Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Independent & Omar Waraich have it all wrong

It used to be that journalists used to write and truth and stand behind their stories. Today the “so called opinion writers” simply regurgitate false stories, quoting nebulas sources and shady characters. The story published in the independent is full of holes. Mr. Waraich may have an exe to ground, but the least he could have done was quote Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto correctly. Mr. Waraich didn’t even get the most simplest of his tasks right. Mr. Waraich’s entire story is based upon the Seymour Hersh, whom he calls “a respectable journalist”.

Mr. Hersch writes for a magazine that oscillates between the National Inquirer and the written version of the elitist NPR. What can one expect from a magazine that bills itself “the best magazine in the world—perhaps that greatest that ever was”.

Mr. Hersh is “respectable” in fits and starts. His claim to fame was the sensational expose of the Mail Lai massacre of innocent villagers in Vietnam. Since then his pieces are replications of same of similar articles. For example Mr. Hersh’s current article on Pakistani nukes closely resembles the article he wrote while President Pervez Musharraf was in office. That article caused much consternation between Islamabad and Washington with president Musharraf confronting the American president with a copy of the New Yorker. Mr. Bush vehemently denied that any “Delta Force” was poised to take over Pakistani. That story by Mr. Hersh turned out to a lot of bluster. Mr. Hersh’s articles on Tehran’s Nuclear program and the impending US attack on Iran also were of the sensational variety. Mr. Hersh tells a good yarn. For the past three or four years Mr. Hersh has repeatedly published stories about how the US and or Isreal was about to attack Iran. Mr. Hersh’s articles seemed to be well researched and identified the warship movements (real or imaginary), the trips of US officials to various capitals (incidental or deliberate), the placement of US and Israeli war planes (cross-referenced or creative license, and the so called Saudi complicity in the Israeli attack. Well it has been eight years since we have reading Mr. Hersh on the attack on Iran—the Bush presidency came and went and the Obama presidency is will into its first term. However the attacks have not really materialized—except for the subversive activities that have been conducted by Mossad, the CIA and MI6 in Khuzistan (Arabistan) and Sistan.

Mr. Hersh after commenting on the story on the Abu Ghraib prisons made the wild accusation that he had proof of women’s rape centers in Iraq, and once the pictures of the raped women were exposed, the entire Middle East would explode. The pictures or proof of the “women’s Abu Ghraib” never actually materialized.

So on balance one doesn’t know what to believe. 

Both the US and the Pakistani governments have denied the stories.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- The United States has no intention of taking control of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal as Islamabad deals with a growing insurgent threat, Washington said.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh writing in The New Yorker implies Washington and Islamabad have made arrangements that "would allow specially trained American units to provide added security for the Pakistani arsenal in case of a crisis."

Gen. Tariq Majid, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff for the Pakistani military, bluntly rejected the allegations, noting Pakistan had the resources to protect its nuclear material, Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reports.

"Our security apparatus has the capacity and is fully geared to meet all conceivable challenges, therefore we do not need to negotiate with any other country to physically augment our security forces, which in any case, we believe, are more capable than their forces," he stressed.

His comments were echoed by Ian Kelly, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, who told reporters that while Washington does offer assistance in terms of security and other initiatives, there are no plans to seize Pakistani nuclear materials.

"We have confidence in the ability of the Pakistani government to provide adequate security for their nuclear programs and materials," he said. "And we have a number of security assistance initiatives that are focused on strengthening counterinsurgency capacities to foster stability."

Mr. Warachi’s article in Reuters should of course be re-classified as opinion and taken out of the news story arena.

Pakistan's nuclear-capable air-launched Ra'ad cruise missile is paraded in Islamabad during National Day in 2008REUTERS

Pakistan's nuclear-capable air-launched Ra'ad cruise missile is paraded in Islamabad during National Day in 2008

Pakistan's military has angrily insisted that its nuclear weapons arsenal is safely protected and denounced claims that it is secretly negotiating with the United States to allow teams of American specialists to provide added security in the event of a crisis.

In a rare public statement, General Tariq Majid, chairman of Pakistan's Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, said claims that it was discussing "understandings" with the US that could even see the specialists spirit sophisticated nuclear triggers out of the country to prevent them falling into the wrong hands were "absurd and plain mischievous". "There is absolutely no question of sharing or allowing any foreign individual, entity or state, any access to sensitive information about our nuclear assets," he added.

His comments came after the publication of an article in The New Yorker by the respected investigative reporter Seymour Hersh which claimed that deepening concern within the Obama administration about the situation inside Pakistan had persuaded Washington that more needed to be done to protect the stockpile of a country that it considers an important regional ally.

The article also claimed that the threat could come from Islamist elements within the military or intelligence establishment as well as militants. It quotes a former US intelligence official as saying: "The Pakistanis gave us a virtual look at the number of warheads, some of their locations, and their command-and-control system ... We got their security plans, so we could augment them in case of a breach of security."

Mr. Warachi took the Hersh article and applied what would be called “mirch masala” (spices) using creative license and pronto he had an article for the Independent—another paycheck earned.

What Mr. Warachi forgot to mention is the fact that most of the Omar quotes are actually false. Pakistani nuke facilities have not been attacked thrice. There is no truth to this charge. One attack on the employees of PINSTECH riding in (Saddar Rawalpindi not withstanding).

This is not the first time that concerns have been raised about the security of Pakistan's arsenal, estimated to contain between 80 and 100 warheads, as the country continues to be rocked with militant violence. Earlier this year it was claimed that facilities connected with the nuclear programme had been attacked on three occasions in the past two years, leading Pakistan to insist that there was no danger to its weapons.

Professor Shaun Gregory, director of the Pakistan Security Research Unit at the University of Bradford, whose report earlier this year was dismissed by Islamabad, said there were two main threats: from militants carrying out increasingly sophisticated attacks and seemingly armed with inside information, and from the "collusion" of those inside the military with militant Islamist sympathies. "If you look at the military there is no doubt that it is shot through with Islamist sympathisers and has increasingly moved away from the West as it has been asked to turn its guns on its own people," he added.

Pakistan has long bristled at suggestions that its nuclear arsenal, guarded by a half-million-strong army and a three-layer National Command Authority security system, could slip into the hands of Taliban militants. Government officials point to statements from senior American and British counterparts as proof that the Islamic world's only nuclear deterrent is not imperilled.

Beating a  dead horse is a favorite past time of negligent writers who want to sensationalize old dead stories. The bogey of the Pakistani nukes always fills dead space on a slow news day. Mr. Waraich can keep brining up the meeting minutes of the “Flat earth Society”—that won’t make the issue pertinent to the planet. If Mr. Warachi had any semblance of journalistic ethics he would have checked out the false stories he quoted in a cavalier manner. Mr. Waraich also did not have the courtesy of contacting the Pakistani Defense Department of the Ministry of Foreign affairs and get their side of the story. Of course he has an agenda—he is a tool for the dissemination of bad propaganda against Pakistan. The same newspapers pushed the “proof” of WMDs in Iraq. Today these very same pages “find” new scoops on Pakistani or Iranian nukes.

But the question is a nagging one, and returned last month after militants subjected the Pakistani army hq in Rawalpindi to a 22-hour siege. While the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said that the attack was evidence that militants "are increasingly threatening the authority of the state," she insisted: "We have confidence in the Pakistani government and military's control over its nuclear weapons." Mrs Clinton's "confidence" may owe something to the fact that since the attacks of September 2001 the US has done much to help Pakistan secure its arsenal. Two years ago it was reported that Washington had spent $100m to boost security and improve the vetting of those working with nuclear weapons. Such efforts may have been hampered by legal restraints in aiding a country that has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but there was also concern about sharing too much sensitive technology – including the so-called "permissive action links" or Pals, a system used to prevent a device from detonating without proper codes.

The New Yorker report, which has also been denied by Anne Patterson, the US ambassador in Islamabad, claimed that this summer a highly classified military and civil emergency response team was put on alert after getting a report that a Pakistan nuclear component had gone missing. The team, Hersh claimed, was scrambled from Andrews Air Force Base, outside Washington, and apparently dispatched to Pakistan. By the time it was revealed that the report was false the team had already reached Dubai.

A Pentagon spokesman in Washington confirmed that the US was providing some training and equipment to Pakistan to improve its nuclear security but denied any intention to seize its nuclear arsenal. And analysts said it was all but inconceivable that Islamabad would acquiesce. One Western expert on Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, who asked not to be identified, said: "The Pakistanis would not share this nuclear information with the US. And to believe you can send in a couple of helicopters full of snake-eaters [special forces troops] and get the weapons simply does not work."

Mr. Warachi the effulgent Google jockey has once again proved the axim “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. This particular article is of the couch potato variety has little to offer except regurgitation of old hackneyed rhetoric that is dated and incorrect.

The Islamic bomb: Pakistan's pride

* Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was determined to deny rival India a nuclear monopoly. In 1965, the future prime minister said: "If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry." In 1972 he gave the go-ahead to a nuclear programme. Today, Pakistan is estimated to have 80 to 100 weapons.

* Bhutto was toppled in 1977, but the dictator who hanged him followed the same nuclear compulsions. During General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq's rule, Dr A Q Khan, the "father" of Pakistan's bomb, boasted to a senior Indian journalist that Pakistan was "a screwdriver's turn away from developing an Islamic bomb".

* Strenuous US efforts to halt the programme failed in the 1990s. When in 1998 India staged tests, Pakistan responded in kind. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's popularity briefly soared, but severe sanctions ensued.

* In 2004, Dr Khan tearfully confessed that he had sold nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea. He was dismissed but later pardoned; the US was barred from interrogating him. Today he is no longer under house arrest, but his movements remain restricted. UK Independent. US 'wants to guard Pakistan's nuclear arsenal'. Omar Waraich

US wants to guard Pakistan’s Nucleaer weapons. Concern that weapons could fall into enemy hands prompted drastic plan, claims 'New Yorker' report By Andrew Buncombe and Omar Waraich in Islamabad Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Mr. Waraich banks on unconfirmed reports and innuendo. A similar article on the Israeli Nuclear plant got the journalist life imprisonment from which there is no escape. If Mr. Waraich had sensationalized the US or UK nukes in the same manner, he would have either been sent to Gitmo or been a victim of the Patriots Act—never to be heard from again.

His attack on a vulnerable country has huge implications for all people of Pakistani origin. Mr. Warach does not realize that it is exactly this sort of nonsense that creates Anti-Pakistanism and Pakistanphobia which impacts people’s earning power, employment and affect the lives of millions.

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