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General Beg Urges Pakistani Military to Shoot Down American Drones and Helicopters Now

Posted by yourpakistan on September 30, 2010


Former [Pakistan] Army Chief General Mirza Aslam Beg on Tuesday bitterly criticised the [PPPP] government for involving [Pakistan Army Chief] General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in the conflict between the Executive and the Judiciary, and demanded that the Pakistan Air Force [PAF] should be tasked to shoot down the helicopters and drones involved in attacks on Pakistan’s territories.

Talking to The Nation, General Beg also felt upset by the growing frequency of [American military & US CIA] drone attacks on Pakistan’s territory, as a result of which many [Pakistani] people had been killed so far. He said the attacks [on Pakistan] by [US or NATO] ISAF helicopters are a new development, which is a matter of serious concern.

“We have got the means to avert threats to our security”, said the former Army Chief, calling on the [Pakistan] Government to put the PAF on alert and order it to shoot down the [US] drones or helicopters violating Pakistan’s territorial sovereignty. General Beg said it was very painful for him to hear that [US War Criminal] Richard Holbrooke had said in a statement that the [US] drone attacks were being carried out with the consent of the Pakistan [PPP] government and the [Pakistan Army’s] GHQ. He said Pakistan has the right to come up with an appropriate response. “Armed Forces should be tasked not to let anyone attack Pakistan’s territory again.”

Former Army Commander Blasts US Continued Attacks on Pakistan

A former Pakistani Army General strongly condemned continued air attacks on the country’s soil by the Afghan-based US and international [NATO] forces.

“No force is entitled to the right to invade Pakistan’s soil,” former Chief of the [Pakistan] Army Staff [ex-General] Mirza Aslam Beg told
FNA in Islamabad on Wednesday. The retired General further described the attacks by ISAF (International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan) on his country’s soil as “an act of terrorism”, saying that the [US/NATO-ISAF] attacks violate Pakistan’s sovereignty, given the fact that Islamabad and NATO have not signed any agreement on foreign operations against insurgents inside Pakistan.

“The United States has a double-standard attitude. On one hand, it names Pakistan as the forefront of [the US illegal and fraudulent] war of terrorism, and on the other hand, ISAF’s [armed] forces invade Pakistan’s territory,” he noted.

The comments by Aslam Beg came after the US stepped up drone strikes and other military operations inside Pakistan, claiming that Pakistan does not intend to crack down on Afghan insurgents along its border. There have been more than 20 strikes [on innocent Pakistanis] by CIA- operated drones since September 1, US officials said, the highest monthly total in the nearly 10 years since the US began carrying out such [drone-missile] attacks.

Meantime, the Pakistan Government on Tuesday warned the NATO and ISAF [military] forces to avoid conducting any other military operation and attack inside the country under the pretext of chasing the Afghan militants. “The ISAF and NATO forces were urged to refrain from any military operations which violate the UN laws and Pakistan’s sovereignty,” Pakistani Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abdul Basit told FNA yesterday. Basit also strongly protested at the recent violation of the country’s airspace by the [US and] ISAF and NATO forces, cautioning that the operation was a flagrant violation of the UN laws. He reiterated that the UN has [illegally] allowed the NATO forces to chase the outlaws merely inside the Afghan territory and they [US, UK, NATO, or ISAF] are not licensed to stage military operations in the other neighboring countries, like Pakistan.

Aslam Beg was the Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistani Army succeeding General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq after the latter died in an air crash on August 17, 1988. He continued to hold the powerful post of Army Chief till 1991. As Army Chief, Beg is credited for improving war-fighting capabilities of the Pakistani Army.


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Was A Fourth Military Coup Averted In Pakistan?

Posted by yourpakistan on September 29, 2010


The paranoid elected government of President Asif Zardari has been out battling shadows and ghosts, whipping up anti-military sentiment when the military never planned a coup of any sort against him. His problems are with the Supreme Court on legal grounds. To calm frayed nerves, it appears Gen. Kayani agreed to let Zardari and Gilani issue a statement on the three’s commitment to ‘defending’ democracy. Pakistani military could also be bound by ‘sovereign guarantees’ given as back as 2007 stating that Pakistani military won’t destabilize a government created through the US-sponsored NRO deal.

Monday’s well-timed meeting between the so-called ‘troika’ – the President, Prime Minister, and the Army chief – is being widely interpreted as having averted a possible collapse of the elected Zardari-Gilani government. There is no word from the military’s media people on the meeting but the president’s media office took the liberty of releasing a statement renewing the commitment of Gen. Kayani, and that of the President and Prime Minister, to defending democracy.

If there’s anyone who created a frenzy about an extra-constitutional [read: military-engineered] change, it is the elected government when it opened indiscriminate fire at shadowy and unseen enemies, warning it will defend democracy, pleading its American friends to issue pro-democracy statements, prodding ministries and NGOs to place newspaper advertisements extolling the virtues of democracy, and unleashing a frontman like Abdul Qayum Jatoi to whip up anti-military sentiment. By choosing Balochistan and Akbar Bugti’s house as a venue for Mr. Jatoi’s provocative lines, it was a clear message to the Pakistani military that, if toppled, the Zardari government will use Balochistan against the federation. It was naked blackmail. It came on top of other forms of blackmail – the waving of the so-called Sindh card, Zulfiqar Mirza’s statement about breaking away from Pakistan after Benazir Bhutto’s death, and coalition partner ANP’s recent bold statement linking respect for the military to respect for the elected government.

This paranoia by the elected government worsened when the ruling politicians saw the military winning hearts and minds in interior Sindh and Balochistan, where people saw soldiers saving them when politicians in power diverted flood water to save their lands. Another thing that sent shivers down the spines in the PPPP government was to see the Pakistani military gaining ground once again in America’s war on terror, forcing Washington to become dependent again on Pakistani military’s goodwill.

So, did Gen. Kayani deliberately become part of the ‘defend-democracy’ meeting on Monday?

No doubt about that. He must have been told about the statement that would be issued after the meeting and he accepted it. Or President Zardari might have wanted to test the waters with the general on the post-meeting statement and Gen. Kayani simply said yes [what else could he do? Say no?]. Or maybe it was Gen. Kayani’s initiative to suggest such a meeting in order to calm the frayed nerves of the government. It could be any one of the three scenarios, we don’t know for sure. There are also rumors that either Mr. Gilani or Gen. Kayani brought up the question of expelling some figures who occupy key positions in the Zardari government. Again, no confirmation from any quarter about this, but it’s important to recall that a similar understanding was reached between the troika last year after the Kerry-Lugar bill fiasco and it seems the government reneged later, benefiting from the military’s distraction after a bold terror attack on the GHQ building in Rawalpindi.

All of these reports are important and cannot be ignored but they remain unconfirmed. What is confirmed, however, is that the military wasn’t planning any coup.

Here is a key point that analysts forget when debating this point: whether it likes it or not, the Pakistani military is one of the main guarantors for the Mush-BB-US-UK deal of 2006-7 that created the piece of law called NRO and the incumbent coalition government in Islamabad. For the Pakistani military to remove this government would amount to staging a coup against the whole set of ‘sovereign guarantees’ that Gen. Musharraf left Pakistan and the military saddled with. Apparently these guarantees include a lot of secret clauses about US activities in Pakistan, in addition to committing the Pakistani military to avoid destabilizing this government. [Yes, despite US criticism about the corruption of the current Pakistani government, Washington won’t ditch it so easily. Just ask the US ambassador in Islamabad how much busy time she spent earlier this year quietly convincing opposition politicians ‘not to rock the boat’!].

The day the Pakistani military turns against this government would be the day Pakistan would opt out of America’s failed war effort in the region.

So, has a fourth coup been averted?

Hardly. Conditions for a military intervention in Pakistan continue to exist. After all, this nation can’t spend the next nine decades of this century with this kind of a messy and porous political system. But for the time being, whatever problems the government faces are with the Supreme Court. And only a fool would advise the military to stage a coup and stop the politicians from doing such a wonderful job of proving they are not fit to rule now or in the future, without inducting new faces and, more importantly, a new mindset.

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Pentagon Bought & Destroyed All 9,500 copies Of A Book “Operation Dark Heart”

Posted by yourpakistan on September 28, 2010


Pentagon buys and destroys 9,500 copies of soldier’s Afghanistan book ‘to protect military secrets’

Pentagon officials bought and destroyed all 9,500 copies of a soldier’s book about Afghanistan amid fears it revealed military secrets.The entire first print run of Lt Col Anthony Shaffer’s book ‘Operation Dark Heart’ was snapped up by officials at a cost of $250,000. The 299-page book was pulped on the orders of Pentagon chiefs

Despite giving their approval to the book they feared it contain details about secret operations in Afghanistan. Secret activities of the U.S. Special Operations Command, CIA and National Security Agency were said to be covered in the book. According to Fox News, one of the most contentious chapters concerned US authorities identifying one of the 9/11 hijackers as a threat months before the terror attack.

It claimed US authorities had identified Mohammad Atta as a possible threat prior to his involvement in the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York that claimed almost 3,000 lives.Shaffer claimed in the book that there was no mention of Atta being flagged up in the Government Commission ordered to probe the 2001 terror attacks.In the memoir, Army reservist Shaffer recalls his time in Afghanistan leading a black-ops team during the Bush administration.

He claimed his superiors gave the go ahead for the project when her returned to the US.But after the manuscript was read by the CIA and other agencies they objected to its content.Shaffer, who won a Bronze Star while serving in Afghanistan,said: ‘The whole premise smacks of retaliation.Someone buying 10,000 books to suppress a story in this digital age is ludicrous.’

Lt. April Cunningham, a Defence Department spokeswoman, said military officials oversaw the destruction of about 9,500 copies of the memoir on September 20th before they could hit bookstores. ‘DoD decided to purchase copies of the first printing because they contained information which could cause damage to national security,’ Cunningham said.Shaffer’s publisher has released a second printing of the book.

St. Martin’s Press said it made some changes the government wanted ‘while redacting other text he Shaffer was told was classified.’Blacked out lines appear throughout the book’s 299 pages. Source: Daily Mail UK

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India: The World’s Biggest Banana Republic

Posted by yourpakistan on September 27, 2010

India’s carefully created, and airbrushed, image of an ’emerging superpower’ and the ‘second-fastest growing economy’ in the world rots in the piles of rubbish.

Shobhan Saxena, Times of India

A couple of days ago, a Scottish delegate got a shock of his life when he saw a dog shitting on a bed inside a ‘swanky’ apartment at the Commonwealth Games village in Delhi. The Scotsman clicked a photo of the dog, and now the picture is part of the evidence submitted by the Scottish delegation to the Organising Committee to prove that the multi-million dollar village is not “fit for human habitation”. In the past few days, foreign TV crews and photographers have been busy chasing and clicking photos of dogs – peeing and shitting in the apartments, running on practice tracks, jumping into swimming pools and sleeping under the police cars and other vehicles parked at Games sites and venues. The foreigners are horrified – and scared to death – by the sight of street dogs running wild in the “sanitized areas”. For them, it’s a sign that India is not ready for the Games and the infrastructure here is not “world class”.

Now, there is no doubt that India’s carefully created, and airbrushed, image of an ’emerging superpower’ and the ‘second-fastest growing economy’ in the world rots in the piles of rubbish. The myth of ‘India Shining’ (BJP’s slogan) and ‘India Rising’ (the Congress’ slogan) has been busted. We have proved to the world – and to ourselves as well – that we are a third world banana republic which is sinking into a bottomless pit.

I am not worried about the mismanagement at the Games sites. We shouldn’t have organized the Games at all. The country which in 63 years of independence hasn’t been able to provide proper living houses, clean drinking water, uninterrupted electricity, fulltime jobs, healthy food, clean air and free education to all its citizens despite spending trillions of dollars, how did you expect the same country to pull off an international sporting event without it sinking into the slime and grime of corruption and bad governance.

I am not justifying corruption, but it’s a fact that graft is part and parcel of capitalism, though the level differs from country to country. This has been proved by western politicians and Wall Street bankers in the past couple of years. In the US, the bankers and financial giants robbed the American people, mostly the middle and working-class, clean and then declared themselves bankrupt, and they were bailed out by the American government with public money. This was the world’s biggest daylight robbery. And no one, except Michael Moore, raised the red flag.

In the US, this brazen act of corruption made thousands of houses go under water and millions became jobless, but in India something more sinister and dark has been happening in the garb of the Games. In the past two years or so, the governments of this country and this city have launched a full-scale war on the poor. Millions of poor people from the country’s dustbowls have been brought here to work at the Games’ construction sites. They have been slogging day and night at the venues and living like animals under plastic sheets, sleeping on wet ground and eating filthy food. That food is just about enough to keep their body and soul together so that they can build the glass and chrome buildings and showcase India Shining to the world.

In 21st century India, the street dogs are luckier than the poor. The dogs make news for shitting on expensive beds and the poor workers go to snake-infested swamps to take a leak at night, get bitten and die and not a soul is stirred.

On one hand the government has brought these people from poverty-ravaged villages to work on its corruption-tainted buildings, and on the other hand lakhs of hard-working but poor people have been thrown out of the city so that the foreigners coming here for the Games do not see the ugly, dirty side of India. Thousands of people living in Yamuna Pushta area were plucked from their houses and dumped on a wasteland in Haryana. Beggars were packed off earlier. Now, the police are scanning the slums of Delhi and Gurgaon and people are being forced to board trains back to their villages. These people have been living and working here for years and suddenly they have been asked to leave. The government doesn’t want any filth in the city during the Games. It’s putting bamboo screens in front of the slums.

But, now the filth is out in the open. The mismanagement and corruption has been exposed by the photos of dirty, filthy and unhygienic apartments at the Games village. And guess who gets blamed for it. Not the politicians or babus or contractors but the poor workers at the site. And when 27 workers got injured on Wednesday, when the footbridge near the JL Nehru stadium collapsed, they were herded like animals into private vehicles and dumped at a sarkari hospital. No ambulance for them, no post-recovery package for them. Just Rs 50,000 in damages for broken legs, cracked heads and damaged spinal chords.

And, to hide the accident near the Nehru stadium, the area was cordoned off and cops in full riot gear were stationed so that ordinary people and media and foreigners can’t get anywhere near the site and see one more horrendous accident. Suddenly, the government has one solution for every problem across the country: post heavily-armed police and paramilitary men at the scene of a “disturbance” and give them license to shoot at will. It happens everyday in Srinagar. It’s happening everyday in the jungles of Chhattisgarh. It’s happening in the villages of West Bengal. It’s happening in the villages of UP. Now, with Ayodhya verdict round the corner, the temple town is being turned into a fortress with men in khaki swarming over it.

These are symptoms of a failed state. We are catching up with Pakistan. We make tall claims about growth, but we treat out poor worse than animals. We aspire to be world power, but we can’t even provide drinking water to all our citizens. We claim to be world’s biggest democracy, but we ‘solve’ all our social and political problems with loaded guns in hand. It’s time we accepted that we are a banana republic and we are going to the dogs.

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Pakistan Navy Chief Corruption Puts Navy at Risk

Posted by yourpakistan on September 26, 2010

by Meinhaj Hussain,

The Pakistan Navy is in disrepair. It is facing acute shortage of helicopters, SAR aircraft and modern frigates. Seen in the backdrop of the massive Indian naval buildup which is sporting a numerical and qualitatively superior fleet many times the size and capability of the Pakistan Navy, composed of nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers, modern frigates and destroyers, the Pakistan Navy fleet appears in poor light.

In the increasingly unstable world and open Indian ambitions of the Indian Ocean, the demand for naval competence and capability for the Pakistan Navy becomes a vital bottleneck for Pakistan’s national security and foreign policy. The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral Noman Basheer however, is busy filling his private coffers. With close ties and in partnership with Pakistani President Asif Zardari, a billionaire known infamously in Pakistan as Mr. 10%, CNS Noman Basheer is filling his pockets with the nation’s meager treasures.

His recent purchase of four Hawker 850 XP aircraft is a case in point. With a large and extremely diverse fleet of VIP aircraft, did Pakistan really need another VIP aircraft purchase? The country’s VIP fleet includes G-IV, Cessna Citation V, Cessna Citation Excel, Learjet 35, Learjet 45 XR, Raytheon Hawker 400, Falcon 20, Cessna Conquest II, Bell 412 helicopters (3) MI-17 helicopter Airbus A310-300 and Lear Jet.

Insiders know that, for this deal for the Hawker 850, envelopes exchanging hands.

Nearing retirement, CNS Basheer has accelerated his efforts and this deal was apparently not enough reward for missing the boat on the French Marlin submarine deal. Noman Basheer now wants to upgrade 35 year old Agosta 70 submarines. Whether it is ethical to send seamen out to sea in such ancient boats is questionable. Submarines are not trucks. If a truck breaks down, the occupants can simply dismount and walk away. A submarine on the other hand, is a death trap. Mechanical failure can more likely than not, lead to death in the ugliest way possible – slow and steady suffocation. This deal is in the background of supposedly not having enough money to buy German or Chinese submarines. Even the lowliest modern Chinese submarine would have been many times superior to sending seamen out in the Agosta 70s. Yet, CNS – Admiral – Noman Basheer has no problems as long as his Swiss bank accounts register an upswing. Somewhat disingenuously, this deal was concluded with the same French naval company – DCNS that was contracted for the Agosta-90B retirement fund project.

You can be sure that a long line of poor flood affected Pakistanis living below the poverty line will benefit from this deal – including President Zardari and his PPP nymphs.

Much to the chagrin of the Pakistani people, the amusement does not end here – the CNS is now calling to cancel the Gwader Port contract and “hand it over to the Chinese”, whatever that vague phrase means. For those who know, it means strangulating yet another strategic project for Pakistan, as if the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline deal’s indefinite postponement was not treason enough.

Rumors suggest that this corrupt PN officer is slated to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. This will not be the first PN officer to disgrace the Pakistani nation – he is following the illustrious career of CNS Mansoor who made his fortune in the infamous Agosta 90B deal with France.

CNS Admiral Noman Basheer would do well to remember the Iranian revolution and what happened to the Shah’s men. In the event that insh’Allah Pakistan becomes an Islamic State, those who have looted the nation are insh’Allah going to receive compensation for their services, as long as there is enough rope to hang them with, and enough trees to hang them from.

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The Intelligence Factory: How America Makes its Enemies Disappear

Posted by yourpakistan on September 25, 2010

Petra Bartosiewicz, Harper’s Magazine

When I first read the U.S. government’s complaint against Aafia Siddiqui, who is awaiting trial in a Brooklyn detention center on charges of attempting to murder a group of U.S. Army officers and FBI agents in Afghanistan, the case it described was so impossibly convoluted—and yet so absurdly incriminating—that I simply assumed she was innocent. According to the complaint, on the evening of July 17, 2008, several local policemen discovered Siddiqui and a young boy loitering about a public square in Ghazni. She was carrying instructions for creating “weapons involving biological material,” descriptions of U.S. “military assets,” and numerous unnamed “chemical substances in gel and liquid form that were sealed in bottles and glass jars.” Siddiqui, an MIT-trained neuroscientist who lived in the United States for eleven years, had vanished from her hometown in Pakistan in 2003, along with all three of her children, two of whom were U.S. citizens. The complaint does not address where she was those five years or why she suddenly decided to emerge into a public square outside Pakistan and far from the United States, nor does it address why she would do so in the company of her American son. Various reports had her married to a high-level Al Qaeda operative, running diamonds out of Liberia for Osama bin Laden, and abetting the entry of terrorists into the United States. But those reports were countered by rumors that Siddiqui actually had spent the previous five years in the maw of the U.S. intelligence system—that she was a ghost prisoner, kidnapped by Pakistani spies, held in secret detention at a U.S. military prison, interrogated until she could provide no further intelligence, then spat back into the world in the manner most likely to render her story implausible. These dueling narratives of terrorist intrigue and imperial overreach were only further confounded when Siddiqui finally appeared before a judge in a Manhattan courtroom on August 5. Now, two weeks after her capture, she was bandaged and doubled over in a wheelchair, barely able to speak, because—somehow—she had been shot in the stomach by one of the very soldiers she stands accused of attempting to murder.

It is clear that the CIA and the FBI believed Aafia Siddiqui to be a potential source of intelligence and, as such, a prized commodity in the global war on terror. Every other aspect of the Siddiqui case, though, is shrouded in rumor and denial, with the result that we do not know, and may never know, whether her detention has made the United States any safer. Even the particulars of the arrest itself, which took place before a crowd of witnesses near Ghazni’s main mosque, are in dispute. According to the complaint, Siddiqui was detained not because she was wanted by the FBI but simply because she was loitering in a “suspicious” manner; she did not speak the local language and she was not escorted by an adult male. What drove her to risk such conspicuous behavior has not been revealed. When I later hired a local reporter in Afghanistan to re-interview several witnesses, the arresting officer, Abdul Ghani, said Siddiqui had been carrying “a box with some sort of chemicals,” but a shopkeeper named Farhad said the police had found only “a lot of papers.” Hekmat Ullah, who happened to be passing by at the time of her arrest, said Siddiqui “was attacking everyone who got close to her”—a detail that is not mentioned in the complaint. A man named Mirwais, who had come to the mosque that day to pray, said he saw police handcuff Siddiqui, but Massoud Nabizada, the owner of a local pharmacy, said the police had no handcuffs, “so they used her scarf to tie her hands.” What everyone appears to agree on is this: an unknown person called the police to warn that a possible suicide bomber was loitering outside a mosque; the police arrested Siddiqui and her son; and, Afghan sovereignty notwithstanding, they then dispatched the suspicious materials, whatever they were, to the nearest U.S. military base.

The events of the following day are also subject to dispute. According to the complaint, a U.S. Army captain and a warrant officer, two FBI agents, and two military interpreters came to question Siddiqui at Ghazni’s police headquarters. The team was shown to a meeting room that was partitioned by a yellow curtain. “None of the United States personnel were aware,” the complaint states, “that Siddiqui was being held, unsecured, behind the curtain.” No explanation is offered as to why no one thought to look behind it. The group sat down to talk and, in another odd lapse of vigilance, “the Warrant Officer placed his United States Army M-4 rifle on the floor to his right next to the curtain, near his right foot.” Siddiqui, like a villain in a stage play, reached from behind the curtain and pulled the three-foot rifle to her side. She unlatched the safety. She pulled the curtain “slightly back” and pointed the gun directly at the head of the captain. One of the interpreters saw her. He lunged for the gun. Siddiqui shouted, “Get the fuck out of here!” and fired twice. She hit no one. As the interpreter wrestled her to the ground, the warrant officer drew his sidearm and fired “approximately two rounds” into Siddiqui’s abdomen. She collapsed, still struggling, then fell unconscious.

The authorities in Afghanistan describe a different series of events. The governor of Ghazni Province, Usman Usmani, told my local reporter that the U.S. team had “demanded to take over custody” of Siddiqui. The governor refused. He could not release Siddiqui, he explained, until officials from the counterterrorism department in Kabul arrived to investigate. He proposed a compromise: the U.S. team could interview Siddiqui, but she would remain at the station. In a Reuters interview, however, a “senior Ghazni police officer” suggested that the compromise did not hold. The U.S. team arrived at the police station, he said, and demanded custody of Siddiqui, the Afghan officers refused, and the U.S. team proceeded to disarm them. Then, for reasons unexplained, Siddiqui herself somehow entered the scene. The U.S. team, “thinking that she had explosives and would attack them as a suicide bomber, shot her and took her.”

Siddiqui’s own version of the shooting is less complicated. As she explained it to a delegation of Pakistani senators who came to Texas to visit her in prison a few months after her arrest, she never touched anyone’s gun, nor did she shout at anyone or make any threats. She simply stood up to see who was on the other side of the curtain and startled the soldiers. One of them shouted, “She is loose,” and then someone shot her. When she regained consciousness she heard someone else say, “We could lose our jobs.”

Siddiqui’s trial is scheduled for this November. The charges against her stem solely from the shooting incident itself, not from any alleged act of terrorism. The prosecutors provide no explanation for how a scientist, mother, and wife came to be charged as a dangerous felon. Nor do they account for her missing years, or her two other children, who still are missing. What is known is that the United States wanted her in 2003, and it wanted her again in 2008, and now no one can explain why.

As the “global war on terror” enters its ninth year, under the leadership of its second commander in chief, certain ongoing assumptions have gained the force of common wisdom. One of them, as Barack Obama explained in a major policy speech last May, is that we have entered a “new era” that will “present new challenges to our application of the law” and require “new tools to protect the American people.” Another, as Obama made clear in the same speech, is that the purpose of these new tools and laws is “to prevent attacks instead of simply prosecuting those who try to carry them out.” These positions are appealing, but they fail to address what might be thought of as an underlying economic disequilibrium. The continued political appetite for a global war on terror has led to a commodification of “actionable intelligence,” which is a product, chiefly, of human prisoners like Aafia Siddiqui. Because this war, by definition, has no physical or temporal boundaries, the demand for such intelligence has no limit. But the world contains a relatively small number of terrorists and an even smaller number of terrorist plots. Our demand for intelligence far outstrips the supply of prisoners. Where the United States itself has been unable to meet that demand, therefore, it has embraced a solution that is the essence of globalization. We outsource the work to countries, like Pakistan, whose political circumstances allow them to produce prisoners with far greater efficiency.
What the CIA and the FBI understand as an acquisition solution, however, others see as a human-rights debacle. Just as thousands of political dissidents, suspected criminals, and enemies of the state were “disappeared” from Latin America over the course of several decades of CIA-funded dirty wars, so too have hundreds of “persons of interest” around the world begun to disappear as a consequence of the global war on terror, which in many ways has become a globalized version of those earlier, regional failures of democracy.

Many individual cases are well known. Binyam Mohamed, an alleged conspirator in Jose Padilla’s now debunked “dirty bomb plot,” was arrested in Karachi in 2002 and flown by the CIA to Morocco, where he was tortured for eighteen months. He eventually emerged into the non-covert prison system, as a detainee at Guantánamo, and was released earlier this year without charge. Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen, was arrested at New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport in 2002 while on his way home from a vacation, flown by the CIA to a Syrian prison, held in a coffin-size cell for nearly a year, and then released, also without charges. Saud Memon, a Pakistani businessman rumored to own the plot of land where the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was murdered, was arrested in 2003, held by the United States at an unknown location until 2006, then “released” to Pakistan, where in April 2007 he finally emerged, badly beaten and weighing just eighty pounds, on the doorstep of his Karachi home. He died a few weeks later.

The total number of men and women who have been kidnapped and imprisoned for U.S. intelligence-gathering purposes is difficult to determine. Apart from Iraq and Afghanistan, the main theaters of combat, Pakistan is our primary source of publicly known detainees—researchers at Seton Hall University estimated in 2006 that two thirds of the prisoners at Guantánamo were arrested in Pakistan or by Pakistani authorities—and so it is reasonable to assume that the country is also a major supplier of ghost detainees. Human Rights Watch has tracked enforced disappearances in Pakistan since before 2001. The group’s counterterrorism director, Joanne Mariner, told me that the number of missing persons in the country grew “to a flood” as U.S. counterterrorism operations peaked between 2002 and 2004. In that same three-year period, U.S. aid to Pakistan totaled $4.7 billion, up from $9.1 million in the three years prior to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. Correlation does not prove causation, of course, but Pakistan’s former president, Pervez Musharraf, did claim in his 2006 memoir, In the Line of Fire, that his country had delivered 369 Al Qaeda suspects to the United States for “millions of dollars” in bounties (a boast he neatly elides in the Urdu edition). It is reasonable to suspect this figure is on the low side.

One reason estimates are so inconclusive, of course, is that the business of disappearance is inherently ambiguous. Missing-person reports filed in Pakistan rarely claim that the detained individual was picked up by the CIA or the FBI. Instead, the detainee is almost always arrested by “city police” or “civilian clothed men” or unidentified “secret agency personnel” who arrive in “unmarked vehicles.” The secretary-general of the Pakistani NGO Human Rights Commission, Ibn Abdur Rehman, described the process. “A man is picked up at his house, brought to the police station,” he said. “The family comes with him and are told, ‘He’ll be released in an hour, go home.’ They come back in an hour and are told, ‘Sorry, he’s been handed off to the intelligence people and taken to Islamabad.’ After that, the individual is never heard from again. When the family tries to file a missing-person report, the police won’t take it, and no one admits to having custody of the person.” Some of the disappeared pass directly to U.S. custody and reappear months or years later at Guantánamo or Bagram air base. Others remain captives of Pakistan’s multiple intelligence agencies or are shipped to places like Uzbekistan, whose torture policies are well known. Others simply vanish, their fate revealed only by clerical errors, or when they turn up dead.

Most of the arrests and detentions take place under the auspices of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which the CIA helped expand in the 1980s largely in order to wage a proxy war against Soviet forces in Afghanistan (where the ISI continues to wield considerable influence). The agency has evolved into a powerful institution with its own agendas and alliances—it has long pursued ethnic separatists in the Baluchistan region, for instance, where the Human Rights Commission estimates that at least 600 individuals have disappeared—and the result is that the CIA itself often has little knowledge of the provenance or purpose of a given arrest.

Such may be the case with Siddiqui. To my knowledge, the only current or former U.S. official to comment publicly on the significance of her capture was John Kiriakou, a retired CIA officer who gained notoriety in 2007 when he told ABC News that the CIA waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah, an Al Qaeda lieutenant, produced life-saving intelligence in less than a minute. Although Justice Department memos later revealed that Zubaydah was waterboarded eighty-three times, Kiriakou’s comments did much to foster acceptance of the practice among the American public—and his description of Siddiqui seemed calibrated to achieve a similar effect. In 2008 he told ABC News, which had hired him as a consultant after his waterboarding interview, “I don’t think we’ve captured anybody as important and as well connected as she since 2003. We knew that she had been planning, or at least involved in the planning of, a wide variety of different operations.” When I called Kiriakou to ask him about those operations, though, he said the extent of his knowledge was that Siddiqui’s name “had popped up an awful lot” while he was in Pakistan searching for Zubaydah in 2002, and that “the FBI talked about her so often that I thought she must be a big fish.” After he left Pakistan, he forgot all about Siddiqui until ABC called for an interview. “I actually had to Google as to remember who she was,” he said.

Last spring, in the hope that I might discover how Siddiqui became such a sought-after commodity, I took the eighteen-hour flight from New York to Karachi. Pakistan’s cities are like many in the Third World: overwhelmed with humanity, underserved by government, and ruled by a wealthy elite who cultivate an atmosphere of lawless entitlement. The current president, Asif Ali Zardari, widower of slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was once charged with (though not tried for) attempting to extort a Pakistani businessman by strapping a remote-controlled bomb to the man’s leg. My host in Karachi, a friend of a friend, was a charming fashion designer and gun aficionado who also happened to be a bona-fide feudal lord. The day after my arrival, as one of his servants massaged his neck, he explained to me that he could have the subjects on his lands killed, though I had the impression that he would consider such an act gauche.
Siddiqui’s own family is well known in Karachi. They are religiously conservative, but also, in certain respects, “Western.” Siddiqui’s father, who died in 2002, was a doctor educated in England. Her brother is an architect in Houston; her sister, now one of Pakistan’s premier neurologists, received her training at Harvard. Siddiqui herself attended MIT as an undergraduate, and earned her doctorate in neuroscience at Brandeis. Her education, and the privilege it implies, is part of what made her disappearance so newsworthy. Families like hers are understood to have enough connections, or at least enough hired guards, to prevent their members from being kidnapped, even by the government.

The national press nonetheless seems to take for granted that Siddiqui and her children were abducted by Pakistani intelligence in 2003, most likely at the behest of the United States. Almost no one I spoke to in Karachi believed she could have remained underground and undetected by the ISI for five days, let alone five years. But there was one important exception. A few days before I arrived, Siddiqui’s ex-husband, Amjad Khan, told a reporter from the Pakistani daily News that he thought she was an “extremist” and that of course she had been on the run. This so infuriated Siddiqui’s sister, Fowzia, that she later called a press conference of her own and told reporters Khan was an abusive husband and father, and that if anyone was an extremist it was him.

Khan now lives in Karachi with his new wife and their two children, in the well-appointed home of his father, a retired businessman. He is thirty-nine years old, tall and slender, and when we met he was wearing the long beard that denotes his strict devotion to Islam. He invited me into the drawing room and signaled a servant to bring cookies and cold glasses of lassi, a yogurt drink. Khan came to know Siddiqui, he said, in 1993. She was an active supporter of Islamic causes at MIT, and during a visit to Karachi, Khan’s mother arranged for her to come to their home and give a talk on the plight of Bosnian Muslims. After the talk, Khan’s mother, presumably impressed, asked him if he liked what he saw. He said yes, and the parents arranged a wedding. The ceremony took place over the phone while Khan was in Karachi and Siddiqui already back in Boston, but Khan, who had studied medicine in Pakistan, soon followed her and took a research position at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Khan said he loved Siddiqui in the early years of their marriage but that the relationship was always somewhat volatile; he casually described an incident in which he threw a baby bottle at Siddiqui’s face and she had to go to the hospital to get stitches. The marriage began to unravel, he said, after the attacks of September 11, 2001. Siddiqui, shaken by the U.S. reaction to the attacks, flew with the children to Karachi soon after, and when Khan joined them in November, he says, Siddiqui’s “extreme nature” became apparent. She wanted him to go with her to Afghanistan to serve as a medic for the mujahedeen. When he refused, he said, “she became hysterical. She started pounding on my chest with her fists. She openly asked for a divorce in front of my family.” Khan’s parents urged him to return to Boston without Siddiqui, to complete his board exams, which he did. In January 2002, he convinced Siddiqui to return to Boston, where they patched things up sufficiently that Siddiqui became pregnant with their third child.

Then, in June 2002, the couple received a visit from the FBI. The agents said they were following up on a suspicious-activity report from Fleet Bank in Boston. Why had someone at the Saudi embassy in Washington wired $70,000 to accounts linked to their address? And why had Khan recently purchased night-vision goggles, body armor, and, according to Khan, as many as seventy military manuals, among themFugitive, Advanced Fugitive, and How to Make C-4? “I asked the FBI,” he said, “whether I should return some of the objectionable books, and the agent replied, ‘No, we are a free country. You are free to read these books.’” Khan told me that the “night-vision goggles” were actually just a single night-vision scope for his hunting rifle; the “body armor” was a bulletproof vest for his uncle, a big-game hunter in Karachi. The $70,000 was not for them. It had been sent to a Saudi man who sublet Khan’s first Boston apartment in 2001 after the couple had moved to another place—the money was to pay for medical treatment for his son. And the military manuals, Khan explained, less convincingly, were an appeasement gift for Siddiqui. “By that time I knew the marriage wasn’t going to last,” he said. “But I had my exams coming up and needed to keep things neutral.”

The arguments continued, however, and in the end it was Khan who, in August 2002, finally demanded a divorce. The parting was quite bitter, and perhaps not entirely because of Siddiqui’s purported radical proclivities. Even before the divorce was finalized that October, Khan had contracted a marriage with his current wife, an act that Siddiqui, according to divorce papers her sister gave me, said was done “without her consent or prior knowledge.” And although Khan said he offered to pay child support and sought to see the children, the divorce papers note that he gave up permanent custody and would “have no right of any nature with the children.” He has never seen his son, Suleman, who was born that September.

Khan said he learned that Siddiqui was missing only when the FBI issued an alert in March 2003, five months after the divorce was finalized, seeking both of them for questioning. He told me he cleared his own name several weeks later in a four-hour joint interview with the FBI and the ISI, and that his “contacts in the agencies” informed him that Siddiqui had gone underground. He had no idea where his children were, he said—a claim he would later contradict. He said he and his driver saw Siddiqui in a taxi in Karachi in 2005. But they did not follow her.

As we talked, Khan’s father came and sat down and soon began answering questions for his son, who deferred to him. Eventually the father decided the interview had gone on long enough, and so Khan walked me outside, where his two young daughters from his second marriage were playing on the lawn. One was named Mariam, the same name as his daughter with Siddiqui. I asked if he had given up on the possibility of the first Mariam coming home. Khan shrugged and said he just liked the name.

Fowzia lives in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, an affluent enclave of palm trees and high-walled compounds not far from Amjad Khan’s home. When I called, she was about to hold her press conference and told me to come right over. “I got a video of the prison strip search,” she said. “It’s really gruesome.”

I knew Siddiqui had been searched when she left her holding cell for preliminary hearings. She was still recovering from her gunshot wounds and had found the process, which included a cavity search, to be humiliating and extremely painful. I assumed Fowzia had somehow acquired a tape of the search. Images of a devout Muslim woman being stripped in the presence of Western prison guards would be offensive and inflammatory, and thus newsworthy, and could help Fowzia gain sympathy for her sister’s cause.

Several TV satellite trucks were idling outside the house when I arrived, and in the living room three dozen reporters were watching the video, which Fowzia played on her laptop computer. I leaned in to get a better look and saw that it was indeed a strip search. But the woman was not Siddiqui. The video, taken from a U.S. television report on an entirely unrelated case, was meant to depict what Fowzia’s sister might have gone through—not an outright deception but a well-timed ploy to shift attention away from the damaging claims of an angry ex-husband.

After the reporters left, we sat down to discuss the case in greater detail. Fowzia kept steering the conversation away from questions about her sister’s culpability and the whereabouts of her niece and nephew. Instead, she wanted to discuss Khan’s perfidy. “He’s on a lying spree,” she said. “Let him continue!” Fowzia speculated that Khan was inventing tales about Siddiqui in order to save himself from prosecution, that he was a criminal who had been turned into an informant, that he could be trusted by no one. I asked her what proof she had that Khan had been involved in terrorist activities. She said she had none. But he certainly held extremist views, she said, and as evidence she produced a copy of the couple’s divorce agreement and directed me to a proviso that Khan had inserted: “Under no circumstances would the children be admitted in any of the schools which render education in Western style or culture.”

Fowzia’s resignation about the missing children puzzled me, as had Khan’s. When I asked her about it, she said, “I’ve coped by assuming the kids are dead.” A few years ago, she explained, a Pakistani intelligence agent had come to her house and told her that Suleman, who had been born prematurely and was sick at the time Aafia disappeared, had died in custody. I asked her who the agent was, but she said he refused to give his name. (After I left Pakistan, Khan emailed me to say he had received “confidential good news” from the ISI that Mariam and Suleman were “alive and well” with Fowzia. When I asked if he could tell me more, he wrote back that he possessed “a lot of detailed information” about his children and implied they had been with the Siddiqui family all along, but he refused to provide any of that information “because I was forbidden by the agencies/my lawyer to do so for my own safety.” Fowzia says she still has not seen the children.)

On my way out of Fowzia’s house, I passed a boy who was watching television. It was Siddiqui’s eldest son, Ahmad, now twelve years old. After his arrest at the market in Afghanistan he had again vanished, and for a month U.S. authorities denied any knowledge of his whereabouts. In fact, he had been turned over to an Afghan intelligence agency, which held him for six weeks and finally sent him to Pakistan to live with his aunt. I waved to Ahmad. He said hello and then went back to the Bollywood film he was watching. “He hasn’t talked in great detail about where he was,” Fowzia said. “He tries to figure out what answer you want him to give and he gives that answer.”

What most of us understand as human relationships, infinitely varied and poignant with ambiguity, criminal investigators understand simply as a series of associations. The mapping of “known associates” is an old and powerful investigative technique. But within the context of the global war on terror, the technique—known variously as “social-network analysis,” “link analysis,” or “contact chaining”—has been used less for solving crimes and more for preventing them. Using large computer arrays and the kind of automated data analysis that already dominate the world of global finance, investigators cobble together every scrap of available information in order to create what they hope is a picture not of a single true past but of an infinite variety of theoretical futures. In such a system, the universe of possible associations—and therefore the universe of possible detainees—also becomes unlimited. When the FBI detained more than a thousand Muslim immigrants in 2001, for instance, it provided judges at secret detention hearings an affidavit explaining that “the business of counterterrorism intelligence gathering in the United States is akin to the construction of a mosaic” and that evidence “that may seem innocuous at first glance” might ultimately “fit into a picture that will reveal how the unseen whole operates.” The FBI reasoned that even the possessors of this intelligence might not be aware of the significance of what they knew, and so they could be detained simply because the agency was “unable to rule out” their value.
It was precisely such a mosaic, in which none of the myriad connections were quite intelligible but all were laden with vague significance, that set off alarms at the FBI and CIA in the months leading up to the moment Siddiqui disappeared in 2003. In early 2002, the FBI became aware of a United Nations investigation into Al Qaeda financing that mentioned Siddiqui. A “confidential source” claimed he had “personally met” her in Liberia, where she was on a mission to “evaluate diamond operations” for her Al Qaeda bosses in Pakistan. Dennis Lormel, an FBI agent who was investigating terrorism financing at the time, told me the agency quickly debunked this specific claim. Nonetheless, the notion that Siddiqui was involved in money laundering had entered the picture.

Then, in late December 2002, two months after her divorce, Siddiqui flew from Pakistan to the United States, where she had a job interview at a hospital in Baltimore. On December 30, she made her way to nearby Gaithersburg, Maryland, and opened a post office box. She listed as a co-owner of the box a man named Majid Khan, whom she falsely identified as her husband. According to court records, the FBI began to monitor the box almost immediately.

On March 1, 2003, intelligence agents in Pakistan arrested Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged operational planner of the September 11 attacks. U.S. interrogators quickly elicited from him the names of dozens of possible co-conspirators. Among them was Majid Khan. Mohammed said he had assigned Khan to deliver “a large sum of money” to Al Qaeda.

On March 5, the ISI arrested Khan, along with his pregnant wife. According to a statement by Khan’s father, “U.S. and Pakistani agents, including FBI agents,” interrogated his son for at least three weeks at a secret detention center in Karachi. What Khan told his captors is not publicly known, but by March 18 the FBI was alarmed enough to issue a bulletin seeking Siddiqui and her ex-husband for questioning.

On March 28, FBI agents in New York City detained a twenty-three-year-old man named Uzair Paracha, who had just arrived there from Pakistan to help his father sell units of a beachfront property in Karachi. His father also owned an import/export business in Manhattan, and Paracha worked from an office there. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had planned to use the company, he told investigators, “to smuggle explosives into the United States.” Among the first questions agents in New York asked Paracha was whether he knew Majid Khan. He said he did. And there was more: he also had the key to his post office box.

At some point that same month, Siddiqui disappeared. Her family would not, or could not, give me a specific date. The last traces of her I found came from news accounts. On March 28, the day the FBI detained Paracha, the Pakistani daily Dawn reported that local authorities took Siddiqui “to an undisclosed location” for questioning and that “FBI agents were also allowed to question the lady.” Three weeks later, on April 21, a “senior U.S. law enforcement official” told Lisa Myers of NBC Nightly News that Siddiqui was in Pakistani custody. The same source retracted the statement the next day without explanation. “At the time,” Myers told me, “we thought there was a possibility perhaps he’d spoken out of turn.”

There was one final association to take into account. On April 29, the Pakistani authorities arrested Ammar al Baluchi, a computer technician they suspected was plotting to bomb the U.S. embassy in Pakistan. Baluchi was the nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The FBI and the CIA suspected that he had provided the 9/11 hijackers with almost a quarter of their financing. They had also come to believe, as was later reported in an undated Department of Defense “detainee biography,” that Baluchi had “married Siddiqui shortly before his detention.”

The means by which we assemble such intelligence have become more sophisticated and also more violent. During his initial month of detention, Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times. Khan’s father claims that his son was forced “to sign a statement that he was not even allowed to read,” and Khan later attempted suicide, twice, by chewing through an artery in his arm.

The interrogations yielded a great deal of data, but it is unclear how useful any of that data actually was. Mohammed later said, “I gave a lot of false information in order to satisfy what I believed the interrogators wished to hear.” Paracha told many contradictory stories, and Baluchi, who had maintained his innocence during his U.S. military tribunal hearing, later filed a statement saying, in effect, that he was proud of his involvement in the September 11 attacks.

The roles Siddiqui and Paracha played in the post-office-box affair may have been entirely innocent. Majid Khan said at his own military tribunal hearings that his travel documents had expired while he was in Karachi and he wanted to renew them. He asked his friend Baluchi to enlist Siddiqui and Paracha to help maintain the ruse that he was still in the United States by establishing a mailing address. Khan and Baluchi both contended at Paracha’s trial that he was ignorant of their ties to Al Qaeda.

Such intelligence may actually be worse than useless. In a 2006 Harvard study of the efficacy of preemptive national-security practices, Jessica Stern and Jonathan Wiener note that “taking action based only on worst-case thinking can introduce unforeseen dangers and costs” and propose that “a better approach to managing risk involves an assessment of the full portfolio of risks—those reduced by the proposed intervention, as well as those increased.” Rather than understanding all intelligence as actionable, they write, “decision makers” should create “mechanisms to ensure that sensible risk analysis precedes precautionary actions.” At the moment, no such mechanisms appear to exist. The leader of one FBI conterterrorism squad recently told the New York Times that of the 5,500 terrorism-related leads its twenty-one agents had pursued over the past five years, just 5 percent were credible and not one had foiled an actual terrorist plot. But the gathering of intelligence continues apace.

As I traveled from Karachi to Lahore to Islamabad, questioning family members, lawyers, and spies, I heard every possible story about Aafia Siddiqui. She was a well-known extremist. She was an innocent victim. She was an informant working for the United States or Pakistan or both sides at once. Most people continued to believe that she had been arrested by someone in 2003, but it was proving impossible to determine who actually apprehended her, or who ordered the arrest, or why. I interviewed an attorney in Lahore who swore he had seen a cell-phone video of the arrest that showed what he believed was a female CIA officer slapping Siddiqui across the face. And as to her whereabouts before the arrest, the most persistent account—that she was held by the U.S. military in Bagram prison in Afghanistan—emerged from the testimony of two former detainees, one of whom, Moazzam Begg, was not even at Bagram during the years Siddiqui was missing.
One afternoon in Islamabad I met a recently retired senior Pakistani intelligence officer who had promised, if I agreed not to name him, to answer all of my questions. We spoke at his home, a gated mansion in one of the city’s wealthiest precincts. He had silver hair and a silver mustache, and he wore a gold pinky ring fitted with a large green stone. When I called to arrange the interview, he initially said he did not know why Siddiqui had disappeared. But he had since then contacted a friend at one of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies, “a very good chap” who had been “pretty senior in the hierarchy” when Siddiqui disappeared in 2003. Now, over the customary drinks and cookies, the retired intelligence officer recounted their conversation, the upshot of which was that Siddiqui had in fact been picked up by Pakistani intelligence and delivered to “the friends,” which was shorthand, he said, for the CIA.

“You people didn’t have the decency to tell me she’d been picked up?” he’d asked his colleague, referring to the jurisdictional problems that plague intelligence agencies around the world. “No, no, it was very sudden,” the colleague replied. “The friends, they were insisting.” My host told me that such insistence was irritating and disrespectful. “It was very difficult, very embarrassing for us to turn her over to you,” he said. “The decision was made at the highest levels. Bush and Musharraf likely would have known about it. After two to three days, we passed her along to the CIA.”

By the time our meeting ended, I was convinced that I had heard the definitive account if not of Siddiqui’s reappearance then at least of her disappearance—until, after a fifteen-minute taxi ride later to a less fashionable neighborhood, I arrived at the home of Siddiqui’s elderly maternal uncle, Shams ul Hassan Faruqi, a geologist. As we sat in his home office, surrounded by maps and drawings of rock strata, Faruqi told an entirely different story. He said Siddiqui showed up at his house unannounced one evening in January 2008, a time when, according to the intelligence officer I had just left, she was supposedly in the hands of the CIA. Her face had been altered, Faruqi said, as if she had undergone plastic surgery, but he knew her by her voice. She said she had been held by the Pakistanis and the Americans and was now running operations for both of them against Al Qaeda. She had slipped away for a few days, though, because she wanted him to smuggle her across the border into Afghanistan so she could seek sanctuary with the Taliban, members of which Faruqi had known from his years of mineral exploration.

A few days later I heard yet another account, this one from Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani reporter who has been writing about the Taliban and the ISI for thirty years. As I interviewed him, we were joined by his three golden Labradors, who had just been shaved bare to make the heat more tolerable for them. Rashid told me that he, too, had heard from his sources that the Pakistanis had picked up Siddiqui. But instead of handing her directly to the CIA, they hung on to her. “It’s possible there were some conditions being laid for her being released which the Americans didn’t want to meet. So we held her for a long time,” he said. “I think she was used as a bargaining chip for something completely different which we were pissed off about.”

Perhaps the most believable account came from Ali Hasan, senior South Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch, whom I visited at his home in Lahore. “My professional view,” he said, “is they’re all lying. Siddiqui’s family is lying, the husband is lying, the Pakistanis are lying, the Americans are lying, for all I know the kids are lying. And because they’re all lying the truth is probably twenty times stranger than we all know.”

One of the chief conveniences of outsourcing is that certain costs are externalized. Pollution, for instance, is expensive. Manufacturers that pollute in the United States are required to bear its cost by paying a fine. If they outsource to a country where the cost of the pollution is borne directly by the people, they make more money. Such a transfer is obviously desirable from the point of view of the manufacturer, but it often generates political unrest in the host country, for reasons that are equally obvious. This phenomenon applies as well when the external cost of manufacturing intelligence is paid in freedom. The governments that did the outsourced work of U.S. intelligence agencies in previous dirty wars—in Argentina and Chile, Guatemala and Uruguay—eventually were toppled by popular protest, in large part because the people became aware that their leaders had profited from their suffering. Pakistanis today appear no less aware that this type of transaction is occurring in their country. Indeed, a recent poll found that the only nation they find more threatening than India, whose nuclear missiles point directly at them, is the United States. And they have begun to hold their leaders accountable for the association.

The rising number of disappearances became a decisive political issue in 2007, after Pakistan’s Supreme Court, under its chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, opened hearings on behalf of the missing, demanding that they appear before the court. This initiative turned up the locations of 186 disappeared persons, many of whom were found in known Pakistani detention centers, including Imran Munir, a Malaysian of Pakistani origin who had been missing since 2006. During Munir’s hearing, it came to light that Pakistani security agents had continued trying to hide him even after the court demanded his presence. Chaudhry’s efforts to locate the disappeared were met with considerable resistance from the government. In March 2007, the chief justice himself was summoned to appear before Musharraf, where, with ISI and military chiefs present, he was ordered to resign. Chaudhry refused, and so Musharraf charged him with misconduct and suspended him from office.

In July 2007, a panel of thirteen judges reinstated Chaudhry, who quickly returned to his investigation of the disappeared. This time, he warned, he would order the heads of the security agencies themselves to testify. He also summoned Imran Munir once again, but before Munir could appear, Musharraf declared a state of emergency and put Chaudhry under house arrest. Lawyers around Pakistan, horrified to see the chief justice so flagrantly humiliated, rose up to demand his reinstatement. The Lawyers’ Movement, as it came to be known, was soon embraced by hundreds of thousands of Pakistani citizens, who marched in massive protests, and Musharraf, in the end, was the one who had to resign.

The current president, Asif Ali Zardari, gained considerable momentum in his election campaign by pledging to reinstate Chaudhry. But once in office, he hesitated to follow through on that pledge, likely because he was concerned that the court would reopen a series of corruption cases against him. The marches grew larger, though, and on March 16, 2009, while I happened to be in Pakistan, Zardari finally reinstated Chaudhry, along with several other similarly deposed justices.

I joined the hundreds of supporters gathered at the chief justice’s house in Islamabad. Families came with children, people waved placards that bore Chaudhry’s image, and a marching band with bagpipes played. Chaudhry had always maintained that his struggle was legal, not political, but the scene had all the markings of a post-campaign victory celebration. I made my way along the receiving line until I reached Chaudhry, who was surrounded by the leaders of the Lawyers’ Movement. He had been shaking hands for several hours, but I thought I would try to ask a question. When I reached him, I took his hand and asked him when he planned to take up the missing-person cases with which his name had become synonymous. He paused, as if parsing the political consequences of his answer. “I don’t know,” he finally said, and giggled uncomfortably as his handlers, looking equally uncomfortable, hustled me down the line.

It is the shooting, oddly enough, that has generated the most detailed evidence about Siddiqui’s present circumstances. After the confrontation in Ghazni, she was choppered by air ambulance to the Craig Joint Theater Hospital at Bagram air base—the same base, of course, where she may or may not once have been a prisoner. Her medical intake record notes that she was a three on the fifteen-point Glasgow Coma Scale, meaning she was almost dead. The surgeons opened her up from breastbone to bellybutton, searching for bullets. They cut out twenty centimeters of her small intestine. They also gave her transfusions of red blood cells and fresh frozen platelets and dosed her with clotting medication, which suggests she had experienced heavy blood loss. “FBI agents in room with patient at all times,” the medical record stated. “Patient is in four-point restraints.” In the span of just two weeks she went from near clinical death to being deemed “medically stable and capable of confinement.” The doctor witnessed every detail of her recovery. “Details of pertinent medical findings: Very thin, sallow coloring, dry cracked lips,” and also “flat affect, crying at times.”
From that point forward, however, the clarity of medical detail is clouded by legal concerns. Siddiqui had no lawyer during her two weeks at Bagram or on her flight to the United States. The day after she landed, she was in a Manhattan courtroom, facing charges of attempted murder. In allowing her to be transported to the United States without even a consular visit, her own government, notwithstanding its public pronouncements of support and calls for repatriation, effectively gave her up without a fight. The Pakistani embassy eventually hired a team of three attorneys to augment her two existing public defenders, but Siddiqui refused to work with them. During a prison phone call in June, she told her brother, “I just protest against this whole process and don’t want to participate.”

The only people Siddiqui seemed to trust, strangely, were the FBI agents who sat by her bedside at Bagram, and whose presence she repeatedly requested in the apparent belief that if only she could speak to them for a moment she could clear everything up. According to notes taken by the agents, she was voluble during those early days of her detention in Afghanistan. She said she “made some bad decisions in the past, but mostly did so out of naivety.” In contrast to her later statements, she confirmed that she was married to Ammar al Baluchi, whom she met when his sister rented a room at her mother’s house, and that Baluchi had asked her to help his friend Majid Khan with his immigration problem. She admitted having possession of chemicals including sodium cyanide at the time of her capture, though “not for nefarious purposes,” and she said that she had been “in ‘hiding’ for the last five years” and “aware that various law enforcement agencies had been looking for her.” She had little to say about her children. “She finds it easier to presume them dead,” the agents noted. She also volunteered to become a U.S. intelligence “asset” in the hope that she could find the “truth to the inner depths.”

It is uncertain what the defense’s theory of the case will be when Siddiqui goes on trial this November. Perhaps, as one of her lawyers told me, she never even touched the gun. Perhaps she acted in self-defense. Or perhaps, as another of her lawyers claimed at an early hearing, “she’s crazy.” In this last matter, ambiguity is once again the rule. Four prison psychiatrists examined Siddiqui. Two of them determined she was malingering, the faked illness being insanity. A third said she was delusional and that her behavior was “diametrically opposed to everything we know about the clinical presentation of malingerers,” and the fourth psychiatrist initially diagnosed her as depressive—and possibly psychotic—but later switched to the malingering camp. Siddiqui’s own contribution to the debate came in the form of a rambling letter, written last July to “All Americans loyal to the U.S.A.,” in which she proclaimed her innocence, decried the propaganda being spun against her by the “Zionist-controlled U.S. media,” and alleged that she spent years in a prison “controlled by the ‘Americans,’ of the kind that control the U.S. media.” Later that month the court ruled that she “may have some mental health issues” but that she was fit enough to stand trial.

Aafia Siddiqui is not presently charged with any act of terrorism, nor is she accused of conspiring with terrorists or giving comfort to terrorists. Her trial is unlikely to yield satisfactory answers about where she was, who picked her up and why, or even who she really is. Maybe she was working for the United States, or Pakistan, or maybe she was just in the United States looking for a job and committed a minor bit of immigration fraud that catalyzed a violent farce. One FBI official told _U.S. News & World Report _in 2003, “There’s a distinct possibility she was just a victim.” Perhaps Aafia Siddiqui is guilty of nothing more than poor choice in men. We simply do not know, and the system in which she has found herself ensures that neither will her captors.

The person who seemed best able to explain what really happened to Siddiqui, her sister, Fowzia, remained elusive until my last day in Pakistan. At our first meeting she had promised to pull together all sorts of evidence of her sister’s innocence, but by the time she finally agreed to meet again, my bags were packed and my plane just hours from departure.
She said she avoided me all these weeks because she’d been told by “multiple people” that I worked for the CIA. “All you want are documents,” she said. “I just want someone who can listen.” Then she dragged out a family photo album and started showing me pictures of her sister with various animals: goats, a camel, the family cat. “Aafia loved animals,” she said.

Then she opened a more formal binder. She flipped to a grainy photocopy of a woman lying on a bed. The woman bore a striking resemblance to Siddiqui, only she looked younger and softer, as if she’d been airbrushed; sitting at her bedside was a young man—Fowzia wouldn’t say who—and mounted on a wall behind her was what appeared to be the seal of the United States government. The seal, Fowzia said, proved the picture was taken in Bagram, but she wouldn’t say why it proved this, and before I could inspect the image any further she flipped the page and wouldn’t let me look at it again. “I’d love it if a real investigator would come and devote himself to the case,” she said. “You know, really work on it.”

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Asif Zardari Authorized CIA To Kill Pakistanis With US Drone-Missiles: The Washington Post

Posted by yourpakistan on September 24, 2010

The Washington Post has reported that PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari, an infamous CIA Actor, illegally authorized the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to unlawfully murder thousands of innocent Pakistani citizens in Pakistan with American military/CIA drone-bombs.

The Washington Post news report of 23 September 2010, headlined “CIA Drones Killed U.S. Citizens in Pakistan, Book Says”, states:

[American] CIA drones killed “many Westerners, including some U.S. passport holders” in Pakistan’s tribal area during the George W. Bush administration, the new book by Bob Woodward says. Woodward, a longtime Washington Post journalist, writes in “Obama’s Wars” that then-CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden disclosed the killings to Pakistani [PPP] president Asif Ali Zardari during a meeting in New York on Nov. 12, 2008. Hayden was succeeded by Leon J. Panetta in 2009.

Hayden and his deputy, Stephen Kappes, had gone to meet with Zardari, elected only two months earlier, to gauge his reaction to
the [US] drone strikes, which were generating widespread protests in Pakistan. According to Woodward’s account of the meeting, Zardari said: “Kill the seniors. Collateral damage worries you Americans. It does not worry me.”

Hayden had told Zardari that “many Westerners, including some U.S. passport holders, had been killed five days earlier on the Kam Sham training camp in the tribal area of North Warziristan,” Woodward writes. “But the CIA would not reveal the particulars due to the implications under American law.”

“A top secret CIA map detailing the attacks had been given to the Pakistanis,” Woodward continues. “Missing from it was the alarming fact about the American deaths … The CIA was not going to elaborate.”

On Friday the [US] Justice Department faces a deadline to respond to a suit by two [American] human rights groups [American Civil
Liberties Union (ACLU) and Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)] challenging the Obama administration’s ‘right’ to kill U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, a [Muslim-Arab-American] based in Yemen.

Pakistan Army’s Lt. General (R) Zakir Ali Zaidi recently told the of Iran that American military/CIA drone-missile attacks
on innocent Pakistanis have illegally violated Pakistan’s sovereignty/integrity and the United Nations international laws. “Our
[Pakistani] people do not like the presence of the United States in our country and they do not like these drone attacks. Our [Pakistani] civilian population is being annihilated totally in those [Khyber and FATA] areas”, [General] Zaidi said, adding that the United Nations (UN) has failed to take action against the killings, because ‘the UN is an arm of the US’.”

America’s Human Rights Justice Forum ( has strongly demanded that Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) head Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman, Pakistan Navy Chief Admiral Noman Bashir, JCSC Chairman General Tariq Majid, ISI Chief Lt. General Ahmad Shuja Pasha and MIP Chief Major General Naushad Ahmed Kayani must immediately resign now, because they have deliberately failed to stop US military/CIA drone-bomb attacks on Pakistan.

The Fairfax, Virginia-based HRJF has also vigorously urged Pakistan Army’s patriotic officers, judges/justices, prosecutors, police
forces, lawyers, journalists, millions of nationalist Pakistanis, InterPol, ICC and the United Nations to bring PPP Co-Chairman Asif
Ali Zardari, PPP PM Yousuf Raza Gilani, PML-Q/MQM ex-president Pervez Musharraf and PML-Q ex-PM Shaukat Aziz to legal justice now, because Zardari, Gilani, Musharraf and Aziz – the four notorious corrupt criminals/traitors – intentionally failed to stop American
military/CIA drone-bomb attacks on Pakistan; they unlawfully allowed US drone-missile strikes on Pakistani citizens; and they also
illegally murdered thousands of innocent Pakistani civilians with US drone bombs.

The Washington Post News:

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Haqqani Denied Visa To US Politician Working For Dr. Aafia’s Release

Posted by yourpakistan on September 24, 2010

Stunning revelations about Husain Haqqani’s secret moves to scuttle Dr. Aafia’s case.

British investigative journalist Yvonne Ridley, who first broke the story on Dr. Aafia Siddiqui’s detention by US military in Afghanistan, has uncovered another scandal in her case. This time it’s the role of Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington Mr. Husain Haqqani in obstructing the efforts of the Pakistani government to secure her release from US custody.

It appears that Mr. Haqqani has been active behind the scenes in complicating Dr. Siddiqui’s case. Several American and British journalists say Ambassador Haqqani has been briefing them off-the-record about Dr. Siddiqui’s guilt.

It is not clear if such briefings were part of instructions received by Mr. Haqqani from Pakistan Foreign Office, or if those briefings represented Ambassador Haqqani’s personal views.

More stunningly, Mr. Haqqani has refused to grant an entry visa to US politician and former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. Ms. McKinney planned to visit Pakistan earlier this month to lobby Mr. Haqqani’s government in Islamabad on Dr. Aafia’s case. She also planned to visit flood victims and draw the attention of the US public to relief work.

Moreover, Mr. Haqqani stands accused of influencing Judge Richard Berman negatively on Dr. Aafia’s innocence.

Ms. Ridley’s revelations are supported by circumstantial evidence. On January 26, 2010, frustrated by reports that Ambassador Haqqani appeared not interested in lobbying the US government for Dr. Aafia’s release, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani decided to make an unusual gesture. He bypassed Mr. Haqqani’s direct bosses at the Pakistan Foreign Office and directly telephoned him at his residence in Washington DC. According to an official press release, Prime Minister Gilani “advised him to keep strict eye on the progress of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui case and also directing him to update the Prime Minister on daily basis” on Dr. Aafia’s condition in jail.

As a further evidence of the sloppy work done by Ambassador Haqqani, Interior Minister Rehman Malik had to write to US Attorney General this week urging the release of Dr. Aafia.

Unlike Ms. McKinney, who has been speaking in Dr. Aafia’s favor at public events in the US, Mr. Haqqani has been avoiding such gatherings like the plague. [The reason for this is that Mr. Haqqani doesn’t want to irk the FBI and rock his chances of getting permanent US residence once his chance ambassadorship expires, his critics quip].

But the most serious allegations on his role in damaging Dr. Aafia’s case come in Yvonne Ridley’s column that she released this week.

Ms. Ridley writes:

“And what of the ubiquitous Mr Haqqani? He’s not a career diplomat. In fact he holds US citizenship or has aspirations to making him a very peculiar choice as Pakistan’s man in Washington. Once his foray into the world of diplomacy comes to an end he’ll resume his career as a lecturer in America, something his US controllers remind him on a regular basis.

His Excellency has certainly been a busy little bee with regards Dr Aafia’s case, briefing some of my colleagues in the western media telling them ‘off-the-record’ what a bad woman she is!

Just recently his cover was blown when he refused the very excellent female politician Cynthia McKinney a visa to Pakistan. Cynthia was part of an international delegation due to travel to Islamabad to raise concerns about the case with the government there.

Mr Haqqani, who thinks nothing of giving visas to Blackwater guns-for-hire and mercenaries heading to the fresh killing fields of Pakistan saw fit to stop the former US Congress woman from travelling there.

He squirmed and wriggled after being hoisted by his own petard, but like a worm impaled firmly on a fishhook of his own making, he could not escape the humiliating exposure of his duplicitous behaviour.

If he has been briefing against Dr Aafia Siddiqui all this time, one can only imagine what nonsense he filled in Judge Richard Berman’s head during their private meetings. In any other country this sort of revelation would be a career wrecker for both men, but justice is the US is a strange beast.

(Yes, this is a serious allegation to make and I would have asked the judge personally, but he has banned me from using his fax and phone! Hilarious really, when you consider he has no legal jurisdiction in London, where I live. Obviously he thinks if he can hold a trial on a crime allegedly committed in Afghanistan, he can have me ‘renditioned’ and charged with contempt of court.)”

Considering that these allegations are tantamount to dereliction of duty on the part of Mr. Ambassador, maybe it is time for Prime Minister Gilani to place another direct call to Mr. Haqqani and ask him a straight question: Whose interests does he really represent?

Most Pakistanis know the answer anyway.

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Foreign Powers Blackmail Pakistan Over Flood Aid

Posted by yourpakistan on September 23, 2010

Foreign powers are exploiting Pakistan’s need for flood aid to force policies that would lead to a collapse. They have already succeeded in forcing on us their handpicked economic managers: Dr. Hafeez Sheikh and Dr. Nadeem ul Haq, Tweedledum and Tweedledee of World Bank and IMF

· Thanks to PPPP government’s IMF program, very soon we will have a hungry Pakistani nation living increasingly in darkness

· The latest move by the Shaikh-Haq duo – the Tweedledum and Tweedledee of the IMF – has been to move in on destroying higher education in Pakistan in the public sector

The Nation Newspaper

That realpolitik dominates global politics today, as has always been the case, has never been in doubt despite US propaganda post-bipolarity to the contrary. However, for international agencies to use the monumental flood devastation as a means of forcing through their agenda on Pakistan – an agenda that is directly linked to the US-led and misguided ‘war on terror’ – is carrying realpolitik so far as to make it shameful and border on the immoral.

Here is a natural disaster for which even the most corrupt and inept government cannot be blamed – although the Kalabagh Dam could have done some damage control – and yet the international donors in their meetings sought to exploit this disaster for plugging their own agenda. Instead of moving towards fulfilling the pledges sought by the UN in its many appeals, international institutions like the World Bank tried to use the occasion to push for increased taxation – a demand that will only destabilize Pakistan further. But then perhaps that is the covert agenda of the World Bank which is acting along with the IMF to push forward the US ‘war on terror’ agenda?

While individual countries have increased their aid pledges, most of the money promised remains exactly that and little has actually come through.

Coming back to the IMF and World Bank demands (and the two work in tandem so one can safely refer to them collectively), the country is being driven to chaos and eventually defiance on the streets, as the rulers have bowed before their unreasonable diktat.

First, they have thrust their economic managers on Pakistan in the form of the Finance Minister Hafeez Shaikh and the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Dr. Nadeem ul Haq (an old friend but totally imbued with a right wing capitalist mission instilled in him from Chicago University and his days at the IMF). These two have gone on an IMF-dictated rampage on Pakistan and the results have been disastrous. From constant price hikes in utilities and petroleum products to a targeting of public sector higher education. It is too bad Dr. Haq has forgotten that it was through the public sector that he got his scholarship to Chicago in the first place! Such is the philosophy of free enterprise in the Pakistani context!

Anyhow, if one looks at the price hikes Pakistani consumers have had to suffer on IMF diktat, one will realize how if such impositions were made on people in the developed world, they would be out on the streets; but here is a country ravaged by terrorism thanks to its alliance with the US post-9/11 and struck by a flood of Biblical proportions and the IMF and World Bank demand more price hikes and more taxes – especially in the form of the dubious VAT under the guise of a revised GST! Just a few figures should show the picture most vividly:

· Sugar prices went up to Rs 90 per kg this month from Rs 57 kg in June and now in most places it stands at Rs 100 per kg (so the poor certainly can’t eat cake in case they are unable to get bread)

· Price of LPG cylinder (11kg) went to Rs 1200 this month from Rs 900 in June-July; and it is primarily the poor in the rural or other outlying parts of the country that use these cylinders for basic cooking and heating purposes, so we know which group the IMF is targeting with its demands on this count.
Kerosene oil has been jacked up to Rs 68.89 per litre this month from Rs 64.81 in August – again the main sufferers will be the poor who use this for cooking purposes.

· Light diesel price enhanced to Rs 65.76 per litre this month from Rs 62.20 in August – again a fuel used in public transport, so the target sufferers will be the poorer segments of society.

· Prices of all vegetables and fruits went up almost 50 percent in the last two months – not least because of increased transportation and utility costs.

Can one not see a pattern here of deliberately pushing the masses into a state of anger and eventual revolt which would lead to people coming on the streets and causing further destabilization in the country?

Nor is this all. One of the biggest killers is the never-ending price hikes of electricity. The IMF program this government bought into so stupidly compelled it to increase electricity rates 7.6 percent from April. Add to this, the 1.76 per unit increase in three months (May-July) under the fuel adjustment formula and one can see how the majority may soon have to resort to candles and lanterns although with rising kerosene prices the latter option may soon become a luxury also! Ironically, the government never passes on the benefits of lower fuel prices to the consumers in their electricity bills although the fuel adjustment formula is meant to work under that logic!

So, very soon we will have a hungry Pakistani nation living increasingly in darkness.

That’s not all. The latest move by the Shaikh-Haq duo – the Tweedledum and Tweedledee of the IMF – has been to move in on destroying higher education in Pakistan in the public sector by making it too expensive for the ordinary citizen. It was only after years of struggle that the Universities were able to convince the state that it could not retain its quality professors unless it offered them remunerations at least close to the market rates and the HEC under its last chairman Dr Ata-ur-Rehman introduced the Tenure Track System which stemmed the tide of brain drain from state universities – although it did arouse the ire of the unqualified!

Universities like Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) in Islamabad also began evening classes for students who could not gain admission on merit, but could pay higher fees. So, both aspects of a public sector university were looked after to some extent: it could generate extra funds and also give access to the poor – especially since QAU has a quota system of admissions for all four provinces.

Now Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum have cut off funding for these public sector universities and told them to raise their own finances – which effectively means a major hike in fees which means denying access to the majority of the population. This is nothing short of a criminal act and the Supreme Court not only needs to take suo moto notice of what is surely an unconstitutional move as well, but also needs to impose strict punishment on the Shaikh-Haq duo for seeking to deny the public fair access to public sector higher education.

Granted that education standards are not even in these universities or even desirable across the board, but they do provide some level of higher education and what is required is improvement not cutting off access for the majority of the country’s youth. Having taught for 16 years at QAU, I know the difference the access to even this limited education made to the lives of those from the far-flung corners of the country who gained admission on the quota system. Incidentally, what was the HEC demanding? Rs 15 billion and the government has committed Rs 30 billion for the Steel Mills to rescue it from the mess greedy individuals have created!

What the Shaikh-Haq team is seeking is a nightmare for anyone concerned with the future of Pakistan. There comes a time when hard decisions must be made and it is time we cut the IMF-US chord, sent their Tweedledum and Tweedledee back to their US egg nests and looked inwards to our indigenous demands and solutions.

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US Leaders Unpopular in India, Pakistan

Posted by yourpakistan on September 22, 2010

The US leadership seems equally unpopular in both India and Pakistan, with only 18 per cent saying they approve its job performance, says an opinion poll released on Tuesday.

The Gallup Poll survey, however, reveals that the US leadership has generally gained approval in Asia since President Barack Obama entered the White House in January 2009.

In India, the Bush administration was more popular than that of Mr Obama. Even in 2008, when former president George W. Bush’s popularity tumbled in the US, 31 per cent Indians said they were happy with his administration.  In 2009, the approval rate for the US administration in India declined to 26 per cent. And in 2010, it came down to 18 per cent.

In Pakistan, only 10 per cent people said in 2008 that they liked the US administration and in 2009 it slid to 9 per cent but improved to 18 per cent in 2010. But the administration seems hugely popular in other Asian countries. In Singapore, as many as 77 per cent said they liked the Obama administration. It has a 69 per cent approval rating in Australia, 65 per cent in New Zealand and 66 per cent in the Philippines.

In many other countries in the region where approval is lowest — Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Indonesia — about half or more of respondents do not have an opinion about the US leadership, but those who do are more likely to approve than disapprove, it said.  The number of respondents who express uncertainty about the US leadership has increased significantly since 2008 in India, Vietnam, Nepal and Indonesia.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries surveyed where a majority expressed disapproval of the US leadership, at 68 per cent and 54 per cent, respectively. Approval in these two countries has varied over the last few years.

While US approval ratings have improved dramatically in several Asian countries since 2008, a majority of Afghans and Pakistanis do not share this positive view, Gallup said.

“This highlights the importance of building on positive perceptions in neighbouring India and Bangladesh — where residents are more likely to approve than disapprove — to shore up support in South Asia,” it said.

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