Eavesdropping on Iran: ‘US pressing for listening posts in Balochistan’

Published: February 20, 2012

Officials say the recent US hearing and subsequent bill on the troubled province are part of ambitions to keep an eye on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

ISLAMABAD: 

Everyone wants to have a hand to play in Balochistan.

The latest player to unmask itself is the United States. Even as tensions brew between Pakistan and the US over a resolution introduced in the US House of Representatives seeking sovereignty for the volatile province, officials reveal that the US has been pushing Islamabad for permission to establish bases in Balochistan for intelligence operations against bordering Iran.

“Like always, things are not what they look like, and how they unfold … lies at the heart of all (this). The outburst in America for Balochistan is part of an ambition to set up intelligence bases close to the Iranian border,” an official told The Express Tribune on Sunday, indicating that the Congressional hearing and proposed resolution were playing their part as pressure tactics.

“They (Americans) want to use our soil against Iran, which we can never allow,” said the official, who did not want to be named.

Three officials, two from the security agencies and one from diplomatic circles, confirmed to The Express Tribune that American diplomats and military leaders have been requesting permission for their agents to operate near the Iranian border in Balochistan.

The revelation came days after a bill was moved in the House of Representatives, blaming Pakistani security agencies for forceful disappearances and extra-judicial killings in Balochistan and calling for the liberation of the country’s largest province. It also follows the visit of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Pakistan for a trilateral summit.

Officials said that ostensibly, US authorities were seeking Pakistan’s permission to establish bases in Balochistan, claiming to counter the activities of the Afghan Taliban, whom they blame for operating out of the provincial capital under the umbrella of the so-called Quetta Shura. Islamabad, however, denies the presence of any such Taliban shura or council.

The proposed resolution adds to the rising chorus of voices across the country pointing fingers over the troubles of the violence-ridden province, including the Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) which has vowed to introduce a resolution in the National Assembly, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and even the Pakistan Bar Council among others.

The international front

Running parallel to the Balochistan saga is the recent rising concern in the West over purported Iranian ambitions to build nuclear arsenal. Reports in the recent past suggest American and Israeli authorities are starting to run out of patience, and the threat of Israeli military action against defiant Iran is a growing one.

Just last week, President Ahmadinejad reportedly urged Pakistani authorities to disallow Americans from reinforcing their presence at a consulate in Quetta.

Trilateral summit statement

Earlier last week, a joint declaration was issued at the conclusion of the Pakistan-Iran-Afghanistan summit in Islamabad, where all three sides vowed to put up collective resistance to any new misadventure by any force in the region.

Experts say the statement was a veiled reference to American ambitions to put an end to Iran’s nuclear drive.

In December last year, President Asif Ali Zardari delivered a speech at a gathering of Pakistan Peoples Party workers, saying he would never allow his country to become part of any other war theatre in the region.

“We are the well wishers of all and don’t want to make any more enemies,” the president said in remarks that officials interpreted as a snub to American pressure seeking permission for anti-Iran intelligence operations.

(Read: A troubled land)

Published in The Express Tribune, February 20th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (39)

  • Feb 20, 2012 - 6:25AM

    America will start the Iran war, which i wouldn’t be able to handle and in the end all the blame will come to Pakistan,

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  • Cautious
    Feb 20, 2012 - 7:13AM

    I’ve just now realized that we( the U.S) will always need Pakistan.

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  • Disco
    Feb 20, 2012 - 7:36AM

    Is this the first time ET has actually listened to its own (Pakistani) diplomats and intelligence officials rather than copy/pasting whatever Pentagon tells CNN/BBC to print? Finally our English Print media is maturing, thought this day would never come.

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  • sidrah khan
    Feb 20, 2012 - 7:47AM

    so,when the pakistani govt. officially refused to let USA set up their posts and offices in balochistan,now the americans have taken the indirect route and are working to separate balochistan from pakistan so they can use it as they like for actions against iran.they never liked our taking gas supplies from iran,so they have been regularly blowing up gas pipelines over the last many years to send us a message that no gas pipeline from iran would be tolerated and will be blown up if any are constructed.

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  • usmanx
    Feb 20, 2012 - 8:32AM

    Cautious, you are an Indian, doesn’t matter if you live in U.S., you still obsess over Pakistan.

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Feb 20, 2012 - 8:35AM

    Another fifty years of donation is confirmed if americas economy stables…..

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  • M. A. Changezi
    Feb 20, 2012 - 8:47AM

    Doesn’t it all make sense now? First, the US took off with accusations that the so called “Quetta Shura” poses threat to the US interest. Then they, out of the blues, became a well wisher of Balochistan saying, “we would have a consulate in Quetta to promote education and development”. When things didn’t work out well for them, they now resorted to a pathetic strategy of an independent state.

    Hell no, it ain’t happening. I am from Balochistan and would not approve of such a move. The US wants presence in Balochistan to keep an eye on Iran. For that they will do whatever it takes to push Pakistan to allow them in Balochistan.

    My request to all Baloch, Pashtun, Hazara, Punjabi, Muhajir, Hindu, Sikh, Christians and whoever live there is, “please do not fall for the US’s words. The US will bury you alive once they’re done with their mission”. We do not want the US as our friend or enemy for that matter. Like my late mother used to say, “enmity or friendship of police, lawyers and doctors must be avoided”.

    Long live Pakistan.

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  • Jahangir
    Feb 20, 2012 - 8:52AM

    Pakistan will suffer the most just like Pakistan is suffering the most because of U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

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  • John B
    Feb 20, 2012 - 9:20AM

    After all PAK allowed its soil for US to fly U2 bomber to spy on Russians in 60-70s and later to fight Russians. Why should Iran be any different.

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  • Mehar
    Feb 20, 2012 - 9:30AM

    Wake up dormant politicians!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Akhtar
    Feb 20, 2012 - 9:35AM

    The American’s with the Saudi support will get what they want from us. We’ll not be able to say NO to UAE/Saudi, because all our leaders, civilian & military, have vested interests in these countries! They are king makers in Pakistan. Even Musharraf went to saudi to seek theblessing & approval for return to Pakistan to contest election.

    Am not a Sunni & I would not approve of meddling into affairs of Iran! Iran doesn’t involve in Pakistans affairs, then why should we.

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  • O B Server
    Feb 20, 2012 - 9:42AM

    A base in Pakistan will give US free hand (again) in Pakistan as well as keep an eye on Iran Afghanistan and South-Western China, and even India. The US does not need Pakistan as much as Pakistan needs U$.
    US can easily gather intelligence on Iran from an offshore based ship, but cannot send Davises/mercenaries/spies (i think they call them contractors these days) across Pakistan- Iran border!.

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  • Gaga Khan
    Feb 20, 2012 - 10:17AM

    At present US is using Afghan consulate in Quetta for their dirty works. US already has listening station in Makran coastal belt with head stations in Qatar and Oman and now they want another listening station somewhere near Zhob district of Baluchistan. US also has strong foothold in Chaghi district of Baluchistan, US funded education programs in Chaghi district are mainly dedicated to espionage against Iran, in the name of teacher’s training and skill development US is recruiting Jundullah terrorist and using this district as launching pad.

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  • YeaRight!
    Feb 20, 2012 - 10:22AM

    @ObServer
    You are quiet right. If they want listening posts, they have plenty of friends in the gulf or they can just park their aircraft carriers in the arabian sea to listen. Stay out of Baluchistan US, unless you want Pakistan to be your next Afghanistan.

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  • human
    Feb 20, 2012 - 10:31AM

    Now I understand who was busy in genocide of Hazara tribe in Balochistan, this was made to make sure to push them to the extend that they could not be able to offer any resistance in future,

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  • Haris Javed
    Feb 20, 2012 - 11:03AM

    do something before its too late.. .

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  • Cautious
    Feb 20, 2012 - 11:07AM

    The American’s have submarines, satellites, etc and already monitor all internet and telephone traffic in the World — I seriously doubt that American needs Balochistan intelligence outposts to monitor Iran – it’s more likely they want to keep intelligence agents there to monitor the nefarious activities of Pakistan. Further – it’s pathetic when others use my moniker on this forum.

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  • Nazir Ahmed
    Feb 20, 2012 - 11:48AM

    @Gaga Khan

    . I believe you are living closer to the area and thus have such information. If some NGO is working in Chaghi to do what you have indicated, you must snesitise the Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary Balochistan to stop such work. Work of all NGOs can be closely monitored in this sparsely populated area and it must be done by the provincial government.

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  • siddiqui
    Feb 20, 2012 - 11:59AM

    This is the true agenda “keep bad eyes on Irannuclear program” of US behind the resolution introduced in the US house. US must relinquish its double standards. It ignores Israels nuclear program even though undeclared while imposes sanctions against Iran even though the latter has signed the NPT and has the legal international right to use nuclear energy for civilian purposes. Even IAEA has never reported any illegal Iranian act. Then what is wrong with US admin? Its very afraid on the other hand US nation has been always silent on the stance of their government. Current situation is this, due to few peoples wrongful acts it has been resulted to hatred towards the whole US nation. Which should not be? We Pakistani will not allow our soil to US admin for her wrong intention towards Iran.

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  • Waqas Butt
    Feb 20, 2012 - 12:12PM

    Pakistan should snub USA for good. Americans have already made their intentions clear of dividing Pakistan and to make it fast they need a foothold in Balouchistan. Unless we we wouldn’t teach americans a lesson they will keep comming threatening Pakistan’s security.

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  • Feb 20, 2012 - 1:21PM

    Pakistan should keep itself away from Ian-Israel-US love, US is just disturbing the peace of world and spreading anarchy, The only country which used its nuclear arsenal twice is threatening other for making such ones, Hypocrites

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  • ahmed
    Feb 20, 2012 - 1:33PM

    I think there too much speculation. And this is an attempt by the establishment to create a threat perception about Balochistan so that their presence can be maintained. Recent hard core criticism of deep state in the media, this kind of news was expected. It is very easy to mend public perception pakistan bcoz here “fear of life” is very high and cost very low….

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  • Feb 20, 2012 - 2:46PM

    It proves that there are no human right violation in Balochistan. Period.

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  • FJ
    Feb 20, 2012 - 2:49PM

    We the Shias of Pakistan will NEVER let this happen!! Our inspiration is not Saudia or Osma Bin Laden, we are the followers of Prophet PBUH and his Progeny …so beware !!

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  • Feb 20, 2012 - 2:57PM

    @John B: That was the biggest and irretrievable blunder committed by the GOP.

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  • Kazmi
    Feb 20, 2012 - 3:03PM

    @sidrah khan you are absolutely right,one of the major goal of US is to flop Pak-Iran gas pipeline besides many other. US will try to use sentiments of angry Baloch brothers to create all sorts of hurdles in the project both during and after construction. Energy is the basic need for development, besides instability due to siding with US war on terror, energy crisis is another cause of flight of investors from Pakistan. Pakistan will keep suffering billions to economy and thousands in life if it remains part of US plans, its time for the unity and sacrifice especially from our elite class. If our agriculture produces enough to feed and people determination and will remain strong to face all sorts of challenges and problems world poses to us, we will InshaAllah stand successful to make a difference. Lets start with justice with our Baloch brothers and things need to done not on snail pace but at emergency basis.

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  • Fareed
    Feb 20, 2012 - 3:46PM

    The reality of all the problems anywhere in Pakistan is because the general public does not get to hear the truth. Today, wars are not fought by guns and barrels – they are fought with the media and capturing the minds of the masses. Specially in case of Balochistan – the army should somehow expose the external forces that are involved in balochistan (if there are some) – either themselves or through media.

    – “Wars are fought by capturing people’s minds not by force” –

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  • Nadir
    Feb 20, 2012 - 5:11PM

    The US has bases in Afghanistan, Turkey, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait, if they needed to setup listening posts why wouldnt they just do it there, rather than stir a hornets nest in Pakistan? in this day in age why would they need to setup “listening posts” in Pakistan or anywhere else for that matter, are we back in the 1960s? Iran accuses America of planting stuxnet viruses in its defence and nuclear computer systems, and yet here they need listening posts?

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  • ali
    Feb 20, 2012 - 6:32PM

    Dear All,
    Agreeing with the most majority opinion, i would recommend the pakistani authorities to not allow US consulate in balouchistan, as if the war broke-out b/w US and IRAn, the we(pakistani) will face severe sectarian clashes which will allow India to take the benifit from this and the other problems, created from this will be unstopable…….

    NO TO US CONSULATE IN BALOUCHISTAN!!!!

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  • sohaib
    Feb 20, 2012 - 6:47PM

    Pakistan must not allow itself to be used against neighbors. But this unfortunately has been our policy whenever a genius from GHQ forcefully takes over our country. We have alienated Afghanistan by looking at it through a narrow security prism. We have allowed NATO supplies to strengthen occupation and foreign power’s divisive role in the region. All that for a very little benefit that is barely perceptible. What our luminaries from GHQ dont understand is that in pursuit of our security interests, which are very legitimate and genuine, we have lost on the economic front and also undermined civilian institutions by compromising with corrupt and incorrigible politicians. The way forward is to stop cooperation in this war and dont take part in any future adventure. And please get some self-respect Pakistan! Learn to stand on your own feet.

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  • Feroz
    Feb 20, 2012 - 8:12PM

    Whatever be the truth to this allegation, it will do little to restore relations between the two countries. The fact that these issues find its way to press could infuriate the US to tighten the screws on Pakistan.

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  • Z.Khan
    Feb 20, 2012 - 8:40PM

    the meeting with Iranian President was just an exercise of sit ups and reach ups. Just to fool the nation. Insiders knew that meeting with President Karzai failed as he insisted on producing the top notches of Taliban including Mullah Omar. Iranians also have been cheated many a times before also and might be this time too. Now the biggest fear is those who make decisions about security and foreign polices might had not already agreed this consession to USA. Some times such piece meal news are intentionally leaked to get the reactions. Sad part of Pakistan is that main decision are made some where else not in Islamabad. Who knew it that Shamsi Base was with US for many years. Who will ever come to know that listening posts have already not been permitted along Iran borders. There is no system of independent confirmations. Baluchistan bordering Iran is a no go areas and no one has access to it. So one has just to digest what ever is being fed.Recommend

  • Balochi22
    Feb 20, 2012 - 9:27PM

    @ahmed you got it right it buddy,@fj you are mean and you can’t think beyond sectarian bigotry@ali, ya you can have a US consulate in Karachi, one in Lahore, and a embassy in Islamabad, why would it hurt to have one in Quetta or Khuzdar or any where in Balochistan? The truth is that we need to wrangle free the Iranian Balochistan which Iranians are ruling with a iron fist in the name of religion.If Pakistani establishment is not willing to pay a price for that or see whats right for them in the long run then Pakistani Balochistan shall be set free before more blood is shed

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  • Pollack
    Feb 21, 2012 - 12:37AM

    I won’t be surprised if the pak government agrees to this for the “right price” dispite the “brotherly” Islamic relations with Iran. Ummah in action.

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  • Harry Stone
    Feb 21, 2012 - 4:16AM

    I am sure the source for this story is a PAK. It is typical of PAK that there is some other reason for any action other than what is the truth. The truth is PAK has surpressed Balochistan and the world is finding out. To imply some other reason is just wishful thinking by PAK. Besides the US does not need this collection site..

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  • Akbar Khan
    Feb 21, 2012 - 6:15AM

    Pakistan has just learned of the request but I am more than sure that USA already is doing it in Balochistan and PAKISTAN has either allowed it (lying to citizens) or Pakistan does not know about it.

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  • Mard-e-Haq
    Feb 21, 2012 - 9:59AM

    This will make it easy for Balochistan to break away from Pakistan. Whoever agrees to this self-destructive deal is a traitor to his nation.

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  • hina
    Feb 21, 2012 - 12:30PM

    Shouldn’t USA sort out their own domestic issues or do they want the oil and resources of Iran now. I think Israel is pestering USA to pester Pakistan as they both don’t like either countries getting wealthy without them both being on Iran’s or Pakistan’s payroll. Whosoever well the group of people in Pakistan who give USA any base should be arrested and charged for treason as they have no soul and no brain. It is high time so called developed countries stop bullying other countries to give them what they want when morally and legally they have no right whatsoever!

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  • Ozymandias
    Feb 21, 2012 - 7:10PM

    @M. A. Changezi:
    That’s right. It’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you. And they are.

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