TIMES SQ, NYC - PIC TAKEN MY ME
Another Pakistani wanted to be the next Ramzi Yousef - the first bomber of the World Trade Centre. He is Faisal Shahzad, the son of Babur ul Haq, Air Vice Marshal of Pakistan who retired from active military duty in 1992 and later joined the civil aviation industry.
Last September ,Najibullah Zazi, a US legal resident of Afghan origin, was caught for plotting an attack on New York's subway system. Stand alone operations will be the way forward for would be terrorists in the US to evade profiling.
With a solid background, Shahzad is not your typical impoverished brainwashed terrorist from the rugged mountains or harsh hinterlands. These are city bred, educated – more in the mould of Omar Saeed Sheikh.
Zia ul Haq can take his bow today. His experiment to glue Pakistan through Islam has been singularly responsible for Islamizing the Pakistan Army, legitimising terrorist groups for the cause of “quom” and supplanting bigotry in education institutions across Pakistan – this we are talking of schools, colleges and institutions in cities and not madrassas. That madrassas have been breeding ground for insular, indoctrinated Islamic foot soldiers is a bygone conclusion.
Shahzad’s generation grew up in a Pakistan where alcohol had been banned and Islam had been forced into schools and communities as a doctrine and a national glue.
“It’s not that they don’t speak English or aren’t skilled,” a Pakistani official said. “But in their hearts and in their minds they reject the West. They can’t see a world where they live together; there’s only one way, one right way.”
What it did, was bring the vision of Islam (that too wahabbi – deoband variety) into the mindset that found similarity across the typical militant, the fire-spewing mullah, the Pakistan Army and across the average citizen bred on Urdu language papers.
There were sane voices like Pervez Hoodbhoy – but they get drowned out these days, a few get beaten up in college premises if they even question student bodies affiliated to the terror groups. What is fascinating to note is that these student bodies that are affiliated to banned terror organizations are being headed by boys whose fathers have a military background.
“Nuclear weapons are only as safe as the people who handle them,” >Pervez Hoodbhoy, an eminent nuclear physicist in Pakistan, said in a talk last summer at a Nation and Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy forum in New York. For more than two decades, Hoodbhoy said, “the Pakistan Army has been recruiting on the basis of faithfulness to Islam. As a consequence, there is now a different character present among Army officers and ordinary soldiers. There are half a dozen scenarios that one can imagine.” There was no proof either that the most dire scenarios would be realized or that the arsenal was safe, he said.
Is it any more of a surprise to hear stories like this:
1997: DEA agents arrested a senior Pakistan Air Force officer trying to sell 2 kgs of heroin in a Mc Donald’s outlet in New York City.
In the same year a Thai diplomat got nabbed carrying two suitcases filled with heroin into the UK. He told his British interrogators that he picked up the suitcases at an ISI safe house !!
1983: A young Pakistani smuggler was arrested in Norway carrying 3.5 kgs of crystal heroin. He was Hamid Hasnain, President Zia ul Haq’s personal banker.
June 1986: A Pakistani Army Major was arrested while driving from Peshawar to Karachi carrying 220 kgs of high grade heroin. Two months later an Air Force officer was caught with a similar amount and he claimed it was his 5th mission!
In both cases the Pakistan military swiftly removed its men from police custody and before any investigations could start, let alone trials, the two officers made highly suspicious “escape”.
1988: President Zia ul Haq’s pilot Maj. Farooq Hamid was arrested in drug charges and released. At that time Lt. Gen Fazle Haq was known as Pakistan’s Noriega for providing protection to the heroin trade.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi termed abortive New York bombing as a blowback of US drone attacks along Pak-Afghan border. "This is a blowback. This is a reaction. This is retaliation. And you could expect that. Let's not be naive. They're not going to sort of sit and welcome you eliminate them. They're going to fight back."
Mehmood Querishi almost ends up justifying the attacks. In the hearts and minds of the Islamists across Pakistan – they would have cheered had the bomb gone off and killed scores of “infidels” in their land.
Something ominous is happening in Pakistan. With 12 hours of power cuts a day, no industry to feed the nation, ethno-linguistic groups clamouring for more autonomy, Pakistan Army is reviving the Islamist parties again to keep the disenchantment of the population under check and keep the spittist entho-linguistic groups under control and glue of Islam. This, in turn, is legitimizing terrorism and making Pakistan a terrorist spewing nation.
Faizal Shahzad is a case in point. In a 6 month crash course he has become a terrorist well versed in the art of wiring and triggering explosives. It is this asymmetric force that the world will have to counter going forward.
The US is relying on the Pakistan Army. But it is the Pakistan Army that is fuelling this Islamic resurgence. It knows no other way – their top officers are brainwashed Islamic bigots.
What then is the goal?
Simple. Establish Sharia in Pakistan (and then the globe!!) – not what the founding father of Pakistan wanted. Islamists want to replace secular and traditional law and customs in Pakistan's tribal areas with their version of the sharia. This goal, which they share with religious political parties such as Jamat-e-Islami, is working for a total transformation of society. It calls for elimination of music, art, entertainment, and all manifestations of modernity and Westernism.
Recently the assassination of ex – ISI officer Khalid Khwaja darkened the Islamists agenda further inside Pakistan. He was, after all, one of the founding members of the Taliban movement. He died at the hands of the Taliban who thought him to be a CIA stooge. A few weeks before his abduction, he met Taliban leader Waliur Rehman Mehsud in North Waziristan and handed over a list of some militants and alleged that they were working for Indian spy agencies. Within a few hours of that meeting, the vehicle of Waliur Rehman was attacked by a US drone but the Taliban commander survived. Waliur Rehman immediately informed the Punjabi Taliban to be careful about Khwaja, who then decided to trap him.
Interestingly Khalid Khwaja introduced Nawaz Sharif to Osama bin Laden. In an interview Khwaja stated: The most historic was the meeting in the Green Palace Hotel in Medina between Nawaz Sharif, Osama and myself. Osama asked Nawaz to devote himself to "jihad in Kashmir". Nawaz immediately said, "I love jihad." Osama smiled, and then stood up from his chair and went to a nearby pillar and said. "Yes, you may love jihad, but your love for jihad is this much." He then pointed to a small portion of the pillar. "Your love for children is this much," he said, pointing to a larger portion of the pillar. "And your love for your parents is this much," he continued, pointing towards the largest portion. "I agree that you love jihad, but this love is the smallest in proportion to your other affections in life."
These sorts of arguments were beyond Nawaz Sharif's comprehension and he kept asking me. "Manya key nai manya?" [Agreed or not?] He was looking for a Rs500 million [US$8.4 million at today's rate] grant from Osama. Though Osama gave a comparatively smaller amount, the landmark thing he secured for Nawaz Sharif was a meeting with the [Saudi] royal family, which gave Nawaz Sharif a lot of political support, and it remained till he was dislodged [as premier] by General Pervez Musharraf [in a coup in 1999]. Saudi Arabia arranged for his release and his safe exit to Saudi Arabia.
Interestingly, Pervez Musharraf, now in Britain in a de facto exile, stated that Nawaz Sharif is a Taliban in disguise.
In Pakistan, who is an Islamist, who is a Taliban in disguise or who is with Al-Qaeda is now getting merged and difficult to distinguish. The nation is sinking into an abyss of hatred for all things un-Islamic (strictest version). The nation has failed to provide its citizens with any positivity and employment or a decent standard of living. It lives by nurturing hatred for everyone else, harsh form of Islam to glue an ever fractious society – a doomsday country about to implode in our lifetime.
Faizal Shahzad is a symptom – a by product of the disease that Pakistan has managed to infect itself with.
And Hakemullah Mehsud, notwithstanding his letter of support to Dr Afia Siddiquis’s sister vowing a spectacular response inside US, will always find able bodies like Faizal dime a dozen inside US and Europe.
It is my "guess" that the wired money from Dubai to fund the SUV purchase that was used in the abortive attempt in Times Sq. will give useful leads - which I feel the US will "hide" from the public eye, but use it to good use in its negotiations with Pakistan behind closed doors.
Expect more Faizal Shahzads. The next bomber in USA will most probably be an academician, living long under the radar, in the US.
It is because the Islamists did see the decline in superpower status of the US coming. They calculated that US derives its power from dollar which is a function of purchasing power of the citizens and a base currency specially for oil&gas. It is this dollar that fuels the military machine. In this downturn, what better way to hurt the investment sentiment and erode the purchasing power - than to stage a few spectacular bombings inside the US and cause the dollar to erode faster - leading to a faster decline of the superpower! While others keep plugging away to de-roster the US dollar as reserve currency !!