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New War Rumors: U.S. Plans To Seize Pakistan's Nuclear Arsenal

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New War Rumors: U.S. Plans To Seize Pakistan's Nuclear Arsenal
Rick Rozoff

Two recent news items emanating from the United States have begun to reverberate in Pakistan and give rise to speculation that growing American drone strikes and NATO helicopter attacks in that country may be the harbingers of far broader actions: Nothing less than the expansion of the West's war in Afghanistan into Pakistan with the ultimate goal of seizing the nation's nuclear weapons.

The News International, Pakistan's largest English-language newspaper, published a report on October 13 based on excerpts from American journalist Bob Woodward's recently released volume "Obama's Wars" which stated that during a trilateral summit between the presidents of the U.S., Afghanistan and Pakistan on May 6 of 2009 Pakistani head of state Asif Ali Zardari accused Washington of being behind Taliban attacks inside his country with the intent to use them so "the US could invade and seize its nuclear weapons." [1]

Woodward recounted comments exchanged at a dinner with Zardari and Afghan-born Zalmay Khalilzad, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (2007-2009), to Iraq (2005-2007) and Afghanistan (2003-2005). Khalilzad was also a close associate of Jimmy Carter administration National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, architect of the U.S. strategy to support attacks by armed extremists based in Pakistan against Afghanistan starting in 1978, when he joined the Polish expatriate at Columbia University from 1979-1989.

The baton for what is now Washington's over 30-year involvement in Afghanistan was passed from Brzezinski to Khalilzad in the 1980s when the latter was appointed one of the Ronald Reagan administration's senior State Department officials in charge of supporting Mujahedin fighters operating out of Peshawar in Pakistan. He joined the State Department in 1984 on a Council on Foreign Relations fellowship and worked for Paul Wolfowitz, then-Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, at Foggy Bottom. His efforts were augmented by the Central Intelligence Agency's deputy director at the time, Robert Gates, now U.S. defense secretary. Two of their chief clients, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani, are founders and leaders of Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin and the Haqqani network, against whom Gates' Pentagon is currently waging war on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

According to Woodward's account of the Pakistani president's accusations to Khalilzad in May of last year, "Zardari dropped his diplomatic guard. He suggested that one of...two countries was arranging the attacks by the Pakistani Taliban inside his country: India or the US. Zardari didn't think India could be that clever, but the US could. [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai had told him the US was behind the attacks, confirming the claims made by the Pakistani ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence]." [2]

Khalilzad, whose resume also includes stints at the Defense Department, the National Security Council, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the National Endowment for Democracy, the RAND Corporation (where he assisted in establishing the Middle East Studies Center) and the Project for the New American Century, reportedly took issue with Zardari's contention, which led to the latter responding that what he had described "was a plot to destabilize Pakistan," hatched in order that, according to Woodward's version of his words, "the US could invade and seize [Pakistan's] nuclear weapons."

The account stated Zardari "could not explain the rapid expansion in violence otherwise. And the CIA had not pursued the leaders of the Pakistani Taliban, a group known as Tehrik-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan or TTP that had attacked the government. TTP was also blamed for the assassination of Zardari's wife, Benazir Bhutto."

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In the Pakistani president's words: "We give you targets of Taliban people you don't go after. You go after other areas. We're puzzled."

When Khalilzad mentioned that U.S. drone attacks inside Pakistan "were primarily meant to hunt down members of al Qaeda and Afghan insurgents, not the Pakistan Taliban," Zardari responded by insisting "But the Taliban movement is tied to al Qaeda...so by not attacking the targets recommended by Pakistan the US had revealed its support of the TTP. The CIA at one time had even worked with the group's leader, Baitullah Mehsud," Zardari asserted. [3] (Three months later a CIA-directed drone strike killed Mehsud, his wife and several in-laws and bodyguards.)

In August of 2009, while still commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, then-General Stanley McChrystal issued his classified COMISAF (Commander of International Security Assistance Force) Initial Assessment which asserted the "major insurgent groups in order of their threat to the mission are: the Quetta Shura Taliban (05T), the Haqqani Network (HQN), and the Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin (HiG)." [4] The first is an Afghan Taliban group which as its name indicates is based in the capital of Pakistan's Balochistan province.

Steve Coll, Alfred McCoy and other authorities on the subject have documented the CIA's involvement with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani: That they were shared with if not transferred by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence to the CIA as private assets. Coll has additionally claimed that Haqqani sheltered and supported Osama bin Laden starting in the 1980s.

At the meeting between Obama, Zardari and Karzai in May of 2009, the American president slighted his two counterparts for alleged lack of resolve in prosecuting the war on both sides of the Durand Line, although even as he spoke Pakistan was engaged in a major military assault in the Swat Valley which led to the displacement of 3 million civilians.

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Four days after the dinner exchange between Zardari and Khalilzad, the Pakistani president appeared on the May 10 edition of NBC's Meet the Press on a program which also included Afghan President Karzai and Steve Coll, now president and CEO of the New America Foundation and author of Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (2004) and The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century (2008).

Zardari's comments to his American audience included the claim that the Taliban "was part of your past and our past, and the ISI and the CIA created them together. And I can find you 10 books and 10 philosophers and 10 write-ups on that...." [5]

That the leaders of the other two armed groups identified by McChrystal - Haqqani and Hekmatyar - were among the three Mujahedin leaders financed, armed and trained by the CIA (the late Ahmed Shah Massoud being the third), makes the pattern complete: Robert Gates the defense secretary is leading a war against forces that Robert Gates the deputy director of the CIA earlier supported through one of the Agency's longest and most expensive covert programs, Operation Cyclone.

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Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Is the manager of the Stop NATO international email list at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/

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Tell us how you think such a feat would be possibl... by Progessive 1 on Saturday, Oct 16, 2010 at 6:05:55 AM
I have a better solution.We should BUY their nucle... by Charlie L on Saturday, Oct 16, 2010 at 1:02:55 PM
I have a better solution.We should BUY their nucle... by Charlie L on Saturday, Oct 16, 2010 at 1:04:12 PM
............is always better when it includes anni... by Robert P. Philipps on Saturday, Oct 16, 2010 at 2:19:59 PM
If it is actually true, that the super neoconized ... by Yes on Sunday, Oct 17, 2010 at 9:02:50 PM