Tag Archives: pakistan

Not all idiots in Washington are lobbyists…

… take Dana Rohrabacher, Republican congressman from California’s 46th District, for example.

Rohrabacher has set off a storm of anti-American protests in Pakistan — like we need more of that — by deciding that now is a good time to call for Baluchistanis to have their chance at independence.

In addition to the riots reported in the U.S. press, Pakistani news reports — here, here and here — imply that Rohrabacher’s resolution, which has absolutely no chance of being passed by Congress, is being used by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) to further fuel anti-American sentiment:

Also present at the rally was DPC member Hamid Gul, who headed Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency during the 1980s Pakistani-sponsored war against Soviet troops in Afghanistan that gave rise to al Qaeda and the Taliban.

His membership has fuelled suspicions that Pakistan’s security establishment is backing the coalition as a means of exerting pressure on the weak government and whipping up rhetoric against the unpopular US alliance.

The ISI are the folks who are constantly undermining our efforts to support a stable Afghanistan, because they consider it less a country than “strategic depth” protecting Pakistan from invaders.

Rohrabacher isn’t just picking a fight with Pakistan, though: as seen in the map above borrowed from Wikipedia’s “Balochistan” page, ethnic Baluchis are found in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. Three countries we don’t need any more trouble with right now.

Rohrabacher has long been known for being to the very far right of the Republican Party. Uninformed resolutions like this one, and statements like this one on clearcutting the rain forests, make it obvious that his ascension to the chairmanship of a House Foreign Affairs Committee subcommittee is based entirely on seniority, and not brainpower. The man’s an idiot.

Pakistan’s ISI buying influence in Washington…

One of the oldest crimes in lobbying, passed in the era of Nazi Germany’s efforts to influence U.S. policy on Europe, is taking money from foreign governments without reporting it to the Department of Justice. Another Pakistani fell afoul of that law today, pleading guilty in Federal court:

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A Virginia man has pleaded guilty to secretly receiving millions of dollars from Pakistan’s spy service while lobbying Congress for more than a decade on the disputed Kashmir territory.

On Wednesday, 62-year-old Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, who ran the D.C.-based Kashmiri American Council, pleaded guilty in Alexandria to two counts of conspiracy and impeding the Internal Revenue Service.

Fai admitted receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from Pakistani intelligence, but never disclosed those links while serving as a supposedly independent lobbyist on Kashmir, a disputed territory on the India-Pakistan border. (via Salon.com)

Fai’s lawyer says he took money from Pakistani intelligence, but that the money “never affected the work that he did or the message that he put out.” Sure. If you take $3.5 million from a government, and especially from Pakistan’s intelligence services, you expect us to believe that you’re not doing what they want?

Pakistan and Ilyas Kashmiri…

The Huffington Post, via a story this morning from Reuters, has one of those great quotes from Middle Eastern/South Asian government officials that we run into periodically. In this country, we call them lies. In the region, they are something undefinably different from that.

“I can confirm 100 percent that he is dead,” Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters on Monday. “I got this information this morning.”

The individual in question, Al Qaeda militant Ilyas Kashmiri, may or may not have died in a U.S. drone missile attack in Pakistan. The U.S. government isn’t convinced, despite the “100 percent” assurance from Minister Malik.

Leaving aside the supposed fact that no one in Pakistan knew that Osama bin Laden was living in plain sight in Abbottabad for years, two episodes come to might that might explain the U.S. skepticism:

  • Hosni Mubarak and the Achille Lauro: After negotiating the release of the Achille Lauro and its passengers (excepting Leon Klinghoffer, who had been murdered), Hosni Mubarak lied to the U.S. Government and to television reporters calling out questions to him, saying that he had no idea where the hijackers were despite having them in Egyptian custody. Mubarak decided that it was better to lie to the U.S. than face the anger in the streets that would surely ensue from turning the PLO terrorists over to the U.S. Government.
  • President Zia ul-Haq and George H.W. Bush: During a visit by then Vice-President Bush to Pakistan, President Zia lied to his face about Pakistan’s pursuit of a nuclear bomb, despite the massive evidence of their research being far more advanced than what was needed for peaceful nuclear power. Zia appeared to have reasoned that it was better to pretend that Pakistan wasn’t building a bomb, because then the U.S. and Pakistan could continue to cooperate on other issues, including the war in Afghanistan. Little could he have predicted, though, that it would be Bush — this being the Bush of ultimate politeness who hand-wrote thank-you notes to foreign leaders for their participation in the first war on Saddam Hussein — would be so offended by Zia’s statements that he would cut off all U.S. aid to Pakistan once he became President.

In South Asia, statements sometimes include truth, and sometimes they do not. Kashmiri’s early careeer, as his name suggests, included time as a fighter for the independence of Kashmir, something Pakistan desperately wants. It’s more likely he’s alive and hidden somewhere in Pakistan than dead.



Duane Clarridge and private spying…

There are a remarkable number of defense needs that the U.S. Government has outsourced in recent years, often with unforeseen unpleasant results. Another of these would seem to be the private spy network set up by former CIA agent Duane Clarridge, once indicted in the Iran-contra affair but later pardoned. Clarridge’s network was profiled in a slightly scary piece in Sunday’s New York Times, including these rather alarming ideas:

Over the past two years, he has fielded operatives in the mountains of Pakistan and the desert badlands of Afghanistan. Since the United States military cut off his funding in May, he has relied on like-minded private donors to pay his agents to continue gathering information about militant fighters, Taliban leaders and the secrets of Kabul’s ruling class.

Hatching schemes that are something of a cross between a Graham Greene novel and Mad Magazine’s “Spy vs. Spy,” Mr. Clarridge has sought to discredit Ahmed Wali Karzai, the Kandahar power broker who has long been on the C.I.A. payroll, and planned to set spies on his half brother, the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, in hopes of collecting beard trimmings or other DNA samples that might prove Mr. Clarridge’s suspicions that the Afghan leader was a heroin addict, associates say.

So what’s scarier? The idea that the U.S. military paid such a guy to pseudo-spy? Or the idea that private donors have stepped in so he can keep doing it?

If you want to track Mr. Clarridge’s ongoing career, check out blog postings by thriller writer Brad Thor on the conservative site Big Government.com. The Times indicates that Thor’s postings are sourced from Clarridge. Just take them with a humongous grain of salt.

Bad reporting on India…

Somehow the mainstream media still fails to get it. The ‘it,’ in this case, being why we don’t trust them any more.

My biggest complaint is that they fail to make ridiculously obvious connections. The New York Times had a November 5 front-page story on President Obama’s trip to India, stating that he will not raise the issue of India’s “Cold Start” program:

NEW DELHI — Senior American military commanders have sought to press India to formally disavow an obscure military doctrine that they contend is fueling tensions between India and Pakistan and hindering the American war effort in Afghanistan.

But with President Obama arriving in India on Saturday for a closely watched three-day visit, administration officials said they did not expect him to broach the subject of the doctrine, known informally as Cold Start. At the most, these officials predicted, Mr. Obama will quietly encourage India’s leaders to do what they can to cool tensions between these nuclear-armed neighbors.

Cold Start is a strategy India has developed in response to the Mumbai terrorist attack, after which it took almost a month to get Indian troops ready for a punitive strike across the Pakistani border. Not to start a war, just to teach the Pakistanis that letting terrorists operate off their soil would have consequences. By the time they got the troops organized, diplomacy had intervened and the military option was no longer viable.

Let’s start with the Times‘ decision to call Cold Start “obscure,” since Pakistani news sources — like this Islamabad Globe article, reprinted at this Pakistani defense website — are freaking out about the policy and Obama’s failure to bring it up.

But that’s a minor point. Skip to the business section, and the article, “Wealthy and Worried, India is Rich Arms Market“:

A big item on President Obama’s India to-do list this weekend is securing a $5 billion deal for Boeing to sell 10 of its C-17 cargo planes…. India, flush with new wealth but worried about its national security, is rapidly turning into one of the world’s most lucrative arms markets…. The White House is backing sales like the C-17s, which India would use to transport its rapid-response forces, to help make India a regional counterweight to China….

Am I missing something here? No, I think the Times is missing something. We’re upset about Cold Start, which is a rapid response team capable of invading Pakistan, so we sell them planes that are designed for carrying rapid response teams. Oops.

Did I mention that it’s a $5 billion deal? Maybe the planes can only fly East toward China, right?