Thursday, August 23, 2012

Husain Haqqani: Divorce, Osama bin Laden, and an Assassination Plot

In light of the assertion by Pakistan's former Ambassador to the U.S. that the U.S. and Pakistan seek to divorce themselves from each other and that "somebody knew" about Osama bin Laden's presence in Pakistan, this passage comes to mind:

...The ISI was by then convinced it needed to get rid of Bhutto.  Having promised to stay out of Afghan politics, she had lectured Hamid Gul on the need to stop the war and start a permanent peace process, arguing for  afixed border to be negotiated and for the mujahideen to hand back their ISI-supplied weapons.  It was too much for Gul, who in the spring of 1989 began plotting to take Bhutto's life.  He approached a mujahideen fighter and financier based in Peshawar, the gateway to the Khyber Pass.  As yet unknown to the West or South Asia, Osama bin Laden, a Saudi dissident, whose family had made their fortune in construction, had many prosperous and powerful political connections.   He was bored, looking for a new purpose.  Gul, who had got to know him via the ISI bureau in Pashawar, had a job in mind.

Husain Haqqani was let into the plan.  "Hamid Gul took Osama to see Nawaz Sharif.  I was there when he did it.  He wanted to put the two of them together so that they could mount a coup and overthrow Benazir."  The meeting took place at the Jamaat-e-Islami office in Mansehra, Northwest Frontier Province.  Two further meetings took place in Jamaat-e-Islami offices in Peshawar and Lahore.  "Gul wanted Osama to pay for the overthrow, preferably with Benazir finished off."  There was a huge war chest assembled, with Osama bin Laden rasing $10 million, againsst which he set one precondtion.  Nawaz Sharif, who would take over as prime minister, was to transform Pakistan into a strict Islamic state, administered solely by sharia law, an austere theocracy of the type that would shortly rise under the Taliban in Afghanistan.  "Sharif agreed," Haqqani said.  "The money was already in Pakistan."

- excerpted from Deception: Pakistan, the United States, and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons, Adrian Levy & Catherine Scott-Clark, Walker & Company, 2007, pp. 193-194.

Husain Haqqani was, of course, appointed Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S. a few months after this book was published.  Thus Pakistan's civilian leadership implicitly endorsed the above account and considers it 100% true and accurate.  If people wonder how it came to pass that the U.S. has so little trust and faith in Pakistan's military, this passage is sufficient explanation - but not the only reason, of course.

Update, 10:55pm:  Husain Haqqani claims the authors later acknowledged they erred in suggesting H.H. was an eyewitness or was present.  I am attempting to verify this.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Curiosity just landed

Watching CNN.  The scene in the control room was wild.  Especially the hugging.  Men hugging women, women hugging women, men hugging men.   And as the pictures come through the scene grows wilder.  An amazing accomplishment, decades in the planning.

First pic from surface: rear wheel w/Mars horizon.  The camera still has the dust cover on - good thing too, it seems.  Dust cover should be ejected in a few hours.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Will Durant: Palestine, 1930

Would you see with your own eyes the transformation wrought throughout Palestine by the enterprise of these [Jewish] immigrants? Enter at stormy Haifa, and ride by the modern railway from the port to the capital. Look out at Benjamina, at Richon, at Kudeirah, at Peta-Tikva, and see the once arid fields flourishing; note the great orange-groves in the hinterland of Jaffa; and at Tel-Aviv observe a new Jewish city risen in a decade out of the sand. Alongside the individual Arab peasant tillling the earth primitively with camel and plough rise the Jewish co-operative farms, uniting to finance new methods, new machinery, agricultural experiment stations, and agricultural schools...Of the arable land ninety-three percent is owned by Arabs, who will not sell to Jews, or will sell only at twice or thrice the price asked of good Mohammedans. How can an Arab love a Jew when the Jewish farmer, though city-bred, given to letters, and completely unfitted for the rural life, produces four to five times as much per acre as the Arab coaxes from his soil? How can the Arab look with content on the groves that have made a Jaffa orange the noblest work of God? 

 Add to this the hospitals and dispensaries, the schools and the university which the immigrants have brought to Palestine with unforgivable initiative. The Jews are too brilliant to remain content with farming; their active minds demand commerce, industry and urban variety as a vital need...they organized labor, and won shorter hours and higher wages for Jewish and Arab workers alike...They found a country without reliable water to drink, with typhoid, dysentery, malaria, and eye-diseases rampant; they drained the swamps, cleared and extended the water-supply, brought malaria and trachoma under control, established public sanitation, and opened these services to all They built and operated their own schools, and at the same time paid heavy taxes for the maintenance of the public shcools in which Britain is educating the Arabs... 

 But because of these very achievements, the racial problem - if we may loosely speak of a racial problem between peoples who are all of one race, Semitic brothers in origin and blood - had become more dangerous than before. The growth and success of the Jews inflamed the Arabs with a jealous rage...They resolved to put the matter to the ordeal of blood. 

 On August 14, 1929, 10,000 Jews arrived in Jerusalem to gather at the Wailing Wall the next day and mourn together the destruction of the Temple. Arab leaders spread throughout Palestine the word that Jews had killed Arabs in the Arabs swept down upon the Jews at the Wailing Wall, and slew scores of praying women and men...inflamed Arabs slaughtered helpless students in the Hebrew seminary at Hebron and throughout Palestine armed Muslims fell upon unarmed Jews, until there was a total of several hundred Jewish wounded and dead. For four weeks terror ruled.... Who was to blame? They were all to blame, Arabs and British and Jews alike; it would be well if they could accept the guilt together... ...The Effendis who rule the Arab peasant and mulct him religiously would not want him empowered by votes, or instructed by universal education, to demand democracy -

 - Adventures in Genius, Will Durant, Simon and Schuster Inc., New York, 1931, pp. 328-332.