle training provided, a concern that turned serious when soldiers accidentally drove the Stryker into the Tigris rivers. Despite public praise from top Army officials, an internal Army report leaked to the Post in March 2005 revealed that the vehicles deployed in Iraq have been plagued with inoperable gear and maintenance problems that are “getting worse not better.”

Perhaps as insurance against any flap, General Dynamics has added former Attorney General John Ashcroft to its stable of high-powered lobbyists. Working the account are Juleanna Glover Weiss, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former press secretary, Lori Day Sharp, Ashcroft’s former assistant, and Willie Gaynor, a former Commerce Department official who also worked for the 2004 Bush-Cheney reelection campaign.

No. 7: Nour USA Ltd.

Incorporated shortly after the war began, Nour has received $400 million in Iraq contracts, including an $80 million contract to provide oil pipeline security that critics say came through the assistance of Ahmed Chalabi, Iraq’s No. 1 opportunist, who was influential in dragging the United States into the current quagmire with misleading assertions about WMDs. Chalabi has denied reports that he received a $2 million finder’s fee, but other bidders on the contract point out that Nour had no prior related experience and that its bid on the oil security contract was too low to be credible. Another company consultant who hasn’t denied getting paid to help out is William Cohen, the former defense secretary under President Clinton. Many Iraqis now believe that Chalabi is America’s hand-picked choice to rule Iraq, despite being a wanted fugitive from justice in Jordan and despite being accused of passing classified information along to Iran. Iyad Allawi, a potential rival for power in Iraq, has publicly criticized Chalabi for creating contracts for work that he says should be the responsibility of the state.

No. 8, No. 9 and No. 10: Chevron, ExxonMobil and the Petro-imperialists

Three years into the occupation, after an evolving series of deft legal maneuvers and manipulative political appointments, the oil giants’ takeover of Iraq’s oil is nearly complete.

A key milestone in the process occurred in September 2004, when U.S.-appointed Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi preempted Iraq’s January 2005 elections (and the subsequent drafting of the Constitution) by writing guidelines intended to form the basis of a new petroleum law. Allawi’s policy would effectively exclude the government from any future involvement in oil production, while promising to privatize the Iraqi National Oil Co. Although Allawi is no longer in power, his plans heavily influenced future thinking on oil policy.

Helping the process move along are the economic hit men at BearingPoint, the consultants whose latest contract calls for “private-sector involvement in strategic sectors, including privatization, asset sales, concessions, leases and management contracts, especially those in the oil and supporting industries.”

For their part, the oil industry giants have kept a relatively low profile throughout the process, lending just a few senior statesmen to the CPA, including Philip Carroll (Shell U.S., Fluor), Rob McKee (ConocoPhillips and Halliburton) and Norm Szydlowski (ChevronTexaco), the CPA’s liaison to the fledgling Iraqi Oil Ministry. Greg Muttitt of U.K. nonprofit Platform says Chevron, Shell and ConocoPhillips are among the most ambitious of all the major oil companies in Iraq. Shell and Chevron have already signed agreements with the Iraqi government and begun to train Iraqi staff and conduct studies — arrangements that give the companies vital access to Oil Ministry officials and geological data.

Although Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said in August that the final competition for developing Iraq’s oil fields will be wide open, the preliminary arrangements will give the oil giants a distinct advantage when it comes time to bid. The relative level of interest by the big oil companies depends on their appetite for risk, and their need for reserves. Shell, for example, has performed worse than most of its peers in finding new reserves in recent years — a fact underscored by a 2004 scandal in which the company was caught lying to its investors. At this point the key challenge to multinationals is whether they can convince the Iraqi parliament to pass a new petroleum law by the end of this year.

A key provision in the new law is a commitment to using production sharing agreements (PSAs), which will lock the government into a long-term commitment (up to 50 years) to sharing oil revenues, and restrict its right to introduce any new laws that might affect the companies’ profitability. Greg Muttitt of Platform says the PSAs are designed to favor private companies at the expense of exporting governments, which is why none of the top oil producing countries in the Middle East use them. Under the new petroleum law, all new fields and some existing fields would be opened up to private companies through the use of PSAs. Since less than 20 of Iraq’s 80 known oil fields have already been developed, if Iraq’s government commits to signing the PSAs, it could cost the country up to nearly $200 billion in lost revenues according to Muttitt, lead researcher for “Crude Designs: the Rip-Off of Iraq’s Oil Wealth.”

Meanwhile, in a kind of pincer movement, the parliament has begun to feel pressured from the IMF to adopt the new oil law by the end of the year as part of “conditionalities” imposed under a new debt relief agreement. Of course pressuring a country as volatile as Iraq to agree to any kind of arrangement without first allowing for legitimate parliamentary debate is fraught with peril. It is a risky way to nurture democracy in a country that already appears to be entering into a civil war.

“If misjudged — either by denying a fair share to the regions in which oil is located, or by giving regions too much autonomy at the expense of national cohesion — these oil decisions could fracture, and ultimately break apart, the country,” Muttitt suggests.

original source: http://www.alternet.org/world/41083/?page=entire

 

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I’m sorry but I don’t want to be an Emperor – that’s not my business – I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another, human beings are like that. We all want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone and the earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful. But we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men’s souls – has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in: machinery that gives abundance has left us in want.

Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little: More than machinery we need humanity; More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost. The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me I say “Do not despair”. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress: the hate of men will pass and dictators die and the power they took from the people , will return to the people and so long as men die [now] liberty will never perish. . . Soldiers – don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you – who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel, who drill you, diet you, treat you as cattle, as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men, machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts. You are not machines. You are not cattle. You are men. You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don’t hate – only the unloved hate. Only the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers – don’t fight for slavery, fight for liberty. In the seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke it is written “the kingdom of God is within man ” – not one man, nor a group of men – but in all men – in you, the people. You the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have the power to make life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy let’s use that power – let us all unite.

Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old age and security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie. They do not fulfil their promise, they never will. Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfil that promise. Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Soldiers – in the name of democracy, let us all unite!

U.S. failed to warn Pakistanis before strike

Pakistan said Thursday that it had not been warned about a missile strike, thought to have been carried out by the United States, that came hours after a top U.S. official assured Pakistani leaders that the United States respected Pakistani sovereignty.

The missile strike, which reportedly hit the northwest Pakistani region of South Waziristan on Wednesday, is likely to fuel anger over an increase in cross-border operations by U.S. forces.

The operations, which include a ground assault on Sept. 3, have strained the seven-year anti-terror alliance between the two countries.

While denying having received prior knowledge of the strike Wednesday, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi indicated that the civilian leadership of Pakistan wanted to defuse tensions via diplomatic means.

The strike came the same day the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, was in Pakistan to meet with the prime minister, the army chief and other officials.

The U.S. Embassy said Mullen had “reiterated the U.S. commitment to respect Pakistan’s sovereignty and to develop further U.S.-Pakistani cooperation and coordination on these critical issues that challenge the security and well-being of the people of both countries.”

Qureshi, who was among those who met with Mullen, said that Pakistani officials “were not informed” of the strike that took place that same day. Asked about Mullen’s statement, Qureshi said, “it’s a clear, clear commitment to Pakistan to respect Pakistan’s sovereignty.”

Qureshi said he suspected that any split between professed goals and practice on the ground, should one exist, would have been the result of a lack of communication. “If, having said that, there was an attack later in the night, that means there is some sort of an institutional disconnect on their side, and if so, they will have to sort it out,” he said.

Two intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said the missile strike had targeted a compound used by Taliban militants and Hezb-i-Islami, another group involved in escalating attacks in Afghanistan.

One of the officials said that a drone aircraft of the type used by the CIA and by U.S. forces in Afghanistan was heard in the area, and both said they had been told by informants that six people had died in the attack and that three others were wounded.

Gonzalo Gallegos, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, declined to comment Thursday, as is customary in the case of allegations of U.S. missile strikes in the area.

Washington has long been concerned about the use by the Taliban and Al Qaeda of Pakistan’s tribal regions as bases from which to plan attacks on U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. A spate of alleged missile strikes, as well as the ground assault, signal U.S. impatience with Pakistani efforts to clear the area of militants.

Pakistan insists that it is doing all it can and that unilateral attacks will simply deepen tribal sympathy for militants.

This month, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, head of the Pakistani Army, issued a strong public rebuke of the United States, saying Pakistan’s territorial integrity would “be defended at all cost” and denying that there was any agreement for U.S. forces to operate there.

The army also has said that Pakistani troops have orders to fire on intruding forces after the Sept. 3 attack.

There is a lot more sinister against Pakistan than the accusations of its unwillingness or what they call incapability to rein in militants. Before dwelling on the subject of blatant intrusion into Pakistan’s territory and killing scores of people, it is appropriate to expose the US and the West for their machinations to prove that Pakistan is a failed state and it is on the brink of break up. It is true that Pakistan is confronting economic challenges, and also faces threats to its internal security in addition to threats to external security not other than the so-called allies for the last six decades. In the latest Time weekly, there is a cover story with the caption “Pakistan – A nation at risk”, adding that Asif Zardari, Pakistan’s new leader, inherits a broken state. Can he fix it”.The tirade against Asif Ali Zardari is incomprehensible and unjustifiable because the US and the West had themselves wanted that Pakistan should move from quasi-democracy to full democracy, and Zardari bagged more than two-third majority votes from the electoral college for the election of president. This much should suffice to expose their love for democracy, and now something about violations of international law and disregard for sovereignty of Pakistan by the champions of democracy, human rights and freedom of thought, speech and expression.

At least for five consecutive days during the last week, the US and NATO forces conducted air strikes killing more than 100 tribesmen mostly women and children. On Friday, when the ISPR’s spokesman was issuing statement after the corps commanders’ conference expressing the determination of government, army and the nation to safeguard the integrity of the country, another attack was launched killing 12 people. Pakistan’s foreign office as usual gave meek response and launched protest only, whereas Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Pervez Kayani’s warning for retaliation was reflective of the aspirations of the people of Pakistan. Later, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had categorically declared that COAS Ashfaq Pervez Kayani’s statement was in line with the government policy. But one does know what transpired on Friday, as talking to the media the prime minister said: “We can take up the matter of unilateral strikes in Pakistan on diplomatic level but cannot wage a war on the United States”. In fact, not a single leader or political party of the country has asked the government to declare or wage a war on the US. And only an imbecile could have done it. Even Qazi Hussain Ahmed Amir of Jamat-i-Islami, who normally comes out with motional statements, has only asked to counter the border violations.

Some incorrigible pseudo-intellectuals complain that in a democratic setup only government issues such statements and the COAS should not have done it. The politicians and so-called intellectuals with myopic vision cannot realize that it is Pentagon that provides all the inputs to the government to take the decision, and their commanders are coming out with political statements. It is not the intention here to propose that the army should interfere in politics but to highlight the ground reality. Anyhow, the government should understand the difference between waging a war and defence of the motherland. The fact remains that the entire nation demands that the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country should be defended. It is true that the war on terror has now assumed alarming proportions and become Pakistan’s war, because quite a few misguided elements who believe in the righteousness of their cause for waging jihad to fight shoulder to shoulder with the Afghan brothers in Afghanistan are unwittingly putting Pakistan in a difficult situation which is fraught with serious dangers. They do not understand that if anything happens to Pakistan, there would be no other country to give them refuge in future. Nevertheless, apart from some fanatics there are operatives of foreign secret agencies that are very active to destabilize Pakistan. Past and the present leadership have been saying that Pakistan is as much victim of terrorism as Afghanistan it is not a rhetoric but eidetic reality. Those criticizing Pakistan government or security forces for conducting operations against miscreants do not realize that they are trying to bring down the morale of the members of the security forces, as if they are committing some sin when they are trying to establish the writ of the state. It is unfortunate that on one hand Pakistan army and other security forces are under tremendous pressure because they have to fight the terrorists, and at the same time they are under pressure from the super power. In fact, they have to fight so-called allies – the US and the West.

An impression is being created that (American) CIA-operated spy planes intrude in Pakistan territory in North Waziristan Agency and fire Hell-fire missiles whereas NATO forces have refused to conduct operations in Pakistan, as they have the mandate to operate within Afghanistan only. But one should not be misled by NATO commander’s statements or some French and Germans who might have said so because they know there is difference between fighting the terrorists and fighting Pakistani army, should the government ask the latter to retaliate. There is a widespread perception that Americans have lost war in Iraq and they are on the verge of losing in Afghanistan. Since it is an election year, President Bush feels that by exerting pressure on Pakistan, he can stem the tide of insurgency in Afghanistan to impress American voters to vote for Republican president nominee. But it could result in a complete disaster, as pushing Pakistan against the wall could invite massive retaliation. It appears that Pakistan’s so-called allies are framing charges against Pakistan and telling lies, the way they had done in case of Iraq. They are coming out with concocted stories and cooked up evidence that Pakistan is ensconcing Taliban. The charge is not only that Pakistan is not doing enough to rein in Taliban and stop cross-border terrorism but they have also reopened the closed case of nuclear proliferation against Pakistan. With International Atomic Energy Agency’s statement that “Pakistan’s network supplying Iran, North Korea and Libya with illicit nuclear technology had substantial and sensitive information on how to make atomic arms”, the US and its cohorts stand exposed. The IAEA in a restricted report made available to media, also alleged that “much of the AQ Khan network’s material was passed on to customers in electronic form – giving a potentially unlimited number of clients access, whether they were governments or individuals”.

The IAEA’s information was contained in a report on Libya and based on investigations conducted since that country renounced its efforts to make nuclear weapons in 2003. While Libya is no longer a proliferation concern, the report’s revelations on the network are important because it also accused the ‘network’ for having supplied Iran and North Korea with nuclear know-how and hardware. North Korea meanwhile has mothballed its nuclear programme in exchange for the economic package. According to the information, Iran has acknowledged buying from the AQ Khan network, but insists its nuclear programme is meant only to generate power. After report on Libya, a report on Iran is likely to be unveiled when Pakistan will further be pushed into the corner.But the US and the West should realize that air strikes or hot pursuit attacks as envisaged in their new strategy would prove counterproductive because anti-American sentiments would wax, and the moderate forces would sympathise with militants because of the collateral damage caused by their ruthless operations killing mostly women and children.

Tribesmen stand by Kayani, threaten to retaliate
 
A Pakistani jet fighter was seen flying in the skies of North Waziristan Agency (NWA) on Saturday soon after a US drone flew over the border areas but there was no untoward incident.
Tribal sources said a PAF jet fighter appeared at around 1:30pm in the border towns of NWA, minutes after a drone was seen inside the Pakistani territory and hovered over the area for more than 40 minutes. Neither the CIA-operated Predator nor the Pakistani jet fighter took any offensive action as the two planes didn’t encounter each other.

Meanwhile, a representative Jirga of the tribal elders in the NWA threatened the US-led forces stationed in Afghanistan with attacks in Kabul, Bagram and Kandahar, if it failed to stop attacks on innocent tribesmen across the border and announced to raise a tribal Lashkar (force) for the purpose.

The Jirga comprising Malik Nasrullah, Malik Qadar Khan, Malik Mamoor, Malik Muhammad Afzal Khan, Malik Mumtaz and Malik Habibullah welcomed the statement of Pakistan’s Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and vowed to defend the country’s frontiers against foreign aggression alongside the security forces.

“Statement of the Army chief is the voice of eight million tribesmen and that of the 160 million Pakistanis and has served as healing sources for the heirs of those innocent women and children, who were killed in the attacks,” they said.

The elders believed that the US attacks in Pakistan were providing reasons to the tribesmen to fight alongside their brethren in Afghanistan against the occupation of their land by foreign forces.

Malik Afzal Khan Darpakhel on the occasion said history of tribesmen is replete with the stories of bravery, valour and courage, which would definitely be repeated at this critical juncture of time, adding, “In Parvez Kayani, we see that leadership and we offer him our all-out support against the aggressors, who deserve a befitting reply for their cowardly acts against innocent population,” he said.

He also urged the government to come forward and represent its own people by safeguarding their interests instead of looking towards others for country’s safety. “The government should not turn its back to the tribesmen in this hour of need,” he said.

 

AL-QA’IDA’S newly appointed chief in Pakistan, Abu Haris, has been killed in a US missile strike in the country’s tribal areas, according to reports last night.

Intelligence reports said Haris had died from injuries sustained in a major missile strike, launched by the US from an unmanned aircraft, on the compound of militant commander Jalaluddin Haqqani in North Waziristan earlier this week.

Pakistani intelligence officials identified the four foreign militants killed in the strike as Abu Qasim, Abu Musa, Abu Hamza and Haris. Between seven and 12 missiles slammed into the compound close to Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan, flattening a girls’ madrassa and several other buildings.

Intelligence sources last night described Haris as a “highly trained operative” who had only recently been appointed al-Qa’ida’s Pakistan commander, working closely with the leadership surrounding Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Hamza led activities in Peshawar, the main northwest city, and was believed to be a bomb-making expert. Qasim and Musa were both lower-ranking al-Qa’ida members, officials said.

At least 25 people, including two wives of Haqqani and several close relatives, are believed to have died immediately and another 20 people were injured. Haqqani is said to have been away from the compound at the time.

Haqqani and his son, Siraj, have been linked to attacks this year, including an attempt to kill Afghan President Hamid Karzai and a suicide attack on a hotel in Kabul.

Following his swearing-in on Tuesday night, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari held a press conference with Mr Karzai where they committed to a new era of close co-operation in fighting the war on terror.

Earlier, Mr Zardari expressed dismay over the US cross-border strikes.

France, a member of the US-lead NATO coalition in Afghanistan, also broke ranks yesterday to warn that missile strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas were “undermining international efforts” in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“Not only are these creating human tragedies but also situations that have counter-productive effects on the political dynamics we would like to see … a partnership between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the international community,” a French foreign ministry spokesman said.

But US President George W.Bush is reported to have told Mr Zardari in a congratulatory telephone call on Tuesday night to “ignore public opinion” — a remark seen in Islamabad as a reference to the reality that public opinion in Pakistan is overwhelmingly against the US and its incursions.