US embassy found involved in importing weapons to PakistanOctober 19, 2009
The US embassy has been found involved in importing sophisticated weapons to Pakistan without the permission and knowledge of the authorities here. The Foreign Office and the Commerce Ministry denied having authorised the US or any other foreign mission to import huge quantity of weapons. However, the fact remains that the US embassy in Islamabad has brought to Pakistan at least two consignments of modern weapons during this year.
The Foreign Office, which is the main coordinating federal agency in any such deal of foreign missions, and the Commerce Ministry, which issues no objection certificates (NoC) for such imports, have no clue as how did and from where the US embassy get the weapons in these two cases uncovered by The News (a local newspaper).
In one case, the US embassy imported 30 PKM Machineguns and 25 Barrel Grenade Launchers in a shipment coming from Sofia, Bulgaria. The embassy has not offered any explanation where did these weapons go. The embassy spokesman said that he did not have any information about this.
In the second case, the US embassy has admitted importing automatic weapons for Inter-Risk, the banned local security agency, having security contracts with DynCorp and the US embassy in Islamabad. However, there was no explanation as if the arms were imported or smuggled from Afghanistan.
However, the most intriguing part of this case is that the Deputy Commissioner Office Islamabad did not confirm the provision of even a single weapon by the US embassy to Inter-Risk. Instead, all the weapons registered in the licences issued to Inter-Risk were gifted by a tribal chief of Bannu. It raised the fundamental question about the whereabouts of the weapons that the US admitted to have got for Inter-Risk.
Authorities in Pakistan have now woken up to realise what General Musharraf did to this country and how much liberty he had given to US diplomats and officials at the cost of national security.
Background interaction with officials of the foreign, defence, interior and commerce ministries reveal that the government of Pakistan is absolutely clueless about the quantity of weapons brought to Pakistan by the US embassy. There is also no information with the government that where did these arms go.
Repeated incidents of arms display in public by US diplomats and the red-handed nabbing of Dutch diplomats with weapons and bombs have compelled the Foreign Office to issue a letter to all foreign missions, requesting them to declare the details of the weapons in their possession and get authority letters for the arms they want for security.
Although the letter is issued to all foreign missions and embassies, what is in the mind of the authorities here is the US embassy.
In the meantime, all US officials and diplomats are being made from today (Oct 15) to go through normal airport checks at the Islamabad airport as the government has withdrawn the extraordinary concession offered to them after 9/11 by Pervez Musharraf. Under the concessions, the US officials and their vehicles enjoyed completely unchecked arrivals and departures.
Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit and Secretary Commerce Suleman Ghani, when approached by The News (a local newspaper), denied to have given any permission to any embassy to import weapons in bulk. Both were of the view that there were cases of individual requests for import of hunting guns etc but there was no permission given for major import of weapons to any embassy.
Ghani said that he had checked the past two years record of the ministry and he did not find any case of the issuance of NoC for large quantity of import of arms by any embassy. The Interior Ministry spokesman, who was asked by this scribe for details on the subject, simply vanished and never came up with the details.
While the FO and the Commerce Ministry are in complete dark, a letter dated March 26, 2009 and signed by Doyle R Babe, Lt-Col of the US embassy, talks of the shipment/transportation of 30 PKM Machineguns and 25 GP-30 40mm under Barrel Grenade Launchers from Sofia, Bulgaria to Islamabad, Pakistan.
The letter clearly said that the final destination of the consignment is Islamabad. Although the FO spokesman said he was not aware of this shipment, a letter dated September 7, 2009 addressed to the deputy collector Customs Islamabad airport by one Col (retd) Shahid Latif informs the Customs authorities that the consignment has arrived and the consignee is the US embassy. It also talked of Customs exemption certificate to have been issued by the Foreign Ministry.
According to a source, Musharraf had given so much liberty to the Americans after 9/11 that different government departments and agencies started directly dealing with the Americans. As a result, nobody knew what the other was doing. This situation, it is said, led to the governments ignorance about what the US embassy was doing.
US embassy spokesman Richard Senlsire, when approached, initially said that he did not know anything about this case. When requested to check, he promised to call back. After a while, when The News (a local newspaper) contacted him again, he said the embassy is looking into this case.
About the mystery relating to the Inter-Risk weapons, Rick also promised to check the facts from the officials concerned in the embassy. He was also asked to share with The News (a local newspaper) the details about the weapons imported by the US embassy during the recent years and as to where do such weapons go.
In case of Inter-Risk, the US embassy spokesman was told that the Islamabad deputy commissioner office record clearly show that the prohibited bore weapons registered against the PB licences, issued to Inter-Risk on US embassys influence, were gifted to Inter-Risk not by the US embassy but by one Malik Khan Zada Wazir, who is chief of Wazir Sain Khel tribe of Daryoba Agency in FR Bannu. The arms gifted by Wazir to Inter-Risk were 50 Bore 5.56 weapons and with each weapon 1,000 rounds and six magazines. These apparently gifted weapons are American made and sources here allege that the same weapons have been smuggled by the US embassy from Afghanistan and given to Inter-Risk through Malik Khan Zada Wazir.
The facts as reflected on the official record challenges the US embassys claim that it had brought arms for Inter-Risk, and raises the question about the real destination of the arms claimed to have got in the name of Inter-Risk if it has nothing to do with the gifted weapon of Malik Wazir.
The US spokesperson was also asked to comment on the allegations by some here that the US embassy had been involved in providing arms and ammunition to terrorist groups targeting Pakistani security agencies and the people here. Rick expressed his surprise over this question and asked this correspondent to go and visit Bara Peshawar where one can find all sorts of US weapons.