US-backed change in Pakistani intelligence: a positive step
by Ramtanu Maitra on 17 Oct 2008 0 Comment

In a move widely acclaimed in both Washington and Beijing, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, removed the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief, Lt. Gen. Nadeem Taj, and appointed Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shujaa Pasha as his replacement, on 29 September, along with 13 other appointments. 

Pasha, as Director-General of Military Operations, had been in charge of fighting the insurgents on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan, particularly in the Swat Valley and in Bajaur, the northern-most tribal agency in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

It is traditional for a new Pakistani Chief of Army Staff to bring in a team of military officers who are loyal to him and acknowledged as competent. But although the Pakistani military spokesman called it “routine changes due over a period of time,” analysts point out that Pasha is close to Kiyani, who is establishing his hold over the military. After all, the ISI is under the command of the Chief of Army Staff, even though, in recent years, it has acted as if it were closer to the British MI6 than to the Pakistani military.

Beyond making “routine changes due over a period of time,” Kiyani was under visible pressure from Washington, and to a lesser extent, from Beijing, to remove Taj. As EIR has reported for months, British intelligence, MI6, got its hook into Pakistan’s body through the ISI. The objective of MI6, the foot soldiers of the British colonial policy-makers, is to break up Pakistan and turn it into a virulently anti-US nation. There is no question that much of this objective has already been met, thanks also to Washington’s lack of understanding of the prevailing situation in Pakistan, and understanding of how the British operate.

Unlike Taj, who rose quickly, because he was related to Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the former Chief of Army Staff and President of Pakistan, who had appointed Taj as ISI chief, Pasha has tried to serve his country well. Pasha did a stint as a Contingent and Sector Commander of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone, and also has been kept fully updated on the negotiations between the US and Pakistani military in recent months. He attended all six meetings that have taken place, so far, between Kiyani and the US Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen. These meetings include the 27 August meeting on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln somewhere in the northern Arabian Sea. Observers have noted that Kiyani included Pasha, but not then-ISI chief Taj, in the meeting aboard the Lincoln.

A Story of British Penetration

As this author pointed out in a July 18 EIR article (“The British Plan To Recolonize the Subcontinent Is Gaining Ground”), there has long been a policy agreement between the ISI and MI6, vis-à-vis the region.

After the withdrawal of the defeated Soviet Army in 1989, the ISI moved in to arm and train the Taliban. These intelligence agencies also brought in al-Qaeda, while Islamabad was in the process of developing what is called “strategic depth,” which, it argued, was necessary to protect the country from its “mortal enemy” - India. The MI6-ISI nexus became stronger when the Americans left Afghanistan, after the defeated Red Army retreated.

In understanding the MI6-ISI nexus that developed, consider the case of Gen. Mahmud Ahmed, who was the ISI chief at the time 9/11 occurred. President Musharraf, in his book, In the Line of Fire, stated that Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a British-born Pakistani who has been accused of kidnapping and killing Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl in Karachi, in 2002, was originally recruited by MI6, while studying at the London School of Economics. Musharraf alleged that Omar Sheikh was sent to the Balkans by MI6 to engage in jihadi operations.

On 6 October 2001, a senior US government official told CNN, that US investigators had discovered that Omar Sheikh, using the alias “Mustafa Muhammad Ahmad,” had sent about $100,000 from the United Arab Emirates to Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers.

Beyond that, the Saeed Sheikh affair shines a bright light on MI6-ISI links. More than a month after the money transfer was discovered, the head of ISI, Gen. Mahmud Ahmed, resigned from his position. It was reported that the FBI was investigating the possibility that it was Ahmed who had ordered Saeed Sheikh to send the money to Atta.

Now, Ahmed is an important Tablighi Jamaat member, sporting a full beard. Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic missionary and revival movement, with several million members worldwide, was founded by the British Raj in the early 20th century, in the part of India that is now Pakistan.

Today, Britain is the focus of the Tablighi movement in the West, ostensibly because of Britain’s large South Asian population that migrated there in the 1960s and ’70s. By 2007, Tablighi members were situated at 600 of Britain’s 1,350 mosques. Recently, Tablighi made headlines when it was reported that its members are planning to build the controversial London Markaz, Europe’s largest mosque, in Newham, next to the site for the London 2012 Olympics. Although Britain claims that the Tablighis are peace-loving people, dozens of the captives held in Guantanamo Bay for suspected terrorist activities are members of the Tablighi Jamaat. 

The problem with Ahmed continued with his replacement, Lt. Gen. Nadeem Taj, a member of the Ahmadiyya sect, created by the British Raj in the late 19th Century to divide the Muslim community in then-undivided India. The Ahmadiyyas are not accepted by the Islamic communities around the world, although the sect has centers in many nations, particularly in non-Islamic countries. Taj was able to climb rapidly through the ranks, some observers claim, not only because he was related to Musharraf, but also because he belongs to the same sect as Sehba Musharraf, the wife of the former President; Mrs. Musharraf is also an Ahmadiyya.

Nominally, the founder of the Ahmadiyya was Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who was born in 1835, at Qadian. (For this reason, Ahmadiyyas are often described as Qadianis.) Mirza founded his sect in 1889, declaring himself a Prophet. He was set up by the British Raj as one of many counters to real Islam, and was considered “secular” and moderate. His secularism was expressed through his love for British imperialism.

Mirza regarded British rule in India as a “great blessing of God,” and exhorted his followers to extend all cooperation to the British, for there lay their salvation and the pleasure of God.  Mirza wrote in 1899: “By far the greatest part of my life has been spent in preaching loyalty to the British Government. I have written so many books denouncing jihad and preaching loyalty to the British Government, that they would fill fifty almirahs if put together.”

In 1900, Sir Fredrick Cunningham, commissioner and Superintendent of the Peshawar District, replied to Mirza: “So far as I can judge, it appears to be a just and enlightened exposition of the doctrine of Islam, and is equally creditable to your learning and judgment. I have no doubt such a statement from a teacher of your reputation will be welcomed by all good Muhammadans as a vindication of their faith and as proof that Islam does not countenance crimes which ignorant and wicked men may commit under the cloak of religion. I shall be glad to see your Rasala [message from Allah carried by His Messenger] and Fatwa widely distributed in Frontier districts.”

The promise that Cunningham made held good then, as it holds good still today. The Ahmadiyya sect is headquartered in south-west London, and built its first mosque in there in 1924. In 2003, it opened the largest mosque in Western Europe, the Baitul Futuh Mosque in Morden, Surrey, which can accommodate more than 10,000 people. The community also operates its own 24-hour satellite TV station, MTA. 

It is widely acknowledged that the Ahmadiyyas (like the Tablighis, Hizb ut Tahrir, and Al Muhajiroun groups), were created to penetrate the institutions of Islamic governments. Since its inception, the hapless sect has been a tool of British intelligence. But the Ahmadiyyas have developed another potentially dangerous link: In Palestine, they exist in the small town of Kababir, on Mount Carmel, strategically overlooking the Athlit Harbor, with a naval base and ordinance factory on one side and the Haifa Harbor on the other. The town’s population is 99% Palestinian Arab, all of whom belong to the Ahmadiyya sect; the town is the center of the sect’s activities inside Israel.

In 1928, Abdul Qadir Odeh was the first Palestinian to embrace Ahmadiyyat at the hand of an Ahmadiyya missionary from India, Jalaluddin Shams, under the false impression that Mirza Ghulam was a reformer and a Mujaddid (in Islamic tradition, a messenger of God). The Palestinian Ahmadiyyas are staunch backers of the Israeli government, and one report suggests that at least 600 Ahmadiyyas are serving the Israeli military now. Ahmadiyyas have been used by the Mossad, and they have, from time to time, been accused of serving the MI6-Mossad interests in Pakistan, and elsewhere.

What is good for Pakistan…

Although US policy-makers have kept their blinders on concerning British intelligence tampering with the ISI, it became evident years ago that the ISI was aiding the Taliban, the enemy against which the United States and NATO were battling. It was also known to Washington that the ISI was working against the Pakistani Army, Washington’s major ally in its campaign against the Afghan and Pakistani insurgents.

This came out in the open only in mid-September, when Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari attended the UN General Assembly session in New York. Reports indicate that Zardari, who travelled to Washington to meet President Bush, had a private meeting with CIA Director Michael Hayden. On that occasion, Hayden made clear that Washington demands a reform of the ISI, which was working against both the United States and Pakistan.

According to former CIA counter-terrorism chief Vince Cannistraro, the CIA found proof that the ISI has in recent years helped the Taliban by leaking plans for US-led operations against them, Earlier in August, the NATO commander in Afghanistan, US Gen. David McKiernan, said that the ISI was complicit in Taliban militancy along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

On 16 September, Washington made its point when the Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher launched an attack on the ISI, just as Admiral Mullen arrived in Pakistan. Boucher said on that occasion that reform of the ISI “has to be done,” and suggested that the main military intelligence outfit was dangerously out of control.

The change at the top of the ISI is surely a positive step for Pakistan’s future well-being, and for the region, but it may not significantly help the United States or NATO in its Afghanistan campaign. The intelligence leaks, and arming of the Taliban by the ISI, are added problems in US and NATO efforts to tame the Afghan Taliban. (For more on the crisis in Afghanistan, especially the explosion of the opium trade, see, “Afghan Opium Please Taliban and Soros,” 26 August 2008,

However, the reform of the ISI is necessary to prevent the break-up of Pakistan, and it should be pushed through quickly. One reason is that the present regime of Zardari, who has no political base, and no base within the military or the intelligence community, could very well turn out to be a transitory administration. Although Washington believes that Zardari is its handmaiden, the fact remains that London played a major role in ushering in the Zardari Presidency by turning the screws on Britain-based Pakistani leaders like Mohajir Qaum Movement chief, Altaf Hussain, to make them fall in line to support the regime. This movement, a powerhouse in major cities like Karachi, Hyderabad, and Sukkur, is a traditional enemy of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) that Zardari temporarily leads. Because London controls the Mohajir Qaum Movement, Zardari would be at its mercy. On the other hand, the Americans opted for Zardari because he appeared more amenable than Nawaz Sharif, who is firmly ensconced in the Saudi-British enemy camp.

…Is good for China as well

According to a senior Indian intelligence analyst, the demand for the reform of ISI also came from Beijing. On 29 August, two Chinese engineers were kidnapped by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or the Pakistani Taliban. The engineers were working for a cell phone company in the North West Frontier Province. When General Kiyani visited China 21-27 September, an Indian analyst pointed out that Beijing made clear that it was unhappy about the ISI’s lack of interest in securing the release of the engineers.

In a report on the subject that appeared in The News on 24 September, Rahimullah Yusufzai, a senior Pakistani journalist, who has been reporting on the insurgency for years, wrote: “A Chinese journalist, who requested anonymity, said the Pakistan Government hasn’t shown any urgency in getting the two young engineers freed. He recalled how the issue of the two Chinese engineers kidnapped by late Pakistani Taliban commander Abdullah Mahsud’s men in South Waziristan in 2004 was resolved within a few days. . . .”

Beijing has reasons to be apprehensive about the ISI’s role. China is aware that the anti-Beijing Uighur terrorists have been protected in Pakistan’s tribal areas by al-Qaeda and the ISI, working on behalf of British MI6. Beijing believes that the Uighurs are also involved in this kidnapping. 

British Intelligence works the dissident Uighurs against the Chinese like a two-edged razor. What is visible to one and all is the gentle face of Uighur individuals, such as businesswoman-cum-human rights activist, the US-based Rebiya Kadeer, or the humane pleas of Uighur individuals such as Enver Tohti in Britain. These individuals “point out” that human right violations against the Uighurs in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region by Beijing were committed as part of China’s drive to develop and “occupy” western China and settle the area with Han Chinese.

The other edge of London’s razor to cut up China and beyond is provided by the Uighur terrorists operating from the undefined borders of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the rocky terrains of Central Asia. From time to time, high-level Indian and Pakistani security analysts have pointed out the presence of Uighur terrorists in Pakistan’s Pushtun tribal belt.

The author is South Asian Analyst at Executive Intelligence Review News Services Inc.

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