Can Mrs. Clinton Control CIA In Afghanistan?

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Oct 29, 2009, 8:38:07 PM10/29/09

© 2007-2009. All rights reserved. & PakNationalists

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Can Mrs. Clinton Control CIA In Afghanistan?


There is a reason why her first visit to Pakistan turned into a big firefighting mission.  In less than two years, even Pakistan's elite turned suspicious of US intentions.  Forget Hillary's empty accusations that Pakistan is protecting al-Qaeda, the truth is that Washington has played a double game with Pakistan.  Afghanistan today is a hub for anti-Pakistan activities and a source for the supply of weapons to terrorists in Pakistan [and Iran, and China].  The charm offensive aside: Can Mrs. Clinton and President Obama control CIA activities in Afghanistan?  Who is setting America's Afghan agenda?


She came, she charmed, she failed to convince.




Thursday, 28 October 2009.



ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—Two years ago, when isolated reports in the Pakistani media accused the United States of playing a double game in Afghanistan, most commentators dismissed them as conspiracy theories and kneejerk anti-Americanism.


Today those reports dominate the mainstream Pakistani media.  The distrust is so serious that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had to turn her first official visit to Pakistan into a firefighting mission, kicking off a charm offensive to win over skeptic Pakistanis.


Her campaign has included Facebook advertisements targeting young Pakistanis, town-hall type meetings, and group television interviews with anchors meant to maximize her on-air exposure.


Before she even landed in Pakistan, Clinton had instructed US diplomats in Islamabad to get tough with the Pakistani media.  At one point, the American ambassador wrote a secret letter to a large Pakistani newspaper accusing one of its columnists, a critic of US policies, of endangering American lives.  She gave no evidence of how a policy critique endangered anyone's life.  The columnist was dropped after ten years of working for the paper.  The US embassy in Pakistan is very powerful thanks to a pro-US Pakistani government that sees Washington as a hedge against the powerful Pakistani military.


Not that Mrs. Clinton and the US diplomats are alone in countering critics of US policies here.  Pakistan's ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani, a former journalist who is widely derided as 'Washington's ambassador in the Pakistan embassy', is known to have put his media management expertise in the service of defending his government's ultra close ties with Washington, although his planted image-enhancement stories find little buyers among Pakistanis.


Mrs. Clinton's visit was so carefully choreographed that US diplomats launched a strict vetting process to determine which Pakistani television anchors should be allowed to participate in a 'pool interview'.  The point was to exclude anyone critical of US policies ['anti-American' to US diplomats].  This sharply contrasts with the statements Clinton has been giving here, like this one she gave to the television anchors, "It is especially critical that we do more of what you're doing today with your colleagues so that I have a chance to answer the questions that are on the minds of the people of Pakistan."


But when time came for the real questions, she dodged them.  So much for a successful public diplomacy.


Despite all this vetting, one anchor, Talat Hussain from Aaj News, managed to throw a couple of 'real' questions that unsettled Secretary Clinton.  Visibly embarrassed, she kept repeating the line, 'No one can say Pakistani media is not free after this' and she kept repeating it until the end of the show.


At one point, media officials in the provincial capital Lahore wrote to higher-ups complaining against US diplomats who manipulated which Pakistani journalists should be allowed to interact with Clinton.  "She came here to interact with Pakistanis. US diplomats don't get to decide which Pakistani media can attend her public events and which one cannot," a senior Punjab provincial official told me from Lahore.


This kind of media management is normally the prerogative of the host government and not the guest.  In another press interaction with a few journalists in Lahore, Mrs. Clinton sat down with a handful of predominantly pro-American media personalities, including one widely known to be a paid consultant for the US Department of Defense, who normally advises on Pakistani affairs and is famous for saying everything that American policymakers want to hear. 


So much for Mrs. Clinton's public diplomacy mission, almost every Pakistani journalist known for well reasoned and calibrated critique of US policies was excluded from any interaction with the US Secretary of State.  Which says a lot about Washington's tolerance level for criticism despite the high-sounding lectures on democracy that Mrs. Clinton delivered in Pakistan.


How fake in real sense this public diplomacy trip was can be gauged from the following:  Mrs. Clinton's first day in Pakistan was full of warm imagery and rhetoric: how she and her husband love Pakistanis, how she and President Obama enjoy Pakistani food, how honest and straightforward she is, and how sincere United States is in its friendship with Pakistan.

Mrs. Clinton was received by a junior Foreign Office diplomat while for some reason Foreign Minister Qureshi stayed away


But when it came to substance, she was full of hot air.  For example, during the 'pool interview' with seven television anchors, she curtly ignored a question about the increasing incidents of arrests of US special operations officers inside Pakistani cities carrying diplomatic passports and illegal weapons.  You would think she might want to address this point considering that this and similar stories are stoking Pakistani public's anger. But no, she didn't.


Merely two days before her arrival, four US 'diplomats' were arrested somewhere in the Pakistani capital dressed as Afghan Taliban, carrying illegal and unlicensed weapons, and in possession of pictures of sensitive buildings.  They were released on the intervention of the Interior Ministry, headed by a close aide of President Zardari.  The Ministry is openly accused in the media of not only covering for the US embassy's illegal actions but also of licensing the operations of private US security firms across Pakistan on an unprecedented scale not seen or known even during the reign of the former pro-US president Musharraf.  Interestingly, the Pakistani intelligence agencies have been kept out of the loop by both the US embassy and the Ministry.  This alone has generated tremendous ill will within the Pakistani public opinion against Washington.


Last month, a Pakistani journalist published official documents leaked from within the Interior Ministry that positively showed US Ambassador Anne Patterson colluding with the Ministry to 'legalize' a cache of weapons that came from an unknown source [most probably from Afghanistan]. The cache was handed over to an American security firm that was later stopped from operating in Pakistan.


Mrs. Clinton had a simple answer when a journalist asked her about such incidents. "I don't know about this," is what she said to someone asking her about the latest incident involving four US 'diplomats'.


These are some of the issues that the mainstream US media hides from the American public.  No wonder most Americans don't know how bad their government and intelligence mess in Afghanistan is.  US citizens are unaware, for example, about the strong Pakistani apprehensions that Washington – or some powerful lobbies there – decidedly brought in anti-Pakistan forces into the government in Kabul, and then set them loose on a course of collision with Pakistan, including recruiting, financing and training terrorists to incite an ethnic insurgency in Balochistan exploiting local grievances.  For most of the past eight years, the US Ambassador in Kabul was an anti-Pakistan diplomat who spent more of his Afghan assignment finding ways and means to target Pakistan. 


Pakistanis also have strong evidence that some Americans allowed India to set up a vast intelligence network there, hidden beneath several development projects.  This network is involved in pumping money and weapons to terrorists inside Pakistan.  [On Oct. 28, Pakistani police arrested five members of a banned militant outfit and seized about 150 kilos of explosives of Indian origin, automatic rifles and suicide vests from them].

The above cannot happen in US-occupied and controlled Afghanistan without US knowledge.  Or, to be precise, without the knowledge of at least one influential US actor: the intelligence community.  CIA and possibly other US spy agencies that come under the Department of Defense are involved in fostering terrorism not just in Pakistan but also inside Iran and western China. 


In Pakistan, elements in CIA aided by the Indians and Karzai's spy groups have played a role in setting up and feeding insurgencies across western Pakistan between 2004 and 2008.  This was done during the Bush-Cheney administration as punishment for Pakistan for not completely submitting to the US project in Afghanistan. Washington then suspected that Musharraf was double dealing.  US did not want Pakistan to have any independent foreign policy or ideas on Afghanistan, Kashmir and India other than what Washington was planning. 


The spate of recent suicide bombings in Pakistan, killing some 200 Pakistanis in less than a month, is not the work of mountain hillbillies in South Waziristan on the Pak-Afghan border but the work of trained operatives who receive support, intelligence and training from organized military groups.


We know our own citizens are involved in this terrorism, but the small terror army in South Waziristan is not getting its money and weapons from inside Pakistan.  Rehman Malik's Interior Ministry and the military's spy agencies have credible, strong and detailed information about how a US-controlled Afghanistan is being used for anti-Pakistan covet warfare. BLA and TTP terrorists have a safe haven there.  Terrorist Abdullah Mehsud was killed in 2007 slipping back from Afghanistan through Balochistan [and not the tribal belt] after meeting his backers.  We know why the Chinese working on different projects in Pakistani were targeted here. 


American officials like Hillary Clinton avoid commenting on these issues.  The question she dodged from a Pakistani journalist on armed US 'diplomats' was a sign that we increasingly recognizing from watching US diplomats work in Iraq and Afghanistan.  US diplomats are averse to commenting on possible clandestine activities of CIA and or people from the US military in the host country.


For years, US officials have been praising Pakistan for helping eliminate Al Qaeda and complaining about lack of Pakistani cooperation in pursuing the Afghan Taliban.  That was Bush administration's refrain.  Under Mr. Obama, his diplomats in Islamabad took turns this month in threatening war against Pakistan and in confirming the presence of Mullah Omar and Bin Laden inside Pakistan, without evidence of course, since US statements are enough.  In return we, Pakistanis, are not allowed to make similar conjecture about the presence of bin Laden in Afghanistan, where the US military can't control the country eight years later.


Mrs. Clinton has added a twist to this American-Afghan saga.  One of her rather bold statements in Pakistan is so fantastic I must quote it as it was reported by the Associated Press: "I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they [Al Qaeda] are and couldn't get them if they really wanted to," Clinton said in an interview with Pakistani journalists in Lahore.  "Maybe that's the case.  Maybe they're not gettable.  I don't know."


Amazing to see her determination to question the role of Pakistan when she has no evidence on anything that she is saying.


While the isolated pro-US Pakistani government is understandably reluctant to confront Washington on this eight-year-old charade, the Pakistani public opinion, the media, opposition parties and the powerful military have all had it.  Washington is good at messing things up and even better at pinning the blame on others.  For some reason, Mrs. Clinton and her administration won't admit that they messed up Afghanistan big time and that rogue elements within the US military and intelligence played a big role in this.  [The New York Times has reported that one of Afghanistan's biggest drug barons, a brother of the US-backed Afghan president, has been on CIA's payroll for years.  Criminals and warlords in the Afghan government are allies of CIA and the US military.  The US spy agency is also involved in fomenting trouble inside Pakistan, Iran and western China using the Afghan base.  CIA is not always good at what it does, that's why many Pakistanis have ended up knowing some of the truth.  Late but better than never.]


Can Mrs. Clinton and President Obama control CIA and the increasingly independent-minded US military in Afghanistan?  The answer to this question will determine if peace returns to our region any time soon.


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