Sacrificing Our TODAY for the World's TOMORROW
FATA is "Federally Administered Tribal Area" of Pakistan; consisting of 7 Agencies and 6 F.Rs; with a 27000 Sq Km area and 4.5 m population.
MYTH: FATA is the HUB of militancy, terrorism and unrest in Afghanistan.
REALITY: FATA is the worst "VICTIM of Militancy”. Thousands of Civilians dead & injured; Hundreds of Schools destroyed; Thousands of homes raised to ground; 40% population displaced from homes.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pakistan Army's briefing to Parliamentarians: DG ISI admits failure, offers to resign (The News, 14 May 2011)

Courtesy: Daily "The News International, Pakistan", 14 May 2011
DG ISI admits failure, offers to resign
By Asim Yasin & Muhammad Anis 
ISLAMABAD: Admitting intelligence failure, Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Lt Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha, during the in-camera briefing at the Parliament House, surrendered himself to parliament for full accountability before any forum investigating the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden. “The DG ISI presented himself for full accountability and said if there was an intelligence failure he was ready to face the consequences and even ready to resign if parliament so demanded,” Information Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan told journalists after the General’s briefing in the joint parliamentary in-camera session.
The minister, however, said that the DG ISI also told parliamentarians that everyone must share the blame for the failure. “It was also the responsibility of the provincial government, the local police and other agencies to have information about the al-Qaeda chief,” the minister said quoting General Pasha.

Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman, and Naval Chief Admiral Noman Bashir also attended the in-camera session, as did Deputy Chief of the Air Chief, Air Vice Marshal Asim Suleman, and DG Military Operations, Major General Ashfaq Nadeem Ahmed. The sitting is being hailed as historic by observers as for the first time, the military establishment submitted itself to unfettered parliamentary accountability. The session lasted for over 11 hours.
Sources said the DG ISI offered to tender his resignation but none of the parliamentarians asked him to resign. “I present myself for accountability before any forum, including parliament,” General Pasha said during the briefing. “There was no intentional negligence but an aspect of failure is there.” The DG ISI said the Pakistani forces had already destroyed the al-Qaeda network, and that initial information about Osama’s whereabouts too was provided to the US by the ISI. Gen. Pasha said he had offered to resign thrice but Gen Kayani had stopped him. He said the issue should not be politicised.
The military officials faced a volley of questions, particularly from opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who said that if the ISI was admitting its failure, then the responsibility too should be fixed more specifically. Sources said Chaudhry Nisar also sought a guarantee from the military leadership that no such incident would occur in the future. The PML-N parliamentarians came down hard on the Army and even exchanged hot words with other parliamentarians. According to sources, the PML-N severely criticised the Army during the in-camera session but the PPP and PML-Q defended the armed forces, which resulted in a heated exchange.
Sources said PML-N’s Ishaq Dar asked questions about the Shamsi Air Base in use by the UAE, to which the air chief replied once again that it was government land. “Whenever the government asks, it will be taken back.” Another revelation was when the deputy air chief told lawmakers that the Shamsi Air Base was under the US control. “The land was acquired by the UAE and given to the United States,” he said.
Riaz Fatyana of the PML-Q told journalists outside parliament that the security establishment said it would abide by any decision taken by parliament. Fatyana said the military officials did not have any objection to the formation of any kind of commission to probe the May 2 incident. To a question about the failure of radars to detect the US choppers, Fatyana said parliamentarians were apprised that radars that detect objects flying at low altitude have been placed on the eastern borders but not the western ones.
Fatyana said that calling the military leadership to an in-camera briefing was not meant to humiliate them. He said no slogans of ‘shame shame’ were heard during the briefing. “The atmosphere became pleasant towards the end of the session,” he said. Most of the over 50 questions put to the military officials came from the PML-N, JUI-F and independent members from Fata. The DG ISI responded to the majority of the questions.
Sources said during the session, one woman parliamentarian from the PML-N declared that the armed forces had damaged the country but she was immediately countered by another woman member of the PML-Q who rejected this and replied in a loud voice that the PML-N, and not the Army, had damaged the country. According to sources, PML-Q’s Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Wasim Sajjad, Dr Attiya Inayatullah and Sheikh Waqas Akram spoke during the closed-door joint session of parliament and expressed their complete support for the armed forces.
General Pasha also briefed parliament about the arrests of al-Qaeda leaders in the last nine years and ISI’s contributions in breaking the network’s back and paralysing it even before the murder of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.
The parliamentarians were also told that the killing of bin Laden was the result of joint efforts, though the Americans delivered the last salvo unilaterally, thus shattering the confidence of Pakistan. The DG ISI said this was made possible by the technological superiority of the US, which is why US helicopters were able to enter Pakistan undetected by the Pakistani radars. “The US used stealth technology on its helicopters, which could not be detected by the radars,” the information minister said quoting General Pasha.
Dr Awan said parliament was informed that fully-armed US aircraft in Afghanistan were ready to react to any Pakistani reaction during the Abbottabad raid. She said the DG ISI assured parliament that despite this one incident of shortcoming, the country’s defence forces were fully ready to avert any misadventure. “A highly sensitive and modern security system is in place to guard Pakistan’s strategic assets that are spread across the country,” General Pasha said.
Dr Awan said the deputy air chief spoke about the availability and status of the radars along the Pakistan-Afghan border while the DG Military Operations briefed parliamentarians in detail about how the Pakistan Army reacted to the unilateral action by the United States Army.
He was, however, critical of the role of the media in the Osama episode and termed it irresponsible. “At a time when the focus of the entire world was on Pakistan, the media should have shown that the Pakistani nation was neither weak nor divided,” the DGMO was quoted as having said.
The information minister said the briefing, followed by the question-answer session, also covered the Pakistan-US relationship over the years and it was stressed that Pakistan now needed to redefine these ties. She said the DG ISI asked parliament to discuss the Pak-US relationship and come up with a national policy on the matter. Regarding the reaction of parliamentarians to the briefing, Dr Awan said “there was a positive reaction from all the members,” adding that it was also expected of the opposition that it will act responsibly and avoid criticism of the Army and intelligence agencies since this would benefit the enemies of Pakistan.
She reminded that it was the constitutional and legal duty of the House members not to discuss the briefing at television talk shows in the best interests of the country. The information minister said DG ISI also pointed out that some members of political parties were criticising the Pakistan Army and the country’s intelligence services and this would end up working against the national interests and strengthen the enemy.
During the closed-door session, someone asked when the drone attacks would be stopped. To this, the air chief replied, pointing at Prime Minister Gilani: “When the government asks for it.” Javed Hashmi asked DG ISI: “You have retained many important responsibilities; why not pass on some of them to us?”
When the former foreign minister Shah Mehmood questioned why the government had supported the US unilateral action, DG ISI said no one had a raised a finger at intelligence agencies in the US and India after the 9/11 and 26/11 incidents.
Sources said when JUI-F legislator Maulana Attaur Rehman asked who created the Taliban and financially supported them, the DG ISI gave a harsh response after which the JUI-F legislator staged a token walkout from the closed-door session of parliament.
Sources said General Pasha also stressed the need to review the visa policy for Americans. During the closed-door session, the deputy air chief told parliament that General Kayani was informed about the US operation at 2:05am and by the time the information was passed on to him, the US helicopters had already returned to Afghanistan.
The session was told that the guards of the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) learned about the operation after the crash of the US helicopter. Meanwhile, parliament adopted a 12-point unanimous resolution calling upon the government to appoint an independent commission on the Abbottabad operation, fix responsibility and recommend necessary measures, including blocking of Nato supplies, to ensure that such an incident does not recur in the future.
It also called upon the government to revisit and review its terms of engagement with the United States. The composition/modalities of the agreed upon independent commission will be settled after consultations between the leader of the house and the leader of the opposition.
The unanimous resolution could be hammered out only after the PML-N backed off from its original demand of a purely judicial commission and agreed on the formation of an independent commission. The judicial commission demand accompanied by a three-day deadline to comply had been given by Nawaz Sharif 48 hours earlier in a press conference.
The resolution was approved after an in-depth discussion, including presentations made on the relevant issues by the DG Inter-Services Intelligence, DG (Military Operations) and deputy air chief (Operations). The resolution condemned the US unilateral action in Abbottabad, which constitutes a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.
It strongly asserted that unilateral actions, such as those conducted by the US forces in Abbottabad, as well as the continued drone attacks on the territory of Pakistan, are not only unacceptable but also constitute the violation of principles of the Charter of the United Nations, international law and humanitarian norms and such drone attacks must be stopped forthwith, failing which the government will be constrained to consider taking necessary steps, including withdrawal of transit facility allowed to Nato/Isaf forces.
The resolution also said that unilateral actions cannot advance the global cause of elimination of terrorism and the people of Pakistan will no longer tolerate such actions and repeat of unilateral measures could have dire consequences for peace and security in the region and the world.
Parliament reaffirmed the resolve of the people and the Government of Pakistan to uphold Pakistan’s sovereignty and national security, which is a sacred duty, at all costs.
It also affirmed the resolve of the people and state institutions of Pakistan to safeguard Pakistan’s national interests and strategic assets and, in this context, underscored that any action to the contrary will warrant a strong national response.
Parliament through the resolution expressed its deep distress on the campaign to malign Pakistan, launched by certain quarters in other countries without appreciating Pakistan’s determined efforts and immense sacrifices in combating terror and the fact that more than 30,000 Pakistani innocent men, women and children and more than 5,000 security and armed forces personnel had lost their lives, that is more than any other single country, in the fight against terror.
The resolution called upon the government to ensure that the principles of an independent foreign policy must be grounded in strict adherence to the principles of policy, as stated in Article 40 of the Constitution, the UN Charter, observance of international law and respect for the free will and aspirations of sovereign states and their peoples.
It further called upon the government to revisit and review its terms of engagement with the United States, with a view to ensuring that Pakistan’s national interests are fully respected and accommodated in pursuit of policies for countering terrorism and achieving reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan.
The resolution affirmed the importance of international cooperation for eliminating international terrorism, which can only be carried forward on the basis of a true partnership approach, based on equality, mutual respect and mutual trust.
It also affirmed full confidence in the defence forces of Pakistan in safeguarding Pakistan’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity and in overcoming any challenge to security, with the full support of the people and Government of Pakistan.
Parliament reaffirmed the resolution passed by the joint sitting on national security held on October 22, 2008 and the detailed recommendations made by the Parliamentary Committee on National Security in April 2009.
SANA adds: Firdous Ashiq Awan said in her opening remarks that Prime Minister Gilani reassured the nation that national solidarity and sovereignty would never be compromised at any cost. PM Gilani pointed out that there was a dire need that the nation extends the fullest possible support to the armed forces and all security agencies engaged in the war on terror.
The prime minister asked all political parties and parliamentarians not to criticise the Army or agencies and stay away from political point scoring since it could endanger the solidarity of the country.
According to the information minister, the DG ISI said enemies of Pakistan wanted to create a gap between the political government and military authorities. He said instead of criticising the armed forces and intelligence agencies, the detractors should support those who had rendered immense sacrifices for the cause of the country.
Referring to threats hurled by India, the parliamentarians were told that the government and armed forces were fully geared up to meet any challenge to security and solidarity of the country.


Note: The viewpoint expressed in this article is solely that of the writer / news outlet. "FATA Awareness Initiative" Team may not agree with the opinion presented.

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