In a recent interview, Lt.-Gen. (retired) Shahid Aziz, a former Pakistani military general, answered a range of questions on the U.S. role in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, especially in the wake of the Raymond Davis issue. Lt.-Gen. Aziz has held key positions in the Pakistani military establishment, including as Director of Military Operations, Director General of the Analysis Wing of the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and Commander of the Lahore Corps. He served as Chief of General Staff at the General Headquarters (GHQ) of the Pakistan Army after the 9/11 attacks, and is known for his first-hand knowledge of Pakistan's role in the U.S.-led war on terror. It should be noted here that soon after 9/11, Pakistan's military ruler General Pervez Musharraf agreed to support the U.S.-led war on terror against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
In the interview with the Urdu-language daily Roznama Ummat, Lt.-Gen. Aziz accused the CIA of creating spy networks across Pakistan and masterminding bomb blasts and suicide attacks in the name of the mujahideen, i.e. the Taliban. Opposing the U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan, he also accused the Pakistani leadership of creating national a furor over the Raymond Davis issue while ignoring the killing of hundreds of other Pakistanis in U.S. attacks in the tribal region.
Following are excerpts from the interview:
"The U.S. will Leave Afghanistan Only When It Decides to Quit International Politics…; The Vietnam War did not Have so Many International Consequences"
Q: "Some people are talking about the need for establishing a national government [in Pakistan], and you too have supported the idea. Why?"
Lt.-Gen. (retired) Shahid Aziz: "I have not floated the idea of a national government, as the national government is composed of politicians. My suggestion is to form a government of experts, because there is no possibility of improvement in the present system. I was among those involved in bringing Pervez Musharraf to power, but I was mistaken. That is why I have come with a suggestion today that every sector should be improved by bringing its experts [into decision making].
"Today various parties are in power in different provinces, and the performance of all these parties is evident to everyone. Now the system needs a change, and, if necessary, the constitution too should be changed."
Q: "It is said that the U.S. is leaving Afghanistan. True?"
Lt.-Gen. (retired) Shahid Aziz: "The U.S. will leave Afghanistan only when it decides to quit international politics. I don't see any sign of the U.S. leaving Afghanistan; nor do they have any such intention. The U.S. leaving Afghanistan would mean that the global war against terror has come to an end; has it admitted its defeat? Actually the declared war against terrorism is only in Afghanistan and Pakistan; therefore, the U.S. will not leave this region so easily."
Q: "But did not the U.S. leave Vietnam?"
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Lt.-Gen. (retired) Shahid Aziz: "The story of Vietnam is different from this one. That was a different issue; this one is a different issue. The factors of this issue are different from that of Vietnam. If the U.S. leaves Afghanistan, it would be the defeat of America at the hands of Muslims; and as a result, Muslims across the world will rise against the U.S.
"The Vietnam War did not have so many international consequences. Today, the U.S. is the sole superpower and it will try to retain its terror [domination]. I am not saying that it is far from defeat in Afghanistan. In fact, the United States is on the verge of defeat and we have to admit it."
"U.S. Agents are Spread Everywhere from Karachi to the Tribal Areas; Davis's Associates are Carrying Out Blasts in Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi and ..."
Q: "The release of Raymond Davis is being termed as regrettable; and even the military leadership protests over the drone attack after his release. Why was he freed?"
Lt.-Gen. (retired) Shahid Aziz: "Maybe people dislike my answer. Davis's release is not a big issue. Let me tell you the reason why it is not a big deal. He has killed two Pakistanis, but after his freedom 40 or 50 tribesmen were killed in an instant drone attack in the FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Area]. Were not they Pakistanis?
"Our media is silent on that issue. Hundreds of Pakistanis have been killed since 2001 [in anti-Taliban operations], but no one has protested. Why such a quarrel over Raymond Davis? You have been sold to the U.S. since 2001. Pervez Musharraf sold the Pakistani nation. If Pakistan has no reservation over drone attacks then why it would have any on Davis's release? Why a difference in Lahore and FATA? Aren't those being killed in FATA Pakistanis? We have killed our Muslim children on the directives of the U.S. but no one expressed anger over it.
"The Davis issue was deliberately highlighted. The pictures and maps seized from Davis's camera, the video which Davis made by using the camera attached to his shoe, were in the custody of police. How did these things reach the media? It was such a secret operation and so many interests were connected to it that he [Raymond Davis] was saved. The issue was stoked in the beginning, and was made to fizzle out later. It is a top-secret affair. An exercise was conducted to bring the Pakistani nation into the streets [over the Raymond Davis issue].
"If the drone attack in FATA was condemned [by the Pakistan Army chief], can this condemnation stop the drone attacks? Such a series of condemnations has been in practice since 2001. We are condemning it daily. The U.S. agents are everywhere from Karachi to the tribal areas. Davis's associates are carrying out blasts in Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi, and other places.
"I knew it officially and had protested to the government: why are they not being arrested; why are they given permission [to be in Pakistan]. The CIA was given open permission to recruit its agents in Pakistan, and these agents were allowed to do their work; this has been continuing for the last eight years. Now the issue has been just brought to the fore [over the Raymond Davis issue]. For what reasons, I don't know. Now, why create furor about Raymond Davis? In fact, everyone knows how many houses U.S. nationals have rented in Islamabad."
"The U.S. Agents Who Entered Pakistan in Order to Chase Terrorists have Now Established Their Networks; All the Bomb Blasts are Being Carried Out by the CIA"
Q: "Had there been cooperation with the U.S. in your time?"
Lt.-Gen. (retired) Shahid Aziz: "Yes, we have been cooperating with them. The cooperation started in lieu of technical assistance to us because we needed advancement in the technical field, but later this cooperation went to the extent that the military leadership had to protest over it.
"They protested over it and demanded that the U.S. agents coming to the country should be stopped. The U.S. agents who entered Pakistan in order to chase terrorists have now established their networks everywhere here. They recruited many more people here. All the bomb blasts are being carried out by the CIA, which is also behind the suicide blasts. They have two point agenda by carrying out blasts here:
"First, to make the people of the country rise up against the militants because they think that using the name of the mujahideen for the terror attacks would alienate people from the mujahideen, and that would help the U.S.
"Their second goal is to tell the world that Pakistan is the epicenter of terrorism, so that tomorrow when they want to grab Pakistan by the neck, no one will object to it. Their agenda is to create so much anarchy in Pakistan that Pakistan will not remain under anyone's control, and India could be encouraged to invade our country, so that India will undertake the dangerous task on the pretext that Pakistan was [going] to use a nuclear bomb against India..."
Q: "If the military leadership was unhappy, then why did they not stop it [the growing involvement of the U.S.]?"
Lt.-Gen. (retired) Shahid Aziz: "The Army as an institution is loyal to its chief and follows his orders. The Army is pursuing the policies of the government and our government's policy is to cooperate with the U.S. The military leadership does whatever is told to them by the civilian government..."
 Roznama Ummat (Pakistan), March 24, 2011