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The Pak Banker - - Front Page -

Ev­ery­thing that you have done in your past is a part of who you are, but ev­ery­thing that you do to­day will be who you are to­mor­row," say the saga­ciously smart. Gen­eral Kayani is saga­cious and smart. His one sen­tence in his ad­dress at the GHQ tes­ti­fies to this fact. Squar­ing up to the truth, the Army Chief seems will­ing to al­low an ex­am­i­na­tion of the past mis­takes and per­ver­sion of jus­tice by the es­tab­lish­ment: "We are crit­i­cally look­ing at the mis­takes made in the past and try­ing to set the course for a bet­ter fu­ture."

One would want Gen­eral Kayani to continue in the same vein, re­flect­ing a prac­ti­cal and ac­tion­able ap­proach as re­flected in the above para­graph. In­stead, his ad­dress was aimed at pro­tect­ing the name of the in­sti­tu­tion that he heads. But here's the pivot: The ISI could be head­ing for a dou­ble whammy, fac­ing two ad­verse con­se­quences: the fall­out from the Supreme Court judge­ment in As­ghar Khan case and its long his­tory with the Tal­iban from the time the word Tal­iban be­came a proper noun.

The Army Chief, as the supreme com­man­der is per­haps pre-empt­ing any blame game on the ISI now that the Tal­iban have wormed their way to Karachi. "While con­struc­tive criticism is well un­der­stood, con­spir­acy the­o­ries based on ru­mours which cre­ate doubts about the very in­tent, are un­ac­cept­able" warns Gen­eral Kayani.

His dec­la­ra­tion leaves lit­tle wig­gle room for any se­ri­ous, sober and sin­cere at­tempt at iden­ti­fy­ing the peo­ple re­spon­si­ble for let­ting the Is­lamic mil­i­tants into Pak­istan?'

Un­less facts are fer­reted, and the slipups com­mit­ted by our mil­i­tary and the civil­ian gov­ern­ments of the past pin­pointed "a course for a bet­ter fu­ture" as Gen­eral Kayani puts it, will re­main a dis­tant dream. The Novem­ber 7 ed­i­to­rial in this daily clinches the crux of Gen Kayani's eva­sion of mil­i­tary mea culpa: "It can­not and must not be for­got­ten that the in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal in­sta­bil­ity the coun­try faces to­day is largely rooted in poli­cies pur­sued by the army it­self in the name of the na­tional in­ter­est." The mil­i­tant groups un­der the generic name of Tal­iban to­day are Pak­istan's num­ber one se­cu­rity threat. How did they in­fil­trate our land, who hosted them and why were they let free to turn their guns on the coun­try that shel­tered them? One man, a for­mer ISI of­fi­cer, has come for­ward with his story.

As ISI's pro­vin­cial chief (Sec­tor Com­man­der) in the then North West Fron­tier Prov­ince (now Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa) from 1996 to 1998, Col Javaid Za­hoor wit­nessed his su­pe­ri­ors set up a rag­tag band of 'Arab-Afghans.' "Soon af­ter my takeover, I re­alised, that we were giv­ing too much space to these Is­lamic mil­i­tants who fought the Soviet in­va­sion of Afghanistan (1979 to 1989). They con­sti­tuted a post-ji­had pool of ex­pe­ri­enced, bat­tle-hard­ened mil­i­tants.

"No doubt they were our as­sets as rightly con­sid­ered by the ' con­cerned side' of the or­gan­i­sa­tion, headed by Gen Aziz. But to give them un­lim­ited lib­erty and free­dom to move about was a fatal mis­take," Col Javaid Za­hoor tells me.

Since the Mu­jhaideen (ArabAfghans), the Tal­iban and Al-Qaeda all had their ori­gins in the Soviet in­va­sion of Afghanistan and the sub­se­quent Afghan Civil War, Za­hoor feared they would re-group to be­come a force to reckon with. They had am­ple ex­pe­ri­ence in in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism and in­sur­gency-re­lated vi­o­lence. "The con­cerned side of ISI pro­vided chits to these peo­ple al­low­ing them to come and go be­tween Pak­istan and Afghanistan," says Za­hoor.

"I tried to dis­cuss the mat­ter with the top man of the 'con­cerned side,' but soon re­alised that my pleas were fall­ing on deaf ears," says Za­hoor. Firm in their con­vic­tion that their grand scheme was in the na­tional in­ter­est, his un­so­licited ad­vice was

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