WHICHEVER way you cut it, Pakistan’s authorities are in a bind over the discovery, and killing, of Osama bin Laden by American Navy Seals in Abbottabad, a military town just north of Islamabad. The hollow claims made for many years by Pakistani rulers, military chiefs and spooks that Mr bin Laden, other al-Qaeda leaders and Taliban bosses were being allowed no refuge inside Pakistan, have been spectacularly exposed. The fact that he had last been holed up not in some wretched mountain cave but in a specially built, fortress-like compound within a mile of a prestigious military academy, in a town bristling with Pakistani military men, is a damning detail to which Pakistan’s authorities are struggling to respond. It is possible—just about—to imagine that Pakistan’s rulers, notably the revered military intelligence network, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), were too incompetent to spot the world’s most-wanted man hiding under their noses. On this reckoning, America’s spies were able, eventually, to track him to a compound known locally as “Waziristan Mansion” and then to deploy a team of 30 to 40 Navy Seals to kill him, whereas the local men, despite enjoying significant local, linguistic, cultural and other advantages, were outfoxed by al- Qaeda’s boss. More likely, but no more attractive for the likes of the ISI, is that at least some in power in Pakistan knew that Mr bin Laden had been forced by American drone attacks to shift from a mountain hideout to this urban shelter. On this score Mr bin Laden (and probably others, such as the Aghan Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, who was reported earlier this year to have been taken by the ISI to Karachi for medical treatment following a heart attack) was being afforded some measure of protection by Pakistani officialdom. Why? Perhaps so that he could be used, one day, somehow to promote Pakistani interests among fighting groups in Afghanistan, or perhaps so that he could be used as leverage over the Americans on a “ rainy day”, as one Afghan intelligence officer speculates. Either way, Pakistan’s authorities now look humiliated by the actions of their American ally. It remains unclear how much, if at all, Pakistan’s rulers co- operated in the successful hunt for Mr bin Laden. In the hours after his death American and Pakistani sources offered contradictory accounts of whether the Americans worked entirely alone in the striking operation that killed the al- Qaeda leader, although the Pakistanis may have helped with intelligence- gathering. The sour bilateral diplomatic and intelligence relations of the past few months suggest collaboration was probably limited. The ISI has intensely resented the deployment of large numbers of American intelligence contractors in Pakistan’s cities in the past year or so; miffed, it exposed the identity of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Islamabad chief in December; and earlier this year one American contractor, Raymond Davis, became the centre of a swirling diplomatic row after he killed two Pakistanis in Lahore. America-Pakistan relations may yet deteriorate further. Barack Obama’s administration has wisely tried to bolster Pakistan’s civilian government, for example by handing over aid for development separately from the billions worth of military help it provides. And it has become increasingly critical of the Pakistani army, pressing it to take action against the Haqqani network, an insurgent group with bases in Pakistan that is responsible for much of the violence in eastern Afghanistan, and to crack down on Islamist terrorist groups, notably a collection known as the Punjabi Taliban. Mr Obama may now feel pressure from American voters to demand that Pakistan’s military men start co-operating much more: having described Pakistan as being home to the “cancer” of terrorism, the American leader may decide that putting greater pressure on Islamabad will bring more gains than prolonged years of large- scale fighting next door in Afghanistan. The mood in Pakistan itself is dour. Islamabad remained relatively quiet on May 2 nd. Violence in Karachi, the commercial capital, on that day was the result of long-running political rivalry, rather than anything to do with al-Qaeda. Inevitably conspiracy theories swirled, including an imaginative suggestion that Mr bin Laden was not killed in Abbottabad at all, but that Americans brought his corpse there from the mountains and then staged a gunfight in the dark in order to embarrass Pakistan’s leaders. Several residents of Abbottabad itself, not an area known for religious extremism, said on Monday that they considered Mr bin Laden a “hero” but still did not believe that he had been living among them. Across the border in Afghanistan the greater question is whether the removal of al-Qaeda’s leader might hurry the withdrawal of American troops. American talk in the hours after Mr bin Laden’s death of having inflicted a “ crippling blow” on the terrorist network soon gave way to the observation that Mr bin Laden had long seemed inactive as a leader. For example he failed to make public pronouncements over the Arab Spring uprisings. In addition, the nature of al-Qaeda “ franchises” , and the spawning of numerous local jihadi groups in Pakistan and beyond, suggest that the death of the leader is not the death of al-Qaeda. In one way the death of Mr bin Laden could encourage progress in Afghanistan: his removal might make it easier for the Afghan Taliban to disavow their previous ties to al-Qaeda, helping to open the way to provisional peace talks with the government of Hamid Karzai. Yet Mullah Omar, their hardline leader, has resisted such a move and it is not evident that more junior leaders will be able to persuade him otherwise now.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
A SHIVER ran down Nasser al-Bahri’ s spine as he heard the gruesome details of Osama bin Laden’s final moments. He was suddenly transported back in time to a cave in Afghanistan where the terrorist mastermind had told him exactly how he intended to die. It was August 1998 , and al-Qaeda had just bombed two US embassies. Bin Laden knew he was now America’s most hunted man so he called in his devoted bodyguard and gave him a chilling order. Al-Bahri recalls how “The Sheik”, pulled out a revolver with two bullets in the chamber and handed it to him. “He told me, ‘If ever the Americans encircle me, I absolutely do not want to end my life as a prisoner of the United States. So you will be in charge of killing me’.” Bin Laden drew him closer and explained: “I would rather receive two bullets in the head than be taken prisoner. I want to die a martyr – but certainly not in prison. ” Al-Bahri says: “When I heard of his death my first thought was that he had got his wish. But I’m glad I did not have to pull the trigger.” While millions in the West were celebrating the death of his former boss, al-Bahri, 39 , was mourning the loss of the fanatic he still describes as “an unrivalled leader of men”. For six years he was bin Laden’s most trusted bodyguard, sharing his most intimate thoughts as they hid out in the remote Afghan mountains. And he has revealed the extraordinary details of the bizarre lifestyle of the man responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent people. Al-Bahri has told how, between plotting terror attacks and gloating about them on videos, bin Laden would keep tabs on the fortunes of his beloved Arsenal Football Club – constantly hailing the “beauty” of their performances in the 1990 s. He once enjoyed playing the game, too, preferably at centre forward – but never removed his turban for a kick-about. He was also a decent volleyball player – because at 6ft 4ins he didn’t need to jump as high to smash the ball past his rivals. Al-Bahri recalls how the terror chief was a voracious reader and often quoted the memoirs of Field Marshal Montgomery and Charles de Gaulle. He was also obsessed with black stallions. “The Sheik loved horses,” says al- Bahri, himself a fugitive from justice now living under the radar in Yemen. “He would always stop and try to buy one if he saw one he liked along the side of the road. He loved honey too – claiming that it could cure most ailments.” Al-Bahri became so close to bin Laden that he earned the nickname Abu Jandal – The Powerful One. Like his boss, al-Bahri was born in Saudi Arabia to Yemeni immigrants. He fell in with a group of Jihadists – or Islamic warriors – in his 20 s and, in 1994 , travelled to Pakistan and then on to Afghanistan, where he became part of bin Laden’s entourage. It was in Afghanistan that he met the terrorists who, on September 11 , 2001 , would fly hijacked planes into the World Trade Center. They included Mohammed Atta, who was in regular contact with bin Laden before becoming a suicide bomber. “Like the others he was a colleague,” says al-Bahri. “We met in a safe house in Pakistan where he was playing video games on a PlayStation – flying a plane in fact. ” Recalling his day-to-day routine with bin Laden, al-Bahri says: “ From the start of the day before dawn, when he began his prayers, to late at night he was always doing something, never resting. “We were not living in a comfortable environment but that did not stop him from all the time working, thinking and planning. After prayers came administration and after administration came meetings with distinguished visitors, sometimes secret visitors, but all day he never stopped.” Osama bin Laden Al-Bahri did everything from carrying bin Laden’s baggage to making sure his satellite communications were working. Although he was long gone by the time of 9 /11 , al-Bahri later heard that bin Laden had complained about not having a satellite TV to watch the atrocities unfold at his then hideout in Kandahar. But despite his loyalty, al-Bahri never shared his master’s ruthlessness. When he once raised objections to the number of civilian casualties involved in al-Qaeda atrocities, bin Laden pointed out that the Americans were never slow to kill people themselves. “OK, but must we compare ourselves to our enemies?” al- Bahri replied, reducing bin Laden to silence. Al-Bahri was so close to bin Laden that he was chosen to travel to Yemen to “select” his fourth wife Amal al-Sadah and bring her to Afghanistan. While there he collected his own Yemeni wife Taysir al Qala and the first of their five children Habib was born in Kandahar. Bin Laden’s domestic life was no bed of roses. And he was always careful to try to avoid conflict with his four wives – as each was trained in the use of a Kalashnikov. But he was unable to stop his first wife, an uneducated Syrian and the mother of seven of his children, from becoming fiercely jealous of the second, an older Saudi Arabian who he would consult on matters of Islamic science. They, in turn, bitterly resented the arrival of teenage bride Amal from Yemen. Al-Bahri left Afghanistan in 2000 to return to Yemen because his father-in-law was ill. His departure came shortly before al-Qaeda attacked the USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden – an outrage that led to his arrest. Al-Bahri was in prison when the 9 /11 attacks were launched. He described them as contributing to “one of the darkest days of my life”, mainly because “Jihad is not about attacking civilians”. Al-Bahri was released in 2002 under a Yemeni jihad rehabilitation scheme, but he is still wanted for questioning in the West. He now keeps a low profile, earning a living as a taxi driver and junior college lecturer in human resources. Last year he wrote a book, In the Shadow of Bin Laden, with French journalist Georges Malbrunot. The killing of his former boss has left him deeply shocked. But, ominously, he fears the death may galvanise al-Qaeda and perhaps make it more powerful. Referring to the terror group’s previous No 2 , Ayman al-Zawahiri, he says: “I’m not sure that he will be the new leader – he does not have the right qualities – but someone will come forward. It is only a matter of time…”
In 2003 or 2004 , Pakistani intelligence agents trailed a suspected militant courier to a house in the picturesque hill town of Abbottabad in northern Pakistan. There, the agents determined that the courier would make contact with one of the world's most wanted men, Abu Faraj al-Libbi, who had succeeded September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Muhammad as al Qaeda operations chief a few months earlier. Agents from Pakistan's powerful and mysterious Inter-Services Intelligence agency, known as the ISI, raided a house but failed to find al-Libbi, a senior Pakistani intelligence official told Reuters this week. Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf later wrote in his memoirs that an interrogation of the courier revealed that al-Libbi used three houses in Abbottabad, which sits some 50 km (30 miles) northeast of Islamabad. The intelligence official said that one of those houses may have been in the same compound where on May 1 US special forces killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. It's a good story. But is it true? Pakistan's foreign ministry this week used the earlier operation as evidence of Pakistan's commitment to the fight against terrorism. You see, Islamabad seemed to be pointing out, we were nabbing bad guys seven years ago in the very neighborhood where you got bin Laden. But US Department of Defense satellite photos show that in 2004 the site where bin Laden was found this week was nothing but an empty field. A US official briefed on the bin Laden operation told Reuters he had heard nothing to indicate there had been an earlier Pakistani raid. There are other reasons to puzzle. Pakistan's foreign ministry says that Abbottabad, home to several military installations, has been under surveillance since 2003. If that's true, then why didn't the ISI uncover bin Laden, who US officials say has been living with his family and entourage in a well-guarded compound for years? The answer to that question goes to the heart of the troubled relationship between Pakistan and the United States. Washington has long believed that Islamabad, and especially the ISI, play a double game on terrorism, saying one thing but doing another. MARRIAGE OF CONVENIENCE Since 9 /11 the United States has relied on Pakistan's military to fight al Qaeda and Taliban forces in the mountainous badlands along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan. President George W Bush forged a close personal relationship with military leader Musharraf. But US officials have also grown frustrated with Pakistan. While Islamabad has been instrumental in catching second-tier and lower ranked al Qaeda and Taliban leaders, and several operatives identified as al Qaeda "number threes" have either been captured or killed, the topmost leaders - bin Laden and his Egyptian deputy Ayman al Zawahiri -- have consistently eluded capture. The ISI, which backed the Taliban when the group came to power in Afghanistan in the mid-1990 s, seemed to turn a blind eye -- or perhaps even helped -- as Taliban and al-Qaeda members fled into Pakistan during the US invasion of Afghanistan after 9 /11 , according to US officials. Washington also believes the agency protected Abdul Qadeer Khan, lionized as the "father" of Pakistan's bomb, who was arrested in 2004 for selling nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea. And when Kashmiri militants attacked the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008 , killing 166 people, New Delhi accused the ISI of controlling and coordinating the strikes. A key militant suspect captured by the Americans later told investigators that ISI officers had helped plan and finance the attack. Pakistan denies any active ISI connection to the Mumbai attacks and often points to the hundreds of troops killed in action against militants as proof of its commitment to fighting terrorism. But over the past few years Washington has grown increasingly suspicious-and ready to criticize Pakistan. The U.S. military used association with the spy agency as one of the issues they would question Guantanamo Bay prisoners about to see if they had links to militants, according to WikiLeaks documents made available last month to the New York Times. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last July that she believed that Pakistani officials knew where bin Laden was holed up. On a visit to Pakistan just days before the Abbottabad raid, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, accused the ISI of maintaining links with the Taliban. As the CIA gathered enough evidence to make the case that bin Laden was in Abbottabad, US intel chiefs decided that Pakistan should be kept in the dark. When US Navy Seals roped down from helicopters into the compound where bin Laden was hiding, US officials insist, Pakistan's military and intel bosses were blissfully unaware of what was happening in the middle of their country. Some suspect Pakistan knew more than it's letting on. But the Pakistani intelligence official, who asked to remain anonymous so that he could speak candidly, told Reuters that the Americans had acted alone and without any Pakistani assistance or permission. The reality is Washington long ago learned to play its own double game. It works with Islamabad when it can and uses Pakistani assets when it's useful but is ever more careful about revealing what it's up to. "On the one hand, you can't not deal with the ISI... There definitely is the cooperation between the two agencies in terms of personnel working on joint projects and the day-to-day intelligence sharing," says Kamran Bokhari, Middle East and South Asia director for global intelligence firm STRATFOR. But " there is this perception on the part of the American officials working with their counterparts in the ISI, there is the likelihood that some of these people might be working with the other side. Or somehow the information we're sharing could leak out... It's the issue of perception and suspicion." The killing of bin Laden exposes just how dysfunctional the relationship has become. The fact that bin Laden seems to have lived for years in a town an hour's drive from Islamabad has US congressmen demanding to know why Washington is paying $1 billion a year in aid to Pakistan. Many of the hardest questions are directed at the ISI. Did it know bin Laden was there? Was it helping him? Is it rotten to the core or is it just a few sympathizers? What's clear is that the spy agency America must work within one of the world's most volatile and dangerous regions remains an enigma to outsiders. GENERAL PASHA ISI chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha visited Washington on April 11 , just weeks before bin Laden was killed. Pasha, 59 , became ISI chief in September 2008 , two months before the Mumbai attacks. Before his promotion, he was in charge of military operations against Islamic militants in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. He is considered close to Pakistan military chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, himself a long-time ISI chief. A slight man who wastes neither words nor movements, Pasha speaks softly and is able to project bland anonymity even as he sizes up his companions and surroundings. In an off-the-record interview with Reuters last year, he spoke deliberately and quietly but seemed to enjoy verbal sparring. There was none of the bombast many Pakistani officials put on. Pasha, seen by US officials as something of a right-wing nationalist, and CIA Director Leon Panetta, who was in the final stages of planning the raid on Osama's compound, had plenty to talk about in Washington. Joint intelligence operations have been plagued by disputes, most notably the case of Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor who shot dead two Pakistanis in Lahore in January. Davis was released from jail earlier this year after the victims' families were paid "blood money" by the United States, a custom sanctioned under Islam and common in Pakistan. Then there are the Mumbai attacks. Pasha and other alleged ISI officers were named as defendants in a US lawsuit filed late last year by families of Americans killed in the attacks. The lawsuit contends that the ISI men were involved with Lashkar-e- Taiba, an anti-India militant group, in planning and orchestrating the attacks. An Indian government report seen by Reuters states that David Headley, a Pakistani-American militant who was allied with Lashkar-e-Taiba and who was arrested in the United States last year, told Indian interrogators while under FBI supervision that ISI officers had been involved in plotting the attack and paid him $25 ,000 to help fund it. Pakistan's government said it will " strongly contest" the case and shortly after the lawsuit was filed Pakistani media named the undercover head of the CIA's Islamabad station, forcing him to leave the country. TECHNIQUE OF WAR The ISI's ties to Islamist militancy are very much by design. The Pakistan Army's humiliating surrender to India in Dhaka in 1971 led to the carving up of the country into two parts, one West Pakistan and the other Bangladesh. The defeat had two major effects: it convinced the Pakistan military that it could not beat its larger neighbor through conventional means alone, a realization that gave birth to its use of Islamist militant groups as proxies to try to bleed India; and it forced successive Pakistani governments to turn to Islam as a means of uniting the territory it had left. These shifts, well underway when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 , suited the United States at first. Working with its Saudi Arabian ally, Washington plowed money and weapons into the jihad against the Soviets and turned a blind eye to the excesses of Pakistan's military ruler, General Zia ul-Haq, who had seized power in 1977 and hanged former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1979. Many Pakistanis blame the current problems in Pakistan in part on Washington's penchant for supporting military rulers. It did the same in 2001 when it threw it its lot with Musharraf following the attacks on New York and Washington. By then, the rebellion in Indian Kashmir had been going since 1989 , and US officials back in 2001 made little secret that they knew the army was training, arming and funding militants to fight there. That attitude changed after India and Pakistan nearly went to war following the December 2001 attack on India's parliament, which New Delhi blamed on Pakistan- based militant groups -- a charge Islamabad denied. Musharraf began to rein in the Kashmiri militant groups, restricting their activity across the Line of Control which divides the Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir. But he was juggling the two challenges which continue to defy his successor as head of the army, General Ashfaq Kayani -- reining in the militant groups enough to prevent an international backlash on Pakistan, while giving them enough space to operate to avoid domestic fall-out at home. The ISI has never really tried to hide the fact that it sees terrorism as part of its arsenal. When Guantanamo interrogation documents appearing to label the Pakistani security agency as an entity supporting terrorism were published recently, a former ISI head, Lt. General Asad Durrani, wrote that terrorism "is a technique of war, and therefore an instrument of policy." Critics believe that elements of the ISI -- perhaps an old guard that learned the Islamization lessons of General Zia ul-Haq a little too well -- maintain an influence within the organization. "It is no secret that Pakistan's army and foreign intelligence service, the Inter- Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate, actively cultivated a vast array of Islamist militants - both local and foreign, from the early 1980 s until at least the events of September 11 , 2001 - as instruments of foreign policy," STRATFOR wrote in an analysis posted on its website this week. LIST OF GRIEVANCES That legacy is at the heart of Washington's growing mistrust of the ISI. Take the agency's ties to the powerful Afghan militant group headed by Jalaluddin Haqqani, which has inflicted heavy casualties on U.S. forces in the region. "We sometimes say: You are controlling -- you, Pasha -- you're controlling Haqqani," one US official said, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity. "Well, Pasha will come back and say ... 'No, we are in contact with them.' Well, what does that really mean?" "I don't know but I'd like our experts to sit down and work out: Is this something where he is trying ( to), as he would put it, know more about what a terrorist group in his country is doing. Or as we would put it, to manipulate these people as the forward soldiers of Pakistani influence in Afghanistan." When US Joint Chiefs head Admiral Mike Mullen visited Islamabad last month he was just as blunt. "Haqqani is supporting, funding, training fighters that are killing Americans and killing coalition partners. And I have a sacred obligation to do all I can to make sure that doesn't happen," Mullen told a Pakistani newspaper. "So that's at the core -- it's not the only thing -- but that's at the core that I think is the most difficult part of the relationship." Just across the border in Afghanistan, Major General John Campbell reaches into a bag and pulls out a thick stack of cards with the names and photos of coalition forces killed in the nearly year- long period since he's been on the job. Many of the men in the photos were killed by Haqqani fighters. "I carry these around so I never forget their sacrifice," Campbell said, speaking to a small group of reporters at US Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khost province. "There are guys in Pakistan that have sanctuary that are coming across the border and killing Americans... we gotta engage the Pakistanis to do something about that," he said. Campbell calls the Haqqani network the most lethal threat to Afghanistan, where US forces are entrenched in a near decade-old war. "The Haqqani piece, it's sort of like a Mafia-syndicate. And I don't know at what level they're tied into the ISI -- I don't. But there's places ... that you just see that there's collusion up and down the border," he said. DRONE WARS Another contentious subject discussed on Pasha's trip to Washington was the use of missile- firing drones to attack suspected militant camps on Pakistani territory. Once Obama moved into the White House, the drone program begun by the Bush Administration not only continued, but according to several officials, increased. Sometimes drone strikes in the tribal areas of Pakistan took place several times in a single week. US officials, as well as counter- terrorism officials from European countries with a history of Islamic militant activity, said that they had no doubt that the drone campaign was seriously damaging the ability of al Qaeda's central operation, as well as affiliated groups like the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban, to continue to use Pakistan as a safe haven. But the increasingly obvious use of drones made it far more difficult for either the CIA or its erstwhile Pakistani partners, ISI, to pretend that the operation was secret and that Pakistani officials were unaware of it. Since last October, the tacit cooperation between the CIA and ISI which had helped protect and even nurture the CIA's drone program, began to fray, and came close to breaking point. Before Pasha visited CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, last month, Pakistani intelligence sources leaked ferocious complaints about the CIA in general and the drone program in particular, suggesting that the agency, its operatives and its operations inside Pakistan were out of control and that if necessary, Pakistan would take forcible steps to curb them -- including stopping drone attacks and limiting the presence of CIA operatives in Pakistan. When Pasha arrived at CIA HQ, U.S. officials said, the demands leaked by the Pakistanis to the media were much scaled down, with Pasha asking Panetta that the US give Pakistan more notice about drone operations, supply Pakistan with its own fleet of drones (a proposal which the United States had agreed to but which had subsequently stalled) and that the agency would curb the numbers of its personnel in Pakistan. US officials said that the Obama administration agreed to at least some measure of greater notification to the Pakistani authorities about CIA activities, though insisted any concessions were quite limited. Just weeks later, Obama failed to notify Pakistan in advance about the biggest U.S. counter-terrorist operation in living memory, conducted on Pakistani soil. LEARNING FROM HISTORY It was different the first time US forces went after bin Laden. Washington's first attempt to kill the al Qaeda leader came in August 1998. President Bill Clinton launched 66 cruise missiles from the Arabian Sea at camps in Khost in eastern Afghanistan to kill the group's top brass in retaliation for the suicide bombings on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The CIA had received word that al Qaeda's leadership was due to meet. But Bin Laden canceled the meeting and several US officials said at the time they believed the ISI had tipped him off. The US military informed their Pakistani counterparts about 90 minutes before the missiles entered Pakistan's airspace, just in case they mistook them for an Indian attack. Then US Secretary of State William Cohen came to suspect bin Laden escaped because he was tipped off. Four days before the operation, the State Department issued a public warning about a " very serious threat" and ordered hundreds of nonessential US personnel and dependents out of Pakistan. Some US officials said the Taliban could have passed the word to bin Laden on an ISI tip. Other former officials have disputed the notion of a security breach, saying bin Laden had plenty of notice that the United States intended to retaliate following the bombings in Africa. WHAT'S NEXT? Now that the US has finally killed bin Laden, what will change? The Pakistani intelligence official acknowledged that bin Laden's presence in Pakistan will cause more problems with the United States. "It looks bad," he said. "It's pretty embarrassing." But he denied that Pakistan had been hiding bin Laden, and noted that the CIA had struggled to find bin Laden for years as well. Perhaps. But the last few days are unlikely to convince the CIA and other US agencies to trust their Pakistani counterparts with any kind of secrets or partnership. Recent personnel changes at the top of the Obama Administration also do not bode well for salvaging the relationship. Panetta, a former Congressman and senior White House official, is a political operator who officials say at least got on cordially, if not well, with ISI chief Pasha. But Panetta is being reassigned to take over from Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense. His replacement at the CIA will be General David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. military operations in neighboring Afghanistan. The biggest issue on Petraeus's agenda will be dealing with Pakistan's ISI. The US general's relationship with Pakistani Army chief of Staff Kayani, Pasha's immediate superior, is publicly perceived to be so unfriendly that it has become a topic of discussion on Pakistani TV talk shows. "I think it is going to be a very strained and difficult relationship," said Bruce Riedel, a former adviser to Obama on Afghanistan and Pakistan. He characterized the attitude on both sides as "mutual distrust." After a decade of American involvement in Afghanistan, experts say that Petraeus and Pakistani intelligence officials know each other well enough not to like each other.
Unlike the past wars, being fought through the traditional armies with tanks and machine guns, the arena of war has changed, encompassing all the spheres. In the modern era, electronics have made it difficult for the military to serve as the automatic dominant sphere in every war, covering all the land, sea and space domains. Now, war with non-lethal weapons can be more harmful in damaging the interest of a rival country or enemy.It will be conducted in non- war spheres, entailing non-military means and tactics as part of the new warfare. New technology is being utilized by the new warriors to carry out all forms of financial, network and media attacks. Most of these attacks are of non-military-types, yet they can be completely viewed as equal to warfare actions. In other words, bloody warfare has been replaced by bloodless warfare as much as possible. Judging in these terms, India's plan for the construction of the Tipaimukh Dam, built on the river Barak is part of its most dangerous scheme of bloodless warfare, being conducted against Bangladesh in order to further harm all political, economic, financial and social spheres of that small country. India had already started it bloodless war against Bangladesh when the latter had refused to serve as satellite state of New Delhi which had played a key role in the dismemberment of Pakistan. For this purpose, India constructed the Farakka dam on the Indian side of the Ganges River to stop flow of water to Bangladesh. Despite the protest of Dhaka, Indian rulers used various delaying tactics to resolve the issue of Farakka dam. In this respect, Indo- Bangladesh Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) met many a times to settle the issue, but could not produce any positive results. In April, 1975 , India assured that it would not operate feeder canal until a final agreement was reached between New Delhi and Dhaka on the sharing of Ganges water. Bangladesh was assured of getting 40 ,000 cusecs during the dry season. After the assassination of Sheik Mujib on August 15 , 1975 , by availing the political unrest in Bangladesh, India violated the agreement (MOU) by stealing and diverting the full capacity of 40 , 000 cusecs of water. The matter was brought to the attention of UN General Assembly, which on November 26 , 1976 adopted a consensus, directing the parties to arrive at a fair and expeditious settlement. On November 5 , 1977 the Ganges Waters Agreement was signed, assuring 34 ,500 cusecs for Bangladesh. But the JRC statistics shows very clearly that Bangladesh did not get her due share during the subsequent years. After Sheikh Hasina was elected Prime Minister, she visited India and signed a treaty with her counterpart Deve Gowda on December 12 , 1996. The treaty stipulated that below a certain flow rate, India and Bangladesh will each share half of the water. But New Delhi has continued violating the treaty by using more water of the river at the cost of Bangladesh. The JRC report of March 9 , 2009 revealed that from 1999 to 2009 , India intermittently reduced the water flow to Bangladesh. A study conducted in the United States by Bridge and Husain, have identified Farakka as the root cause behind arsenic poisoning with groundwater in Bangladesh. A report of 2004 stated that over 80 rivers of Bangladesh dried up during last three decades due to the construction of the Farakka barrage by India. Some environmentalists have termed Farakka Barrage as the greatest man-made economic disaster of our time. However, people of Bangladesh have been facing disastrous effects of the Farakka Barrage such as frequent flooding due to changes in the natural flow of the Ganges; river transportation problems during dry season; increased salinity threatening crops, animal life, drinking water and industrial activities; reduction in agricultural products and conversion of the fertile agricultural land in wasteland due to shortage of water. While researchers have already been describing Farakka dam as the last of criminal calamity imposed by India on Dhaka, the proposed construction of Tipaimukh Dam in the neighboring Manipur state will prove as another Indian water-bomb on Bangladesh, giving a wake up call to the people in connection with its prospective dangers. The Tipaimukh, a multipurpose hydel project on the Barak river is located about 200 km upstream of the border of Bangladesh, and where it is, recently, under attack in Bangladesh by opposition parties, students and environmental groups who have been protesting by saying that it could cause desertification, entailing other adverse effects like Farakka dam. On December 16 , 2006 , India's Union minister for industries laid the foundation stone of the Tipaimukh project. According to a source of the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO), the work in January of 2007 mainly dealt with underground drilling at the reservoir site of the project. The Brahmaputra Board, a wing of the Union water resources ministry, drilled those sites in 1997. This year, New Delhi is fully prepared to start building this dam by setting aside its impact on Bangladesh, while neglecting protests in this regard. In July, this year, a 10- member all- party delegation of parliamentarians from Bangladesh reached Tipaimukh and studied the project site. Meanwhile, in New Delhi, Bandladesh's delegation led by Abdur Razzaq, chairman of the standing committee of the parliament water resources held a meeting with Indian Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde who told the former that the Tipaimukh â€œproject is not an irrigation project or a water diversion scheme, it is a hydel project and in no way will harm Bangladeshâ€™s interest.â€� But in fact, just like the Farakka dam, Indian leaders have been verbally satisfying Dhaka by totally ignoring the drastic effects. Some reports suggests that in connivance with the central authorities, the state government of Manipur kept all the documents relating to the Tipaimukh project in secrecy due to the reaction of Bangladesh. In this regard, even the proposed dam is unpopular in the Manipur State where it is being constructed. Barak river has been the source of livelihood for the Hmar people for the last many years and will affect the source of their livelihood once the Tipaimukh dam is erected. Hmar Studentsâ€™ Union has strongly warned the authority against initiating any work without prior consent of the people of the areas to be affected by the dam. Nonetheless, villagers are feeling fear of losing their dwelling places along with their living waysï¿½submerging some of the villages into the water. Citizens' Concern on Dam and Development (CCDD) has also warned the Indian authorities that if the construction of the dam is taken up without the consent of the people to be affected, they, with the support of other like- minded people, will block its construction under any circumstances. Besides, damaging bilateral ties between the two neighboring countries, this new dam will especially target millions of Bangladeshis, snatching away their means of livelihood, forcing them to become internally displaced persons, and thereby worsening Bangladeshâ€™s overall economy. No doubt, it will result in political, financial and social implications. In the modern era of technological innovations, Indian such a criminal act by the construction of the dam will amount to the consequences of a full-scale war, though bloodless in nature, but will make Bangladesh vulnerable to unemployment, shortage of products, reduction of resources, thirst, starvation and deaths including a number of inter-related problems of grave nature. Bangladeshi people have already suffered miserably from the Farakka Barrage and cannot afford to see another one built to threaten them. In light of New Delhi's previous records of dishonoring agreements on Farakka dam, Bangladesh, cannot trust on any new promise. If India wants to meet energy needs of its people, it can better do so through its several nuclear power plants. As a matter of fact, India seems determined to erect Tipaimukh dam as part of its bloodless war against Bangladesh in order to affect millions of people adversely, and to destroy Bangladeshâ€™s infrastructure without the use of a single bullet. Best option for Dhaka is to cope this new style war of New Delhi through its own tactics of modern warfare. In this respect, demonstrations inside Bangladesh, contacts of their opposition leaders with the affected communities of Manipur, particularly abroad, organising protests in the US and Europe in cooperation with the environmentalists are essential for the survival of the country. All these efforts are likely to succeed with the help of media which has become an important tool of warfare, and can also be employed for defensive purposes. Such a reaction is necessary for Bangladesh to eliminate Indian bloodless war trap, forcing New Delhi to abandon the project