Thursday, September 11, 2008




(To be read in continuation of my earlier paper of September 4,2008, titled "US Special Forces Launch Hit & Withdraw Raid in S. Waziristan"at )

The car bomb explosion outside the Indian Embassy in Kabul on July 7,2008, has boomeranged on Pakistan. According to reliable Pakistanipolice sources, the US has been able to collect independent evidence from its own sources that the plan for the explosion was drawn up byserving officers of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and executed through a suicide bomber selected by Serajuddin Haqqani, sonof Jalalludin Haqqani, the senior Taliban Commander.

2. These sources say that while the US has conclusive evidence on the role of some serving officers of the ISI in organising the explosion, itstill does not have adequate evidence to show whether Lt.Gen.Nadeem Taj, the Director-General of the ISI, who is related to Gen.(retd)Pervez Musharraf, was in the picture and whether clearance had been obtained at the political level.

3. The US generally does not act upon intelligence against Pakistan provided by India due to the possibility that it may be motivated. Itacts only when it is able to collect independent evidence from its own sources. The US has not yet been able to identify all the ISI officers,who had played a role in organising this attack just as it was able to identify in 1992-93 all the ISI officers, including Lt.Gen.Javed Nasir, thethen DG of the ISI, who had instigated the Afghan Mujahideen not to sell back the unused Stinger missiles to the US.

4. It may be recalled that after assuming office in January,1993, the then US President Bill Clinton had placed Pakistan in a list of suspectedState-sponsors of international terrorism and pressured Nawaz Sharif, the then Prime Minister, to sack Lt.Gen.Nasir and other officersidentified. Only thereafter was Pakistan's name removed from that list.

5. If the US succeeds in identifying all the officers involved in the Kabul explosion, it may demand their removal from the ISI. It is reportedthat the US investigation has not yet reached that stage.

6. However, the information so far collected by the US investigators on the role of some serving officers of the ISI in the Kabul explosion hasconfirmed the suspicions which it already had even before the Kabl explosion that some serving officers of the ISI and other wings of thePakistan Army have been leaking to Al Qaeda and the Taliban intelligence collected by the US agencies through human and technicalmeans. These suspicions arose following the arrest of some Pashtun tribals by the Taliban and their execution on charges of working forthe US intelligence.

7. Previously, the US was aware that some retired senior officers of the Pakistan Army and its ISI such as Nasir, Lt.Gen.(retd) Hamid Gul,another former DG, etc were allegedly helping the Taliban and Al Qaeda through advice and information. The US also had some vaguesuspicion of the involvement of serving ISI officers at junior level, who had served under Nasir and Gul, when they headed the ISI. Theinvestigation into the Kabul explosion reportedly confirmed the involvement of serving ISI officers even at senior levels.

8. Alarmed by this discovery, the US is reported to have stopped sharing sensitive intelligence with Pakistani Army and ISI officers. Underthe rules of engagement followed till the middle of July, while the US intelligence acted on all information, which called for instant airstrikes, it left it to the Pakistan Army to carry out ground operations where instant follow-up was not required. It was decided in July, withthe approval of President George Bush, that ground-level follow-up would also be done by the US special forces without informing theirPakistani counterparts.

9. The "New York Times" and the BBC, quoting American official sources, have reported that Bush signed a classified order in Julyauthorising ground actions inside Pakistani territory in the tribal belt by the US forces without informing the Pakistan Army beforehand.According to other sources unrelated to the NYT and the BBC,only after the US forces have withdrawn from the Pakistani territory wouldtheir action and the justification for it would be conveyed to the Pakistan Army. It is not clear whether the Presidential orders specify thedepths up to which US forces can enter into Pakistani territory.

10. There are three possible types of cross-border special operations. The first is the hot pursuit into Pakistani territory to kill or capturemembers of the Taliban or Al Qaeda fleeing after attacking NATO forces in the Afghan territory. The second is air-borne raids on suspectedterrorist hideouts to kill or capture Taliban or Al Qaeda operatives on the basis of intelligence about their presence in the hide-outs. Thethird is search and destroy operations on the basis of general and not specific intelligence regarding the location of training camps etc. Itwould seem that only the first two kinds of cross-border operations have been authorised for the present. These would involve the presencein Pakistani territory of the US forces for a very short duration. These would be hit and withdraw or hit and quit operations. The search anddestroy operations, which could involve a longish stay of the US forces in Pakistani territory, do not appear to have been authorised for thepresent.

11. The first raid in Pakistani territory under the new orders took place in the early hours of the morning of September 3,2008, when USSpecial Forces launched a hit and withdraw attack on three houses in the village of Jalal Khel, also known locally as Moosa Nika, in theAngoor Adda area of South Waziristan. The houses were located about one KM inside Pakistani territory from the border with Afghanistan.The village is about one kilometre from Angoor Adda and seven kilometres from the US military base at Machadat in Afghanistan's Paktikaprovince. The raid did not find any high-profile operative of Al Qaeda or the Taliban in the houses raided.The fact that the raid was made soclose to a Frontier Corps (FC)post and that the FC personnel did not react indicated a possible understanding between Admiral Mike Mullen,Chairman, US Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Pakistan's Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), when they met on board anAmerican aircraft-carrier on August 26, 2008, about the circumstances under which US Special Forces could launch hit and withdraw raidson suspected hide-outs of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistani territory close to the Afghan border without prior intimation to the Pakistani posts.

12. The speculation that the raid was made in pursuance of a secret understanding with Kayani created some embarrassment for thePakistan Government and Army. They condemned the raid, but in a low profile manner. But the reports from Washington on September10,2008, which quoted official sources as saying that Bush himself had authorised such raids without informing the Pakistan Army added tothe embarrassment of the Government and the Army. The embarrassment was increased further by comments made openly by Bush in anaddress to the National Defence University at Washington DC on September 9,2008, on the eve of the seventh anniversary of the 9/11terrorist strikes in the US Homeland by Al Qaeda.Bush named Pakistan as among the major battlegrounds in the global war on terrorism andreminded Islamabad that it was its responsibility to eradicate terrorism from the tribal areas. He said: “Defeating these terrorists andextremists is also Pakistan’s responsibility — because every nation has an obligation to govern its own territory and make certain that itdoes not become a safe haven for terror.” He described Iraq, Afghanistan and "parts of Pakistan" as " theatres in the same overall struggle.In all three places, extremists are using violence and terror in an attempt to impose their ideology on whole populations.They murder toimpose their dark vision of the world.”

13.In an unusually strong statement on September 10,2008, Kayani said that his forces would not tolerate such incursions and woulddefend the country's sovereignty "at all costs." "No external force is allowed to conduct operations inside Pakistan," he added. Was it only aproforma protest to conceal any Pakistani secret approval of such raids or was it an expression of genuine indignation? It would be difficultto answer this question at present.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. E-mail: )