‘The Exile’ – an anti-Pakistan narrative

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The Exile’ is the latest of the half dozen books penned by London-based investigative journalist couple, Cathy Scott-Clark and her spouse Adrian Levy.

It is a story about Osama Bin Laden, al-Qaeda, 9/11, US war against al-Qaeda in which Pakistan was coerced on US side, Osama’s hiding inside Pakistan, his killing at the hands of US commandoes, and much more.

The authors’ ostensible purpose of writing this book, as stated in its preface, is to tell the story of Osama from al-Qaeda’s perspective so that the fictitious yarn woven by US and Hollywood around the person and his getting tracked inside “Waziristan Kothi” in Abbottabad is torn down.

However, reading 500 pages packed with detail, at times quite imaginary, reveals their real intentions: to portray Pakistan as a rogue state, sponsor of terrorism, player of double game, and a threat to the world peace – a nuclear power whose nuclear assets are at the mercy of blood thirsty “jihadists”, nurtured by its spy agency, the ISI, who are out to destroy humanity; and also to garner sympathy for Dr Shakil Afridi. Now, if we go into the background of how “jihadism” emerged on the international arena, the US and CIA will come out in bold relief to be responsible for it.

US started Cold War against the former Soviet Union in 1947. It defeated the latter in Afghanistan with the help of “mujahideen” whom it transported from around the world to Pakistan. Here, before being sent to Afghanistan, CIA facilitated their arms training by Pak army; and indoctrination by mullahs who were willing to use Islam as a tool and to interpret religious teachings in a way that suited their own political ambitions and the strategic interests of US paymasters.

With Soviet Union dismantled, US turned its back on Af-Pak region leaving it in the hands of butchers, the “mujahideen” of yesteryears whose political ambitions prompted them to indulge in slaughter of Afghans. The civil war torn Afghan society threw up in 1994 a crop of young men who had studied in madrassas (religious seminaries) controlled by CIA’s old bedfellows, the mullahs. These madrassa-men called themselves the Taliban (Seekers [of Knowledge]). Their apparent aim was to rid their homeland of civil strife. Pakistan supported them because they provided it “strategic depth”. They were fortified by Arab Afghans (battle hardened Arabs who had fought the Soviets during 1980s) under the banner of al-Qaeda led by an unknown Saudi of Yemeni descent called Osama Bin Laden who had worked as a logistics man during “Afghan Jihad” but was never a great fighter himself.

The Taliban instead of saving the country from civil war plunged even deeper into it and converted the country into a haven for international “jihadi” organisations like the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Harkat ul-Ansar, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, etc.

In 1997 the US neocons, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Elliott Abrams, Francis Fukuyama, Paul Wolfowitz, George Bush, etc, gave shape to an imperialist programme which they would follow in the next century. They called it “Project for New American Century, PNAC”. This would enable US to dominate the world by force and capture natural resources of countries, especially the newly independent Central Asian Republics, and the Middle East. In the Middle East their first target was Iraq. They decided they would invade it as and when they came to power. They would legitimise their actions in the name of democracy by extending the American model to these countries – (exactly the way the Britishers had carried couple of centuries earlier the White Man’s Burden to “civilise” the “barbarians”).They would dismember Iraq and other Arab countries and redraw boundaries in Arabia – the present boundaries in Arabia had been drawn by the British post-World War I. Thus they would set up a New Middle East of their choice which should not be in a position to challenge their domination or harm their protégé, the Zionist Israel.

On the other front al-Qaeda and Osama shifted their bases from Sudan to Afghanistan in 1996. Here they drew plans to draw US into battle. They bombed US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and perpetrated other terrorist actions the most prominent being the bombing of a US ship off the Yemeni coast. Common people of Pakistan heard first time about Osama when US launched missile attacks in 1998 against Afghanistan to kill him.

George Bush took over as US President in January 2001. Time for PNAC and New Middle East. However, the 9/11 terror strike against the US constrained the Bush administration to postpone their Iraq project. Yet it furnished them an opportunity to invade Afghanistan, the springboard of Central Asia. They would, they thought, manipulate things in such a way that the natural resources of Central Asia would come under their control. Also they thought, they would cajole or coerce the Republics to become tools in their policy of containment of China. Also they would take revenge against Taliban administration of Afghanistan for having refused permission to US oil company, Unocal, to construct a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan.

Back to the book, “The Exile”. The authors state that President Musharraf’s reaction to the news of crumbling twin towers of WTC was that it would fetch his country money (p13). Pakistan supported the US war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda because of money. The ISI masterminded 13 December 2001 parliament blast in New Delhi to provoke India to mobilise troops against Pakistan which gave Pakistan a pretext to call back its forces who had surrounded Osama on the Pakistan side of the mountains which cradle Tora Bora caves (p78). Osama escaped the cordon on 14 December (p94). The nuclear armed Islamic Republic was a dangerous country (p191) where terrorists had infiltrated the army (p216). General Hamid Gul had cultivated deep ties with the Taliban during his term, 1987-89(p246).

The reality was that: i) the politico-military force called the Taliban did not exist in 1987-89 when Hamid Gul headed the ISI.

  1. ii) The nuclear assets of terrorism infested Pakistan are as safe (or unsafe) as that of any other country including the US which has the largest number of nuclear weapons and which is the only country that used nuclear bombs against human populations.

iii) Afzal Guru, who was hanged for his alleged involvement in the Indian Parliamentary blast, had been, sometime before 13 December sent by Kashmir Police to New Delhi. The authors Cathy and Adrian Levy may as well accuse Kashmir Police of complicity in facilitating Osama’s escape on 14 December 2001 from Tora Bora cave system.

It would be anybody’s guess that the US did not want to kill Osama on 12 December when they were so close to him near Tora Bora because that would have meant the end of Osama and al-Qaeda and the war. They wanted to continue the war.

CIA killed Osama in May 2011 only to help President Obama win a second term in 2012.

  1. iv) Pakistan supported the US war not because of money but to prevent India from entering the US led coalition against the Taliban. India had, post-9/11, offered the US to use airbases in Kashmir Valley to launch attacks on Afghanistan. Even so, the US allowed space to India in Afghanistan where India spent billions of rupees by way of economic aid. Pakistan army feared that India may use Afghanistan to squeeze them from two sides. To them Taliban was the only way they could check India’s activities in that country. Hence the Pakistan army’s dangerous policy of secretly supporting the Taliban – dangerous because the Taliban narrow-minded ideology spills over the Duran Line and infects Pakistan’s own citizens who turn militant against their own state.
  2. v) If the US paid billions in aid to Pakistan, Pakistan lost much more to terrorism. If Pakistan state is a double dealer, then why doesn’t US snap its relations with that country?
  3. vi) Pakistan’s continued support to the Taliban and other “jihadi” outfits exposes it to accusations of sponsoring terrorism. But what of the US which created, for its own strategic interests, the “jihadi” mindset among many Muslims? There would have been no “jihadi” outfits in the Af-Pak region if the US had not funded their establishment to use them against Soviet Union.

There would have been no Al-Nusra or ISIS if the US had not invaded Iraq. The activities of ISIS and Al-Nusra have resulted in the killing mostly of Muslims and the destruction of Syria and Iraq and destabilisation of the premier Muslim state of Turkey. Pertinently these “jihadi” organisations seldom trained their guns against Zionist Israel whose mistreatment of Arabs they cited as justification for “jihad”.

vii) What is happening in the Middle East is no longer the Arab Spring. It is the neocon project PNAC and New Middle East policy.

Turning once again to the book “The Exile”. Despite 500 pages of detail it is still a mystery as to how actually the CIA tracked Osama. Was it Dr Shakil Afridi who discovered him in the Abbottabad Compound? Or was it Iran that tipped off the CIA about Osama’s wife Khairiah who travelled from an Iranian prison to Abbottabad? Or did the CIA track Osama’s son Hamza who visited his father on 29 April 2011? Or did the CIA track Osama’s aide Ibrahim? Or was it a CIA-ISI joint venture?