Thursday, March 20, 2014

Who betrayed whom?

Carlotta Gall is a New York Times correspondent

The book – “The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014” penned by NYT correspondent Carlotta Gall – claims that former Army Chief Gen Ashfaque Pervez Kayani and then-ISI chief Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha were aware of Osama’s presence in the country. 

Ms Gall, who covered Afghanistan and Pakistan for The New York Times from 2001 to 2013, has also claimed in her book that the ISI ran a special desk to handle Bin Laden, which “operated independently” and was “led by an officer who made his own decisions and did not report to a superior.” The officer “handled only one person: Bin Laden”, she wrote.

In effect, Gall's charge is that Pakistan betrayed America by knowingly hosting OBL.

Here are the official rebuttals: A spokesperson for the military’s media wing denied the allegations. “Nobody in Pakistan knew about the presence of Osama bin Laden,” said a text message sent out by the ISPR to correspondents on behalf of the ISI. “There is no truth in the New York Times report,” it said.

Pakistan’s foreign office on Thursday also rebuffed the claims. “These are baseless allegations and the ISPR and former PAF chief have already denied these,” said a spokesperson at the weekly briefing of the Foreign Office.

What is far more interesting IMO are the comments from (the above noted former PAF chief) Air Chief Marshall (retd) Rao Qamar Suleman.

“General Kayani phoned me at 2:07 am and informed me that two foreign helicopters have been detected and to please check this movement,” Suleman told at the M.M. Alam airbase in Mianwali, recalling the incidents that happened that night. 

“I have told the Abbotabad commission all the facts about the incident in which Osama bin Laden was killed, including the record of phone calls and maps,” he said.

To a question, he said that US Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen rang up General Kayani at 5:00 am on the same morning and informed him that US soldiers had conducted the operation and killed Osama inside Pakistan.

The former air chief said Pakistan Air Force (PAF) radars were working well at the time of the intrusion by US Navy SEALS but were not set at low altitude because Pakistan did not consider US as its enemy.

“PAF radars at the Pakistan-China border, Pakistan-Iran border and the Pakistan-Afghanistan border have not been on low altitude because there have been no threats to our security from these countries.“According to Pakistan’s security policy, USA has never been an enemy. Rather, it has been our friend so we never alerted our radars towards the western borders,” he said.

“After the Abbottabad operation, the entire national security policy has been revised and now radars on all borders monitor every movement,” he said.

In effect Suleman's charge is that America betrayed Pakistan and abusing the trust vested in a (presumed) friend.

If the underlying claims are true then presumably both the accusations of betrayal would stand as well.


1 comment:

  1. The blue font stuff is basically incorrect; radar design in mountainous territory is notoriously weak. Neither the Himalayas nor the Myanmar mountainous border is well radar covered, and we, in India, switch off the radar for extensive periods of time, not because of the cost, but because we know that radar coverage is not continuous. Blaming the Pakistan air force for turning off (?, I am positive that the breaks in coverage would have been easily identified by USAF, and jammed when needed) is really stupid.

    This is a horrible sentence "radars were working but not set at low altitude". I doubt if they have enough radars can be set at low altitude. At an elevation range of say, 1000 ft, the range will be 20 km, so what would be the point in setting at low altitude? You will not have coverage unless you have a radar every 20 km.

    Words like betrayed are useful in personal context, but meaningless geopolitically.