Homeland Security

How Pakistan's Proxy War Began - V
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By B Raman

Second, the Benazir Government as well as the Clinton Administration used the Maulana in end-1994 to create the Taliban from the students of the Wahabi madrasas under the control of the JUI and help it win control of the Afghan territory through which the road to Turkmenistan via Herat passes, in order to pave the way for the construction of oil and gas pipelines by the UNOCAL, a powerful US company, from Turkmenistan to Pakistan. The trained cadres of the HUM and the Lashkar, along with regular Pakistani troops, helped the Taliban in the capture of Herat and subsequently, in 1996, of Jalalabad and Kabul.

The UNOCAL had reportedly contributed heavily to the campaign funds of Bush as well as Clinton of 1992 and amongst the large number of consultants used by it in connection with the project were Senator Hank Brown, who moved the amendment named after him in 1995 to dilute the Pressler Amendment sanctions against Pakistan, and’ Dr Kissinger. Speaking at a reception hosted by the UNOCAL at New York on October 21, 1995, to mark the successful completion of the negotiations with Turkmenistan, Dr Kissinger, in an oblique reference to Benazir’s help in having the area cleared by the Taliban to facilitate the pipelines, praised Benazir, who was represented at the function by Makhdoom Amin Fahim, her Oil Minister, for “her imaginative and courageous decision” to go ahead with the project in spite of the disturbed conditions in Afghanistan. He described her action as one of “great historical significance.”

Book_a_terrorist_stateHowever, subsequently, UNOCAL had difficulties in its negotiations with the Taliban and abandoned the project when the Taliban regime became unpopular in the West because of its violation of the human rights of women.Though the HUM and the Lashkar had been functioning from Afghan territory since 1994 and assisting the Taliban; bin Laden and his Al Qaida had shifted to Afghanistan from Sudan in the first half of 1996, the Clinton Administration did not make an issue of this with the Taliban so long as UNOCAL retained its interest in the pipeline project for which it needed the Taliban’s help. Once UNOCAL lost interest, Washington started pressurising the Taliban to act against bin Laden and other terrorist groups operating from Afghan territory.

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In October 1997, the State Department declared the HUM (then known as the Harkat-ul-Ansar) as a foreign terrorist organisation under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, 1996, following evidence of its involvement in the kidnapping of some Western tourists, including two Americans, under the name Al Faran in J&K in 1995 and in the murder of two American nationals in Karachi.

“¦Nawaz Sharif approved a plan submitted by General Musharraf for shifting the HUM, the Lashkar and the Al Badr terrorists from their camps in Afghanistan to the Northern Areas and use them to help the Pakistan Army in the capture of the ridges in the Kargil area.

Thereafter, it started exercising pressure on Islamabad to act against it. This was intensified in 1998 after the HUM signed bin Laden’s fatwa against the US and Israel. This matter was again taken up by Washington after the hijacking of the IA plane to Kandahar by five Pakistani terrorists of the HUM. Neither Sharif nor General Pervez Musharraf paid heed to the US requests.

The post-1998 period saw the return of Lt Gen Nasir to favour, without any protest from Washington. He was appointed by Nawaz Sharif as his intelligence adviser. Not only that, he made Lt Gen Nasir the head of the Pakistan Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee, which is responsible for the control of the gurudwaras in Pakistan, in an attempt to revive Sikh militancy in the Punjab. (Author’s comment: Recent reports indicated that Musharraf has removed him from the PSG PC, but this is yet to be confirmed.)

In February 1999, when pressure from the US for acting against bin Laden and the terrorist groups operating from Afghan territory increased, Nawaz Sharif approved a plan submitted by General Musharraf for shifting the HUM, the Lashkar and the Al Badr terrorists from their camps in Afghanistan to the Northern Areas and use them to help the Pakistan Army in the capture of the ridges in the Kargil area.

At the height of the Kargil fighting, the Indian authorities intercepted a telephone conversation between Lt Gen Mohammed Aziz, then the CGS, in Rawalpindi and General Musharraf, who was then in Beijing on a visit. By then, the US and other Western countries had started pressing Sharif to order the withdrawal of the intruders from Indian territory. Sharif was apparently worried about the control of the Pakistan Army over the terrorists brought from Afghanistan. Lt Gen Aziz could be heard in the tape telling General Musharraf that he assured Sharif that “the scruff of their neck is in our hands”, meaning the terrorists would do whatever the Pakistan Army asked them to do.

There have been seven hijackings of IA aircraft by Pakistan-sponsored terrorist groups since 1971.

Ten weeks after General Musharraf seized power on October 12, 1999, the HUM hijacked the IA aircraft to Kandahar. This was the first hijacking by a Pakistan-sponsored terrorist group since 1984. There have been seven hijackings of IA aircraft by Pakistan-sponsored terrorist groups since 1971: All seven were carried out when the Army was in power-five under Zia and one each under Yahya Khan and Musharraf.

In response to US concerns over acts of terrorism from Pakistani territory, General Musharraf made a number of statements on this subject after seizing power. From a careful study of these statements, it would be evident that while he is willing to cooperate with the US in acting against terrorism directed against US and other foreign interests, he considers acts of terrorism against Indian targets as acts of jehad and hence is not prepared to stop them in view of the sacred duty of the Muslims to wage jehad against what they look upon as their oppressors. However, he says that he is opposed to hijacking even as part of jehad and claims that he would act against the hijackers, if found in Pakistani territory. However, he has given no indication of a sincere search for them.

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During his visit to South Asia in March 2000, Bill Clinton was very careful in his use of expressions. In India, he condemned the acts of violence against civilians in Kashmir, but was silent on violence against the security forces.

In Pakistan, he referred to the explosions caused by bin Laden’s Al Qaida and the International Islamic Front for Jehad Against the US and Israel in Nairobi and Dar-Es-Salaam in 1998 and to the activities of the HUM, which had kidnapped in 1995 some foreign tourists, two of them US nationals, in Kashmir under the name of Al Faran, and allegedly killed two other Americans in Karachi in 1995 as terrorism, but to the attacks on Indian civilians in Kashmir as acts of violence.

A similar care in the use of expressions had been exercised by the State Department in its report for 1999 submitted to the Congress and by Michael Sheehan, State Department’s then Special Coordinator on Counter-terrorism, while releasing the report to the press on April 30, 2000.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

B Raman

Former, Director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai & Additional Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat. He is the author of The Kaoboys of R&AW, A Terrorist State as a Frontline Ally,  INTELLIGENCE, PAST, PRESENT & FUTUREMumbai 26/11: A Day of Infamy and Terrorism: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

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