By Dr Rasheed Hasan Khan
To a physician, the mention of black water is bound to ring alarm bells because this is a particularly virulent form of malaria which is mostly fatal. For those familiar with the American invasion of Iraq the name also rings alarm bells because this is the name of a particularly virulent gang of mercenaries operating under the directions of the CIA. The notorious ‘contractors’ were responsible for numerous atrocities in that country.
Now the Blackwater is here in Pakistan as media reports suggest. And its presence is associated with the proposed expansion of the US embassy in Islamabad which is billed to become the largest communication complex in the world. To provide security to the installation, the reports say, the services of 1,000 US marines and Blackwater operatives have been acquired. They have started arriving in Pakistan but the US embassy spokespersons deny presence of Blackwater in Pakistan and equally in denial is Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
Syed Zafar Ali Shah, the PML-N MNA, has revealed that a large number of houses being acquired on rent in Islamabad were being turned into fortified bunkers. Footage of the buildings concerned was also shown. Whatever the extent of the foreign presence, it cannot remain a secret for long, as was the case with Badaber airbase during the Ayub regime.
The question is: why is such a huge facility being built here in Pakistan? Americans say it is to facilitate the war against terror and also to manage increased load of work after socio-economic assistance begins to reach here. If this is true one wonders why the Chinese ambassador had to state that he was concerned at the increasing US influence in Pakistan. Such statements are rare in China’s diplomatic practice.
Out of the proposed US aid to Pakistan for the year 2008-9, one billion dollars out of $1.8 billion, have been earmarked for the proposed extension of the US embassy. And there are reasons for the construction of a ‘mini-Pentagon’ in Pakistan. Firstly, the cornerstone of American global policy remains the containment of China. To accomplish it, it is necessary to bring together the countries of South Asia, West Asia and South-East Asia and the Central Asian countries in this alliance.
Secondly, both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers and the US policy makers feel that there should not only be a new equation between the two but they want to monitor their ‘nuclear assets’ from a close range. Thirdly, the need to coordinate the international effort on the ‘war against terror’ provides an explanation acceptable to the world. The US government knows that an installation of this kind would require a large force of personnel. Hence, the Blackwater.
Few people in Pakistan are aware about this organisation. Thanks for its dirty role in Iraq, it has already received worldwide notoriety. The Blackwater are hardened mercenaries and are expected to protect American headquarters and also carry out search and destroy operations anywhere in Pakistan. Blackwater Worldwide is now known as Xe [pronounced as zi’] Services LLC. It was founded in 1997 as BlackWater USA by Eric Prince and Al Clark. Based in the US state of North Carolina, Xe operates a training camp which the company claims is the largest in the world. Here the company trains more than 40,000 people a year, mostly from the US or foreign military and police services.
Currently, there are about sixty large security contractors [read mercenary organisations] operating in the US. Xe is one of three largest security contractors of the State department [read CIA].
Since Pakistan joined the US camp, Pakistani soil has been a base for covert operations. Ayub regime provided an airbase at Badaber near Peshawar, to CIA for the use of U-2 planes. These planes used to make regular overflights across the Soviet Union beyond the range of Soviet anti-aircraft guns, using onboard cameras and recorders to monitor Soviet communication and military deployment. Gary Power’s U-2 was shot down with a missile over the Soviet Union. This exposed the whole operation to the world.
Gen Ziaul Haq provided the US with training camps and aided the effort to hijack the Afghan liberation struggle and turn it into an Islamic jihad, led by Osama bin Laden whose names are now anathema to US and its allies. During Benazir’s second term, the Pakistani establishment at the behest of the US organised the Taliban. After 9/11 the government led by Gen. Pervez Musharraf bowed down and accepted the unjust demands of US government.
This capitulation was the commencement of the creeping, silent invasion of Pakistan by Americans. Five air bases were provided to the US forces. The Pakistan army was deployed along the western border and the tribal areas. Military action was employed as a first option in the tribal areas leaving no room for an alternative course of action when the military operation failed.
Pakistan army’s casualties were in thousands. Obeying the order to ‘do more’ opened the flood gates of death and destruction throughout the length and breadth of Pakistan. Finally, the US policy has succeeded. Their war had become ours.