Ilyas Kashmiri, whose death in a 2011 U.S. missile attack still remains to be confirmed, founded Brigade 313, later an operational arm of al-Qaeda, within his jihadist organisation Harkat ul-Jihad al-Islami (HuJI). After the killing of Osama bin Laden, Ilyas Kashmiri formed a new terror group called Lashkar-e-Osama to avenge the death of the al-Qaeda leader. Ilyas Kashmiri was a commando of Pakistan’s Special Service Group (SSG) and was once rewarded by General Pervez Musharraf as a hero for a terror attack in Indian Kashmir.
“¦a couple of Pakistan army officers, including a major general and a brigadier, were arrested for planning a takeover of army headquarters and the civilian government to establish a strict Islamic political system in Pakistan”¦
In October 2006, the Pakistan military foiled a coup attempt against Pakistani president and army chief General Pervez Musharraf, resulting in the arrest of 40 people. Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad reported: “Most of those arrested are mid-ranking Pakistan Air Force officers, while civilian arrests include the son of a serving brigadier in the army. All of those arrested are Islamists . . .”
In August 2003, a Lahore-based newspaper revealed that 12 Pakistan army officers and lower-ranked noncommissioned personnel were detained for their links with the Taliban and Hizb-e-Islami militants. Those arrested while waging jihad in Afghanistan included a Pakistan army major and his three subordinates. The Pakistani soldiers were arrested in 2003 in Afghanistan’s Zabul province, a hub of terror activities by the Taliban and Hizb-e-Islami. Following their arrests, they were handed over to the FBI in the United States. The FBI officers later brought them to the Shahbaz airbase in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, where the Pakistani soldiers were handed over to the Pakistan army.
In September 2006, a full bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan upheld the death sentence for 12 people found guilty of involvement in two assassination attempts on Pervez Musharraf in 2003. The 12 convicts were Khalid Mehmood, Nawazish Ali, Niaz Muhammad and Adnan Rasheed (personnel of the PAF); Arshad Hussain (lance naik); and Rashid Qureshi, Ikhlas Ahmad, Ghulam Sarwar Bhatti, Zubair Ahmad, Rana Naveed Ahmad, Aamir Suhail and Mushtaq Ahmad (civilians).
On November 19, 2008, Major General (retd.) Ameer Faisal Alavi, who had served in the SSG of the Pakistan army, was shot dead in Islamabad by unidentified gunmen for opposing the Pakistan army’s peace agreements with the Taliban.
Major Haroon Ashiq also developed a silencer for the AK-47, which “became an essential component of Al-Qaedas special guerrilla operations.”
British journalist Carey Schofield reported: “The brother-in-law [Ameer Faisal Alavi] of VS Naipaul, the British novelist and Nobel laureate, was murdered . . . after threatening to expose Pakistani army generals who had made deals with Taliban militants. Major General Faisal Alavi, a former head of Pakistan’s Special Forces, whose sister Nadira is Lady Naipaul, named two generals in a letter to the head of the army. He warned that he would ‘furnish all relevant proof.’ Aware that he was risking his life, he gave a copy to me and asked me to publish it if he was killed.”
In 2011, Syed Saleem Shahzad’s book Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11 investigated the penetration of al-Qaeda inside the Pakistan military, noting that Captain Khurram Ashiq of the Pakistan army and his brother Major Haroon Ashiq and their special forces colleague Major Abdul Rahman were key al-Qaeda players. Captain Khurram Ashiq, who was an assault commander of the SSG, his brother Major Haroon Ashiq and later Major Abdul Rahman quit service and joined LeT.
The book by Syed Saleem Shahzad, who was later picked up allegedly by Pakistani intelligence agents and killed, also revealed that Major Haroon Ashiq developed a “mortar gun of a type available only to some of the world’s most advanced military forces” when fighting alongside the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the Pakistani tribal region. He also developed a silencer for the AK-47, which “became an essential component of Al-Qaeda’s special guerrilla operations.”
“¦a Pakistan army officer took leave and went to wage jihad in Afghanistan according to a Pakistani media report. The Friday Times (Lahore) reported “the case of a serving officer who had taken leave and gone to Afghanistan to fight the jihad.”
According to the book, Major Haroon Ashiq later visited China to procure night-vision goggles. Shahzad writes: “The biggest task was to clear them through the customs in Pakistan. Haroon called on his friend Captain Farooq, who was President Musharraf’s security officer. Farooq went to the airport in the president’s official car and received Haroon at the immigration counter. In the presence of Farooq, nobody dared touch Haroon’s luggage, and the night vision glasses arrived in Pakistan without any hassle.” Captain Farooq was a member of Hizbut Tahrir, a fact discovered by Pakistani intelligence nine months after his posting as General Musharraf’s security officer, the book notes.
A report dated 28 January 2002 and written by American investigative journalist Seymour M. Hersh, noted that Pakistani soldiers were detained in Afghanistan’s Kunduz province while waging jihad against U.S. troops. On 25 November 2001, when Kunduz fell to the anti-Taliban forces, nearly 4,000 militants were captured, among them Pakistan army officers, intelligence advisers and volunteers who were fighting alongside the Taliban. According to the report, the White House authorised the U.S. military to establish air corridors at the request of the Pakistan military for Pakistani aircraft to rescue the soldiers, among them two Pakistani generals.
In 2002, a Pakistan army officer took leave and went to wage jihad in Afghanistan according to a Pakistani media report. The Friday Times (Lahore) reported “the case of a serving officer who had taken leave and gone to Afghanistan to fight the jihad.” This officer was reported to have said that there were also other officers in Afghanistan who had chosen to fight alongside the Taliban.
In September 1995, a couple of Pakistan army officers, including a major general and a brigadier, were arrested for planning a takeover of army headquarters and the civilian government to establish a strict Islamic political system in Pakistan, according to a report in the newspaper Daily Times. The Lahore-based newspaper added: “Some Islamic parties supported their cause when they were put on trial and convicted, accusing the government of targeting Islamic elements in the army.”
The adversities that the Pakistani military has encountered in various battles were attributed to the failure of its leaders, and not to the lack of professionalism or skill of the soldiers.
Army-one and army-two?
Over the years, the Pakistan army had been regarded as a well-disciplined and well-trained outfit that relied entirely on voluntary recruitment. Pakistani citizens have shown great respect, even admiration, for its soldiers and officers. A large number of young men used to sign up routinely for service in the army as officers or soldiers, following family or tribal traditions. Since the Pakistani military has been in power for most of that nation’s existence, a military career also ensured upward social and economic mobility. The adversities that the Pakistani military has encountered in various battles were attributed to the failure of its leaders, and not to the lack of professionalism or skill of the soldiers.
A recent article ”Pakistan’s General Problem,” in the magazine Open (10 June 2011), tells a typical story: “In 1999, two days after the Pakistan Army embarked on its Kargil misadventure, Lieutenant General Mahmud Ahmed gave a ‘crisp and to the point’ briefing to a group of senior Army and Air Force officers. Air Commodore Kaiser Tufail, who attended the meeting, later wrote that they were told that it was nothing more than a defensive manoeuvre and the Indian Air Force will not get involved at any stage. ‘Come October, we shall walk into Siachen — to mop up the dead bodies of hundreds of Indians left hungry, out in the cold,’ General Mahmud told the meeting. Perhaps it was the incredulousness of the whole thing that led Air Commodore Abid Rao to famously quip, ‘After this operation, it’s going to be either a Court Martial or Martial Law!’ as we walked out of the briefing room,’ Air Commodore Tufail recalled in an essay.”
Hanif explains, “The infiltration of jihadis, who are unprofessional and other-directed, will pose a serious challenge in the military itself. The military has developed other problems. It works hand-in-glove with the Americans and NATO troops in warding off the jihadis, but at the same time, they cater to the needs of these jihadis. This has pitched a section of the military against its own people, and that creates a serious dilemma within the rank and file. There are also reports that the army is much more poorly trained and equipped than it was decades ago.”
“Islam created Pakistan, but it now divides Pakistan. Fuelled by ideological passions, diverse social and religious Muslim formations have developed in different parts of the country”¦”
As Hanif also points out, the Pakistan military’s “biggest folly has been that under Zia it started outsourcing its basic job — soldiering — to these freelance militants. By blurring the line between a professional soldier — who, at least in theory, is always required to obey his officer, who in turn is governed by a set of law — and a mujahid, who can pick and choose his cause and his commander depending on his mood, the Pakistan Army has caused immense confusion in its own ranks. Our soldiers are taught to shout ‘Allah-o-Akbar’ when mocking an attack. In real life, they are ambushed by enemies who shout ‘Allah-o-Akbar’ even louder. Can we blame them if they dither in their response? When the Pakistan Navy’s main aviation base in Karachi, PNS Mehran, was attacked, Navy Chief Admiral Nauman Bashir told us that the attackers were ‘very well trained.’ We weren’t sure if he was giving us a lazy excuse or admiring the creation of his institution. When naval officials told journalists that the attackers were ‘as good as our own commandoes,’ were they giving themselves a backhanded compliment?”
Pervez Hoodbhoy, a physicist, who believes the army is getting weaker, attributes the weakening to the rise of jihadis within the armed forces and other drawbacks. His observations are trenchant and worth quoting at length: “The problem is not the lack of materiel — guns, bombs, men, and money. These have relatively easy fixes. Instead it is the military’s diminished moral power and authority, absence of charismatic leadership, and visibly evident accumulation of property and wealth. More than anything else, the Army has sought to please both the Americans as well as their enemies. Recent revelations have brought this contradiction into stark relief.
“Officially, the Army condemns drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas, which became no-go areas shortly after 9/11 after a massive cross-border influx of Mullah Omar’s Taliban. But ordinary Pakistanis have long suspected the sincerity of these routine condemnations. Drone bases are located at many places inside Pakistan, like Shamsi Air Base in Baluchistan. UAV’s are slow-moving targets, easily destroyed by supersonic fighter aircraft, or perhaps by ground-to-air missiles if supplied secretly to the Taliban. Their unhindered operation smelled of collusion and complicity. WikiLeaked documents, recently obtained by Dawn newspaper, confirmed this.
“Religion deeply divides the Pakistan military. Perhaps it might be more accurate to think of it as two militaries”¦”
“Islam created Pakistan, but it now divides Pakistan. Fuelled by ideological passions, diverse social and religious Muslim formations have developed in different parts of the country. They often have divergent goals, and are often pathologically violent. Some target the American empire, and are hence attractive for Al-Qaeda–type groups. Others have less ambitious goals. Several focus on ‘liberating’ Kashmir. Still others, such as Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba, would like to eliminate the Pakistani Shias. The Khatm-e-Nabuhat declares that it will physically exterminate the Qadianis, a sect that it considers heretical. Pakistan’s Christian, Hindu, and other religious minorities cower in fear. The rich among them have mostly fled the country.
“Religion deeply divides the Pakistan military. Perhaps it might be more accurate to think of it as two militaries. The first is headed by Gen. Kayani. It seeks to maintain the status quo and the Army’s pre-eminence in making national decisions. The second is Allah’s army. This awaits a leader even as it launches attacks on Pakistani military installations, bases, top-level officers, soldiers, public places, mosques, and police stations. Soldiers have been encouraged to turn their guns on to their colleagues, troops have been tricked into ambushes, and high-level officers have been assassinated. Allah’s army hopes to launch its final blitzkrieg once the state of Pakistan has been sufficiently weakened by such attacks.
“What separates Army-One and ISI-One from Army-Two and ISI-Two? This may not be immediately evident. Both were reared on the Two-Nation Theory, the belief of Mr. Mohammed Ali Jinnah that Hindus and Muslims could never live together in peace. Both are thoroughly steeped in anti-Indianism since their early days in army cadet colleges at Petaro and Hasan Abdal. They also share a deep-rooted contempt for Pakistani civilians. This attitude has resulted in roughly half of Pakistan’s history being that of direct military rule.
Todays religious terrorism is trivialized as a passing threat notwithstanding the fact that it has claimed more Pakistani lives than lost in all wars with India. Instead, anger is reserved for those who state the obvious truth that Pakistan is in a state of civil war.
“Still, they are not the same. The One’ers are ‘soft Islamists’ who are satisfied with a fuzzy belief that Islam provides solutions to everything, that occasional prayers and ritual fasting in Ramzan is sufficient, and that Sufis and Shias are bonafide Muslims rather than mushriks or apostates. They are not particularly interested in defending the Sunni states of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, or the GCC. But should a lucrative overseas posting come the way of an individual soldier or officer, well, that may be another matter. While having a dislike of U.S. policies, they are not militantly anti-U.S.
“Army-Two and ISI-Two, on the other hand, are soldier ideologues who have traveled further down the road of Islamism. Large numbers of them regularly travel to Raiwind, the headquarters of the Tablighi Jamaat, a supposedly non-political religious organization which has a global proselytizing mission and whose preachers are allowed open access into the army. The Two’ers are stricter in matters of religious rituals; they insist that officers and their wives be segregated at army functions. They keep an eye out for officers who secretly drink alcohol, and how often they pray. Their political philosophy is that Islam and the state should be inseparable. Inspired by Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi, who preached that 7th-century Arab Islam provides a complete blueprint for society and politics, they see capturing state power as a means toward creating the ideal society along the lines of the medieval Medina state. Many Two’ers are beardless, hence hard to detect. They are fundamentally anti-science, but computer-savvy. For them, modern technology is a tool of battle.
“Like the proverbial ostrich, the One’ers fiercely defend the myth of army unity. They dismiss mutineers as isolated individuals. Mumtaz Qadri, the renegade bodyguard who murdered Punjab Governor Salman Taseer out of religious passion, is an inconvenient aberration to be dismissed from consideration. Today’s religious terrorism is trivialized as a passing threat notwithstanding the fact that it has claimed more Pakistani lives than lost in all wars with India. Instead, anger is reserved for those who state the obvious truth that Pakistan is in a state of civil war.