Saturday, May 07, 2011, The News
ISLAMABAD: A silent but serious blame game has started between the military and civilian leadership of Pakistan and the top most army leaders have accused the civilians leadership of ignoring the war on terror and bypassing the army and the intelligence agencies in dealing with the Americans.
The stunned civilians are tight lipped but Ambassador Husain Haqqani has retaliated against the ISI and, by implication, the army. He has full support of President Zardari.
The top military leaders on Friday met about 20 top TV anchors and journalists and revealed that the present government had not discussed the war on terror with the army “even once during last three years”.
A more serious allegation made was that the Pakistan Embassy in Washington DC and other cities had issued more than 7,000 visas to American citizens without security clearance which had brought the situation to the present level.
Federal Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan, federal Secretary Salman Bashir and Foreign Office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua refused to speak on the issue through their staff while the Prime Minister’s Secretariat just gave a brief response.
A private TV channel, however, quoted Ambassador Husain Haqqani in Washington on Thursday saying that the issue of visas had been settled and everybody was on board when these visas were issued.
Haqqani also accused the army leadership indirectly by saying: “Let us also ask who issued the visas to Osama ben Ladin to come to Pakistan.” Press Secretary to the Prime Minister,
Shabbir Anwar, who was in Paris replied to The News question regarding government non-serious behaviour on the war on terror and suggested that we speak to Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) on this issue “as only they can guide on this”.
However while replying to the question of issuing more than 7,000 visas to American citizens without mandatory clearance by Pakistan’s intelligence agencies, Shabbir Anwar said that Foreign Office should be contacted to get exact details.
Top military leaders, however, gave a detailed briefing to more than twenty selected electronic media anchorpersons on Wednesday and shared the nitty gritty of the Abbottabad Operation and explained the point of view of Pakistan Army and ISI on different confusing questions boggling Pakistanis.
They clarified that the increasing US intervention into different things, issues and aspects of Pakistan was because the present government was obeying each and every order of the US government or military.
One top military official told journalists that during last three years the present PPP government did not discuss or ask the army about any development regarding war on terror and did not give any advice of any kind on this most crucial issue the nation is facing.
He said that neither Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani nor President Asif Ali Zardari ever asked anything. They obey US orders and this has reached such a level that the government issued over 7,000 visas to Americans without any clearance from ISI.
The top Pakistan Army official during the same meeting disclosed that 450 visas were given on one single night. He said that all this was not in their control so Americans were penetrating everywhere.
He said that process of issuance of visas continued without any hindrance and without clearance of concerned intelligence agencies resulting in an influx of a large number of US spies, soldiers and other officials.
On providing information to the CIA about Osama, a senior official said ISI had very clearly conveyed to US government and its intelligence agency that a cellular SIM had been switched on in areas near to Taxila and Haripur and the person was speaking Arabic. “We have not only conveyed this significant information to the US agency but also sent them the transcript of this conversation.”
This top military official said: “Yes, this is true that we couldn’t reach exactly to this Osama compound but it was only because of the information of this SIM and transcript that US agency by using the latest technology reached the target location.”
The statement of this top military official was in direct conflict with what Foreign Office said on Wednesday that Pakistani ISI was providing information to US CIA since 2009 specifically regarding this compound.
However, the military official clarified that same sentence was wrongly incorporated in the press release because of misunderstanding as ISI was providing intelligence regarding periodical switching on this SIM in the same area since 2009 which led US to find out this compound.
When The News contacted different government officials to verify statement of top military official no one was ready to speak on the issue.
When Firdous Ashiq Awan was approached and her staff was asked the question her cell and other phones stopped responding.
When The News contacted office of the Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, his staff said that the Secretary Sb could not speak. His staff was given the question on visas as per directions of the Prime Minister Secretariat but on being contacted later his staff said that there was no answer to this question.
Foreign Office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua and her office also responded in the same way and did not reply to the written questions despite tens of requests made on phone and through messages. Countless efforts by The News to get a response from the presidency also failed.
Sources told The News that among others who gave the briefing to the 20 journalists included COAS Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, DG ISI Lt Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha and DG ISPR Maj Gen Athar Abbas.
However, a senior government official claimed that at the time of entry of any foreign national into Pakistan at any airport, representatives of ISI are always present and they are supposed to monitor and verify records of entering foreign nationals.
He said that if there were certain American nationals entering into Pakistan without security clearance they should have been stopped at the airports.
He said that even ISI officials were present on special desks made for Americans arrivals and departures. The official said that the fact is this that military leadership and elite intelligence agencies of Pakistan were on board when this clearance-free visa facility was extended to Americans.
The official representing the government also said that it was out of question that issue of war on terror was never discussed during numerous meetings of the military leadership with the prime minister and the president during these three years.
He said that even if the civilian leadership was not discussing the issue of war on terror, the military leadership should have discussed it at its own.
He said that if for getting deposed judges restored military leadership could visit the presidency twice in a day without any invitation, then why the same could not be done in case of most crucial issue the nation was facing in all these years.
The top government official said that this was not the time for a blame game rather this was the time to admit guilt, shortcomings and mistakes and to make strategy to move forward and take nation out of the present crisis.
Courtesy : The News, Saturday, May 07, 2011