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Aug 22, 2006

Their Man in Islamabad...


By B.Raman

A hilarious novel by Graham Greene titled "Our Man in Havana" became a best-seller in the 1970s. It was about a mediocre officer of the MI-6, Britain's external intelligence agency, posted to Havana as a punishment for failing to produce any worthwhile intelligence in his career. One day he sends to his headquarters a sensational report, which he claims to have obtained from a mole, about the arrival in Cuba of a highly lethal Soviet missile for use against the US.

The MI-6 and the CIA examine the report. There is excitement in both the agencies over this intelligence coup. They inform their respective political leaders. The MI-6's man in Havana is flooded with encomiums.The more the MI-6 asks him for further details of the missile, the more he gets from his mole.

One day, the excitement in the MI-6 breaks the ceiling when they receive from their man what he claimed was a copy of the diagram of the missile.The UK Defence Department, the Pentagon and the political leaders of the two countries are informed. The British and American analysts are mystified.The missile, going by the diagram, looks like no other missile the USSR was known to have produced before.Studies are ordered as to how to counter it.

One British analyst has a vague feeling that he had seen a similar diagram somewhere before, but he cannot recall when and where.One day the vacuum cleaner in his house goes out of order.He opens it. Hey presto, he finds inside a diagram of the vacuum cleaner. He realises that what their man in Havana had sent as the diagram of a new Soviet missile, was actually the diagram of a vacuum cleaner.

There is utter consternation in the MI-6 headquarters. They call their man to London and question him. He admits that he never had a mole in the Cuban security set-up and that he had fabricated all his reports. He got the idea about the new missile while repairing his vacuum cleaner one day.

The chief of the MI-6 and his officers ask him to wait outside while they discuss his cheating.The senior officers advise the chief not to admit to the Prime Minister and the CIA that there was no such missile and that their man had made an ass of them.It would destroy the organisation's credibility and that of the chief.

They decide to request their man to apply for premature retirement and recommend to the Government that his request be accepted despite his outstanding work. They also decide to recommend him for knighthood for his outstanding performance in Havana. He remains on the records of the MI-6 one of the greatest intelligence operatives produced by the British intelligence.

One is reminded of the MI-6's Man in Havana as one watches with amazement the encomiums being showered on President Gen. Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan as a stalwart ally in the war against terrorism by President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair despite an avalanche of evidence regarding his duplicity. What is the evidence available against Musharraf so far:

* His reluctance to hand over Omar Sheikh to the Americans for questioning regarding the kidnapping and beheading of Daniel Pearl, the US journalist.
* His continued refusal to hand over A.Q.Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist, to the US for interrogation on his links with Iran,Libya,North Korea, Syria, Iraq and Al Qaeda.
* His non-co-operation in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, his No.2 Ayman al-Zawahiri and other remnants of Al Qaeda, who are now operating from Waziristan in Pakistani territory.
* His reluctance to act against Mulla Mohammed Omar, the Amir, and other leaders and cadres of the Taliban, who are killing Americans, British, Canadians, Afghans and others from their sanctuaries in Pakistani territory.
* His refusal to act against the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and its mother organisation the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD) despite the LET's global ramifications and its links with Al Qaeda.
* His indignant denials of Indian and Afghan allegations regarding the jihadi terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory, which continues to encourage terrorism in India and Afghanistan.
* His making a deal with the Taliban and Al Qaeda remnants in Waziristan under which they have agreed to observe a cease-fire inside Waziristan in return for Musharraf's closing his eyes to their raids into Afghan territory

9. And, so on and so on and so on. In spite of all this, Mr.Bush and Mr.Blair keep showering praise on Their Man in Islamabad. Their praise shows no sign of stopping despite new evidence of the General's duplicity regarding the alleged plot to blow up 10 US-bound aircraft, the discovery of which was announced dramatically by the British police on August 10, 2006.

10.Musharraf and his officials proclaimed that it was Pakistan, which discovered the plot and alerted the British about it on August 9. They projected Rashid Rauf, a British citizen of Pakistani origin, as the chief co-ordinator of the plot on behalf of the Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. What strip-tease they have been playing about Rashid Rauf!

* They said he was arrested while crossing into Pakistan from Afghanistan a week before the British announcement.
* Sections of the Pakistani media reported that he was actually arrested in Bahawalpur in southern Punjab on August 8. He had acquired an expensive house there and married the sister-in-law (wife's sister) of Maulana Masood Azhar, the Amir of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM), which was designated by the US as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation in December,2001.
* After the publication of the report of his arrest in Bahawalpur, the Pakistani officials changed their version. They said they had actually arrested an associate of Rashid Rauf while crossing over into Pakistan from Afghanistan and he led them to Rashid in Bahawalpur. They have not given the name of this associate.
* They said that the entire plot was conceived by the No.3 of Al Qaeda who, according to them, is based in Afghanistan, but they could not give his name except to say he was close to No.2 Zawahiri.
* Then, they said it was actually a son-in-law of Zawahiri, who conceived the plot and tried to use Rashid to have it executed. They gave the name of the so-called son-in-law. When it was pointed out to them that this son-in-law was reported by them earlier this year to have been killed in an American air raid in the Bajaur tribal agency, they have gone silent. Musharraf has
advised his agencies not to give any more briefings to the media.

11.Musharraf has suddenly become a stickler for the law. In the past, the Pakistani authorities had informally handed over to the Americans without following the due process of the law Mir Aimal Kansi, Ramzi Yousef, Abu Zubaidah, Ramzi Binalshib, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, Abu Faraj al-Libi and many others without informing their courts about their arrests.Abu Faraj was handed over despite the fact that he was the principal accused in the case relating to the plot to kill Musharraf in December,2003.

12.In the case of Rashid Rauf, they are following the entire procedure as laid down in the law. They informed a court of his arrest. They produced him before a magistrate and obtained his remand in police custody for interrogation. They have reportedly requested the British for a formal written application for handing him over so that they can put it up to the Magistrate for
orders. A British police team is waiting in Islamabad patiently for an opportunity to question him.

13. Any police would have been anxious to question him as urgently as possible in order to neutralise any other threat before it materialises, but not the British. It is now 10 days since the plot was discovered, but the British are yet to interrogate the so-called principal co-ordinator of it. They are showing remarkable patience.It is like a clip in slow motion from a Charlie Chaplin movie. The whole case relating to Rashid is moving at a pace which would make the proverbial snail look a great sprinter.

14. Rashid Rauf may well go down in history as the terrorist, whom nobody wanted to interrogate. The Pakistanis don't want to interrogate him too much lest their duplicity be exposed.The British and the Americans don't want to be in a hurry to interrogate lest their own gullibility be exposed.Moreover, there is a great danger if it comes out that they again let themselves be taken for a ride by Musharraf.Not only will their credibility be in ruins, but they
may even face claims for damages from airline companies and passengers, who incurred losses amounting to billions of dollars as a result of the drama staged by the British police.

15. The only way of avoiding all this is to persist with the drama and to go on showering encomiums and lollipops on Musharraf. It would be dangerous to admit that he was a trickster, who took them for a ride. Better to let him go down in history as the world's greatest warrior against terrorism and as the hero of the discovery of a plot to blow up 10 US-bound planes.

16. They sink or swim with Their Man in Islamabad.

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