Three weeks ago a group of concerned Pakistani citizens in Peshawar wrote to the federal interior ministry to complain about the suspicious activities of a group of shadowy Americans in a rented house in their neighborhood, the upscale University Town area of Peshawar.
A NGO calling itself Creative Associates International, Inc. leased the house. CAII, as it is known by its acronym, is a Washington DC-based private firm. According to its Web site, the company describes itself as "a privately-owned non-governmental organization that addresses urgent challenges facing societies today … Creative views change as an opportunity to improve, transform and renew …"
The description makes no sense. It is more or less a perfect cover for the American NGO's real work: espionage.
The incorporated NGO is more of a humanitarian front that alternates sometimes for undercover US intelligence operations in critical regions, including Angola, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Gaza, and Pakistan. Of the 36 new job openings, the company's Web site shows that half of them are in Pakistan today. Pakistan is also at the heart of the now combined desperate effort by the White House-military-CIA to avert a looming American defeat in Afghanistan by shifting the war to its next-door neighbor.
In Peshawar, CAII, opened an office to work on projects in the nearby tribal agencies of Pakistan. All of these projects, interestingly, are linked to the US government. CAII's other projects outside Pakistan are also linked to the US government. In short, this NGO is not an NGO. It is closely linked to the US government.
In Peshawar, CAII told Pakistani authorities it needed to hire security guards for protection. The security guards, it turns out, were none other than Blackwater's military-trained hired guns. They were used the CAII cover to conduct a range of covert activities in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province.
The infamous Blackwater private security firm operates as an extension of the US military and CIA, taking care of dirty jobs that the US government cannot associate itself with in faraway strategic places. Blackwater is anything but a security firm. It is a mercenary army of several thousand hired soldiers.
Pakistani security officials apparently became alarmed by reports that Blackwater was operating from the office of CAII on Chinar Road, University Town in Peshawar. The man in charge of the office, allegedly an American by the name of Craig Davis according to a report in Jang, Pakistan's largest Urdu language daily, was arrested and accused of establishing contacts with 'the enemies of Pakistan' in areas adjoining Afghanistan. His visa has been cancelled, the office sealed, and Mr. Davis reportedly expelled back to the United States.
It is not clear when Mr. Davis was deported and whether there are other members of the staff expelled along with him. When I contacted the US Embassy over the weekend, spokesman Richard Snelsire's first reaction was, "No embassy official has been deported." This defensive answer is similar to the guilt-induced reactions of US embassy staffers in Baghdad and Kabul at the presence of mercenaries working for US military and CIA.
I said to Mr. Snelsire that I did not ask about an embassy official being expelled. He said he heard these reports and 'checked around' with the embassy officials but no one knew about this. "It's baseless."
So I asked him, "Is Blackwater operating in Pakistan, in Peshawar?"
"Not to my knowledge." Fair enough. The US embassies in Baghdad and Kabul never acknowledged Blackwater's operations in Iraq and Afghanistan either. This is part of low-level frictions between the diplomats at the US Department of State and those in Pentagon and CIA. The people at State have reportedly made it clear they will not acknowledge or accept responsibility for the activities of special operations agents operating in friendly countries without the knowledge of those countries and in violation of their sovereignty. Reports have suggested that sometimes even the US ambassador is unaware of what his government's mercenaries do in a target country.
Official Pakistani sources are yet to confirm if one or more US citizens were expelled recently. The government is also reluctant in making public whatever evidence there might be about Blackwater operations inside Pakistan. But it is clear that something unusual was happening in the Peshawar office of an American NGO. There is also strong suspicion that Blackwater was operating from the said office.
There are other things happening in Pakistan that are linked to the Americans and that increase the chances of Blackwater's presence here.
1. One of the largest US embassies – or military and intelligence command outposts – in the world is being built in Islamabad as I write this at a cost of approximately one billion US dollars. This is the biggest sign of an expansion in US meddling in Pakistan and a desire to use this country as a base for regional operations. Interestingly, US covert meddling inside Pakistan and nearby countries is already taking place, including in Russia's backyard, in Iran, and in China's Xinjiang.
2. A large number of retired Pakistani military officers, academics and even journalists have been quietly recruited at generous compensations by several US government agencies. These influential Pakistanis are supposed to provide information, analysis, contacts and help in pleading the case for US interests in the Pakistani media, in subtle ways. Pakistanis would be surprised that some prominent names well known to television audiences are in this list.
3. CIA and possibly Blackwater have established a network of informers in the tribal belt and Balochistan; there have also been reports of non-Pakistanis sighted close to sensitive military areas in the country. Considering the intensity and frequency of terrorist acts inside Pakistan in the past four years, there is every possibility that all sorts of saboteurs are having a field day in Pakistan.
4. Members of separatist and ethnic political parties have been cultivated by various US government agencies and quietly taken for visits to Washington and the CENTCOM offices in Florida.
The possibility of the existence of mercenary activities in Pakistan is strengthened by the following events:
5. Pakistani officials have in recent months collected piles of evidence that suggests that terrorists wreaking havoc inside Pakistan have been and continue to receive state of the art weapons and a continuous supply of money and trainers from unknown but highly organized sources inside Afghanistan. A significant number of these weapons is of American and Israeli manufacture. Indians have also been known to supply third-party weapons to terrorists inside Pakistan.
6. Some Pakistani intelligence analysts have stumbled on circumstantial evidence that links the CIA to anti-Pakistan terror activities that may not be in the knowledge of all departments of the US government. One thing is for sure, that CIA's operations in Afghanistan are in the hands of dangerous elements that are prone to rogue-ish behavior.
7. In May, a US woman diplomat was caught arranging a quiet [read 'secret'] meeting between a low-level Indian diplomat and several senior Pakistani government officials. An address in Islamabad – 152 Margalla Road – was identified as a venue where the secret meeting took place. The American diplomat in question knew there was no chance the Indian would get to meet the Pakistanis in normal circumstances. Nor was it possible to do this during a high visibility event. After the incident, Pakistan Foreign Office issued a terse statement warning all government officials to refrain from such direct contact with foreign diplomats in unofficial settings without prior intimation to their departments.
8. Pakistani suspicions about American foul play inside Pakistan are not new. On July 12, 2008 in a secret meeting in Rawalpindi between military and intelligence officials from the two countries these concerns were openly aired. The Americans accused ISI of maintain contacts with the Afghan Taliban. The Pakistani answer was that normal low-level contacts are maintained with all parties in the area. NATO and the Kabul regime were doing the same thing in Afghanistan. In return, the Pakistanis laid out evidence, including photographs, showing known terrorists meeting Indian and pro-US Kabul regime officials. Was the United States supporting these anti-Pakistan activities is the question that was posed to the US military and CIA.
9. Further back into history, in 1978 the ISI broke a spy ring made up of Pakistani technicians working for the nascent Pakistani nuclear program who were recruited by CIA. Pakistan chose not to raise the issue publicly but did so privately at the highest level in Washington.
Now there are reports that the Zardari-Gilani government is consulting Pakistan's Naval headquarters on a proposal to construct a US navy base on the coast of Balochistan. When things have reached this level of American meddling in Pakistan, Blackwater seems like a small issue. Some Pakistani analysts are of the view that elements within the Pakistani security establishment need to be very careful about where they intend to draw the red line for CIA operations in and around Pakistan.
Xe Services LLC
Type Private military security firm
Founder(s) Erik Prince
Headquarters Moyock, North Carolina, USA
Industry Private military and security contractor
Reports suggest Pakistan has expelled a US Blackwater mercenary, but Pakistanis ask, 'Who rules our streets, the Pakistani government or the Americans?' And who let them in?
In May, a US diplomat was caught arranging a meeting between a suspected Indian spy and senior Pakistani officials in the privacy of her house. In June when Pakistani officials confronted Washington with evidence that terrorists in Pakistan were using sophisticated American weapons, US media quickly leaked stories about American weapons missing from the US-trained Afghan army. And now reports confirm that the dirty secret arm of the US government – the mercenaries of Blackwater – have infiltrated sensitive regions of Pakistan. Blackwater works as an extension of the US military and CIA, taking care of dirty jobs that the US government cannot associate itself with in faraway strategic places. The question: Who let them in? And who deported one of them, if at all?
By AHMED QURAISHI