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Reconstruct or Deconstruct Pakistan?

Irshad Salim

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August 30, 2010

NEW YORK: Former CIA agent Duane Clarridge, who was indicted in 1991 in connection with the Iran-Contra affair, has reemerged in Pakistan.

According to website wsws.org, Clarridge is now running one of many Pentagon-funded private contractors operating in Pakistan to provide intelligence to the US military.

Only this time the feisty former intelligence officer, who left the agency more than 20 years ago, is back in the saddle as a private citizen in the ongoing covert war to "reconstruct or deconstruct" Pakistan. Pick your choice depending on which side of the philosophical plain of the so-called "war on terror" you are saddled on.

The Los Angeles Times reported, back in 2004 that the former intelligence operative joined forces with a group of conservative activists, shortly after his departure from the CIA.

That group used Ahmed Chalabi as a vehicle to overthrow Saddam Hussein in Iraq and replaced him with a pro-American head.

Clarridge has even been accused of forging the infamous Niger letter that led to the infamous series of lies to Congress known simply as weapons of mass destruction, wrote Jayne Lyn Stahl. Stahl is a widely published poet, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA.

Fred Branfman reporting in AlterNet said about Clarridge: "Latin American Station Chief Duane "Dewey" Clarridge organized, trained, and operated local paramilitary and death squads throughout Central and Latin America that brutally tortured and murdered tens of thousand of civilians."

According to published reports, documents declassified during Bill Clinton’s administration, show that covert operatives were placed inside Chile to destabilize Allende’s government, and prevent what was feared to be a Marxist takeover. Allende was replaced with Pinochet. Clarridge at that time was CIA’s Latin American Station Chief.

"I’ll bet you can’t count more than 200" who were killed under Pinochet during his notorious bloody coup, said Clarridge to an interviewer. "Sometimes, unfortunately, things have to be changed in an ugly way." For simply "national security interests."

While Clarridge retired, the CIA hasn’t, and is said to play a large part in destabilizing efforts in Pakistan and Iran, notes Stahl.

The private contractors in Pakistan helping US military Ops may now be taking commands from Duane "Dewey" Clarridge, Stahl observes.

President Obama as well know has not only continued, he has in fact expanded the murderous operations that were waged under the banner of the "war on terror" by the CIA and Pentagon during the Bush administration. The recent NY Times lengthy article, "A Secret Assault on Terrorism Widens on Two Continents", details it all.

CIA’s drone missile attacks have been dramatically intensified against alleged insurgents inside areas of northwest Pakistan bordering Afghanistan. At least 700 Pakistani civilians were killed in these attacks during 2009. The number in 2010 is much higher. These strikes continue with impunity in the flood-ravaged country.

According to the article, the CIA and military operatives involved in Afghan Jihad war are directing or intimately involved in the present operations in AfPak (Afghanistan and Pakistan). It’s not just Clarridge and so many yet unknown operatives out there in and around Islamabad carrying out both overt and covert activities. Most seem to have experience in fighting a "faceless" war.

Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Vickers, who oversees the Pentagon’s expanding Special Operation Command, was a senior CIA agent who helped direct its huge covert war to oust the Soviet-backed regime in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
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The CIA as is generally known, helped arm and train not only the Afghan mujahedin, but also assisted the thousands of Islamist militants from the Middle East, North Africa and Asia who passed through Al Qaeda (the Base) to fight in Afghanistan.

Vickers, along with Defense Secretary (and former CIA head) Robert Gates, was one of several top officials appointed by Bush and kept in place by Obama.

So you have three important covert war players in the Afghan Jihad Theater now War Against Terror Theater: Clarridge, Vickers, Gates.

And the White House is benefiting from "a unique political landscape," in Pakistan with support garnered from all major players – Peoples Party, ANP, MQM – including PML-Nawaz. The Kerry-Lugar-Berman – a bipartisan aid bill for Pakistan, and promises of more, bind these parties’ hopes and wishes together.

In a sign of things to come, according to the article, Obama last month appointed John Bennett to head the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, formerly known as the Directorate of Operations.

Among his previous assignments, Bennett headed the CIA’s Special Activities Division, which handles highly sensitive spying and paramilitary missions.

According to Newsweek, his last posting was as CIA station chief in Islamabad, where he was intimately involved in supervising drone missile strikes inside Pakistan.

Has all these led to destabilizing Pakistan? "Obama’s extension of the Afghan war into neighboring Pakistan, has not only undermined the government in Islamabad and triggered a dangerous civil war, but is destabilizing relations with India and throughout the Indian subcontinent, the article observes," observes wsws.org in its news analysis.

"As the US aggressively pursues its interests through military means—overt and covert—its actions cut directly across the strategic interests of other major powers such as China, and threaten to provoke broader conflicts."

Given the above developments and likely scenarios, Gen Kayani’s three-year extension in tenure, becomes not only significant but meaningful. Measures to preempt coming even close to the corridors of power by the right-wing popular Nawaz party and affiliates are already in the works. It is in nobody’s interest – whether it is the international players or the establishment to let this happen, said one observer. Too much is at stake. It’s reconstruct Pakistan or deconstruct Pakistan.

It’s a regional issue, no longer a Pakistan, an Afghanistan, or for that matter a Pakistan-Afghanistan issue, said another observer.

Shall we then see some peaceful democratic change in the way Pakistan is being governed now? My answer to that is probably a yes! How soon? Don’t know. Ask the croupier, the dice is already loaded!


To be continued…








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