General Kayani knew

…about the plot to bomb the Indian embassy in Kabul

The New York Times reveals that “Analysts at the CIA. and other American spy and security agencies believe not only that the bombing of India’s embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, in July by militants was aided by ISI operatives, but also that the highest levels of Pakistan’s security apparatus—including the army chief, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani—had knowledge of the plot.”

No, you won’t find too many people in India going et tu Ashfaq! But what is interesting is that this nugget of information is cited in a report whose main story is that President George W Bush personally authorised the raid by US special forces into Pakistani territory. So seven years after 9/11, the US government has decided that it has to be more assertive with its major non-NATO ally, and the new policy is to notify Pakistan when they conduct limited ground attacks…but that they will not ask for its permission.”

With this report of General Kayani’s knowledge—but not culpability—the US authorities have come to the last, tantalising stage of the narrative strip tease over the Kabul embassy blasts. Reports started with the ISI having a hand in the bombings. They have now come to General Kayani knowing about them beforehand. There’s only one small bit of fabric covering the General’s modesty. His latest remarks—that Pakistan’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity…would be defended at all costs”—indicate just why it has come to this stage. The US revelations on the one hand serve to put pressure on him to accept US military incursions. On the other, they also make him less endearing to India, thus circumscribing how much comfort Pakistan’s political leaders can have on their eastern frontiers.

So as General Kayani goes into a huddle with his corps commanders today, the image, as one astute observer put is of the US and Pakistan squeezing each others’ throats (yes, it was a different part of the body in the original). The Pakistani army has already begun squeezing the West’s supply routes to Afganistan, at Kurram. While this will make life difficult for US and NATO soldiers fighting in Afghanistan, the US could retaliate by squeezing the dollar flow to Pakistan. It then becomes a question of who can bear more pain, and bear it longer.

Related Link: Chidanand Rajghatta’s report in TOI

18 thoughts on “General Kayani knew”

  1. Good commentary, Nitin.

    I’ve always wondered why the CIA (and the Pentagon) and the ISI are such good pals. I conclude, geo-political considerations such as leverage-on-India apart, it must be because they both have dirt on each other. Lots of it.

    Note that at least since 2004, every US prez contender, regardless of party affiliation, has mentioned WMD prolif among terrorists as his #1 security nightmare. So, my reckoning is this intel dirt likely relates of Pak’s N-weapon program buildup. And likely relating to the CIA’s complicity in Pak clandestinely acquiring the dreaded WMD of the N-variety and then, perhaps, proliferating them around. Wonder why AQK is still left alive. The man has a lot of beans to spill as well. My guess is he’ll suffer a stroke or something thanks to his prolonged illness, soon.

    Th events of late suggest (US unilaterally bombing and raiding inside Pak) that Pak and the ISI now stand sufficiently discredited for the west to wash away their complicity in the paki WMD mess. While at the same time, gaining enough leverage over Pak to continue their logistical chain through Pak (nay, Pakhtun) territory. Just speculating is all, the next few weeks leading to the US polls should be interesting to watch.

  2. “It then becomes a question of who can bear more pain, and bear it longer.”

    With their budget deficit widening, foreign reserves decreasing, inflation rising, currency devaluing, general economy panicking, Pakistan can ill afford a reduction in capital inflow. So, I think they will give in first.

    Unless of course, the Chinese and the Saudis help them out. But they can do only so much.

  3. On a different note – how humiliating must it be for a nation to be able to do nothing when a foreign nation announces publicly that, their security forces will not only enter your sovereign territory without your permission but also kill your citizens with impunity.
    So much for being a nuclear power.

  4. Looks like endgame. Mullen is sounding the alarm bells in Congressional depositions and is acting on the ground. Bush has signed off. This can get truly ugly with Frontier Corps aka Taliban-Lite start engaging Special Ops folks.

    On a different note – how humiliating must it be for a nation to be able to do nothing when a foreign nation announces publicly that, their security forces will not only enter your sovereign territory without your permission but also kill your citizens with impunity.

    They’ve been rented out since the ’50s (SEATO, CENTO). They are too deeply dependent on handouts to care about niceties like citizen safety – think of it as a mainlining drug-addict. As for FATA being sovereign territory – that’s a joke: if you cannot establish your writ it is not your territory.

  5. @Trilok,

    We should be concerned about the effects of that humiliation. Regardless of Libertarian’s comment, it is a fact to reckon with.

  6. Udayan, I agree, there is a lesson in Pakistan’s humiliation. I.E. Pakistan is all talk.
    Next time there is a major terrorist attack on Indian soil, which can be traced back to Pakistan, India should retaliate militarily, and not just threaten to.

  7. Trilok,

    There’s the small matter of India being a neighbour and the US being half-way across the globe, missile trajectories and all that.

    In fact, I would worry that the humiliation, even if caused by the US, could well be directed against India.

  8. Nitin,

    I agree about the humiliation. The territory is South Asian, and here we have, complete foreigners bombing the hell out of it. The camel was invited inside with the Kashmir meddling, and the camel is now angling for controlling the Gwadar/Karachi oil access points. If only the Americans settled with the Iranians, the whole equation would be changed.

    China doesn’t want India to rise up and uses Pakistan, and the US really wants India to purchase arms from the arms peddlers. Note that the nuclear peddlers except maybe for GE are different from the arms peddlers.

  9. Nitin and Munnabhai – Are you saying that if, a bully named P harasses us everyday, and then this bigger bully, A comes along and starts humiliating P by pushing him around, and since bully P is a coward and can’t retaliate against bully A, we should be afraid that bully P might hit us more often or harder?

  10. @Trilok: That quip applies to tracer bullets, not missile trajectories. There is the issue of the range of one’s missiles.

  11. Munnabhai – “The territory is South Asian, and here we have, complete foreigners bombing the hell out of it.”

    You are right, only Pakistani agents may bomb the hell out of “South Asians”, right?

    p.s. let me guess, you are a faculty member in a “South Asian” studies department on an American campus?

  12. Trilok
    since bully P is a coward and can’t retaliate against bully A, we should be afraid that bully P might hit us more often or harder?

    During the 1990 Gulf War, Saddam Hussein lobbed his Scuds at Israel, because his Scuds couldn’t get anywhere close to America.

    I don’t care who bullies who, but I don’t want missiles spoiling my weekends because of a fight between A & P.

  13. Munnabhai,

    This business of “South Asians” vs “Foreigners” is absurd. Think about it…if the argument is that we should ignore national boundaries why distinguish South Asians vs non-South Asians?

  14. Nitin – As long as India does not explicitly hep America against its western neighbour, Pakistan is not going to lob missiles into India, in my opinion.

    Saddam’s bombing of Israel’s had a strategic end, which was to get the Jewish state to retaliate. Had Israel responded in kind, Saddam would have appealed for Islamic unity against the “Judeo – Christian” attack.
    And had such “unity” had come to pass, America could have been forced to back down, and leave Saddam’s power intact 🙂

    Pakistanis maybe a lot of things but idiots they are not. They know that if they lob missiles on India, unprovoked, they will forever cede any moral or legal argument on Kashmir.

  15. That dreaded “South Asian” thing again … will its attendant implications that we somehow share some unspoken bond. We have much more in common with A than we do with P. Maybe it was different 60 years ago. Ethnicity and culture pale into insignificance when stacked against core beliefs.

    This missile-use scenario is nonsense. The Pakenstein Army is not dumb enough to take on the US. They don’t even want to confront India in a conventional war – they know they’d get their butts handed to them on a plate. So they’ll do the usual weaselly stuff through their paramilitary – the Taliban and AQ.

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