Wait until you die
January 28, 2011
The man is dead. How and where did he die is a matter of inquiry. If his body reaches a mortuary, a post mortem can determine the cause. But the real cause of his death needs a brain.
For many the story may begin from the wagon stand in Bannu from where a group of four persons, including two bearded ex-military officers, boarded a Miranshah bound red Toyota Hiace along with their local guide. None had ever seen the guide before. A telephone call can be tracked as to when and where the guide would join the group. The group disappeared and some 35 days later, Squadron Leader Khalid Khawaja’s body was found in Miranshah. Why did his killers take 35-days is also a matter of inquiry?
Let us suppose Khawaja was killed by the most genuine Muslim militants on this earth. But why did they take so long? Well, unlike a double cross like Hamid Mir they didn’t know Khawaja through and through until one of them accidentally called Mir by phone. The conversation was recorded. Khawaja was quickly indicted as CIA Agent by his captors but the silly gang never bothered to know how much the Agency could pay for its man in Islamabad.
The key witness against Khawaja somehow did not turn up for the trial. His audio testimony against the CIA’s (abandoned) agent makes an interesting hearing for the average and below average. No court has as yet ventured to discover what exactly transpired before Khawaja and his captors before they recorded his confession about all that CIA could possibly never imagine.
Now let’s turn to the second victim and ask a logical question. Why didn’t Col. Sultan Ameer make a frank confession about his CIA business? After all he was in the field when CIA bankrolled the Afghan insurgents.
There is something missing in this latest story from North Waziristan. The captors were quite bitter and unforgiving about Khawaja and that bitterness is missing as for Sultan. The actual question to be answered is what made the captors hold the Colonel for so long, money or swap? If the Asian Tigers were really serious about seeking release of persons in custody, they would not demand or pocket the ransom as they did before releasing journalist Asad Qureshi. How can the hungry and greedy tigers have any other consideration? English Daily, The News had reported the Tigers had asked ex-MNA Javed Piracha to negotiate the release of 165 prisoners whose list was received by the MNA. Can a Court ask him as to where was that list and how did he receive it, by post or by e-mail?
Anyway let us first see the list, i.e.; a hard copy and get it verified from the prisons in Punjab. The Asian Tigers have gone missing and their only contact is still in Kohat enjoying state security because of his sectarian business. No one is asking him anything about Khawaja and Sultan who were his guests on their last day of freedom. He had persuaded them not to cancel their planned visit to Waziristan and promised to find them reliable hosts in the lawless territory. All that information can be verified from the SMS messages Khawaja sent to his son.
Khawaja was no kid. He had requested me to escort him to Waziristan and collect power of attorney from the kith & kin of drone attack victims for moving the Supreme Court about the unaccountable killings. I declined and told him that if I had to visit Waziristan, I would be the last person to take him along for obvious reasons. Commitment aside, commonsense takes its own precautions. I had always treated him a junior but prevailed by sheer reason than amplifying me religious beliefs or political convictions. Khawaja often ignored the risk and put himself (and his aged mother) in optimum pain. He could still be living if Hamid Mir did not label him a CIA man. His killers had no serious charge against him and the Waziri Tribes in the area did not catch him in tress pass. There was just no religious or ideological conflict between the mind sets, visiting and living in Waziristan. If Khawaja was killed in a drone strike you would not be reading these lines. In that case, his family would feel more satisfied. But that is not the case on the ground. He has been murdered because he became intolerable for one of his friends named Mian Nawaz Sharif. Only Khawaja knew how much money he had delivered to his friend and the purpose of the donors. Most of that money came from Saudi Arabia. Khawaja told me of his last contact with senior Sharif at a seminar where he told his friend to better attend him than dodge by conventional tactics of politicians. He knew their caliber and convictions as well as their forgetfulness. Soon he was out to speak out on the subject but he did maintain his caution. Some times in near future you would be reading an affidavit he gave me stating his readiness to appear before any court to testify about the murder of my brother. It had taken Khawaja about 7-years before he finally agreed to make a statement about a financial dispute that arose between me and Sharifs following a horse trading deal in October 1993. You may be reading similar matters relating to the last election of the Senate. There is no denying that money makes the mare go. Khawaja had tried his best to resolve the dispute because a consequent exposure would only benefit the rival PPP. He was diametrically opposed to that party but in his last days he did change his opinion of Sharif and asked me if he could rewrite his affidavit.
Khalid and Sultan are gone but God is there. There is no famine of evidence. One day the killer of Sultan will have it in his neck than his chest. Unlike Khalid Khawaja, Colonel Sultan had no business either with me or the killers of my brother. As an ISI outcast, he had no war map for Afghanistan as he ventured into the danger zone. The Asian Tigers caught him by surprise within hours of his departure from Kohat. In the second episode, the Tigers became Punjabi Taliban but did not confess their stripes as they spoke to Hamid Mir.
Mr. Asad Qureshi, back in Britain, may have to answer a few questions about his transaction because the money could not be transferred to a bank in Miranshah. The story of cardiac arrest in Khost and the transportation of the body to Waziristan is all the more confusing. Why would the Taliban, regardless of their madness, take the hostage to Khost? What for? If he was such a valuable catch in the American eyes, he would be shown on the internet with some demands and deadline. Give me a single good reason for holding him behind after his friend was killed and other two companions freed for ransom. His only fault was his ability to speak and identify the person who kidnapped him without a weapon.
The reports insist the persons involved are still seeking some money before they hand over the body. That’s the height of it. Pukhtoons have never sold dead bodies to the kin.