have started  a new blog… please do check it out… thank you :)

So I have finally left my homeland…. I am now in Vietnam which means obviously my posts will change. And now it shall be about my settling in a foreign country. To be honest I didn’t know much about Vietnam when my husband told me of the option. Its a wonderful work experience for him and I am excited about the potential for him. Yes of course I was sad at leaving everything I had worked for my entire life and starting again literally from scratch.. but in the interest of the family.. I also knew this was a good opportunity. 

When we arrived at first everything seems alien. Different looking people… different language. My husband had us booked into a temp apartment that was in the center of the city which made the first few days relatively easier. The kids had a great pool to swim in.. shops were close by. We were in what is known as District 1.

 

First night in we at at a French restaurant called “Le Bouchon” where the Fois Gras is to die for. So is their French Onion soup. It was hard to believe that just the night before we were in a world so far away from the 18 hours of load shedding in Lahore or marathon strikes of Karachi. 

 

Touristy stuff.Have to do some of it or what’s the point. So first point of business was to find out what was worth going to visit. I have been told the Cu Chi (Pronounced Koo Chee) tunnels are quite a marvel and easy to see that the Americans never stood a chance during the Vietnam war. That knowledge pleased me and I was eager to go see these tunnels. So I asked our French friend to advise us how to go. 

 

Now here is the interesting thing for those of you who are interested in visiting and want to do some traveling around. You can go two ways. You could of course do the expensive tour guide thing .. hire  a boat all to yourself… get a breakfast and lunch and then the tour… that would put you back about $400. 

 

OR… you could go for a less peaceful option of going by private bus and be charged either $27 or $55 depending on if you take their lunch and snack or not. Or you could go really basic and take a local public bus to the Cu Chi tunnels for about $6 per person… depending on how adventurous you want to be :)

we will probably take more of the budget options for now and discover HCMC bit by bit ourselves. The expat community is small and it seems everyone knows everyone. Have just met a lovely Australian family who live right opposite us and loved watching the girls all hanging out together… going out to bike in the streets like normal kids should in a normal world. 

I look forward to all my discoveries to be .. and to sharing them with you. I hope you find them useful should you ever feel the need or desire to visit Saigon :) Till then… ciao! Which incidentally is how locals greet each other here :)

 

The Imran Khan Jalsa was impressive. Regardless of whether you choose to support him or not… one has to give credit to the man for people showing up to show support from every walk of life and economic strata with no one misbehaving. Goes to show how hungry Pakistanis are for change and for a leader to bring them out of the abyss that Pakistan has fallen into. On Twitter it was amusing to see so much dialogue on whether he is the future or not. PTI supporters are quick to aggressively cut down and /or humiliate anyone who dares question the great Khan (which is worrying…after all we are all pushing for democracy….right?) while the anti Khan’s were hanging on every word hoping that some solid strategies and policies would be clearly marked out as to how the Khan wants to achieve what he is promising to do. Mr Khan’s speech was a bit disappointing to say the least. And though entertaining in a private setting… a potential world leader to be calling Mrs Clinton Chachi Clinton was not the way to behave. Playing to the galley one can understand but surely if one is expecting change, then one would hope that the change would be right from the beginning and teaching the awam that being respectful while having intelligent discourse is something Pakistan and Pakistanis are capable of .

Don’t get me wrong. I have admired Imran Khan for his cricket and of course his fabulous work with SKMT. Not sure of his abilities to run a country. But … if he has that much support…then maybe it may be a good idea for people to come on board to support and hold him accountable so he doesn’t make the same mistakes and fail the way Musharraf did. He clearly is popular… we ALL want change…. we are happy to watch and criticize but that’s a good thing. Imran Khan would do well to listen to all the critics and sift out the valid rational concerns from the rabbit “I hate because I love to hate him” critics. I for one would love to see someone come and turn this country into the kind of nation one feels proud to be a citizen of at the international forum instead of only being known for our weaknesses.  If that is to be Imran Khan … and I say IF…. then please… take note of the genuine concerns of those who also want change… and address them too.

I wish I could say I had written this piece but such brilliant writing can certainly not be attriibuted to me. But its worth a read for sure and if you haven’t come across this then let me introduce you to this fantastic article I found.

It has been accused of supporting al-Qaida and double-dealing with the CIA. At the same time the ISI, Pakistan’s powerful intelligence service, is being targeted by Islamist extremists. In the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death, what role will it play? Share 17 Comments (3) Declan Walsh The Guardian, Thursday 12 May 2011 Article history The compound where Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Photograph: Akhtar Soomro If there was one telling moment in Pakistan in the 10 days since Osama bin Laden’s death, when a Hollywood-style American assault on a suburban house left the country reeling, torn between anger, shame and denial, it occurred late one evening on a prime-time television show hosted by Kamran Khan. Chatshow hosts are the secular mullahs of modern Pakistan: fist-banging populists who preach to the nation over supper, often through a rightwing lens. Khan, a tubby 50-year-old journalist with neat glasses and a small chin, is the biggest of them. Every night on Geo, the largest channel, he rails against “corrupt” civilian politicians and America, and lionises the armed forces; some colleagues nickname him “the brigadier”. But as the country seethed over Bin Laden last week, Khan tore off his metaphorical stripes and stamped them into the ground. The army had failed its people, he railed. To Pakistan’s shame US soldiers had invaded the country; their finding Bin Laden in Abbottabad, two hours north of Islamabad, was a disgrace. The country’s “two-faced” approach to extremism had disastrously backfired, he said, reeling off a list of atrocities – New York, Bali, London, Madrid – linked to Pakistan. “We have become the world’s biggest haven of terrorism,” he declared. “We need to change.” Viewers watched in astonishment. The unprecedented attack targeted not only the army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, but also the most sensitive policies of the military’s premier spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI). Feared, reviled and admired in equal measure, the ISI is considered the embodiment of army power in Pakistan, the object of hushed deference. But now, as one US official told me, “the world has changed”. And the ISI finds itself in the line of fire. The Bin Laden debacle has triggered a blizzard of uncomfortable questions, the sharpest come from Washington. How, President Barack Obama wondered aloud last Sunday, could Bin Laden shelter for years in a garrison town that is home to three regimental headquarters, the local version of Sandhurst, and thousands of soldiers? One retired US officer who has served in the region told me he had been mulling the same question. “All those times we drove up to Abbottabad, and we could have taken out our pistols and done the job ourselves,” he said. The CIA chief Leon Panetta, meanwhile, says he didn’t warn the ISI about the special forces raid because he feared word might leak to the al-Qaida leader. Behind the pointed statements lies an urgent question: was the ISI hiding Bin Laden? The answer may lie inside the ISI’s headquarters in Abpara, on the edge of Islamabad. The entrance, beside a private hospital, is suitably discreet: no sign, just a plainclothes officer packing a pistol who direct visitors through a chicane of barriers, soldiers and sniffer dogs. But inside, past the smooth electric gates, lies a neatly tended cluster of adobe buildings separated by smooth lawns and tinkling fountains that resembles a well-funded private university. Cars purr up to the entrance of the central building, a modern structure with a round, echoing lobby. On the top floor sits the chief spy: the director general Ahmed Shuja Pasha, a grey-haired 59-year-old three-star general. One American counterpart describes him as “brilliant and extremely intelligent . . . Thoughtful, pensive and extremely well read; if he was in the US military he would be a very successful officer.” Pasha and the ISI are the heart of Pakistan’s “establishment” – a nebulous web of generals, bureaucrats and hand-picked politicians (not always elected ones) who form the DNA of Pakistan’s defence and security policies. It has at least 10,000 employees (some say twice as many), mixing serving army officers, many on three-year rotations from other services, with thousands of civilian employees, from suited analysts to beefy street spies. In theory they answer to the prime minister; in reality they are a tool of the army chief, Kayani. To supporters, the ISI safeguards national security – monitoring phones, guarding the country’s nuclear weapons. But to its many critics, the ISI is the army’s dirty tricks department, accused of abduction and assassination, vote-rigging and torture, and running Islamist terrorist outfits. “The ISI,” said Minoo Bhandara, an outspoken Parsi businessman who ran a brewery across the road from army headquarters before he died in 2008, “is an institution full of intelligence but devoid of wisdom.” Oddly, it was founded by an Australian. As Pakistan recovered from its disastrous first war with India in 1948, Major General R Cawthorne, on secondment from the British army, decided the fledgling military needed a proper intelligence outfit. The first decades were inauspicious. The ISI mishandled the 1965 war with India and failed to predict the East Pakistan conflict in 1971, which sundered Pakistan in two and created Bangladesh. All changed, however, eight years later when Soviet tanks rolled into Afghanistan on Christmas Day 1979. The decade-long war of resistance – bankrolled by the United States, fought by Afghans and Arabs, but largely run by the ISI from Pakistan’s tribal areas – revolutionised the agency’s fortunes. It ran a network of secret training camps along the Afghan border that trained more than 80,000 fighters. It controlled a weapons pipeline, funded by the CIA and Saudi intelligence, that smuggled Kalashnikovs and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles from Karachi to the Khyber Pass. And it grew powerful and rich. A legendary figure from that period was a man named Colonel Imam, whom I first met five years ago. He was tall and burly, with a thick beard and a crooked smile that suggested several missing teeth. He wore a white turban and an olive-green, British issue second world war-issue paratroop jacket, which he told me he had been wearing since he joined the army in 1971. During the 80s, Imam ran many of the ISI training camps, becoming popular among ethnic Pashtun fighters for his love of Islam and his fondness for killing Soviets. “Those were wonderful times,” he told me. Although his real name was Sultan Amir, to the Afghans he became “Colonel Imam”. “I loved the fight. And the mujahideen were very fond of me,” he said with a smile. The US liked him too. On the wall of his Rawalpindi home hung war trophies from the 80s – daggers, faded photos, a Russian general’s gun – but on the table sat a chunk of the Berlin wall, cased in glass. “To one who helped deliver the first blow,” it read. “The Americans gave me that,” he said. With the Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, the CIA largely abandoned Pakistan. But the spirit of “jihad” – fighters imbued with Islamist vim – lived on in the ISI. Pakistani officers, having imbibed too much of their own ideology, transformed the spy agency. It started to support Islamist groups across Asia – Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, Burma, India – and the US placed Pakistan on a terrorist watchlist. In 1993, Javed Ashraf Qazi, a secular-minded general officer, was sent in to clean up the mess. “I was shocked at what I found,” he tells me. Senior ISI officers had jettisoned their uniforms for shalwar kameez; their subordinates would disappear off to the mosque for hours on end. The ISI had bought a hotel in Bangkok, probably to facilitate gun-running. The outgoing spy chief, Javed Nasir, was a playboy turned zealot who had grown a scraggly beard and refused to shake women’s hands. On his first day in the office Qazi found him running out of the door to a Muslim missionary conference. “When people say the ISI is a rogue agency, it was true in those days,” he says. Qazi fired the ideologues, sold the hotel and ordered his subordinates to wear their uniforms (some struggled to fit in them). “We cleaned it up,” says Qazi, who later became a minister under Pervez Musharraf. But the ISI was not done with jihad; it had merely narrowed its focus. The proof is on the wall of Qazi’s home. I notice an unusual rifle hanging on the wall. It is an Indian service rifle, Qazi admits half bashfully – a present from one of the “mujahideen” fighters the ISI started to send into Indian-occupied Kashmir from the mid 90s, when he was in charge. “We turned a blind eye to some groups,” he says. They included Lashkar-e-Toiba, he admits – the terrorist outfit that in 2008 would attack hotels and train stations in the Indian city of Mumbai, killing 170 people. In the early 90s, the ISI also started to support an obscure Islamist movement in Afghanistan called the Taliban. Colonel Imam was sent back into Afghanistan to advise the one-eyed Taliban leader Mullah Omar. They had history: Imam, it turned out, had trained Omar back in the mujahideen camps in the 80s. With ISI backing, the Taliban swept to power in Kabul; at the UN in New York, a beleaguered Afghan official complained that Imam was the “de facto governor” of the newly conquered territories. “Ah, they are naughty people,” Imam told me of the Taliban with his shy smile. “Rough people, good fighters, but respected. And they were all my friends.” Over the past decade, however, the ISI has professed to have abandoned jihad. As American troops swarmed across Afghanistan, in search of Bin Laden in late 2001, President General Pervez Musharraf disavowed the Taliban, sacked his most Islamist generals (including the then ISI director, Mahmud Ahmed) and brought Colonel Imam home. The following January he made a signature speech banning a slew of jihadi groups. “We need to rid society of extremism,” he declared. On the ground, though, things have looked different. US diplomatic cables released through WikiLeaks last year claimed the ISI was still covertly supporting the Afghan Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the Haqqani network, as part of its decades-old grudge match with India. And despite billions of dollars in American assistance, wrote ambassador Anne Patterson, “no amount of money” was likely to make the army – or the ISI – change direction. Simultaneously, though, the ISI has become a victim of jihadi violence. The Pakistani Taliban – related to the Afghan movement, but separate, and heavily influenced by al-Qaida – is seeking to oust the Pakistani state. The ISI, deemed to have betrayed them, has become the enemy. Hundreds of ISI officials have died in recent years, killed in bombings of buses and offices, and ISI spies have been beheaded in the tribal belt. In the latest atrocity on 8 March a massive car bomb outside an ISI office in Faisalabad destroyed an airline office and killed 32 people. I last saw Colonel Imam in January 2010 at his home in Rawalpindi. He joked about media articles describing him as the “father of the Taliban”. Weeks later he set off for Waziristan with another former ISI man, Khawaja, and a British journalist, Asad Qureshi, who had been commissioned by Channel 4, to interview the Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud. But the Taliban took them hostage. After a few weeks Khawaja was executed, after confessing on video to being a “CIA spy”. Qureshi was released in September after his family paid a hefty ransom. Then last January, a video of Imam surfaced showing him kneeling before a group of masked, armed men. Mehsud appeared, and said a few words. Then a Talib opened fire, pumped Imam with bullets. “When you’re Frankenstein, and you create a lot of baby monsters who are running round your ankles looking sort of cute, they eventually grow up to be recalcitrant adults,” a US official tells me in Islamabad. “And you hope you can get them back into the fold so they become useful. But the Pakistanis can’t control everything they create.” Could the ISI’s complex policy towards jihadi militants have caused it to harbour Bin Laden? Its many critics have little doubt, particularly in Afghanistan; last week the former Kabul spy chief Amrullah Saleh said he warned Musharraf about Bin Laden four years ago, only to be rowdily shouted down. Now Musharraf himself admits it’s a possibility, albeit one limited to “rogue” officers. Yesterday he told ABC News there was a “possibility” of a “lower-level operative . . . following a policy of his own and violating the policy from above”. But could it be done with the knowledge of the top generals? Opinion is split between agnostics and sceptics. “Did Pasha know? It’s entirely implausible that he didn’t,” says a former western military official who has worked in Pakistan. A senior diplomat sees it differently. Perhaps the ISI is neither complicit or incompetent, he says. Maybe they just didn’t look. “Looking for Osama may not have been a big priority when not finding him earns you billions of dollars a year, and if you did the Americans would leave the region,” he says. The ISI itself points to its consistent record in fighting al-Qaida. Over the past decade it has rounded up hundreds of Islamist suspects, many dispatched to Guantánamo Bay. They include the most notorious al-Qaida henchmen: Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, architect of the 9/11 attacks, snatched from a Rawalpindi safehouse in 2003; Ramzi bin al-Shibh, captured after a gun battle a year earlier; Abu Faraj al-Libi, then the al-Qaida number three, arrested in Mardan in 2005 by ISI commandos wearing burka disguises. Not finding Bin Laden was “a failure on our side,” admits an ISI official. “Unfortunate, but a fact. We are good but we are not God.” Yet the questions remain. How did Bin Laden avoid ISI surveillance in a military area, just a few hundred metres from a major military base, in a zone where military intelligence traditionally keeps a close eye? And what about the army major who recently built his house just behind Osama’s? Did he not wonder about his neighbour with the barbed-wire fence and the security cameras perched on the wall? “I find it entirely implausible that the military and intelligence agencies knew nothing,” says Dr Farzana Sheikh, author of Making Sense of Pakistan. “There must have been knowledge at the highest levels.” But, along with so many other critics, she concedes “there is no proof”. In a country where so many pressing mysteries remain unresolved – from the plane crash that killed General Zia ul-Haq in 1988, to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in 2007 – few are holding their breath. There could, at least, be accountability, although hopes are fading fast. As television anchors raged and criticism of the army swelled last week, some hoped Pakistan’s civilian leadership would seize the moment to claw back part of the power it has ceded over the past 30 years. Yet those hopes were dashed on Monday when prime minister Gilani stood up in parliament for a stout defence of the generals. “The ISI is a national asset,” he said. The battle, if it had ever been contemplated, was lost. Whose side is Pakistan’s ISI really on? It has been accused of supporting al-Qaida and double-dealing with the CIA. At the same time the ISI, Pakistan’s powerful intelligence service, is being targeted by Islamist extremists. In the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death, what role will it play? Share 17 Comments (3) Declan Walsh The Guardian, Thursday 12 May 2011 Article history The compound where Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Photograph: Akhtar Soomro If there was one telling moment in Pakistan in the 10 days since Osama bin Laden’s death, when a Hollywood-style American assault on a suburban house left the country reeling, torn between anger, shame and denial, it occurred late one evening on a prime-time television show hosted by Kamran Khan. Chatshow hosts are the secular mullahs of modern Pakistan: fist-banging populists who preach to the nation over supper, often through a rightwing lens. Khan, a tubby 50-year-old journalist with neat glasses and a small chin, is the biggest of them. Every night on Geo, the largest channel, he rails against “corrupt” civilian politicians and America, and lionises the armed forces; some colleagues nickname him “the brigadier”. But as the country seethed over Bin Laden last week, Khan tore off his metaphorical stripes and stamped them into the ground. The army had failed its people, he railed. To Pakistan’s shame US soldiers had invaded the country; their finding Bin Laden in Abbottabad, two hours north of Islamabad, was a disgrace. The country’s “two-faced” approach to extremism had disastrously backfired, he said, reeling off a list of atrocities – New York, Bali, London, Madrid – linked to Pakistan. “We have become the world’s biggest haven of terrorism,” he declared. “We need to change.” Viewers watched in astonishment. The unprecedented attack targeted not only the army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, but also the most sensitive policies of the military’s premier spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI). Feared, reviled and admired in equal measure, the ISI is considered the embodiment of army power in Pakistan, the object of hushed deference. But now, as one US official told me, “the world has changed”. And the ISI finds itself in the line of fire. The Bin Laden debacle has triggered a blizzard of uncomfortable questions, the sharpest come from Washington. How, President Barack Obama wondered aloud last Sunday, could Bin Laden shelter for years in a garrison town that is home to three regimental headquarters, the local version of Sandhurst, and thousands of soldiers? One retired US officer who has served in the region told me he had been mulling the same question. “All those times we drove up to Abbottabad, and we could have taken out our pistols and done the job ourselves,” he said. The CIA chief Leon Panetta, meanwhile, says he didn’t warn the ISI about the special forces raid because he feared word might leak to the al-Qaida leader. Behind the pointed statements lies an urgent question: was the ISI hiding Bin Laden? The answer may lie inside the ISI’s headquarters in Abpara, on the edge of Islamabad. The entrance, beside a private hospital, is suitably discreet: no sign, just a plainclothes officer packing a pistol who direct visitors through a chicane of barriers, soldiers and sniffer dogs. But inside, past the smooth electric gates, lies a neatly tended cluster of adobe buildings separated by smooth lawns and tinkling fountains that resembles a well-funded private university. Cars purr up to the entrance of the central building, a modern structure with a round, echoing lobby. On the top floor sits the chief spy: the director general Ahmed Shuja Pasha, a grey-haired 59-year-old three-star general. One American counterpart describes him as “brilliant and extremely intelligent . . . Thoughtful, pensive and extremely well read; if he was in the US military he would be a very successful officer.” Pasha and the ISI are the heart of Pakistan’s “establishment” – a nebulous web of generals, bureaucrats and hand-picked politicians (not always elected ones) who form the DNA of Pakistan’s defence and security policies. It has at least 10,000 employees (some say twice as many), mixing serving army officers, many on three-year rotations from other services, with thousands of civilian employees, from suited analysts to beefy street spies. In theory they answer to the prime minister; in reality they are a tool of the army chief, Kayani. To supporters, the ISI safeguards national security – monitoring phones, guarding the country’s nuclear weapons. But to its many critics, the ISI is the army’s dirty tricks department, accused of abduction and assassination, vote-rigging and torture, and running Islamist terrorist outfits. “The ISI,” said Minoo Bhandara, an outspoken Parsi businessman who ran a brewery across the road from army headquarters before he died in 2008, “is an institution full of intelligence but devoid of wisdom.” Oddly, it was founded by an Australian. As Pakistan recovered from its disastrous first war with India in 1948, Major General R Cawthorne, on secondment from the British army, decided the fledgling military needed a proper intelligence outfit. The first decades were inauspicious. The ISI mishandled the 1965 war with India and failed to predict the East Pakistan conflict in 1971, which sundered Pakistan in two and created Bangladesh. All changed, however, eight years later when Soviet tanks rolled into Afghanistan on Christmas Day 1979. The decade-long war of resistance – bankrolled by the United States, fought by Afghans and Arabs, but largely run by the ISI from Pakistan’s tribal areas – revolutionised the agency’s fortunes. It ran a network of secret training camps along the Afghan border that trained more than 80,000 fighters. It controlled a weapons pipeline, funded by the CIA and Saudi intelligence, that smuggled Kalashnikovs and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles from Karachi to the Khyber Pass. And it grew powerful and rich. A legendary figure from that period was a man named Colonel Imam, whom I first met five years ago. He was tall and burly, with a thick beard and a crooked smile that suggested several missing teeth. He wore a white turban and an olive-green, British issue second world war-issue paratroop jacket, which he told me he had been wearing since he joined the army in 1971. During the 80s, Imam ran many of the ISI training camps, becoming popular among ethnic Pashtun fighters for his love of Islam and his fondness for killing Soviets. “Those were wonderful times,” he told me. Although his real name was Sultan Amir, to the Afghans he became “Colonel Imam”. “I loved the fight. And the mujahideen were very fond of me,” he said with a smile. The US liked him too. On the wall of his Rawalpindi home hung war trophies from the 80s – daggers, faded photos, a Russian general’s gun – but on the table sat a chunk of the Berlin wall, cased in glass. “To one who helped deliver the first blow,” it read. “The Americans gave me that,” he said. With the Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, the CIA largely abandoned Pakistan. But the spirit of “jihad” – fighters imbued with Islamist vim – lived on in the ISI. Pakistani officers, having imbibed too much of their own ideology, transformed the spy agency. It started to support Islamist groups across Asia – Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, Burma, India – and the US placed Pakistan on a terrorist watchlist. In 1993, Javed Ashraf Qazi, a secular-minded general officer, was sent in to clean up the mess. “I was shocked at what I found,” he tells me. Senior ISI officers had jettisoned their uniforms for shalwar kameez; their subordinates would disappear off to the mosque for hours on end. The ISI had bought a hotel in Bangkok, probably to facilitate gun-running. The outgoing spy chief, Javed Nasir, was a playboy turned zealot who had grown a scraggly beard and refused to shake women’s hands. On his first day in the office Qazi found him running out of the door to a Muslim missionary conference. “When people say the ISI is a rogue agency, it was true in those days,” he says. Qazi fired the ideologues, sold the hotel and ordered his subordinates to wear their uniforms (some struggled to fit in them). “We cleaned it up,” says Qazi, who later became a minister under Pervez Musharraf. But the ISI was not done with jihad; it had merely narrowed its focus. The proof is on the wall of Qazi’s home. I notice an unusual rifle hanging on the wall. It is an Indian service rifle, Qazi admits half bashfully – a present from one of the “mujahideen” fighters the ISI started to send into Indian-occupied Kashmir from the mid 90s, when he was in charge. “We turned a blind eye to some groups,” he says. They included Lashkar-e-Toiba, he admits – the terrorist outfit that in 2008 would attack hotels and train stations in the Indian city of Mumbai, killing 170 people. In the early 90s, the ISI also started to support an obscure Islamist movement in Afghanistan called the Taliban. Colonel Imam was sent back into Afghanistan to advise the one-eyed Taliban leader Mullah Omar. They had history: Imam, it turned out, had trained Omar back in the mujahideen camps in the 80s. With ISI backing, the Taliban swept to power in Kabul; at the UN in New York, a beleaguered Afghan official complained that Imam was the “de facto governor” of the newly conquered territories. “Ah, they are naughty people,” Imam told me of the Taliban with his shy smile. “Rough people, good fighters, but respected. And they were all my friends.” Over the past decade, however, the ISI has professed to have abandoned jihad. As American troops swarmed across Afghanistan, in search of Bin Laden in late 2001, President General Pervez Musharraf disavowed the Taliban, sacked his most Islamist generals (including the then ISI director, Mahmud Ahmed) and brought Colonel Imam home. The following January he made a signature speech banning a slew of jihadi groups. “We need to rid society of extremism,” he declared. On the ground, though, things have looked different. US diplomatic cables released through WikiLeaks last year claimed the ISI was still covertly supporting the Afghan Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the Haqqani network, as part of its decades-old grudge match with India. And despite billions of dollars in American assistance, wrote ambassador Anne Patterson, “no amount of money” was likely to make the army – or the ISI – change direction. Simultaneously, though, the ISI has become a victim of jihadi violence. The Pakistani Taliban – related to the Afghan movement, but separate, and heavily influenced by al-Qaida – is seeking to oust the Pakistani state. The ISI, deemed to have betrayed them, has become the enemy. Hundreds of ISI officials have died in recent years, killed in bombings of buses and offices, and ISI spies have been beheaded in the tribal belt. In the latest atrocity on 8 March a massive car bomb outside an ISI office in Faisalabad destroyed an airline office and killed 32 people. I last saw Colonel Imam in January 2010 at his home in Rawalpindi. He joked about media articles describing him as the “father of the Taliban”. Weeks later he set off for Waziristan with another former ISI man, Khawaja, and a British journalist, Asad Qureshi, who had been commissioned by Channel 4, to interview the Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud. But the Taliban took them hostage. After a few weeks Khawaja was executed, after confessing on video to being a “CIA spy”. Qureshi was released in September after his family paid a hefty ransom. Then last January, a video of Imam surfaced showing him kneeling before a group of masked, armed men. Mehsud appeared, and said a few words. Then a Talib opened fire, pumped Imam with bullets. “When you’re Frankenstein, and you create a lot of baby monsters who are running round your ankles looking sort of cute, they eventually grow up to be recalcitrant adults,” a US official tells me in Islamabad. “And you hope you can get them back into the fold so they become useful. But the Pakistanis can’t control everything they create.” Could the ISI’s complex policy towards jihadi militants have caused it to harbour Bin Laden? Its many critics have little doubt, particularly in Afghanistan; last week the former Kabul spy chief Amrullah Saleh said he warned Musharraf about Bin Laden four years ago, only to be rowdily shouted down. Now Musharraf himself admits it’s a possibility, albeit one limited to “rogue” officers. Yesterday he told ABC News there was a “possibility” of a “lower-level operative . . . following a policy of his own and violating the policy from above”. But could it be done with the knowledge of the top generals? Opinion is split between agnostics and sceptics. “Did Pasha know? It’s entirely implausible that he didn’t,” says a former western military official who has worked in Pakistan. A senior diplomat sees it differently. Perhaps the ISI is neither complicit or incompetent, he says. Maybe they just didn’t look. “Looking for Osama may not have been a big priority when not finding him earns you billions of dollars a year, and if you did the Americans would leave the region,” he says. The ISI itself points to its consistent record in fighting al-Qaida. Over the past decade it has rounded up hundreds of Islamist suspects, many dispatched to Guantánamo Bay. They include the most notorious al-Qaida henchmen: Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, architect of the 9/11 attacks, snatched from a Rawalpindi safehouse in 2003; Ramzi bin al-Shibh, captured after a gun battle a year earlier; Abu Faraj al-Libi, then the al-Qaida number three, arrested in Mardan in 2005 by ISI commandos wearing burka disguises. Not finding Bin Laden was “a failure on our side,” admits an ISI official. “Unfortunate, but a fact. We are good but we are not God.” Yet the questions remain. How did Bin Laden avoid ISI surveillance in a military area, just a few hundred metres from a major military base, in a zone where military intelligence traditionally keeps a close eye? And what about the army major who recently built his house just behind Osama’s? Did he not wonder about his neighbour with the barbed-wire fence and the security cameras perched on the wall? “I find it entirely implausible that the military and intelligence agencies knew nothing,” says Dr Farzana Sheikh, author of Making Sense of Pakistan. “There must have been knowledge at the highest levels.” But, along with so many other critics, she concedes “there is no proof”. In a country where so many pressing mysteries remain unresolved – from the plane crash that killed General Zia ul-Haq in 1988, to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in 2007 – few are holding their breath. There could, at least, be accountability, although hopes are fading fast. As television anchors raged and criticism of the army swelled last week, some hoped Pakistan’s civilian leadership would seize the moment to claw back part of the power it has ceded over the past 30 years. Yet those hopes were dashed on Monday when prime minister Gilani stood up in parliament for a stout defence of the generals. “The ISI is a national asset,” he said. The battle, if it had ever been contemplated, was lost. In America the scrutiny will not vanish so easily. Angry congressional leaders have called for Pakistan’s $3bn annual aid package to be slashed; hostile media coverage portraying the ISI as an enemy unit is growing. Government officials, however, are more circumspect. With Nato’s main military supply line running through Pakistan, other al-Qaida figures still at large including Bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and a peace settlement to be negotiated in Afghanistan, many quietly speak of the need to eventually patch up the Pakistan relationship – although few doubt that it has been utterly changed over the past 10 days. “We can’t break it, it’s too important,” says one US official. “We’re going to have to sit down across the table and try and tell some truths to each other.” Still, he adds: “There are degrees in truth. We would like to have a degree of the truth.” American popular opinion may be less nuanced. The forthcoming trial of David Headley, an American jihadi accused of helping Lashkar-e-Taiba carry out the Mumbai attacks, is likely to bring fresh accusations of ISI “double-game”. And movie culture is likely to have a strong influence. Even before Bin Laden died an action thriller called tentatively “Kill Bin Laden”, by Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow, was in the works. Now many more will surely follow. In the coming months, casting directors will start seeking actors to play macho navy Seals, a tense American president and an elusive Saudi fugitive. And, almost certainly, they will be looking for a clutch of double-dealing Pakistani spies. In the ISI, Hollywood may have found a new bad guy. In America the scrutiny will not vanish so easily. Angry congressional leaders have called for Pakistan’s $3bn annual aid package to be slashed; hostile media coverage portraying the ISI as an enemy unit is growing. Government officials, however, are more circumspect. With Nato’s main military supply line running through Pakistan, other al-Qaida figures still at large including Bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and a peace settlement to be negotiated in Afghanistan, many quietly speak of the need to eventually patch up the Pakistan relationship – although few doubt that it has been utterly changed over the past 10 days. “We can’t break it, it’s too important,” says one US official. “We’re going to have to sit down across the table and try and tell some truths to each other.” Still, he adds: “There are degrees in truth. We would like to have a degree of the truth.” American popular opinion may be less nuanced. The forthcoming trial of David Headley, an American jihadi accused of helping Lashkar-e-Taiba carry out the Mumbai attacks, is likely to bring fresh accusations of ISI “double-game”. And movie culture is likely to have a strong influence. Even before Bin Laden died an action thriller called tentatively “Kill Bin Laden”, by Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow, was in the works. Now many more will surely follow. In the coming months, casting directors will start seeking actors to play macho navy Seals, a tense American president and an elusive Saudi fugitive. And, almost certainly, they will be looking for a clutch of double-dealing Pakistani spies. In the ISI, Hollywood may have found a new bad guy.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/12/isi-bin-laden-death-pakistan-alqaida

so today was exciting. My twitter feed was a flutter to put it mildly… have to say I missed the action as I was fast asleep when everything went down. In fact before turning the tv on, I browsed through the paper and saw the story of the helicopter going down somewhere in Abbottabad and didn’t think twice about it … though @realvirtual unwittingly became a live tweeter to the event. That’s what I love about Twitter…how you could be randomly just reporting things as you see them and it turns out to be the event of the decade!! In sleepy Abbottabad no less which has been described by Western journalists as a suburb of Islamabad. Idiots. then again Geography was never their strong point.

So the OBL story has finally been laid to rest. Of course the conspiracy theorists are having a field day and many believe this is all hogwash. The man was probably dead for years but they couldn’t let the info out as how would one justify the ongoing presence of US soldiers in the area. Many things don’t add up about the case. Lets say for argument’s sake that they really thought this was OBL and Uncle Sam radioed the boys on the ground and asked them to mosey their boodies down there and put a bullet in the devil’s head. Which apparently they did. But then why the rush to “bury the body at sea”? Wouldn’t they WANT to prove to everyone they had indeed finally gotten this evil evil man if they had him? So they didn’t want to be attacked and have the corpse looked at as a martyr… how about flying the corpse out to Batagram  ? Afghanistan? which by the way was what was reported till later reports came in on the corpse being buried at sea. The question is WHY? why the rush? then some picture was released off the man on Express tv and it looked like a bang up photo shop job… and the US conducted this operation on our territory? again? do they still have a free hand to conduct drone attacks? If we are giving them this much freedom why not just ask them to take over the country ….maybe they could set us straight. Why even pretend?  at the end of this eventful day….. all that we are left with really are more questions than answers. And all the US has is another body added to their growing body count of corpses

For your perusal I am also attaching links to some articles that may be worth reading as well as posting here

Bin Laden killed: How it happened

More details have now emerged of how al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was found and killed at a fortified compound on the outskirts of Abbottabad in north-west Pakistan.

The compound is a few hundred metres from the Pakistan Military Academy, an elite military training centre, which is being described as Pakistan’s equivalent to Britain’s Sandhurst or the West Point academy in the US.

There were conflicting reports about the compound’s distance from the academy, with Pakistan’s military saying they are as much as 4km (2.4 miles) apart.

In any case the compound lies well within Abbottabad’s military cantonment, and it is likely the area would have had a constant and significant military presence and checkpoints.

Pakistan’s army chief is a regular visitor to the academy, where he attends graduation parades.

The operation against Osama Bin Laden began at about 2230 (1730 GMT) and lasted about 45 minutes, military sources told BBC Urdu. Two or three helicopters were seen flying low over the area. Witnesses say they caused panic among local residents.

One report of the operation emerged in real-time: Sohaib Athar, an IT consultant living in Abbottabad, posted on Twitter at about 0100 (2100 GMT) that a helicopter was hovering above the city.

He continued tweeting as the operation unfolded before eventually realising: “Uh oh, now I’m the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it.

Barbed wire and cameras

The target of the operation was the compound, which had at its centre a large three-storey building.

Continue reading the main story

Abbottabad

  • Abbottabad – known as “city of pines”- is a small town nestled in the beautiful lush, green hills of north-west Pakistan.
  • It is an agricultural community, but with a population of about 120,000, it provides a centre for many of the neighbouring villages
  • It is a military garrison town and has one of Pakistan’s most prestigious training academies
  • It takes its name from British Major James Abbott who founded it in 1853 after he annexed the Punjab area

When the helicopters – which had reportedly flown from Afghanistan – landed outside the compound, men emerged from the aircraft. The raid was conducted by a special team of between 20 and 25 US Navy Seals.

People living in the area, known as Thanda Choha, told BBC Urdu that they were commanded in Pashto to switch off their lights and not to leave their homes.

Shortly afterwards residents said they heard shots being fired and the sound of heavy firearms.

At some point in the operation one of the helicopters crashed, either from technical failure or having been hit by gunfire from the ground. But no US commandos were injured.

The compound was about 3,000 sq yds in size but people from the area told the BBC that it was surrounded by 14ft-high walls, so not much could be seen of what was happening inside.

The walls were topped by barbed wire and contained cameras.

There were two security gates at the compound – said to have been valued at about $1m (£600,000) – but no phone or internet lines running into the building.

Its occupants were so concerned about security that they were reported to burn their rubbish rather than leave it out for collection as other residents in the area did.

‘Waziristan Mansion’

After the operation witnesses said all they could see was fire snaking up from inside the house.

Osama Bin Laden did resist the assault and was killed in battle, US officials told White House reporters. The al-Qaeda leader was shot in the head.

The officials described the operation as a “surgical raid” and said three adult males, including Bin Laden’s adult son, were killed. But, they added, a woman who was being used as a shield was also killed.

According to local residents speaking to BBC Urdu the forces conducting the operation later emerged from the compound, possibly with somebody who had been inside.

Some reports say Bin Laden’s body was then flown to Afghanistan before eventually being laid to rest at sea.

Local residents say that women and children were also living in the compound.

One local resident told the BBC Urdu that the house had been built by a Pashtun man about 10 or 12 years ago. The resident said that none of the locals were aware of who was really living there. However, the New York Times said US officials believed that the house was specially built in 2005.

According to one local journalist, the house was known in the area as Waziristani Haveli – or Waziristan Mansion.

The journalist said it was owned by people from Waziristan, the mountainous and inhospitable semi-autonomous tribal area close to the Afghan border, which until now most observers believed to be Bin Laden’s hiding place.

This house was in a residential district of Abbottabad’s suburbs called Bilal Town and known to be home to a number of retired military officers from the area.

Intelligence officials in the US are quoted by AP as saying that the house was custom-built to harbour a major “terrorist” figure.

‘Trusted’ courier

Compound in AbbottabadPolice walk past the compound where the battle took place

As details of the raid emerged it became clear that the operation had been long in the planning. US officials said they received intelligence that Osama Bin Laden might be in that compound as long ago as last summer.

CIA experts analysed whether the “high value target” living at the compound could be anyone else but they decided in the end that it was almost certainly Bin Laden.

US intelligence agents focussed in particular on one of Bin Laden’s couriers – a man identified as a protege of captured al-Qaeda commander Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The courier’s pseudonym was reportedly given to US interrogators by detainees at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, US media reported.

He appeared to be one of the few couriers completely trusted by Osama Bin Laden, who helped keep the al-Qaeda figurehead in touch with the rest of the world.

For years US intelligence had been unable to name the courier. But four years ago they worked out who he was and two years later they discovered where he operated.

It was only in August 2010 that they located him in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The order to carry out the mission was finally given by President Obama last Friday, after he had held five National Security Council meetings in March and April.

US officials described as “extraordinary” the security measures in the Abbottabad compound – among them high walls and barricades, very few windows, and a 7ft high privacy wall on the second floor.

After the US attack Pakistani troops arrived at the scene and secured the area.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13257330

Yet another article I post below supports an idea the conspiracy theorists love.

Has Osama Bin Laden been dead for seven years – and are the U.S. and Britain covering it up to continue war on terror?

By SUE REID
Last updated at 10:59 PM on 11th September 2009

The last time we heard a squeak from him was on June 3 this year.

The world’s most notorious terrorist outsmarted America by releasing a menacing message as Air Force One touched down on Saudi Arabian soil at the start of Barack Obama’s first and much vaunted Middle East tour.

Even before the new President alighted at Riyadh airport to shake hands with Prince Abdullah, Bin Laden’s words were being aired on TV, radio and the internet across every continent.

Osama in October 2001Genuine picture: Osama Bin Laden in October 2001

It was yet another propaganda coup for the 52-year-old Al Qaeda leader. In the audiotape delivered to the Arab news network Al Jazeera, Bin Laden said that America and her Western allies were sowing seeds of hatred in the Muslim world and deserved dire consequences.

It was the kind of rant we have heard from him before, and the response from British and U.S. intelligence services was equally predictable.

They insisted that the details on the tape, of the President’s visit and other contemporary events, proved that the mastermind of 9/11, America’s worst ever terrorist atrocity, was still alive – and that the hunt for him must go on.

Bin Laden has always been blamed for orchestrating the horrific attack – in which nearly 3,000 people perished – eight years ago this week. President George W. Bush made his capture a national priority, infamously promising with a Wild West flourish to take him ‘dead or alive’.

The U.S. State Department offered a reward of $50million for his whereabouts. The FBI named him one of their ten ‘most wanted’ fugitives, telling the public to watch out for a left-handed, grey-bearded gentleman who walks with a stick.

Bin LadenFake? Bin Laden two months later, when he was supposedly dead

Yet this master terrorist remains elusive. He has escaped the most extensive and expensive man-hunt in history, stretching across Waziristan, the 1,500 miles of mountainous badlands on the borders of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Undeterred, Barack Obama has launched a fresh operation to find him. Working with the Pakistani Army, elite squads of U.S. and British special forces were sent into Waziristan this summer to ‘hunt and kill’ the shadowy figure intelligence officers still call ‘the principal target’ of the war on terror.

This new offensive is, of course, based on the premise that the 9/11 terrorist is alive. After all, there are the plethora of ‘Bin Laden tapes’ to prove it.

Yet what if he isn’t? What if he has been dead for years, and the British and U.S. intelligence services are actually playing a game of double bluff?

What if everything we have seen or heard of him on video and audio tapes since the early days after 9/11 is a fake – and that he is being kept ‘alive’ by the Western allies to stir up support for the war on terror?

Incredibly, this is the breathtaking theory that is gaining credence among political commentators, respected academics and even terror experts.

Of course, there have been any number of conspiracy theories concerning 9/11, and it could be this is just another one.

But the weight of opinion now swinging behind the possibility that Bin Laden is dead – and the accumulating evidence that supports it – makes the notion, at the very least, worthy of examination.

The theory first received an airing in the American Spectator magazine earlier this year when former U.S. foreign intelligence officer and senior editor Angelo M. Codevilla, a professor of international relations at Boston University, stated bluntly: ‘All the evidence suggests Elvis Presley is more alive today than Osama Bin Laden.’

9/119/11: Bin Laden originally insisted in official press statements that he had played no role in the atrocity

Prof Codevilla pointed to inconsistencies in the videos and claimed there have been no reputable sightings of Bin Laden for years (for instance, all interceptions by the West of communications made by the Al Qaeda leader suddenly ceased in late 2001).

Prof Codevilla asserted: ‘The video and audio tapes alleged to be Osama’s never convince the impartial observer,’ he asserted. ‘The guy just does not look like Osama. Some videos show him with a Semitic, aquiline nose, while others show him with a shorter, broader one. Next to that, differences between the colours and styles of his beard are small stuff.’

There are other doubters, too. Professor Bruce Lawrence, head of Duke University’s religious studies’ department and the foremost Bin Laden expert, argues that the increasingly secular language in the video and audio tapes of Osama (his earliest ones are littered with references to God and the Prophet Mohammed) are inconsistent with his strict Islamic religion, Wahhabism.

He notes that, on one video, Bin Laden wears golden rings on his fingers, an adornment banned among Wahhabi followers.

Bin Laden
Bin Laden

Bin Laden in 1998 (l) and, allegedly, in 2002: Sceptics have pointed to a thicker nose and the ring on his right hand as proof it is an imposter

This week, still more questions have been raised with the publication in America and Britain of a book called Osama Bin Laden: Dead or Alive?

Written by political analyst and philosopher Professor David Ray Griffin, former emeritus professor at California’s Claremont School of Theology, it is provoking shock waves – for it goes into far more detail about his supposed death and suggests there has been a cover-up by the West.

The book claims that Bin Laden died of kidney failure, or a linked complaint, on December 13, 2001, while living in Afghanistan’s Tora Bora mountains close to the border with Waziristan.

His burial took place within 24 hours, in line with Muslim religious rules, and in an unmarked grave, which is a Wahhabi custom.

The author insists that the many Bin Laden tapes made since that date have been concocted by the West to make the world believe Bin Laden is alive. The purpose? To stoke up waning support for the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan.

To understand Griffin’s thesis, we must remember the West’s reaction to 9/11, that fateful sunny September day in 2001. Within a month, on Sunday, October 7, the U.S. and Britain launched massive retaliatory air strikes in the Tora Bora region where they said ‘prime suspect’ Bin Laden was living ‘as a guest of Afghanistan’.

This military offensive ignored the fact that Bin Laden had already insisted four times in official Al Qaeda statements made to the Arab press that he played no role in 9/11.

Indeed, on the fourth occasion, on September 28 and a fortnight after the atrocity, he declared emphatically: ‘I have already said I am not involved. As a Muslim, I try my best to avoid telling a lie. I had no knowledge… nor do I consider the killing of innocent women, children and other humans as an appreciable act.’

Within hours of the October 7 strikes by the U.S. on Tora Bora, Bin Laden made his first ever appearance on video tape. Dressed in Army fatigues, and with an Islamic head-dress, he had an assault rifle propped behind him in a broadly lit mountain hideout. Significantly, he looked pale and gaunt.

Although he called President George W. Bush ‘head of the infidels’ and poured scorn on the U.S., he once again rejected responsibility for 9/11.

‘America was hit by God in one of its softest spots. America is full of fear, from its north to its south, from its west to its east. Thank God for that.’

Then came a second videotape on November 3, 2001. Once again, an ailing Bin Laden lashed out at the United States. He urged true Muslims to celebrate the attacks – but did not at any time acknowledge he had been involved in the atrocity.

And then there was silence until December 13, 2001 – the date Griffin claims Bin Laden died. That very day, the U.S. Government released a new video of the terror chief. In this tape, Bin Laden contradicted all his previous denials, and suddenly admitted to his involvement in the atrocity of 9/11.

The tape had reportedly been found by U.S. troops in a private home in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, after anti-Taliban forces took over the city. A label attached to it claimed that it had been made on November 9, 2001.

BushBush made Bin Laden’s capture a national priority, claiming he could get his man – dead or alive

The tape shows Bin Laden talking with a visiting sheik. In it, he clearly states that he not only knew about the 9/11 atrocities in advance, but had planned every detail personally.

What manna for the Western authorities! This put the terrorist back in the frame over 9/11. The Washington Post quoted U.S. officials saying that the video ‘offers the most convincing evidence of a connection between Bin Laden and the September 11 attacks’.

A euphoric President Bush added: ‘For those who see this tape, they realise that not only is he guilty of incredible murder, but he has no conscience and no soul.’

In London, Downing Street said that the video was ‘conclusive proof of his involvement’. The then Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, added: ‘There is no doubt it is the real thing. People can see Bin Laden there, making those utterly chilling words of admission about his guilt for organising the atrocities of September 11.’

Yet Professor Griffin claims this ‘confessional’ video provokes more questions than answers. For a start, the Bin Laden in this vital film testimony looks different.

He is a weighty man with a black beard, not a grey one. His pale skin had suddenly become darker, and he had a different shaped nose. His artistic hands with slender fingers had transformed into those of a pugilist. He looked in exceedingly good health.

Furthermore, Bin Laden can be seen writing a note with his right hand, although he is left-handed. Bizarrely, too, he makes statements about 9/11 which Griffin claims would never have come from the mouth of the real Bin Laden – a man with a civil engineering degree who had made his fortune (before moving into terrorism) from building construction in the Middle East.

For example, the Al Qaeda leader trumpets that far more people died in 9/11 than he had expected. He goes on: ‘Due to my experience in this field, I was thinking that the explosion from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building and collapse the area where the plane hit and all the floors above it only. That is all we had hoped for.’ (In reality the Twin Towers’ completely fell down).

The words of the true Bin Laden? No, says Griffin, because of the obvious mistakes. ‘Given his experience as a contractor, he would have known the Twin Towers were framed with steel, not iron,’ he says.

‘He would also known that steel and iron do not begin to melt until they reach 2,800 deg F. Yet a building fire fed by jet fuel is a hydrocarbon fire, and could not have reached above 1,800 deg F.’

Griffin, in his explosive book, says this tape is fake, and he goes further.

‘A reason to suspect that all of the post-2001 Bin Laden tapes are fabrications is that they often appeared at times that boosted the Bush presidency or supported a claim by its chief ‘war on terror’ ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

‘The confession tape came exactly when Bush and Blair had failed to prove Bin Laden’s responsibility for 9/11 and both men were trying to win international public support, particularly in the Islamic world, for the anti-terrorist campaign.’

Griffin suggests that Western governments used highly sophisticated, special effects film technology to morph together images and vocal recordings of Bin Laden.

So if they are fakes, why has Al Qaeda kept quiet about it? And what exactly happened to the real Bin Laden?

The answer to the first question may be that the amorphous terrorist organisation is happy to wage its own propaganda battle in the face of waning support – and goes along with the myth that its charismatic figurehead is still alive to encourage recruitment to its cause.

As for the matter of what happened to him, hints of Bin Laden’s kidney failure, or that he might be dead, first appeared on January 19, 2002, four months after 9/11.

This was when Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf told America’s news show CNN: ‘I think now, frankly, he is dead for the reason he is a kidney patient. The images of him show he is extremely weak.’

In his book, Professor Griffin also endorses this theory. He says Bin Laden was treated for a urinary infection, often linked to kidney disease, at the American Hospital in Dubai in July 2001, two months before 9/11. At the same time, he ordered a mobile dialysis machine to be delivered to Afghanistan.

How could Bin Laden, on the run in snowy mountain caves, have used the machine that many believe was essential to keep him alive? Doctors whom Griffin cites on the subject think it would have been impossible.

He would have needed to stay in one spot with a team of medics, hygienic conditions, and a regular maintenance programme for the dialysis unit itself.

And what of the telling, small news item that broke on December 26, 2001 in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Wafd? It said a prominent official of the Afghan Taliban had announced that Osama Bin Laden had been buried on or about December 13.

‘He suffered serious complications and died a natural, quiet death. He was buried in Tora Bora, a funeral attended by 30 Al Qaeda fighters, close members of his family and friends from the Taliban. By the Wahhabi tradition, no mark was left on the grave,’ said the report.

The Taliban official, who was not named, said triumphantly that he had seen Bin Laden’s face in his shroud. ‘He looked pale, but calm, relaxed and confident.’

It was Christmas in Washington DC and London and the report hardly got a mention. Since then, the Bin Laden tapes have emerged with clockwork regularity as billions have been spent and much blood spilt on the hunt for him.

Bin Laden has been the central plank of the West’s ‘war on terror’. Could it be that, for years, he’s just been smoke and mirrors?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1212851/Has-Osama-Bin-Laden-dead-seven-years–U-S-Britain-covering-continue-war-terror.html

Another great link to look at http://www.democracynow.org/2011/5/2/did_pakistani_govt_know_where_osama

After all is said and done…with so many untruths and further untruths one wonders will the world ever know the truth about what really happened on 9/11 , the day that changed the world and wreaked havoc on a people far removed from the USA.

Had a day off today and have to say…lived the life of leisure I always wanted …but its lovely for a day…not sure if this is how I would want to spend all my days. Would want my life to count for something. Massages, manicures and pedicures are delightful luxuries specially for someone who is always on the go and never has the time for anything.

 

While I was lying on my massage table I was reviewing all the happenings of the past few months in Pakistan… and my mind kept coming back to the killing of  Ahmedis and of course the assasination of Salman Taseer.. Yes I know cricket  should be first and foremost on my mind… specially with the usual allegations of spot fixing and match fixing coming up….ho hum…. eventually they will figure it out or not … find  a witch and burn her to the stake… amazing such national anger over cricket… yet innocents being murdered in cold blood doesn’t seem to evoke that kind of response.

As I was driving home from work last night I switched on the radio to hear these two presenters of course trying to make light of our dismissal from the World Cup. A comment was made that really stuck with me. and I quote “If the country can get together to watch cricket…why can’t we get together to make a dam for example? ” cost of electricity will go down which means communal benefit… right? makes sense doesn’t it?? sigh…. why is it so difficult to make people just sit and work together for the greater good? whether its a dam, or some new project that will be beneficial … or something as banal as a volleyball club… there seem to be issues with everything…. and it all seems to boil down to a little thing called … um …ego. … disguised as intolerance… self righteous… delusions of grandeur but at the end of it all it all boils down to the ego. If only one could really boil an ego the way one would an egg… a lot of problems would be solved for sure. In the meanwhile I am going back to my hypnotic cd that is apparently going to help me get thin! will keep posted how that one works :)

 

 

 

So so here we are…The Cricket World Cup 2011 final is days away. and as you know by now… Pakistan didn’t make it in to the finals. But we did make it into the semis. And yes…there are many pissed off Pakistanis.. I heard stories of some boys who ripped the projection screen after the match… brats… and another story of how these two men in Chakwal shot each other when Afridi was out…. hmmm idiots… they won’t get to see if Pakistan gets into the finals in 2015 now will they…. bit on the emo side our lot…but thankfully for the most part we as a nation have managed to keep our cool. We have been gracious… and so we should be considering how Pakistan has managed to change its face of hatred and anger to patriotism and good will in the span of 30 days. Give our politicians a week and they will probably bring us back to where we started but its so heartening to see we are still capable of this.

 

Meanwhile I have given up on my volleyball club. What was started with the intention of uniting communities from different socio economic backgrounds has ended up becoming a divisive factor within the elite of Lahore. Never have I seen an uglier side of the city than the side that volleyball… a supposedly fun sport. But nonetheless… it was an experiment… volleyball is thriving… within a set social circle and AAAALLL is WELL

 

Am sitting in Karachi right now… a break I welcome even though its for work. Staying with my “sister” Maya as if I even think of staying elsewhere she would probably personally ensure my early demise and not very pleasantly either I’m sure. We all watched the match together last night and ate copious amounts of food. My monthly ration of carbs was consumed over the period of 6 hours. ….sigh…. dieting tomorrow maybe?? then again… probably not.

 

Asad and Samiha… some lovely friends of mine have lent me their car thank God which doesn’t leave me at the mercy of the production house with whom I am recording a new sit com … hoping that I actually manage to spend some time bonding with them. speaking of bonding.. missing my family. My lovely girls who are sooo much fun to hang out with.. .and no this is not motherly bias talking but I have to say they have developed into lovely young ladies. and of course my wonderful husband… still known to some as Mr Delicious from my Friday Times articles… and waiting for the time to pass swiftly so I can be back home.

 

I don’t want to make any political comments right now on the state of the country. Quite frankly I am bored with the discourse. Its meaningless gibberish right now as so much has been said so much that its all white noise now… enough to put one to sleep… which is exactly what I am planning to do now… sleep that is… so goodnight my friends… sweet dreams

 

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