Saudi, Chinese, Pakistani Spy Agencies Convene Trilateral Meeting in Islamabad to Counter U.S. Accusations of ISI-Haqqani Cooperation

Jihad & Terrorism

September 26, 2011
Special Dispatch No.4165


Burning an American flag, Hyderabad, Pakistan, September 25, 2011

Following the September 22, 2011 testimony before the U.S. Senate by Admiral Mike Mullen, that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) supported the Taliban’s Haqqani Network to carry out the recent terror attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Saudi and Chinese intelligence officials visited Islamabad in a move aimed at assuring the ISI of their support against the United States.

After Mullen’s statement, Pakistan fears that the U.S. troops could move into the Pakistani tribal district of North Waziristan, which is the main hideout of the Haqqani Network of the Taliban. As per Pakistani media reports, Pakistani military commanders have rebuffed the U.S. allegations; the Haqqani Network has warned the U.S. against a likely attack on North Waziristan; the Islamic clerics in Pakistan have called for jihad against the U.S.; and now the Chinese and Saudi intelligence agencies are coordinating with the ISI of Pakistan for a possible alliance aimed at a feared U.S. move against the Haqqani Network.

Following are some reports from the Pakistani media:

I. The Trilateral Meeting

Saudi, Chinese, Pakistani Intelligence Officials Hold Trilateral Meeting in Islamabad


Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Meng Jianzhou arrives in Islamabad

Amid the U.S.-Pakistan crisis, Saudi and Chinese intelligence officials arrived in Pakistan to hold talks with the ISI in a move aimed at countering the U.S. pressure on Pakistan.

On September 26, 2011, ISI director-general (DG) Lt.-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha received Saudi officials at the Chaklala base in Islamabad.[1] During a meeting with Shuja Pasha, “Saudi officials conveyed a positive signal of considerable support to ISI officials.”[2]

A report on the website of The Express Tribune daily noted: “A trilateral meeting among intelligence officials from Saudi Arabia, China and Pakistan will [be] held in Islamabad today [September 26]…. The trilateral meeting among [the] officials will focus on the United States’… allegations against Pakistan and the future course of action in this regard.”[3]

Also on September 26, 2011, Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Meng Jianzhou arrived in Islamabad on a two-day visit, in view of the mounting U.S. pressure on Pakistan. “The visit (by the Chinese leader) has a symbolic as well as substantial value … it will definitely send a message across the Atlantic,” an official at the Pakistani foreign ministry was quoted as saying.[4]

II. The Pakistani Reaction

Pakistani Interior Minister: CIA Created the Haqqani Network; Pakistani Foreign Minister: Haqqani Network a “Blue-Eyed Boy” of CIA

Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar issued strong statements against the U.S. for its allegations that the ISI had a role in supporting the Haqqani Network’s attacks on U.S. soldiers and assets in Afghanistan.

Rehman Malik said that the Haqqani Network was created by the U.S., stating the: “the CIA had produced and trained the Haqqanis and other Mujahideen during the Afghan war, when Pakistan supported them…”[5]

“But that was then [in the 1980s]. Now, Pakistan has no links with the Haqqani Network which is not based here… They were sons of the Afghan soil and they were based there as well,” the Pakistani interior minister said.[6]

Hina Rabbani Khar, who was asked by the Pakistani government to return to Pakistan from the United Nations in New York amid the deepening Pakistan-U.S. row over the ISI’s support to the Haqqani Network, also blasted the U.S. for the charge.

Khar said that the ISI has no links to the Haqqani Network, adding: “If we talk about links, I am sure the CIA… also has links with many terrorist organizations around the world, by which we mean intelligence links.… And this particular network, which [the United States] continues to talk about, is a network which was the blue-eyed boy [protégé] of the CIA itself for many years.”[7]

Pakistan Army Chief General Kayani Rebuffs U.S. Charge That ISI Supported Haqqani Network

Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Kayani

On September 23, 2011, Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani responded to the U.S. accusation that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency was responsible for the attack on the U.S. Embassy.

According to the website of the daily Dawn, General Kayani, who cancelled a visit to London in view of the deepening U.S.-Pakistan crisis, rebuffed the U.S. allegation of ISI’s support to the Haqqani Network and described it “very unfortunate.”[8] Later, the Pakistani military’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) department issued a statement, denying the ISI’s support to the Haqqanis:[9]

“Rawalpindi-September 23, 2011: While taking note of the recent statements made by Admiral Mullen, Chairman Joint Chief of Staff United States, Chief of [Pakistan] Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, termed these as very unfortunate and not based on facts. This is especially disturbing in view of a rather constructive meeting with Admiral Mullen in Spain.

“On the specific question of contacts with Haqqanis, the COAS [Chief of Army Staff] said that Admiral Mullen knows full well which countries [not named here] are in contact with the Haqqanis. Singling out Pakistan is neither fair nor productive.

“Categorically denying the accusations of proxy war and ISI support to Haqqanis, the COAS wished that, the blame game in public statements should give way to a constructive and meaningful engagement for a stable and peaceful Afghanistan, an objective to which Pakistan is fully committed.”

Pakistan Army Commanders Vote Down U.S. Pressure To Act Against the Haqqanis

On September 25, 2011, the Pakistani military commanders held a meeting under the chairmanship of Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Kayani, at which it was decided to disregard the U.S. pressure on Pakistan to launch a military operation against the Haqqani Network in North Waziristan. According to a Pakistani media report:[10]

“Pakistan will not take military action against the Haqqani Network, despite intense U.S. pressure over the past few days.  The decision was taken at a special meeting of top commanders on Sunday [September 25] and is likely to chip away at the deteriorating relationship between the two countries.

“The commanders vowed to resist U.S. demands for an offensive in North Waziristan but also discussed the possible implications of unilateral action by the U.S. on Pakistani territory, said a military official. ‘We have already conveyed to the U.S. that Pakistan cannot go beyond what it has already done,’ the official… [said].

“A public acknowledgement by the military’s chief spokesman about Pakistan having contact with the Haqqanis also appears to confirm that the [Pakistani] security establishment has no intention to go after one of the most feared Afghan insurgent groups. ‘Any intelligence agency would like to maintain contact with whatever opposition group, whatever terrorist organization… for some positive outcome,’ Major General Athar Abbas… [said].

“[Abbas added:] ‘If someone is blaming us [as] the only country maintaining contacts with the Haqqanis, there are others, too… There is a huge difference between maintaining contacts with such a group to facilitate peace and supporting it against an ally…”

III. Reactions of Jihadist Groups

Haqqani Network Chief Sirajuddin Haqqani Warns against U.S. Attack: “The United States will Suffer More Losses [in North Waziristan] Than They did in Afghanistan”

Sirajuddin Haqqani

On September 23, 2011, Sirajuddin Haqqani, chief of the Haqqani Network, warned the U.S. against any likely military invasion of North Waziristan, which is also major hideout for Al-Qaeda and other Taliban organizations.[11]

According to a report in The Express Tribune daily, Sirajuddin Haqqani said: “The United States will suffer more losses [in North Waziristan] than they did in Afghanistan.”[12]

Sirajuddin Haqqani, whose statements have not appeared in the Pakistani media in recent years, also spoke about how he avoids the U.S. drone attacks in the Pakistani tribal region, stating: “I always avoid travelling in a motorcade of armed fighters, as it puts your life in danger.…”[13]

Sirajuddin Haqqani added: “In the morning, I tuned into a Pashtu-language broadcast of the Voice of America and came to know about this…. I have chosen the path of jihad and I know very well about the hardships and fruits of this path.”[14]

Fatwa by Pakistani Clerics: Jihad Mandatory For All Pakistanis in Case of U.S. Attack on Pakistani Soil

On September 25, 2011, dozens of Islamic clerics in Pakistan held a meeting in the Pakistani city of Lahore, where they jointly issued a fatwa (Islamic decree), declaring that jihad will be mandatory on the entire Pakistani nation in the case of possible U.S. attack on the Pakistani soil.[15]

About 50 muftis (Islamic scholars qualified to declare fatwas) issued the decree at a Lahore meeting of the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) of Barelvi Sunni clerics in Pakistan. Leaders of about 50 religious organizations participated in the meeting.

At the SIC emergency meeting chaired by Sahibzada Fazal Karim, the Barelvi clerics – who are opposed to the Deobandi-supported Taliban, also asked the Pakistani government to formally start preaching Jihad Fi Sabeel Allah (Jihad for the sake of Allah) in accordance with the rules of Islamic Sharia and take all necessary measures to defend the country’s sovereignty.[16]

The fatwa declared that calling America as superpower is kufr (infidel), as Allah Almighty alone is the superpower. It also stated: “Anti-Pakistan and anti-Islam designs of the U.S. have come into limelight; therefore, the government should forthwith part ways with America as a frontline ally in the war against terrorism, and [Pakistan  should] make efforts for a joint front with China, Turkey, Afghanistan and Iran [against the U.S.].”[17]

“A Muslim fears none but Allah and considers martyrdom an honor,” the fatwa said, adding: “It will be a real jihad and mandatory for each Pakistani to participate in it according to his capacity to defend the county’s frontiers.”

Urging the political and military leadership of Pakistan to begin preparing for war against the U.S. in accordance with shari’a, which requires the Islamic governments of the time to prepare for combating enemy forces, the clerics urged all political forces to abandon their differences and gather on one platform under the banner of Islam to defend the country’s independence and sovereignty and to convey a message to the U.S. that the religious, political and military leaderships of Pakistan are united against any foreign aggression.[18]

The fatwa also urged all politicians, bureaucrats and military leaders to bring their assets in foreign banks back to Pakistan, and also expressed appreciation for the bold stand of Pakistan Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani against the U.S. allegations.[19]

Endnotes:

[1] www.tribune.com.pk (Pakistan), September 26, 2011.

[2] www.tribune.com.pk (Pakistan), September 26, 2011.

[3] www.tribune.com.pk (Pakistan), September 26, 2011.

[4] www.tribune.com.pk (Pakistan), September 26, 2011.

[5] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), September 26, 2011.

[6] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), September 26, 2011.

[7] www.tribune.com.pk (Pakistan), September 26, 2011.

[8] www.dawn.com (Pakistan), September 23, 2011.

[9] www.ispr.gov.pk (Pakistan), September 23, 2011.

[10] www.tribune.com.pk (Pakistan), September 26, 2011.

[11] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), September 24, 2011.

[12] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), September 24, 2011.

[13] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), September 24, 2011.

[14] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), September 24, 2011.

[15] Roznama Ummat (Pakistan), September 26, 2011.

[16] Roznama Ummat (Pakistan), September 26, 2011.

[17] Roznama Ummat (Pakistan), September 26, 2011.

[18] Roznama Ummat (Pakistan), September 26, 2011.

[19] Roznama Ummat (Pakistan), September 26, 2011.

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