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Americans humiliate Pakistani General entrusted with capturing Osama Bin Laden

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  • Tarek Fatah
    In His Own Words The Story of the Most Important Pakistan Army General CounterPunch http://www.counterpunch.org/syed11282003.html WASHINGTON - This is not the
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2004
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      In His Own Words
      The Story of the Most Important Pakistan Army General

      CounterPunch
      http://www.counterpunch.org/syed11282003.html

      WASHINGTON - This is not the untold, but the partially told, story of a
      Pakistani Army General, probably the most important Pakistan Army General
      for the United States, after General Musharraf himself.

      This General commands the 11th Corps, the Pakistan Army corps stationed in
      Peshawar, which oversees all Army operations in the Pakistani Tribal Areas
      bordering the sensitive and challenging terrain with Afghanistan where the
      US Army is desperately trying to fish out fugitive Al-Qaeda and Taliban
      fighters, including the top leaders Osama bin Laden and his runaway
      companions.

      This story has been only partially told by Washington-based veteran
      journalist, Khalid Hasan of the Daily Times of Lahore, who along with Amir
      Ghauri, the smart anchor of the international satellite channel PTV Prime,
      were present at the 11 Corps Headquarter in Peshawar as guest of Lt. Gen Ali
      Jan Mohammad Orakzai on October 23, 2003.

      General Orakzai was hosting a group of people, including these two
      journalists, who had been invited for a trip to the historic Khyber Pass by
      the Human Resources Development Commission of Washington-based Dr. Nasim
      Ashraf, now a close Musharraf consultant.

      General Orakzai narrated to the group, including these journalists, the
      horror he had to face when he traveled to Tampa, Florida for the
      inauguration of the new Centcom C-in-C, General Abizaid, who replaced Gen.
      Tommy Franks.

      He had been invited to Tampa by the US Army and as any simple Pathan would
      do, was traveling alone and light. He reached London and from there took a
      flight to New York, on his way to Tampa.

      The horror began when he went in for briefing at the airline counter in
      London. He was asked like all Pakistani mortals, to take off his shoes, his
      jacket and his belt. He was thoroughly screened and checked and in some
      state of shock went through the motions, hoping they would end soon and he
      would board his plane. This treatment was supposed to be normal in view of
      9/11.

      He was paid more attention because he carried a Pakistani green passport and
      even more attention because he looked like a blue-eyed (true) white skinned
      descendant of Alexander the Great with a physique which comes with the
      uniform of an army general.

      His ordeal in London was brief but a wake-up call of sorts. The plane took
      off with General Orakzai and after crossing the Atlantic, landed at JFK, the
      horror station for new comers, especially if arriving from a hot spot like
      Peshawar.

      Here the General tried to use his brains and told the Immigration Officer he
      was a guest of the US Army, he himself was an army General and he had a
      flight to catch for Tampa which may leave without him if he was delayed.

      John Ashcroft's Homeland Security guys are used to such big mouths and big
      boasters. They don't care who you are. So our key Corps Commander was asked
      to take off his shoes, carry the shoes bare footed to the machines for
      screening, was asked whatever number of questions were relevant and made to
      taste the medicine every Pakistani has been forced to gulp ever since 9/11,
      no matter how 'tight' General Musharraf was with his friend George Bush.

      This story was narrated to the two journalists before Mr. Nasim Ashraf in
      Peshawar, who, of all the people, got the clarification from the General
      whether his comments were on the record, as Mr. Khalid Hasan was taking
      notes and it was obvious that he would print what Gen. Orakzai was saying.

      Orakzai did not stop him but asserted that he was on the record. In very
      calm and sober, implicitly of course very menacing tones, made a statement
      which should open some eyes in the Pentagon and at Centcom. This is what
      Khalid Hasan wrote in his Sunday, Nov 16, 2003, column in the Daily Times:

      "Anyone who tells you that there is no racial or religious profiling at
      American ports of entry is reading too many government press releases. The
      Bush administration does not realize how much goodwill at home and abroad it
      has lost and continues to lose by such crass, poorly thought-out and
      zealously implemented practices.

      "Last month, Lt Gen Ali Jan Mohammad Orakzai, who commands 11 Corps in
      Peshawar, told a group of which I was a member, that he would never come to
      the United States again because last time he did that on an invitation from
      the US Army, at JFK, New York, he was made to take off his shoes, asked to
      carry them some distance and searched like a criminal. The General added
      that he was speaking on the record."

      Of course there are a million questions which need to be answered now, some
      by General Orakzai and others by his hosts in Tampa, FL. First when the
      General was invited officially, where were his hosts when he arrived at New
      York? Why was he not escorted out of the JFK like US Army Generals are when
      they touch down at any Pakistani Airport.

      Next, did General Orakzai complain to his hosts about what happened? If not
      why not and if he did, what did they say? Again when back in control in
      Peshawar, did General Orakzai mention his horror story to General Musharraf
      and other colleagues who run the country? If one of them had been so
      insulted, who from amongst the ordinary mortals had the right to complain?

      Why did the General keep quiet about it for so many days or weeks before he
      let out his fury before a foreign crowd? Why has this story not been
      published in any of the Pakistani newspapers so far, even after Khalid Hasan
      wrote it in a passing way at the end of his long column, which mostly dealt
      with what had happened to him when he traveled to Washington shortly before
      writing his column.

      It should not be forgotten that the General who controls the key Tribal
      Areas of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan and who has to work all the time in
      close liaison with the US Army, based just across the Durand Line, says on
      record that he would never ever visit the United States again.

      What does this statement mean for the US operations in that part of the
      world? Obviously this is the General who is supposed to catch Osama bin
      Laden for the Americans in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan. He is also required
      to nab every other US enemy hiding there.

      With the kind of feelings he has for the US, will he deliver the big goods
      that Centcom wants from his territory?

      The biggest question, of course, is what have Musharraf and other generals
      done to redress the wrong so that not just Generals colluding with the US
      army are spared the indignities at US airports but ordinary citizens, not in
      any way involved with Al-Qaeda or Taliban, are also treated a bit more
      humanely.

      But it appears that neither General Musharraf nor Centcom have tried to
      pacify the 11 Corps Commander in Peshawar, as he remains angry. Had someone
      apologized to him, he would not be spilling the beans before journalists, to
      be printed and quoted all over the world.
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