Pakistani Troops Linked to Abuses Will Lose Aid

The Obama administration will withhold training and equipment for about a half-dozen Pakistani Army units that are believed to have killed unarmed prisoners and civilians during recent offensives against the Taliban, according to senior administration and Congressional officials, the NYTimes reports.The Leahy Amendment, a law that stretches back more than a decade, requires the United States to cut off aid to foreign militaries that are found to have committed gross violations of human rights. It has been applied in the past to Indonesia and Colombia, but never to a country of such strategic importance to the United States as Pakistan.

A senior Pakistani official who has been involved in discussions about the issue said the United States had conveyed its concerns about reports of extrajudicial killings, which he said Pakistan was addressing. But he said Pakistan had not been notified that any army units had been refused training or equipment. The United States government “has not threatened us with withholding of assistance or training for any of our military units on these grounds,” the official said.

Pakistan intelligence services ‘aided Mumbai terror attacks’

According to The Guardian the ISI was were heavily involved in preparations for the Mumbai terrorist attacks of November 2008, according to classified Indian government documents obtained by the Guardian. A 109-page report into the interrogation of key suspect David Headley, a Pakistani-American militant arrested last year and detained in the US, makes detailed claims of ISI support for the bombings.

Under questioning, Headley described dozens of meetings between officers of the main Pakistani military intelligence service, the ISI, and senior militants from the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group responsible for the Mumbai attacks. He claims a key motivation for the ISI in aiding the attacks was to bolster militant organisations with strong links to the Pakistani state and security establishment who were being marginalised by more extreme radical groups.

Headley, who undertook surveillance of the targets in Mumbai for the operation, claims that at least two of his missions were partly paid for by the ISI and that he regularly reported to the spy agency. However, the documents suggest that supervision of the militants by the ISI was often chaotic and that the most senior officers of the agency may have been unaware at least of the scale and ambition of the operation before it was launched.

Musharaf admits Pakistan supported militants in Kashmir

In an interview with Der Spiegel the former president says:

SPIEGEL: Why did you form militant underground groups to fight India in Kashmir?

Musharraf: They were indeed formed. The government turned a blind eye because they wanted India to discuss Kashmir.

SPIEGEL: It was the Pakistani security forces that trained them.

Musharraf: The West was ignoring the resolution of the Kashmir issue, which is the core issue of Pakistan. We expected the West – especially the United States and important countries like Germany – to resolve the Kashmir issue. Has Germany done that?

SPIEGEL: Does that give Pakistan the right to train underground fighters?

Musharraf: Yes, it is the right of any country to promote its own
interests when India is not prepared to discuss Kashmir at the United
Nations and is not prepared to resolve the dispute in a peaceful manner.

Pakistan files complaint protesting NATO air strikes

Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday lodged a protest with NATO and its International Security Assistance Force  (ISAF) [regarding air strikes that crossed into Pakistani territory. The complaint stems from an incident last week in which ISAF helicopters engaged militants following an attack on an Afghan security base in the Khost province. During the encounter, ISAF personnel drew fire from the Pakistani side of the border and pursued, killing upwards of 30 insurgents. ISAF cited the “right of self defense” as justification for crossing into Pakistani airspace. Pakistan characterized the incident as an infringement on its sovereignty, arguing that the ISAF mandate “terminates/finishes” at the Afghan border and does not provide for any incursions into Pakistan. The country also noted that it will begin to consider potential response avenues unless remedial actions are immediately taken to prevent future incidents.

Woodward book discusses US-Pakistan intelligence relationship

According to the new book, President Obama dispatched his national security adviser, retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones, and CIA Director Leon Panetta to Pakistan for a series of urgent, secret meetings on May 19, 2010. Jones and Panetta had gone to Pakistan to tell Zardari that Obama wanted four things to help prevent a terrorist attack on U.S. soil: full intelligence sharing, more reliable cooperation on counterterrorism, faster approval of visas for U.S. personnel traveling to Pakistan and, despite past refusals, access to airline passenger data.

If, God forbid, the SUV had blown up in Times Square, Jones told Zardari, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Should a future attempt be successful, Obama would be forced to do things that Pakistan would not like. “No one will be able to stop the response and consequences,” the security adviser said. “This is not a threat, just a statement of political fact.”

Jones did not give specifics about what he meant. The Obama administration had a “retribution” plan, one of the most sensitive and secretive of all military contingencies. The plan called for bombing about 150 identified terrorist camps in a brutal, punishing attack inside Pakistan.

“Mr. President,” said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who was  also at the meeting, “This is what they are saying. . . . They’re saying that if, in fact, there is a successful attack in the United States,  they will take steps to deal with that here, and that we have a  responsibility to now cooperate with the United States.”

“If something like that happens,” Zardari said defensively, “it doesn’t mean that somehow we’re suddenly bad people or something. We’re still partners.”
No, both Jones and Panetta said. There might be no way to save the  strategic partnership. Underscoring Jones’s point, Panetta said, “If that happens, all bets are off.”

Apparently, the Pakistan president didn’t care so much about the collateral damage by drones:

Zardari believed that he had already done a great deal to accommodate his strategic partner, at some political risk. He had allowed CIA drones to strike al-Qaeda and other terrorist camps in parts of Pakistan, prompting a public outcry about violations of Pakistani sovereignty. He had told CIA officials privately in late 2008 that any innocent deaths from the strikes were the cost of doing business against senior al-Qaeda leaders. “Kill the seniors,” Zardari had said. “Collateral damage worries you Americans. It does not worry me.”

C.I.A. Steps Up Drone Attacks on Taliban in Pakistan

The NY Times reports that as part of its covert war in the region, the C.I.A. has launched 20 attacks with armed drone aircraft  thus far in September, the most ever during a single month, and more than twice the number in a typical month. This expanded air campaign comes as top officials are racing to stem the rise of American casualties before the Obama administration’s comprehensive review of its Afghanistan strategy set for December. American and European officials are also evaluating reports of possible terrorist plots in the West from militants based in Pakistan.

Beyond the C.I.A. drone strikes, the war in the region is escalating in other ways. In recent days, American military helicopters have launched three airstrikes into Pakistan that military officials estimate killed more than 50 people suspected of being members of the militant group known as the Haqqani network, which is responsible for a spate of deadly attacks against American troops.

Such air raids by the military remain rare, and officials in Kabul said Monday that the helicopters entered Pakistani airspace on only one of the three raids, and acted in self-defense after militants fired rockets at an allied base just across the border in Afghanistan.Pakistani officials have angrily criticized the helicopter attacks, saying that NATO’s mandate in Afghanistan does not extend across the border in Pakistan.

As evidence of the growing frustration of American officials, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Afghanistan, has recently issued veiled  warnings to top Pakistani commanders that the United States could launch unilateral ground operations in the tribal areas should Pakistan refuse to dismantle the militant networks in North Waziristan, according to American officials.

Special Operations commanders have also been updating plans for cross-border raids, which would require approval from President Obama. For now, officials said, it remains unlikely that the United States would make good on such threats to send American troops over the border, given the potential blowback inside Pakistan, an ally.

But that could change, they said, if Pakistan-based militants were successful in carrying out a terrorist attack on American soil. American and European intelligence officials in recent days have spoken publicly about growing evidence that militants may be planning a large-scale attack in Europe, and have bolstered security at a number of European airports and railway stations.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano plans to discuss the  current European terrorism intelligence with her European counterparts  at a U.N. aviation security meeting this week in Montreal. “We are in  constant contact with our colleagues abroad,” she told a Senate panel  last week. “We are all seeing increased activity by a more diverse set  of groups and a more diverse set of threats. That activity, much of  which is Islamist in nature, is directed at the West generally.”

U.S. Counterterrorist Pursuit Team in Afghanistan much larger than thought

The Washington Post reports about the role of Firebase Lilley,  a nerve center in the covert war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda which is used as a CIA hub to train and deploy a well-armed 3,000-member Afghan paramilitary force collectively known as Counterterrorism Pursuit Teams, or ‘Afghan OGA’s’ – other government agency. The Counterterrorist Pursuit Team was set up in the months following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2002 to penetrate territory controlled  by the Taliban and al-Qaida and target militants for interrogations by  CIA officials.

The 3,000-strong Afghan teams are used for surveillance and long-range reconnaissance missions and some have trained at CIA facilities in the United States. The force has operated in Kabul and some of Afghanistan’s most violence-wracked provinces including Kandahar, Khost, Paktia and Paktika, according to a security professional familiar with the program. Field logs from the wikileaks report reveal glimpses into the kinds of operations undertaken by the CIA and its Afghan paramilitary units along the Pakistani border. In addition to accounts of snatch-and-grab operations targeting insurgent leaders, the logs contain casualty reports from battles with the Taliban, summaries of electronic intercepts of enemy communications and hints of the heavy firepower at the CIA’s disposal.

According to an official familiar with the operations the teams’ primary mission is to improve security in Afghanistan and that they do not engage in “lethal action” when crossing into Pakistan. Their cross-border missions are “designed exclusively for intelligence collection,” the official said.

Unlike regular Afghan army commandos, the CIA-run Afghan paramilitary  units mostly work independently from CIA paramilitary or special  operations forces but will occasionally combine forces for an operation. Despite operating independently, the units coordinate their operations  with NATO, the security professional said. The Afghan force became the focus of a debate last year between CIA and  military officials over who would control its operations. The CIA  remained the lead agency, the former official said.

The Army field reports suggest that the Afghan paramilitary forces can also be ruthless. On Oct. 23, 2007, military personnel at Orgun-E reported treating a 30-year-old Afghan man for the “traumatic amputation of fingers” on his left hand. The patient had been “injured by Afghan OGA during a home breach,” according to the report. The Kandahar branch paramilitaries shot and killed Kandahar’s police  chief and nine other Afghan police officials in 2009 over a dispute  after one of its own members was arrested. During their face-off with  the police chief, the paramilitaries were wearing uniforms and guns bought by the CIA.

Jonathan Horowitz, a human rights expert working with the Open Society  Institute, said: ‘

These paramilitary groups operate in such a cloak of  secrecy that accountability for their abuses is nearly impossible for  most Afghans. These forces don’t fall under an Afghan military chain of  command, and if a civilian is killed or maimed, the U.S. can say it  wasn’t the fault of the U.S.