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Unfolding drama of Iraq-ill-famed Blackwater operation in Pakistan

By       Message Abdus Sattar Ghazali       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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Amid persistent reports by media, political leaders and intelligence agencies, Interior Minister Rehman Malik has denied the presence of Iraq-ill-famed Blackwater (now renamed as Xe Services) in Pakistan. However, circumstantial evidence belies the tall claim of the Interior Minister.

On September 16, a joint team of police and an intelligence agency picked up Retired Captain Syed Ali Zaidi for his alleged links with an anti-state network. However Zaidi, who worked in the artillery Department of Pakistan Army before he was forced to retire, was released after a brief detention. He now runs a security firm known as Inter-Risk (linked to US firm DynCorp) which provides security agents to US Embassy and Consulates and other diplomatic missions of South Asian states. Three days later his residence in Islamabad's posh area was raided and a large cache of un-licensed armament was seized.

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At the same time, Pakistan's leading newspaper DAWN, reported that Captian Zaidi's security agency, providing security and protection to American embassy officials in the country, has imported 84 sophisticated automatic prohibited bore weapons. According to Dawn, the licenses were issued with the special approval of Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani on a personal request from a senior US official who had apprised the prime minister of the need for having a specialized private security team to protect American diplomats in the country. Soon after grant of approval the weapons were imported from the US. Among the weapons for which special licenses were issued include guns of 5.56mm and 7.62mm calibre rifles.

According to Captain Syed Ali Ja Zaidi, since the weapons were quite expensive and he was not in a position to buy them on his own, he was provided help by the contracting party (US embassy) in paying for them. His security company, like the Blackwater, hires retired army personnel as security guards who are trained in anti-terrorism skills by a US company. His firm has a five-year agreement with the Office of the Regional Security in US embassy. At least 200 personnel who had recently completed training were deployed with US missions in Islamabad and Peshawar.

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Interestingly, Captain Zaidi was the person who secured release of the four Americans arrested on August 25 in Islamabad with unlicensed weapons (including seven MI-6) and no identification. Zaidi was accompanied by the US embassy staff. Superintendent of Police Nasir Aftab was later quoted as saying that he was helpless as he had orders from "above" for the release of these American law breakers.According to the Nation, the story has links with the possible presence of Blackwater in Islamabad working closely with the US embassy.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)

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