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Who are behind Shahbaz Bhatti’s murder?

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By: Sajjad Shaukat

In wake of continued terrorist acts in Pakistan, on March 2 this year the cold-blooded murder of the country’s Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti has intensified the debate that as to who are behind his assassination. Although Tehrik-e-Taliban-Pakistan, a militant group has taken the responsibility of Shabaz’s murder, yet Pakistan’s intelligence and security agencies are investigating in connection with some foreign hands or the possible involvement of Xe International, (formerly Blackwater) and indian intelligence agency RAW, specifically looking into the activities of a white foreigner who is acting as a “security consultant” in Islamabad. In this regard, some high officials of Pakistan have revealed that a third hand or party might be involved in the assassination of the federal minister for minorities.

Some intelligence officials told a Pakistani newspaper that they found suspect-the activities of the foreigner who was living under the umbrella of a NGO and running an office in sector G-11 of Islamabad. They indicated, “nobody knows what he is doing in Islamabad and on what mission”, he is. The paper explained that the foreigner also met with some security officers a couple of days back posing as “security consultant” and interviewed them regarding the current security situation of Pakistan, asking them whether Pakistan could face Libya-like situation in the near future. In this respect, a Pakistan’s renowned newspaper insisted, “the fact that the foreign hand that has been creating unrest in the country for a long time now could be behind the incident cannot be ruled out…links between foreign intelligence agencies like Indian RAW, Israeli Mossad and American CIA and militants have been suspected…RAW is even known for having provided financial and military support to spread violence in Pakistan.” In another report, the paper, while quoting “well-informed sources” disclosed that in 2010, the Obama administration deployed over 400 pro-India and pro-Israel CIA agents in Islamabad, Quetta, Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi, the country’s biggest cities.

Washington hired these contractors from private security companies like Blackwater, and leading Indian and Israeli businessmen including their secret agencies which have been clandestinely and heavily funding such companies to carry out secret operations in the Middle East, Asia and Africa as per their interests against the Islamic countries. Some reliable sources suggest that the Blackwater has hired 286 houses in different residential sectors of Islamabad for their suspicious activities. Regarding the killing of Shahbaz Bhatti, the police confirmed that the terrorists used 7.62 mm-AK-47 Klashnikov, an automatic gun and sprayed 35 bullets with two guns, adding that police recovered all the 35 empties from the scene.

It is notable that the terrorists threw on the road the pamphlets with Kalma-e-Tayyaba printed on them and also the name of the holy Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) after killing Shahbaz Bhatti. Th fact remains that no Muslim can ever think of dropping on ground such sacred material. Nevertheless, that condemnable act might also have been committed precisely to divert the investigations away from the real terrorists which belong to RAW, CIA and Mossad.

It is mentionable that through their secret agencies, the concerned foreign countries want to fulfil their multiple-nefarious aims against Pakistan by the murder of the federal minister for minorities affairs. In this regard, firstly, they intend to divert the attention away from the issue of Raymond Davis including his companions who are agents of the American CIA and were on an anti-Pakistan mission. Especially, Davis is part of the illegal activities of the Blackwater whose employees entered Pakistan in the guise of diplomats. Secondly, these covert agents of the related intelligence agencies want to distort the image of Pakistan in the comity of nations as they have already tarnished the country’s image through various subversive activities-are now working against Pakistan by taking advantage of the country’s deteriorated law and order situation which they have themselves created through their secret forces. Notably, in this context, the rulers and leaders of the western countries have strongly condemned the murder of the Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti, expressing outrage and termed it as “unspeakable”, “unacceptable” and a “dastardly crime”, and also called it an attack on the values of tolerance. In this regard, British Prime Minister David Cameron said that the assassination of Bhatti was “absolutely brutal and unacceptable”. He also stated that the minister’s murder showed what a huge problem we have in our world with intolerance. He further added, “I will send not only our condolences but our clearest possible message to the government and people of Pakistan that this is simply unacceptable.” US President Barack Obama pointed out that he was saddened by the “horrific” assassination. He said, “I am deeply saddened by the assassination of Pakistan’s Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti,” and “condemn in the strongest possible terms this horrific act of violence.” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a US Senate committee, “I was shocked and outraged by the assassination of Bhatti…I think this was an attack not only on one man but on the values of tolerance and respect for people of all faiths.” German Federal Foreign Minister, Dr Guido Westerwelle, expressed his shock and dismay over the assassination of Bhatti, and said, “he was the only Christian who was passionately committed to the rights of minorities in Pakistan.” Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Indian leaders have also expressed similar views. However, this is what the anti-Pakistan secret agencies wanted to achieve through the murder. Thirdly, the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti was actually aimed at further creating rifts between different religious communities, accelerating sectarian violence in Pakistan. Fourthly, it is noteworthy that Pakistan is the only nuclear country in the Islamic World; hence the US, India, Israel and some western powers are determined to weaken it. Despite American cooperation with Islamabad, its main aim along with India and Israel remains to de-nuclearise our country whose geo-strategic location with the Gwadar port entailing close ties with China irks the eyes of these countries, therefore, they are in collusion to destabilise Pakistan. For this purpose, a well-established network of Indian army, RAW, Mossad and CIA which was set up in Afghanistan against Pakistan in order to support insurgency in the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and separatism in Balochistan have been extended. Fifthly, the major aim of these external secret agencies is to show that Pakistan is a prejudiced country where religious extremism is running high, and where people cannot tolerate other religious communities, particularly Christians. Sixthly, by creating such an aggravated situation, these secret forces are determined to isolate Pakistan with the efforts of Indo-Jewish and American lobbies which are already working on the anti-Pakistan agenda.

Nonetheless, while taking cognizance of the real aims of the external intelligence agencies in relation to the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, the patriot people of Pakistan must wake up in order to apprehend the secret forces which have been trying to weaken the country. For this purpose, foreigners such as covert operatives who are running clandestine networks in the country must be captured by our intelligence agencies with the cooperation of public as quickly as possible. In this respect, a comprehensive strategy must be prepared to secure the lives of all people as well the survival of the country.

‘Final Solution’ Frenzy –From Afghanistan with Love

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By Tariq Saeedi

With Qasim Jan in Kandahar, Khalil Azad in Kabul, SM Kasi in Quetta, and GN Brohi in Nushki and Dalbandin

(nCa) – Had Van Gogh been given a canvas the size of the Eurasian landmass in 1890, he would probably have painted what the United States in painting now: Spectacular psychosis smothering withered sanity, towering talent defeated by raging madness, sky-high ambition smashed by rock-hard realities, a troubled genius in self-immolation.

What we are witnessing today, and what may unfold in the coming months, is Von Gogh’s ‘At Eternity’s Gate’ on cosmic scale. — Welcome to the ‘Final Solution,’ Made in USA.

In this series of investigative reports we shall sum up the results of thousands of kilometers of arduous and risky travel by our team in search of clues scattered in the harsh terrain of the Pakistani province of Balochistan and the adjoining, equally unforgiving, landscape of Afghanistan and Iran.

Our startling findings are explained and augmented by experts and sources in Moscow, Washington, Kabul and New Delhi.

This series starts with what is happening in Pakistan and will expand gradually to cover the Greater Central Asia and its immediate neighbourhood.

We will tell a dreadful story, segment by segment, part by part.

This is the first part of our ‘Final Solution’ Frenzy series and in this report we shall describe what we found in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the subsequent report we shall connect these findings with explanations and interpretations of experts.

As with our previous reports, this series would be abrupt and incomplete. It is not possible to come up with an alpha-to-omega story, complete in all respects, merely through investigative reporting. Without generous leaks from well placed sources a story of this kind must remain unfinished.

So, let’s start cutting through the web of deceit, ambition, cruelty, backstabbing and violence.

Training camps in Afghanistan

There were persistent reports that the Americans, through their contractors, were operating at least two training camps, churning out an assortment of terrorists.

It sounds strange that a country supposedly fighting a global war against terrorism would train its own terrorists. Nevertheless, the crux of investigative journalism is that every lead, no matter how ludicrous, should be followed to its logical end if it promises some relevance.

In one of our earlier reports (Mumbai Mystery: American Designs on Pakistan and India), we uncovered that the Americans had tunneled into some Jihadi outfits in Pakistan. The links to all four parts of our Mumbai report are given at the end of this narrative.

In the Mumbai report we mentioned that as far as we had been able to determine, the earliest deal between the Americans and the Jihadis took place in Quetta in August 2007.

With the help of our experts in Moscow, we predicted in our Mumbai report that bombings and acts of terrorism were likely to increase in Pakistan in the coming months. Our Mumbai report was published in December 2008 and since then Pakistan has hardly seen a day of respite.

There is no joy in being right in this case; we are not gloating. All we are trying to register is that most of the substance of our previous reports has withstood the test of time.

We also told in our Mumbai report that Michael Vickers, the assistant secretary of defence for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict and Interdependent Capabilities (ASD/SOLIC&IC) was the author of the chaos that were going to be systematically unleashed in Pakistan. It is necessary to remind that Vickers was directly running the Jihadi war against Soviet Union for about six years and he has personal contacts with almost all the players in the current mix.

We underlined in our Mumbai report that Vickers would mainly use United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) for beating Pakistan to near-pulp. Here, again, we were right on the mark, as we shall show in our subsequent reports in this series.

Based on the findings in our previous reports, we started examining the possibility of existence of American terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.

Interviews with some knowledgeable persons in Afghanistan and Pakistan suggest that at least one of the training camps run by the American contractors is located in either Ghowr or Uruzgan province of Afghanistan.

What is important from the point of view of our reports is not the exact location of these camps but the fact that they do exist at all. We will return to the subject of these camps in our succeeding reports in this series.

Chicken lunch before hawk chase

It was early October 2009. We were sitting in a killi – a small clan-village – in the Pakistani province of Balochistan, not far from the border with Afghanistan. We shall not disclose our exact location but it was somewhere between the towns of Dalbandin and Nushki in Chagai district of the Balochistan province of Pakistan.

The chicken, cooked hastily, was tasty without being tender. The flatbread was improbably large, perfectly round and evenly baked.

The lunch over, we started planning on the travel route for the next few days. Most of the legwork by our field contacts had been completed already. We were about to start verifying some of the leads that looked significant.

The first, and the closest point, was where we expected to see some young men who were not Muslims. We started off after downing a pot of excessively sweetened black tea.

They are not Muslims

We drove for about an hour and reached a place almost at the border of Afghanistan. It was pre-evening (Asr) prayer time when we reached a small, nondescript teahouse.

“When I point at someone with my eyes, just watch but not overtly and not immediately. And, don’t talk when you look,” said our local contact in a low voice.

We sat down on the palm-frond mat on the dirt floor. After a while, he looked meaningfully to his right and quickly averted his eyes. In a few seconds we gave a brief, furtive look and saw two bearded young men, somewhere in their late teens, dressed in slightly dirty baggy trousers and long shirt, no different from everyone around, walking toward a low mound to attend to the call of nature. They emerged shortly from behind their mound that served as open air toilet and went straight to the prayer mat.

Some ten minutes later, our local partner made a similar gesture toward another young man, with a mere hint of a beard on an otherwise smooth face, who was also walking to the toilet-mound. He also returned after unburdening his urinary bladder and walked directly to the prayer mat.

We had seen enough; there was no point in sitting there any more and attracting unnecessary attention.

“This kind of people started appearing more than a year ago,” said our local man.

“After attending to the call of nature, they don’t even wash their hands. They don’t perform necessary ablutions (Wudoo) before going from toilet to prayer mat,” he said after we had started driving to the next point in our journey.

“They are not Muslims,” he said.

Yes, we could see that they were not Muslims. After attending the call of nature, it is mandatory for all Muslims to perform ritual ablutions before they can stand for prayers. The only exception is when water is not available, which was clearly not the case.

‘Taliban’ in American Helicopters

After having seen the young men who wanted to look like practicing Muslims without bothering to go through the obligatory ablutions for prayers, our next stop was to meet someone who could tell us about ‘Taliban’ being transported in American helicopters.

We drove on a dirt trail for about thirty minutes and reached another point, still not far from the Afghan border. One of our local contacts in Afghanistan had confirmed earlier that he had spoken to some people who had seen the so-called Taliban being carried in American helicopters. He was waiting for us at a makeshift gasoline station. Border crossing is no big deal in those parts.

Our man told that he had spoken to several people who had seen bearded young men disembarking from American helicopters near the border of Afghanistan with Pakistan. Based on the accounts narrated by our contact person, we understood that batches of four to ten persons were dropped twice or thrice a month, every time at a different location but always in walking distance from the Pakistan border.

The villagers on the Pakistani side of the border also confirmed that illegal border crossing was a universally common phenomenon on the entire border line in Chagai district.

Next, we drove to see the man who had been left for dead.

Murder after prayers

In a killi about thirty kilometers from the Afghan border we met Osman (not his real name). He is in his early forties and told a tale that is not uncommon in those areas.

He said that two persons, who said that they were Afghan traders, hired his car for a day trip along the border. Since it was the area where anything can happen at any time, Osman took a friend along for company.

The ‘Afghan traders’ said that they had to meet some people near the border and the trip would be over in less than half a day. At a deserted place near the Afghan border the clients said that since it was prayer time, they should stop the car and pray.

Osman and his friend also joined the prayer, led by one of the Afghans. Soon after completing the prayer, while rising from his prayer position, the prayer leader took out a pistol from his side pocket and shot straight at Osman’s friend. He was hit in the shoulder and fell back like a log.

Then he pointed the weapon at Osman and pulled the trigger again. Osman was wearing a loose and baggy shirt and the bullet passed through his shirt sleeve, grazing his upper arm slightly. He also fell down, pretending that he had also been hit.

The two Afghans took the car, sped toward the border, and into Afghanistan.

Osman says that when the car snatchers disappeared, he carried his friend on his shoulder for about a couple of kilometers before he found someone willing to give him a lift to the hospital. His friend survived but remained bedridden for more than six months.

Less than a week later the car was found connected to an act of terrorism in Quetta.

Unregistered automobiles

There were reports that more than half of the automobiles and motorbikes in a wide swath of Balochistan, from Dalbandin to Taftan in the north, and from Pasni to Gwadar in the south, were running without any number plates.

This was the easiest thing to verify. All we had to do was to drive around the area and look at every vehicle to see whether it had a registration plate or not. Yes, more than half of vehicles of all description did not have any registration number at all.

It was difficult to understand the reason for this mass anomaly. An unregistered vehicle is an ideal getaway transport for terrorists, criminals and everyone else interested in breaking the law.

Theft of cars

Driving from place to place in pursuit to confirm the findings of our team, we heard repeatedly that theft of motor vehicles, especially cars and SUVs, was an organized crime, reaching the scales of a sophisticated business in Balochistan. Stealing a parked automobile is definitely easier than snatching it at gunpoint.

What we could gather from our conversation with several people was that vehicles were stolen from all parts of Pakistan and smuggled across the border to Afghanistan. Sometimes, a car is stolen as per specifications of the client i.e. a particular make, model and colour.

These cars and SUVs go to Afghanistan and some of them are used for cross-border forays into Pakistan and Iran, as seen in Osman’s case. Sometimes these vehicles, after commitment of a crime, are abandoned deliberately to put the investigators on the wrong trail.

So far, we had found that some young men are regularly crossing over from Afghanistan to Pakistan, some of them were Muslim in appearance but not in essence, and quite possibly some of them are being carried by Americans in their helicopters close to the border of Pakistan. We had also found that automobiles were being stolen or snatched at gunpoint, taken to Afghanistan, and later used in the acts of terrorism in Pakistan.

What next?

Funding mechanism

A terrorist must work for someone. Self employed terrorists are far and few between. If they were working for someone, there must be a system to provide them with funds when in Pakistan.

This was a challenge. With a small team running on a shoestring budget we could not trail anyone for long. Tracking multiple targets was simply impossible.

We did the next best thing — We watched the moneychangers in Quetta, the administrative centre of Balochistan province.

Quite a few moneychangers in Quetta are concentrated in one of the bustling streets of the cramped city. With the help of cooperative fruit vendors, shoeshine boys, tobacconists, and just plain loiterers, we created a temporary network to keep an eye on some moneychangers.

In a few days we found that some people were changing US dollars to Pak rupees regularly. This, in itself, can hardly be called a suspicious activity except for the fact that they were not changing all of their money from a single vendor. Instead, they went from moneychanger to moneychanger, never converting more than $ 2000 from a single vendor. This was an obvious precaution to avoid being noticed.

Because of our insufficient capacity to study the money-changing phenomenon in detail, this can, at best, be considered implied evidence. The thing to remember is that terrorism is a comparatively low cost enterprise.

The corridor of instability between Afghanistan and Iran

In our first investigative report on Balochistan, published in March 2005, we reported that a corridor of instability exists in the territory of Pakistan through which all kinds of players were traveling from Afghanistan to Iran and Back. This report is not available on our own website anymore because we lost our archive after it was hacked. However, the report received wide audience and it can be seen at dozens of portals; two links are given at the end of this narrative.

In that report we said that if you marked Shah Ismail and Ziarat Sultan Vais Qarni in Afghanistan and Jalq and Kuhak in Iran, and connected Shah Ismail with Kuhak through a slowly arching line, and Ziarat Sultan Vais Qarni with Jalq through another line running in parallel with the first one, the space between these two lines would form a corridor that is used by the American defence contractors, and many other kinds of players, to travel between Afghanistan and Iran through Pakistan.

Now we would like to report that the corridor has somewhat narrowed down in width but there is more activity through it to destabilize Iran, and put pressure on Pakistan.

The main reason why it is so easy for anyone to use this corridor to travel between Afghanistan and Iran is that the patrolling in Balochistan is done mainly by the irregular militia and (FC) frontier constabulary, mostly manned by illiterate personnel.

To check on this theory, we drove across the breadth of Chagai, Kharan, and Panjgur districts, reaching just four kilometers from the border of Iran near Kuhak. Throughout the journey we encountered several check posts and mobile patrols but hardly anyone could even read our identity documents much less determine whether we were genuine travelers or someone else in disguise.

We also learned during this road trip that at least two Indian nationals had been caught, using this corridor to reach Iran.

It is worth mentioning that the corridor of instability identified by us terminates right near the town of Pishin in Iran where an act of terrorism several months ago took the lives of dozens of people, including 15 senior officials of Pasdaran.

In the next two reports, hopefully at intervals of about a week or so, we shall describe how a Russian atheism specialist explains the phenomenon of suicide bombing and how a Russian counterterrorism expert decodes our findings to create a fairly understandable picture.