Skip to main content

Espionage case shatters Pakistan army’s myths

Espionage case shatters Pakistan army’s myths – and the belief its nuke secrets are secure

By Hussain Haqqani
June 1, 2019

The court-martial of three individuals, including a recently retired three-star general, on charges of espionage and revealing classified information to foreign intelligence agencies seriously dents the charisma that helps keep Pakistan’s army in charge of the country.

The fact that senior military officers spied for a foreign country suggests that Pakistan is not as safe in the hands of the men in uniform as is suggested.

If, as has been learnt, the secrets shared by the convicted officers are related to Pakistan’s nuclear programme, the case would increase Pakistan’s paranoia about the security of its nuclear arsenal. Considering that the foreign intelligence service that paid for the secrets shared by the convicted officers belonged to the United States, there is a greater adversarial relationship between Pakistan and the US than is often revealed.

On Thursday, Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa approved life imprisonment for retired Lt General Javed Iqbal, and death sentences for retired Brigadier Raja Rizwan Haider and Dr Wasim Akram, a civilian who ostensibly worked in ‘a sensitive organisation.

The espionage ring reached the highest levels of the Pakistani national security establishment. Lt Gen Iqbal served as Director of Military Operations, Corps Commander, and Adjutant General before retiring in 2015; the ‘sensitive organisation’ that employed Akram was one of the Pakistan’s many covert nuclear facilities.

To my knowledge, there are several other individuals currently under investigation and there might be more courts-martial and more convictions down the line.

The investigation into the possibility of military officers sharing intelligence and information with US intelligence services started soon after the raid in May 2011 that resulted in the killing of Osama bin Laden in the garrison town of Abbottabad.

The Pakistani establishment’s propaganda machine created a distraction in the form of the so-called ‘Memogate’ case against me, forcing my resignation as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US and a long-drawn case in the Supreme Court, which never resulted in a trial.

Fake news stories appeared in the Pakistani media about how Pakistan’s elected civilian government had granted visas to the CIA personnel to enter the country and how the US mercenary security corporation, Blackwater, had been covertly allowed in.

In the Pakistani public’s eye, the Abbottabad raid was framed, not as a question of why the world’s most wanted terrorist lived in Pakistan, but as the matter of how the Americans were able to discover him. A major fear was that if the Americans could penetrate Pakistan’s air defences without detention to get Bin Laden, what prevents them from coming in to decapitate Pakistan’s nuclear programme.

All this time, behind the smoke and mirrors of propaganda against civilians, the Pakistan army was quietly discovering spies and information-sellers within its own ranks. The members of ISI, and not the civilians, were the CIA’s go-to contacts in Pakistan, and individuals like Lt Gen Iqbal had more useful information than any civilian could have access to.

But, as is often the case, the army wanted to preserve its image and kept its inquiries secret. Stories about the case started to percolate when the family members of one of the accused went to court to find out where and why he was being held. Once it was not possible to keep the matter secret, the army decided to present it as proof of accountability within its ranks.

Pakistan’s nuclear programme has been pieced together with designs and components acquired from multiple sources over many years. Revelation of sources from where Pakistan acquires the necessary inputs for its nukes, or the location of its covert nuclear facilities, diminish the quality of Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence.

The army is already trying to spin the case as proof of its internal checks and balances. An Inter-Services Public Relations press release only said that the three men had been convicted by a Field Court Martial on charges of espionage and divulging “sensitive information to foreign agencies prejudice to the national security.”

But what was not said is far more revealing. For several decades, Pakistanis have been assured that their army is the only and ultimate guarantor of Pakistan’s security. Several civilians who disagree with the army-backed national narrative – including Fatima Jinnah, sister of the country’s founder – have been described as ‘traitors’ for their contrarian opinions over the years.

None of the critical civilians tagged with the ‘traitor’ label were ever accused of specific crimes and no one has ever been charged with espionage for a foreign intelligence service. Now, it turns out that in a country controlled by the army, the individuals with access to secrets that might interest a foreign intelligence service come from within the army.

Moreover, the recipient of secrets shared by the convicted officials was not ‘permanent enemy’ India, which is the target of constant propaganda by Pakistan’s establishment. It was the United States, the donor of $43 billion in economic and military assistance and for years Pakistan’s patron and ally.

Clearly, US-Pakistan relations are no longer just a Cold War alliance gone sour but an increasingly adversarial relationship.

As the US now deems China a major threat in the Indo-Pacific, and Pakistan continues to draw China closer because of its obsession with India, Pakistanis are keeping more and more secrets from the Americans. The Americans, on the other hand, are trying harder to uncover Pakistani secrets, pitting the two sides against one another.

The discovery of Pakistani military officers spying for the US on Pakistan’s nuclear programme also raises questions about the Pakistani establishment’s national security paradigm.

Instead of the nukes guaranteeing Pakistan’s security against India, Pakistan must now worry about the security of its nuclear weapons against adversaries other than the Indians.

But Pakistan’s establishment is unlikely to learn the right lessons and recognise that the ‘soldiers good, civilians bad’ dichotomy hurts Pakistan. It will not diminish its India obsession or understand the totality of the real threats to Pakistan (including the likelihood of economic implosion.)

We will probably soon see new lines of attack on Pakistani civilians seeking implementation of the country’s constitution and new distractions from the espionage case. And there will be the usual clamour for a new round of talks with India under the second Modi government even though the Pakistani establishment reveals no intention whatsoever to change its ways.

https://theprint.in/opinion/espionage-case-shatters-pakistan-armys-myths-and-the-belief-its-nuke-secrets-are-secure/244220/

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

SSG Commando Muddassir Iqbal of Pakistan Army

“ Commando Muddassir Iqbal was part of the team who conducted Army Public School operation on 16 December 2014. In this video he reveals that he along with other commandos was ordered to kill the innocent children inside school, when asked why should they kill children after killing all the terrorist he was told that it would be a chance to defame Taliban and get nation on the side. He and all other commandos killed children and later Taliban was blamed. Muddassir Iqbal has deserted the military and now he is  with mujahedeen somewhere in AF PAK border area” For authenticity of  this tape journalists can easy reach to his home town to interview his family members or   ISPR as he reveals his army service number” Asalam o Alaikum: My name is Muddassir Iqbal. My father’s name is Naimat Ali. I belong to Sialkot divison (Punjab province), my village is Shamsher Poor and district, tehsil and post office  Narowal. Unfortunately I was working in Pakistan army. I feel embarrassed to tell yo

CPEC Jobs in Pakistan, salary details

JOBS...نوکریاں چائنہ کمپنی میں Please help the deserving persons... Salary: Salary package in China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in these 300,000 jobs shall be on daily wages. The details of the daily wages are as follows; Welder: Rs. 1,700 daily Heavy Duty Driver: Rs. 1,700 daily Mason: Rs. 1,500 daily Helper: Rs. 850 daily Electrician: Rs. 1,700 daily Surveyor: Rs. 2,500 daily Security Guard: Rs. 1,600 daily Bulldozer operator: Rs. 2,200 daily Concrete mixer machine operator: Rs. 2,000 daily Roller operator: Rs. 2,000 daily Steel fixer: Rs. 2,200 daily Iron Shuttering fixer: Rs. 1,800 daily Account clerk: Rs. 2,200 daily Carpenter: Rs. 1,700 daily Light duty driver: Rs. 1,700 daily Labour: Rs. 900 daily Para Engine mechanic: Rs. 1,700 daily Pipe fitter: Rs. 1,700 daily Storekeeper: Rs. 1,700 daily Office boy: Rs. 1,200 daily Excavator operator: Rs. 2,200 daily Shovel operator: Rs. 2,200 daily Computer operator: Rs. 2,200 daily Security Supervisor: Rs.

A ‘European Silk Road’

publication_icon Philipp Heimberger ,  Mario Holzner and Artem Kochnev wiiw Research Report No. 430, August 2018  43 pages including 10 Tables and 17 Figures FREE DOWNLOAD The German version can be found  here . In this study we argue for a ‘Big Push’ in infrastructure investments in greater Europe. We propose the building of a European Silk Road, which connects the industrial centres in the west with the populous, but less developed regions in the east of the continent and thereby is meant to generate more growth and employment in the short term as well as in the medium and long term. After its completion, the European Silk Road would extend overland around 11,000 kilometres on a northern route from Lisbon to Uralsk on the Russian-Kazakh border and on a southern route from Milan to Volgograd and Baku. Central parts are the route from Lyon to Moscow in the north and from Milan to Constanţa in the south. The southern route would link Central Europe with the Black Sea area and