Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Things You Will Never Read On This Blog: Shireen Mazari May Have Been Right About Blackwater In Pakistan

Bloody hell. The interwebs have erupted with this story from The Nation (the American one) on the alleged activities of Blackwater in Pakistan. I'm too tired to read it closely right now and wade through the qualifications and sourcing issues, but suffice it to say that (a) Rehman Malik, I predict, will be out of a job in less than four weeks and (b) that there will be some sort of triumphalist statement from the Taliban in the next four days.

Shit, meet fan.


Asfandyar said...

Well, one good thing might happen if this is true: RH will resign at least. Or be fired. Or be run over. Or be maimed by a 4x4 that runs through his nuts.

As for Mazari being right - that's going to be utterly frightening. Not to mention that we'll be seeing conspiracy theories getting louder and louder on the back of this.

Kalsoom said...

It was written by Jeremy Scahill, the guy who wrote THE book on Blackwater - don't know if that makes this article more credible or not.

Michael Collins said...

Scahill article on Backwater in Pakistan is by far his most extensive essay on the company. I went through it carefully and found his sourcing reliable with a mix of not-for-attribution and on the record sources reinforcing the overall statement. I'd be interested in feedback on the Pakistani sources, which I'm obviously not qulaified to assess.

The author has a clear point of view which has but him under a great deal of scrutiny. He's emerged unscathed. He is also putting himself in harms way by exposing Blackwater's many faults. In a federal trial underway, Steven Prince, Blackwater's former head, is accused of killing employees who had turned on the company. Here's a list of his publications in The Nation (US).

I picked up the Pakistan story on Blackwater from the menu at "Pakistani Bloggers" (where I found this excellent blog) and was somewhat skeptical but inclined to believe it with confirmation. Scahill endorsement of the original story's premise lends great credibility.

YS_1 said...

Actually, I'm alright with Shireen Mazari. Its Zaid Hamid who I consider an idiot. If that moron starts getting things on the hammer; then we're screwed. Shireen Mazari being correct is an acceptable position inside Pakistan. You will have noticed Mr Mosharraf Zaidi has not directly disputed what she said and rather goes after the seriously more hysterical and unsubstantiated Zaid Hamid.

YS_1 said...

Oh Fucky Fuck

As Soon as I read the sub-Heading "Pakistan's Military Contracting Maze" my Brain went "Shit!". This is dangerous stuff.

Here's a paragraph I just had to reproduce:
Blackwater, according to the military intelligence source, is not doing the actual killing as part of its work in Pakistan. "The SELECT personnel are not going into places with private aircraft and going after targets," he said. "It's not like Blackwater SELECT people are running around assassinating people." Instead, US Special Forces teams carry out the plans developed in part by Blackwater. The military intelligence source drew a distinction between the Blackwater operatives who work for the State Department, which he calls "Blackwater Vanilla," and the seasoned Special Forces veterans who work on the JSOC program. "Good or bad, there's a small number of people who know how to pull off an operation like that. That's probably a good thing," said the source. "It's the Blackwater SELECT people that have and continue to plan these types of operations because they're the only people that know how and they went where the money was. It's not trigger-happy fucks, like some of the PSD [Personal Security Detail] guys. These are not people that believe that Barack Obama is a socialist, these are not people that kill innocent civilians. They're very good at what they do."

In summary; this is what their "Planning" Cell plans for.

YS_1 said...

Speak of the Devil; Look who else is in this:

Mosharraf Zaidi, a well-known Pakistani journalist who has served as a consultant for the UN and European Union in Pakistan and Afghanistan, says that the Blackwater/JSOC program raises serious questions about the norms of international relations. "The immediate question is, How do you define the active pursuit of military objectives in a country with which not only have you not declared war but that is supposedly a front-line non-NATO ally in the US struggle to contain extremist violence coming out of Afghanistan and the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan?" asks Zaidi, who is currently a columnist for The News, the biggest English-language daily in Pakistan. "Let's forget Blackwater for a second. What this is confirming is that there are US military operations in Pakistan that aren't about logistics or getting food to Bagram; that are actually about the exercise of physical violence, physical force inside of Pakistani territory."

Mosharraf Zaidi is in contact with Jeremy Scahill???


Anonymous said...

I don't understand why it's a big deal, other than the fact that the US might be lying about it. But besides that, they're aiding and abetting the killing of taliban: so what? I'm finding it hard to pin down the moral problem of having a private security firm operate in Pakistan. And I have a green passport.

Rabia said...

I guess journalists shouldn't consider the political implications of what they write, but I do wonder what journalists like Hersh and Scahill think about the political impact of their stories in Pakistan.

I read another article recently in The Nation (US) by William Polk where he accepted that the Zardari government lacked any sort of legitimacy and was going to fall very soon and the US should just accept that and work with it. It's really fascinating how the tables are turned now -- it seems like the US left is far less tolerant of democratic regimes like Zardari's and Karzai's. In Karzai's case, probably because he's tainted with the republican democratization project and so lacks legitimacy in the eyes of the US Left, and in Zardari's case because the Pakistan army's aims in the region coincide with US leftists' desire to withdraw from Afghanistan.

One really has to pity Karzai and the PPP.

Rabia said...

but yeah, the journos are by far the secondary issue. The real story is that Blackwater has really done a number on Pakistan. Watch the army (that authorized this program) get away with it and the government take the fall for this.

btw, what's your take on the US talks with Mullah Mutawakil?

Ali Q said...

I can't see the problem in it too.

What conspiracy theorists have been propogating is different: they insist that Blackwater has been responsible for setting off bombs killing our women and children... (notably the peshawar market blast and the one at the islamic university)...in effect, Blackwater is what makes us Pakistani brethren fight against each other.

Neither of these points have been re-inforced by this article.

We all knew blackwater was operational in Pakistan..and to think their role was restricted to providing security services to american officials would be naive.

American secret service agencies killing enemy figureheads who we're too afraid or inept to kill is a case of them doing our dirty laundry.

And like almost all other American initiatives in our country, the interior ministry has to have known about this. So, RM will be tested, for misrepresenting the facts.

My only problem is: Unlike the drone attacks, there does not seem to be an understanding with us at the military/agencies level.

Rabia said...

Ali Q are you suggesting that this program was carried out unilaterally by the Interior ministry without the military/intelligence agencies being on board? What, in the Scahill article, leads you to this conclusion?

From the article:
"In 2006, the United States and Pakistan struck a deal that authorized JSOC to enter Pakistan to hunt Osama bin Laden with the understanding that Pakistan would deny it had given permission."

Ali Q said...

Ooh, I missed that part Rabia - I stand corrected.

Now, the amount of problems I have with the content of this piece = zero.

karachi khatmal said...

considering that this is a blog by the most famous pakistani pol-sci phd student ( :P at ahsan) i am a bit surprised at the fact no one seems to have any problems with the ramifications of these allegations...

i know all of us want to act nonchalant cause we can already see the ahmed quraishi, hamid mirs and zaid hamids go butt-fucking crazy with this info...

but on pol-sci terms, as mosharraf pointed out, this is really stretching things to a new dimension. i mean it could end up unpackaging the basic legitimacy of the nation state model, which is what the world is running on right now. if that starts going to hell, there would be massive shit to pay. in other words WWIII.

on an aside, it is funny that while all of pakistan keeps harping on about this, no one actually goes to the military's door to grill them. cuz while the army sucks at gauging public opinion and holding timely elections, it sure as hell knows who the fuck is causing what shit in pakistan. especially with its homemade terror groups. how can they possibly be all 'huh, wha, there's blackwater in pakistan? far out man...'

Butterscotch said...


Another good read by Ahmed Rashid

Anonymous said...

@KK + everyone else
I'm asking not to be all cool and contrarian by hating on Hamid Mir (which admittedly would be my first instinct), but because I really feel like I'm missing something in all this. Bare with me here:

Why is the nation-state theory threatened? The CIA, Mossad, ISI, Raw, James Bond etc have been fucking around in other countries for half a century (I just met a US marine being deployed to Columbia to fight the Farc). Why aren't the Columbians pissed?

So BW's a private company. This is supposedly a problem because they're aren't answerable to anyone as, for example, CIA and Special Ops are answerable to Congress. But shouldn't the US be more worried about this? If BW fucks up, the US will get flak for something they didn't do. Also, governments have been hiring mercenaries for centuries--how is BW different?

Which brings me to the most convincing argument I've heard against BW being in Pakistan: they might not be too worried about collateral damage when going after a crazy terrorists. But who's to say any government institution would be more discerning? If anything, the profit incentive might be used to ensure they ARE more discerning ("if mommy and jr. die, you ain't gettin paid").

Also, these guys are reportedly the best of the best (six and half foot white dudes with 18 inch biceps, funky gizmos coming out their ears and badass laser pointers? c'mon). I, for one, wouldn't mind if the frontier corps, who I'm sure are a model of training and motivation, get some professional help.

But am I missing some clause of the Geneva convention here? Does Hamid Mir have a better moral compass than me? What's the big deal?

...And speaking of mercenaries, I'm getting serious schadenfreude watching M. Yousaf and his merry band of butt fucks getting slapped around by New Zealand's numbers 7 and 8. GOD I FUCKING HATE IMRAN FARHAT.