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Wikileaks-US’s Afghan war diary 2004-2009

Afghanistan, the War Logs

By Asif Haroon Raja

War diary is an account of daily events occurring during war. Each HQ/unit/intelligence agency maintains this diary which subsequently helps in finalizing war history. While the unit in the field records the events based on its limited internal resources, higher HQs and intelligence agencies make their assessments based on intelligence reports, agents, intercepts, information provided by friendly intelligence agencies, source reports, electronic and print media, internet, satellite communication, etc. These reports are marked as classified and placed in folders marked as restricted, secret and top secret. Very few are authorized to handle top secret documents, stored in special lockers which can be opened using codes. Locks of the rooms in which vaults are kept are of special quality and keys kept in safe custody to over ensure that no unauthorized person gains access to classified material.  

In Afghanistan , US military has been maintaining record of day to day happenings since the start of war on terror in October 2001. Since the US is up against faceless enemy fighting guerrilla war and great majority of Afghans are anti-Americans, hence human intelligence of US military is very weak. Any Afghan trying to fraternize with Americans is dubbed as an American spy and shot dead by militants. For the fear of reprisals very few among the Pashtun Afghans risk working for US intelligence agencies. For this reason, outreach of CIA and FBI in southern and eastern Afghanistan in particular is limited. The latter have therefore been banking a lot upon RAAM as well as RAW agents to complete their daily/weekly/monthly reports which they have to forward to Pentagon in Washington . As is well known, RAAM, which is filled with non-Pashtun Northern Alliance elements only, is the reincarnation of KHAD. This setup came to life in 2002 with the help of oxygen provided by RAW. Both have therefore become complimentary to each other and have been operating as a close knit team and have common objectives.  

Wikileaks has gained access to 92201 US classified documents titled ‘Afghan documents 2004-2009’through an Australian Julian Assange. Out of these, it has leaked 75000 confidential documents provided by an Australian named Julian, while a little over 15000 containing sensitive information have been withheld. The report covers the period from 2004 to 2009 and is silent about the initial period from October 2001 till 2004 and six months of 2010. New York Times, Guardian and Der Spiegel were the first to leak. Wikileaks had first time revealed US military wrongdoings in Iraq .   

Glancing through the leaked 75000 documents one gets an impression as if these are Pakistan specific but in actuality 37000 make some mention of Pakistan and 35000 documents are about the role of US-NATO in Afghanistan and Afghan security forces. Of 92000, 180 mention ISI and in it only 30 mention ISI disparagingly. Documents that are yet to be disclosed reportedly contain sensitive information about agents used by US intelligence agencies in Afghanistan and Pakistan as double agents with focus on Pakistan and objectives to be achieved.

The leaked report is in disjointed form in bits and pieces and lacks coherence, continuity and objectivity. There are too many frills and less of meat in this overstuffed document. It exposes war crimes of coalition troops against Afghans in great details. Excessive use of force by trigger happy US military against innocent civilians has been recorded on videos some of which are gruesome. These videos are good enough to indict the culprits in court of law. However, reports mostly based on source reports which are initiated by very low level officials of spy agencies lack credibility and hence cannot be termed as authentic and an instrument for indictment.  

Perusal of documents related to Pakistan mostly provided by Afghanistan intelligence indicate joint effort of RAW and RAAM to involve ISI in most terrorist acts in Afghanistan. ISI has been accused in attack on Indian Embassy in Kabul, in plotting to kill Karzai, arranging militant attack on Indian nationals working on road project, linkage with Taliban and Haqqani network and supporting them to wage attacks in Afghanistan. Each story has been skillfully devised to prove the hand of ISI.

Western analysts have commented little on other aspects and focused more on ISI’s linkage with Taliban and Haqqani network and are trying to impress upon the world that whatever they have been writing have now been further reinforced by US intelligence documents. None has questioned as to how Julian gained access to the documents? 

ISI-Taliban linkage is an old allegation which has been in circulation since 2004 in various forms. The US and western newspapers, think tanks and officials have been harping upon this theme with regularity. As such there is nothing new that has come to light through Wikileaks disclosure except that the timings of this leakage are of consequence. It has been leaked at a time when pressure on Pakistan has been maximized and its arm is being twisted to make it fall in line and do as told to do during the forthcoming final phase of USA in Afghanistan .

Unsubstantiated and fabricated allegations against Pakistan and its premier institutions are so absurd and decayed that it gives nausea to the reader. Only ones who enjoy the stale jokes are its manufacturers or the game players. ISI-Taliban closeness has been drummed up in such a manner as if it is the biggest sin ever committed. Each time it is presented with a new flavor to make it look more breathtaking. This unholy practice has been going on systematically and incessantly for the last six years to condition the minds of the world audience and to convert falsehood into truth. Story of this nature is routinely published in western media every fortnightly.

In the last few months write ups on this subject have suddenly gained impetus. Previously, accusations were in the form of allegations made by newspapers and think tanks. Now top US civil and military officials have jumped into the arena with loins girded up and have started using high handed tactics openly without caring for diplomatic decorum.  Propaganda assault together with verbal assaults by visiting officials and drone attacks have become a norm. They have become xenophobic and overbearing. This can be gauged from the mood of the three US visitors who visited Islamabad recently.

Prickly Hillary Clinton can see ghost of Osama sauntering in Pakistan each time she lands in Pakistan . Through her lens she sees ISI in cahoots with Taliban. She again reminded our harried rulers that any attack on US homeland with connection to Pakistan would have devastating consequences upon Pak-US relations. She conceitedly dangled few carrots to make them do more. Grim looking Holbrooke and tense ridden Adm. Mike Mullen harbored similar ideas. The trio wanted Pak Army to cut off its entire links with Taliban, consider Indians as friends and to promptly launch an operation in North Waziristan to chase out Haqqani network and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the two outfits most dreaded by USA . LeT has been put on the hit list to please India . 

Wikileaks is a follow up of London Report and some of the objectives behind it are to keep Pakistan pressured and cornered, authenticate Indian allegations about ISI’s involvement in various acts of terror in Afghanistan, demonise LeT and defame ISI, exert pressure on Obama Administration to affect a change in its policy of softness towards Pakistan, reconciliation with Taliban and withdrawal of coalition forces. India together with Northern Alliance and pro-war American senior officials are possibly behind the Wikileaks scandal. This report is less harmful for Pakistan and more injurious for USA since source reports on Pakistan mostly provided by RAAM and RAW agents were never taken seriously by the receivers. Receiving officers have been noting their remarks on such reports as lacking in authenticity, biased and devoid of credibility. Moreover, such manipulated leakages would further widen rather than build trust gap between USA and Pakistan .

The US leadership has understood the repercussions this report will have on war on terror in Afghanistan at this critical stage and has therefore played it down but made Pakistan into a shield to face the stings and arrows. Notwithstanding their effort to hide their crimes by making Pakistan ’s ISI an scapegoat, the leakage has for the first time exposed war crimes of US military in Afghanistan . It has also exposed US military leadership’s gory role in wreaking havoc in Afghanistan, and CIA’s role in connivance with other intelligence agencies in inflicting mayhem in Pakistan through covert means, and how cleverly US civil-military leaders kept Americans and the world in the dark about their wrongdoings. Realizing that the leak is fast turning into a big embarrassing scandal, Washington has ordered a probe and private serviceman Bradley Manning is under interrogation.

While Bradley may be made into a scapegoat, the question is whether it was he who transferred over 92000 documents on to his computer and then passed it on to Wikileaks or was it Julian who with the help of insiders in Pentagon managed to gain access to classified archives stored in a safe house? Julian rather than feeling scary on being pointed out is in upbeat mood and is tantalizingly giving interviews to the media justifying his act and asserting that ‘bastards must be sorted out’. He has interacted with media in London knowing that majority of British are against war on terror and US policies. 

Logically, Wikileaks after delivering a severe blow to US military by exposing demonic behavior of US soldiers operating in Iraq should have either been blacked out or kept under strict watch. No such thing was done as a result of which it has repeated its act at a much bigger scale and created a worldwide stir second time. If Wikileaks was not in Washington ’s control, New York Times, a mouthpiece of CIA, should not have been among the drumbeaters. Guardian also tows official policy and is a not a rebel newspaper; and so is Der Spiegel. So why this highly damaging report has been allowed to go public; it is simply bewildering? It indicates another failure of US, which will further aggravate the jumble in which the US is intertwined. 

If we go by the so-called veracity of documents accusing Pakistan of its linkage with Taliban since 2004 and presence of Haqqani network and Al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan, one fails to comprehend as to why the US military failed to take physical action against known targets particularly when it has been making extensive use of drones against suspected targets in FATA? Why did they keep sleeping over it for over five years and why the sudden hullabaloo now? Mr. Walsh writes in Guardian, ‘Most of US propaganda on Pakistan is based on rumors, bullshit and second hand information’.  Why have the top guns of USA led by Hillary started to hound Pakistan so viciously when Pakistan is fighting war on terror with full vigor and has achieved pleasing results? There is something cooking.

I reckon many more Wikileaks exposing Indo-US-Israeli grimy designs and dirty games would sprout in coming months when US military would get stranded and helpless in Afghanistan . In Iraq deep hostility between British senior military commanders towards their American allies revealed in classified government documents was leaked to Daily Telegraph. The US military was described as ‘a group of Martians’.

Anatol Lieven in his article titled ‘The National Interest: All Kayani’s Men’, confirmed that Tehrik-e-Taliban-Pakistan was created to pitch it against Pak Army and enmesh it in fighting on home ground irreversibly. NY Times identified brother of Karzai as a CIA operative and a major opium dealer and having close ties with Taliban. David Obeg, Chairman House of Appropriations Committee vehemently maintained that Afghanistan is a similar quagmire like Vietnam that could bankrupt Obama’s domestic agenda. He said US had unreliable partners in Vietnam and now in Afghanistan . It had been predicted by economic wizards that American economy would be spiraling out of control sooner than later and would reach critical point by end 2010 and implode by mid 2011. USA has become a bankrupt country. Americans being largest consumers in the world are unable to borrow further monies to buy cheap goods from China , Japan and other Asian countries. Demand for dollar has evaporated; dollar status as a reserve currency and its usefulness is being questioned more vocally. Dollar value is fast deprecating and US banks are closing but the US is spending 53% of global military expenditures. When the leaders of a country become egoistic, unjust and their decision making process become so impaired that they become blind, it is a sure sign of collapse of a nation. 

Brig Asif Haroon Raja is Staff College and Armed Forces War Course qualified, holds MSc war studies degree; a second generation officer, he fought epic battle of Hilli in northwest East Bengal during 1971 war, in which Maj M. Akram received Nishan-e-Haider posthumously. He served as Directing Staff Command & Staff College, Defence Attaché Egypt and Sudan and Dean of Corps of Military Attaches in Cairo. He commanded the heaviest brigade in Kashmir. He is lingual and speaks English, Pashto and Punjabi fluently. He is author of books titled ‘Battle of Hilli’, ‘1948, 1965 & 1971 Kashmir Battles and Freedom Struggle’, ‘Muhammad bin Qasim to Gen Musharraf’, Roots of 1971 Tragedy’; has written number of motivational pamphlets. Draft of his next book ‘Tangled Knot of Kashmir’ is ready. He is a defence analyst and columnist and writes articles on security, defence and political matters for numerous international/national newspapers/websites. Email: [email protected]

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