Yesterday I wrote of media reports saying that the Obama administration had written to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, ‘saying he expects the Pakistani leader to rally political and national security institutions in a united campaign against extremists’. It now seems that Blackwater, the US mercenary company, may well have been responsible for a series of bombings aimed specifically at civilians in an effort to alienate the Pakistani people from the Taliban.
In a recent video, Taliban spokesman, Azam Tariq, denied that the Taliban were responsible for a suicide bombing at the International Islamic University in Islamabad on 20 October 2009, and the massive car-bombing that indiscriminately killed scores of civilians at a market in Peshawar, a bombing that coincided with a visit by Hillary Clinton to Pakistan, on 28 October 2009. What gives Tariq’s statement credibility is the fact that, first, the Taliban, as can be seen in the video, are quite happy to claim responsibility for those bombings that were against police and security facilities which they see as legitimate targets. Second, it would not at all be in the Taliban’s interest to indiscriminately murder the very people, particularly in Peshawar where most of the people are Pashtun, that offer the Taliban most support and from whom the Taliban draw new recruits.
Tariq claims that Blackwater mercenaries working in conjunction with Pakistani security, the ISI, are responsible for the bombings. According to a report in the Pakistani online newspaper ‘The Nation’, some 202 Blackwater mercenaries arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday, 3 November 2009 on a flight out of Heathrow, London, though the report did not mention the purpose of their being in Pakistan saying only that authorities at Islamabad airport had allowed the men into Pakistan without any of the normal checks for visas, etc. The same report also noted that ex-Army Chief of Staff, Mirza Aslam Beg, had claimed “that former President Pervez Musharraf had given Blackwater the green signal to carry out its terrorist operations in the cities of Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Quetta”.
Many Blackwater employees are currently accommodated at the Pearl Continental luxury hotel in Peshawar, a building which has been earmarked for purchase by the US government for use as a future US consulate. They are in Peshawar “to provide security for a US-backed aid project in the area”, though what kind of ’aid’ they are providing ‘security’ for has not been specified.
As well as bombings, it seems Blackwater operatives have also recently been involved in the targeted killings of several Pakistani military officers; presumably these were officers who had been discovered to have had sympathies or ties with the Taliban.
Looking at the broader picture, one might ask; what would be the purpose of pushing Pakistan toward civil war? The answer is simple: Once having pushed Pakistan to the brink of such a crisis, the situation would be so critical that it would provide an ideal opportunity for the US to step in to support a pro-US government in Pakistan and also to secure Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. It would also provide the opportunity for the US to overtly fight the Taliban on Pakistani soil.
Obviously, the US military are unable to undertake any of these tasks – yet; but Blackwater mercenaries, already in Pakistan providing security to a ‘US-backed aid project’, are in a position to ruthlessly and covertly exploit an already potentially lethal political situation between the Pakistan government and the Taliban.
A very senior Australian defence public servant who I spoke to about the situation between the Taliban and Pakistan told me that ‘in a year or so Pakistan will be Australia’s, and the West’s, biggest headache but that there were plans to deal with it’.
That was in October of last year.