Patriotism, treason, and bounty hunters

Published: February 9, 2012
The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto

The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto

It is an undeniable fact my friends, that our blessed country has become synonymous with the very worst acts of terrorism carried out across the world and with those caught in the planning stages of such attacks. More than that we have the distinction of playing host to every no-good bum and Yahoo who ever got it into his head to become a ‘martyr’.

Whether it was the beauty Richard Reid, the almost shoe-bomber; or the even more beauteous Jose Padilla, the wannabe ‘dirty bomber’, they were welcomed in this country not once, but several times. I have often demanded of the FO and the Interior Ministry to go into the records of our missions in the UK and in the US to find out just who repeatedly issued visas to these two homeless, criminal jailbirds? One has to use sifarish to get ones friends: academics; business people; known personalities a visa to visit the Land of the Poor, and this lot just breezed in!?

The long and the short of it is that we are now the hub of terror, like it or not, and we have, most times grudgingly, caught and handed over the bad boys. On March 2, 2002, barely six months after the Twin Towers were attacked by al Qaeda, Abu Zubeidah aka Zeinul Abedin, thought to be the terrorist organisation’s operational chief and with head money of five million dollars, was apprehended in the industrial town of Faisalabad and handed over to the Americans.

On September 15, 2002 another notorious al Qaeda operative called Ramzi Binalshibh was arrested in Karachi and handed over to the FBI.

On March 1, 2003, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, thought to be the mastermind of the WTC attacks, was arrested in Rawalpindi and also handed over to the FBI.

On March 16, 2003, Yassir al-Jaziri, aka ‘the computer wizard’, ‘the banker to the Shiekh (Osama bin Laden)’, and the seventh-most important al-Qaeda member worldwide, was arrested in Lahore along with three other al-Qaeda operatives. All four were, as before, handed over to the Americans.

In April 2003, Khalid bin Attash aka Walid bin Attish, suspected of being responsible for the attack on the American naval ship USS Cole at Aden, was captured in Karachi. He too was handed over to the US authorities.

On July 30, 2004, the accused mastermind of the explosions that targeted the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Khalfan Ghailani was arrested from the city of Gujrat. He was given into American custody.

In August 2004, another so-called al Qaeda ‘computer wizard’, and thought to be a close associate of Khalfan Ghailani, Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan, was arrested in Lahore and was also handed over to the Americans.

On May 2, 2005, a very senior al Qaeda planner Abu Faraj al-Libi aka Mustafa al-Uzayti, was arrested in Mardan, and was too handed over to the Americans.

In May 2006, Mustafa Setmarian Nasar, the main accused in the brutal Madrid train bombings was captured in the city of Quetta and, you guessed it, was handed over to the Americans.

On January 29, 2008 Abu Laith al-Libi, a top al Qaeda commander and a trusted lieutenant of Osama bin Laden, was killed by a US missile in Waziristan. In August 2009, another senior al Qaeda terrorist, Tahir Yuldashev, was killed in a US predator air strike.

The point I am making is that Pakistanis, mostly organisations such as the ISI, sometimes the police, have captured these terrorists and the State has then handed them over. In the case of those killed in drone strikes, people on the ground (whether from the ‘agencies’ or lay people) identify and mark the houses/modes of transport that the terrorists might be using so that they can be targeted from the air.

Every time, massive amounts of money have been paid by our allies in the War on Terror, both to individuals as well as to the ‘agencies’ for all of these top terrorists who had huge bounties on their heads.

All of the above were very bad boys indeed, who have not only poisoned and polluted Pakistan with extreme hatred and religious intolerance, witness: the daily massacre of Shias across the country; witness the hate being spewed against the Ahmadis; they have actually attacked the State itself in a bid to take the country over, lock, stock and bums. They have also killed thousands of our soldiers.

As for the bounty received, please see what the Commando says in his quite ludicrous book In the Line of Fire (Stand up Humayun Gauhar): “Since shortly after 9/11, when many members of al Qaeda fled Afghanistan and crossed the border into Pakistan, we have played cat and mouse with them. The biggest of them all, Osama bin Laden, is still at large at the time of this writing, but we have caught many, many others. Some are known to the world, some are not. We have captured 689 and handed over 369 to the United States. We have earned bounties totalling millions of dollars. Those who habitually accuse use of “not doing enough” in the War on Terror should simply ask the CIA how much prize money it has paid to the government of Pakistan.”

Er, in that case, why is it that Dr Shakil Afridi who helped the Americans find Osama bin Laden himself is slated to be declared a ‘traitor’ by the Commission ‘investigating’ the US raid into Abbottabad please? Did he not help the Americans find and kill an international terrorist? Did OBL not kill thousands of Pakistan Army soldiers, even a serving lieutenant-general, and tens of thousands of Pakistani civilians? Did his people not attack PNS Mehran and destroy all of our maritime security aircraft? I should have thought Afridi should have been given the Nishan-i-Shujaat and the Nishan-e-Pakistan for his brave act not be tried as a traitor. By the way, with what face will the Commission declare Afridi a traitor while Musharraf and his humnawa enjoy freedom?

Published in The Express Tribune, February 10th, 2012.


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Reader Comments (56)

  • Truth before self
    Feb 9, 2012 - 10:17PM

    well put sir!! agree with you 100%.


  • Mirza
    Feb 9, 2012 - 10:27PM

    KS Sahib, sorry I missed the line of Khalid Sheikh. I apologize for that. I have to stop doing several things at the same time at increasing age.


  • Shahbaz Asif Tahir
    Feb 9, 2012 - 10:29PM

    The biggest traitor in Pakistan’s turbulent history was ZAB, who
    master minded the debacle of 1971. You can get clarification, on this
    from the Hamoodur Rahman, commission report. The next in line are the
    memo gate culprits. Inshallah one day,
    Pakistan, will see the faces of these culprits exposed to all in the open.Recommend

  • Dilshad Ahmad
    Feb 9, 2012 - 10:33PM

    Very incisive and “biting” analysis. KS at his usual best. And the question he poses is a million dollar one. Yes, why this paradox? Just what are we driving at? Isn’t it time we Pakistanis stopped making a mockery of us before the whole wide world?Recommend

  • Yousaf Khan
    Feb 9, 2012 - 11:03PM

    @Shahbaz Asif Tahir Your comment only confirm one fact ,that you have not gone through Hamood Ur Rehman Commission Report.Dishonesty!!!


  • Khan
    Feb 9, 2012 - 11:12PM

    @Shahbaz Asif Tahir:
    I beg to differ sir … The biggest ones are who takes oath under the constitution and yet they throw it in the bin at will, over takes the government within minutes and send back thousands of elected parliamentarians who are voted by millions of Pakistanis. Those culprits who at any time will force us to give them extensions but are unable to force them to make Anti terror laws for our protection and are unable to do any thing that will benefit our own country’s future i.e universal education system, securing boarders, sending back refugees & rest of unending ‘to do’ list.


  • Ali Tanoli
    Feb 9, 2012 - 11:23PM

    Why ???????


  • Parvez
    Feb 9, 2012 - 11:40PM

    Facts are facts and they speak for themselves – nicely laid out.


  • Shahbaz Asif Tahir
    Feb 9, 2012 - 11:44PM

    @Yousaf Khan:

    The Hamoodur Rahman commission report, both classified and unclassified,
    blames ZAB, for master minding the debacle of 1971. ZAB refused to accept
    the reality of his defeat, to Shaikh Mujeeb, in the 1970 elections.
    Some of the phrases he used were ” tum wahan hum yahan”
    ‘I will break their legs”, i.e those who go and participate in the assembly of March 1971.
    These are historical facts. You can even find his abusive language in his speeches,
    They are available on you tube. The army, with the exception of Yahya Khan,
    and few others, was not responsible. You probably can read an unbiased
    tale, from Sharmeela Bose’s a Bengali hindu,Indian national, who recently published
    a book on the events of 1971. This book has astonished several people but the truth
    will always prevail. It was Indian trained terrorists, in the guise of Pakistani soldiers, that
    went about killing innocent Bengalis, and raping women.
    Allah u alam, and Allah Subhana alone knows the truth.


  • Javaid R. Shami
    Feb 10, 2012 - 12:11AM

    @Shahbaz Asif Tahir:
    I thought General Yayha Khan was president and CMLA in 1971 and thus the buck stopped with him. Bhutto did not become president till after the fall of Dacca and the loss of East Pakistan. Surely it was Yayha and his army that lost us half our country and not Bhutto.


  • Best Pakistani
    Feb 10, 2012 - 1:08AM

    @Shahbaz Asif Tahir:
    JI History Zindabad


  • ArifQ
    Feb 10, 2012 - 1:08AM

    Shafi Sahib, Very well said. Why is Dr Afridi being treated like a traitor? One can only guess:

    (1) He acted alone, did not share the glory (read bounty)
    (2) Exposed the corrupt, incompetent underbelly of establishment
    (3) Challenged monopoly of power and control

    Whatever the reason maybe, i totally agree with Kamran Shafi Sahib


  • Imran Mohammad
    Feb 10, 2012 - 1:14AM

    It is hard for me to figure out who actually wrote this article, Kamran Shafi or some US government paid think-tanker or a US congressman or senator. It is hard for me to believe that Mr Shafi is toeing the same line word by word as that of US government. Now, why Faridi is being charged as traitor? The reason I think is that he could have come to Pak authorities telling them what is going on. He became a deliberate pawn in the hands of foreign agency and cuased a huge national embarrasment, that I think is treason !! Mr Shafi should ask his American friends why Jonathan Pollard, an Israeli, is in prison when Israel has bestowed high honor on him !! Would you Mr Shafi?


  • Nadir
    Feb 10, 2012 - 1:37AM

    @Shahbaz Asif Tahir: Good historical revisionism, heres a link to the Commissions report , please find the place where the report supports your point. The report recommended public trials of senior military officials, but Pakistan being Pakistan, they sailed into retirement.


  • Realist.
    Feb 10, 2012 - 2:14AM

    Mickey O Mickey!
    Is that you yourself or is it the impact of serving with Shaheed Benazir Bhutto on you ?
    NAILED it! Absolutely nailed it!


  • Feb 10, 2012 - 3:31AM

    “Er, in that case, why is it that Dr Shakil Afridi who helped the Americans find Osama bin Laden himself is slated to be declared a ‘traitor’ by the Commission ‘investigating’ the US raid into Abbottabad please?”

    Because all the other incidents you narrated involved State institutions cooperating with another government on behalf of the GoP of that time – Shakil Afridi, however, was cooperating with a Foreign Intelligence Agency without any GoP sanction or authority, and had no way of knowing whether he was really providing assistance in a ‘hunt for OBL’ or playing into the hands of a foreign intelligence agency using the OBL story as a cover while carrying out operations detrimental to Pakistan’s national security.

    Surely you can see the difference?

    The Americans themselves have not cared an iota for individuals caught spying for their best pal, Israel, so why ask Pakistan to ‘act holier than the Pope’?


  • F K
    Feb 10, 2012 - 3:50AM

    @Shahbaz asif tahir

    1) The Hamoodur Rahman report blames many people for the debacle including many army officers. The report is available online to read if you are interested

    2) You’re citing both the classified and unclassified (sic) version of the report. So you have access to a classified Hammodur Rahman commission report? That’s amazing. Please share. I’m assuming the classified one that only you have access to lays all of the blame squarely on ZAB’s shoulders?

    3) Sharmila Bose is a US national of Indian descent.

    I agree that ZAB played a major role in the East Pakistan debacle but to claim he played a larger role than the army is ridiculous. Also, vaguely “referencing” the Hamoodur Rahman commission report to substantiate your opinion is pathetic.


  • NA
    Feb 10, 2012 - 3:52AM

    Another great piece, KS. Well done


  • Pro Bono Publico
    Feb 10, 2012 - 4:28AM

    @Javaid R. Shami:
    ZA Bhutto was a senior member of the Yahya junta. After the election, it was ZAB who refused to accept the election results.


  • K B Kale
    Feb 10, 2012 - 4:31AM

    KS Sahib,
    Great article as usual! Keep it up?
    By the way, who kept the bounty? GOP or individuals involved who risked their lives or Commandos-big & small?


  • Peter
    Feb 10, 2012 - 4:45AM

    Who said Afridi is being declared a traitor? He is being asked to explain his role working clandestinely for another state without proper permission. He should answer that. It does not really matter what his deed was. His motives need to be questioned.
    Before Panetta’s statement all our liberal friends were quiet about him and now they are all speaking up for him. What gives? How many more are connected to international governments?


  • Roflcopter
    Feb 10, 2012 - 4:52AM

    Only a traitor can defend a traitor ;)


  • pmbm
    Feb 10, 2012 - 5:09AM

    The doctor and the commando obviously preferred amriki gold medals over pak ‘sitaras’, otherwise they would have tried all those ‘terrorists’ by their own courts.


  • Harry Stone
    Feb 10, 2012 - 5:13AM

    This is all very normal for PAK. You seem to forget where you are.


  • Anonymous
    Feb 10, 2012 - 6:03AM

    @Shahbaz Asif Tahir:
    Yes he was because if 6 points were implemented then Pakistan had broken in 5 parts not two. By the way who elected him? So he played to their wishes
    Read 6 points and please implement only what ZAB agreed with mujeeb 40 years afterwards with other fedrating units.
    Come out of inborn hatred.


  • Anonymous
    Feb 10, 2012 - 6:09AM

    This is one of your best op-Ed


  • numbersnumbers
    Feb 10, 2012 - 6:30AM

    Very well written, but some of the above comments miss the point! That being, If Dr.Afridi had contacted the Pakistani ‘Authorities” about what he knew, what are the chances that (1) he (Afridi) would have “Disappeared” and (2) that Osama bin Laden and company would have been “relocated!”


  • Spud
    Feb 10, 2012 - 7:59AM

    @Imran Mohammad: Are you ignorant? Bin Laden was living under the watchful eye of Pakistani authorities. How good would it have done if the good doctor had gone to the same authorities who allowed Bin Laden to live in Abbotabad where the HQ of Pakistan army is located. I can not believe that a non-citizen can enter Pakistan easily and live in a huge fortified house with withou anyone knowing unless that person has a sanction from the Government or its agents.


  • plaintalk
    Feb 10, 2012 - 8:43AM

    @Shahbaz Asif Tahir:
    Yes, and it was he who hailed the military operation, saying “Thank God, Pakistan is saved.” Didn’t he mean the present Pakistan by that?


  • plaintalk
    Feb 10, 2012 - 8:51AM

    KS gone bonkers! How does Shakil Afridi compare with his commando? Afridi was working as an agent of a foreign country. So, is it permissible for aliens to enlist spies from Pakistanis? What if CIA recruits some one to spy upon Pakistan’s nuclear programme so the US may take it out quietly? Government catching a wanted person and him over to the US is different than a private person spying.


  • Shirazi
    Feb 10, 2012 - 9:54AM

    Dr. Shakil Afrididmay have tried to match the DNA of kid/s living in the house with OBL but didn’t succeed. The actual ‘Mir Jafar’ the Brigadier who lead Americans to the compound is safe and sound in northern hemi sphere.

    No surprises there. If men in uniform cross our ideological frontiers they are still Patriots and are awarded 21 gun salutes on departure. If civilians try to deal with Americans memos, Bhuttos and Afridis are created.


  • pfaraz
    Feb 10, 2012 - 9:55AM

    errrr so we were cooperative when capturing other alqaeda guys but if it was obl we would have changed the course… where is the logic

    either we are helping terrorist or capturing them – you decide.

    now we have tendency to get emotional ala Musharraf analogy but get real KS dr afridi under circumstances a traitor why give info to foreign agencies when u know something critical

    next what if some guy gives info to other regarding nuclear you’ll say he did right thing


  • Goatam
    Feb 10, 2012 - 10:29AM

    very nicely written. Proves, decision makers want us to live in stone age!!!! thanks for being brave enough to highlight such issues. Hope some one pay heed and stop further destruction of this land of pures


  • Javaid R. Shami
    Feb 10, 2012 - 11:24AM

    @Pro Bono Publico:
    Not accepting the results of the elections is somewhat different from not calling the National Assembly session and instead ordering the army in to arrest the leader of the political party which had won a majority. As for the assertion that Bhutto was a member of the Yayha Khan junta, I can only ask, “really?”. You and I are obviously reading from different history books.


  • Tanuja
    Feb 10, 2012 - 12:13PM

    Sir, admittedly 689 terrorists were captured by your army chief and only 369 handed
    Over to the americans!! Any one of the rest convicted? What was done to the rest?
    How many we’re pakistanis? Can you please ask, chief justice to enquire,
    And let the truth be revealed? Or is it too inconvenient for the deep state, nay the real
    State of pakistan to answer these questions. Only truth shall free you all and make your nation

    Best wishes and regards shafi Saheb.Recommend

  • Feb 10, 2012 - 12:30PM

    I can not believe that a non-citizen can enter Pakistan easily

    You don’t have to believe in everything you read. They tell me that 3-4 million have been living in this country. Many of them even in huge fortified houses.


  • Jpy
    Feb 10, 2012 - 1:00PM

    I think army has detained Dr.Shakil Afridi to learn the art of intelligence gathering for the use of ISI which failed or pretended unaware of the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden.
    In fact Dr.Shakil Afridi deserves nothing less than “Nishan-e-Pakistan” for the great services he rendered to Pakistan and the entire world. He should also be honoured with Nobel prize for peace


  • TrueMuslim
    Feb 10, 2012 - 2:35PM

    Afridi must be punished to the full extent of the law. A traitor to Islam is a traitor to Pakistan.


  • wonderer
    Feb 10, 2012 - 2:42PM

    @Shahbaz Asif Tahi

    Congratulations on being the biggest astrologer and diviner of the World. Here is something you may have overlooked. The ten gentlemen in Mumbai carrying AK47s and shouting Allah hu Akbar on 26/11/08 were all Indians in a conspiracy hatched by the US and Israel to defame Pakistan, the noblest nation on this Earth.


  • manish
    Feb 10, 2012 - 3:25PM

    @Shahbaz Asif Tahir:

    thats a great way to absolve your army of all the excesses, and implicating politicians only. saying that it were the indian trained terrorists who did all the arson, while your army watched for 6 months, doing nothing not even raising the issue at international forums is gross manipulation of facts. and that too on the words of a lady who compiled a book, knowing fully well that it would become a national best-seller in pakistan.
    and if the the hamdoor report which certainly did more research than sharmila bose and had more resources at their disposal than her, implicates indians of all the excesses why was it not made public then and their.
    i implore you to go through some reviews of her book as well, wherein her methods were criticized and her objectivity doubted.


  • adnan
    Feb 10, 2012 - 4:03PM

    i agree with the writer.OBL was most wanted militant in the world.if pakistan military is punishing a person who helped the world to get rid of an evil i.e OBL it means that our army was supperting OBL


  • TKA
    Feb 10, 2012 - 4:12PM

    After a long while a good article by you.


  • Anonymous
    Feb 10, 2012 - 4:49PM

    Can u provide link or some detail about that


  • Riaz Khan
    Feb 10, 2012 - 5:03PM

    We are proud of you KS! Good work.


  • Imran Mohammad
    Feb 10, 2012 - 5:04PM

    @Spud Mr. Knowledgeable, what proof do you have Army/ISI knew where OBL is? Why would they embarrass themselves? Just think if you can.


  • Mard-e-Haq
    Feb 10, 2012 - 7:04PM

    More than that we have the distinction of playing host to every no-good bum
    and Yahoo who ever got it into his head to become a ‘martyr’

    Well said, sir.


  • Amjad
    Feb 10, 2012 - 7:11PM

    @Shahbaz Asif Tahir: I think you need to remind yourself what most constitutions say about generals who take over with a gun and break their oath to uphold the constitution. It’s really a shame that you have no concept of who was in power and who caused the nation to go downhill. Invariably, our misguided generals from Ayub to Yahya to Zia and Musharraf have done more harm than any politician. Only when we learn to respect the constitution can Pakistan move forward. Incidentally, I am sure your average patriotic jawan agrees with upholding the constitution too.


  • numbersnumbers
    Feb 10, 2012 - 8:23PM

    Wow, what a funny story you tell! HOWEVER, if you look up 26/11 on Wikipedia you will see they list the names and hometowns of all the Mumbai attackers, AND THEY WERE ALL PAKISTANI!


  • wonderer
    Feb 10, 2012 - 8:31PM


    You got it all wrong.

    I was trying to make you laugh or cry depending on where you live. I live in India.

    Thanks, all the same, for info on Wikipedia.


  • Feb 10, 2012 - 9:02PM

    Exactly! The Doctor should be celebrated!


  • harkol
    Feb 10, 2012 - 9:08PM

    Imran Mohammed:

    Go to Pakistan authorities? won’t he be under the impression that he ‘was’ helping the authorities as USA is after all an ‘ally’??!!


  • Lubna
    Feb 10, 2012 - 9:42PM

    Sorry sir
    I disagree with you on this. Dr afridi was working in the service of a foreign spy agency. He was spying in a garrison town and was never told that he was looking for obl. I am sure Dr Afridi thought he was getting some Pak army info for the Americans.Recommend

  • Liberalache
    Feb 10, 2012 - 10:22PM

    @Imran Mohammad:

    Well said. Everywhere in the world people demand that their citizens that have collaborated with foreign agencies be tried as traitors whereas in Pakistan we have apologists coming out of every nook to tow foreigners lines. Its just shameful…its another in a long list of things that makes one feel humiliation at our national character.Recommend

  • Mustafa Kamal
    Feb 11, 2012 - 12:54AM

    Simply Brilliant.


  • rehman
    Feb 11, 2012 - 2:26PM

    state collect taxes,because state collect taxes every person in state should start collecting tax? why? Mush was cooperating with US in capacity of a state head rightly or wrongly, how can you give a private citizen permission to collaborate with a foreign state and by passing your own state? just because state Mush was cooperating with US does not give private citizens to act lone wolf


  • Tahir Aliin
    Feb 14, 2012 - 3:22AM

    May be our blessed country has become synonymous with the very worst acts of terrorism as stated by the author but it is, definitely, becoming a home of sell-offs and traitors on the pay-roll of CIA with a well established network to safeguard US interests, as well as, the ‘assets’. In this write-up, the author has equated the apprehension of terrorists by the security agencies with what Afridi did. Living in a foreign land, may be to him ISI and CIA are synonymous, but they are not. Though, no doubt, OBL’s presence in Pakistan was a major security and intelligence lapse, yet his apprehension by the Pakistani security agencies could have saved Pakistan a lot of embarrassment. As such, if Afridi was loyal to Pakistan, he should have informed own agencies instead of working for CIA and causing irreparable damage to Pakistan. Simply speaking, he preferred US$ over his country, as others who are now trying to justify his action.


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