Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day Six in Pakistan: October 8 - Day after the Peace March

Continued from Days Four/Five in Pakistan: To the Tribal Areas! - JoAnne Lingle reporting on her trip.

10:00 am - Report back from the March

Our peace march made international headlines on CNN (see CNN video), the New York Times, the Washington Post, Al Jazeera, the BBC, and over 100 major news outlets as well as Pakistani newspapers, Dawn and The News.

Although we were disappointed to have been prevented by the Pakistani government from going into the Tribal Areas of Waziristan, we were heartened to hear the drone issue had been pushed forward by the Peace March. As one Pakistani woman said to us, "Your coming to Pakistan has touched so many hearts that you cannot even imagine! You were able to do what hundreds of millions of dollars spent by USAID in TV ads to win hearts and minds in Pakistan has failed to achieve!"

3:00 pm - Afternoon meeting at MEASAC Research Center in Rawalpindi with Pakistan with General Hamid Gul, a retired high ranking officer in the Pakistan Army, who served as the Director General of the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) during the brutal regime of the Dictator Zia al Haq (whose name means Light of the Truth).

The General said he was the darling of the Reagan Administration (and the CIA, my words) during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan but now he's on the terrorist list as an acknowledged member of banned militant organization Ummah Tameer-e-Nau.

According to Wikipedia, General Gul worked closely with the CIA during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan when he was the ISI chief. But, he became passionately anti-American after the United States turned its back on Afghanistan following the 1989 Soviet withdrawal, as the United States had promised to help build a prosperous Afghanistan.

As for the drone attacks, he said, "They must be stopped. Pakistanis have suffered for eight years from drones invading Pakistan's air space and sovereignty." He said the U.S. should offer compensation to the victims. He admitted, however, that the Pakistani government is complicit with the U.S. in not counting deaths of civilians by drones and not compensating the victims of drone attacks. He also complained about Blackwater contractors in Pakistan and said they should leave.

He feels the U.S. Embassy should not act as a military base and mentioned the CIA and 2,000 marines that are stationed at the Embassy with plans to expand the Embassy on an additional 84 acres, constructing it to have eight floors with three of the floors underground.

There was more the General talked about regarding U.S. foreign policy, most of which we agreed with; however, we were constantly reminded of his complicity with the brutal regime of the Dictator Zia al Haq, who ruled Pakistan 1977-1988.

General Hamid Gul ended by saying he fears that Pakistan may be heading the way of the Iranian Revolution.

5:00 pm - Around Islamabad - The rest of the day was spent visiting the Faisal Mosque and scouting for a place for tomorrow's fast.

Later that night, we heard of the first drone attack since we left Tank, our last stop on the Peace March. (See BBC story on U.S. drone attack on Tank.)

Tomorrow, the Fast: Dedicated to the Memory of the Children who have been killed by U.S. Drone Attacks.

Read the full story of JoAnne Lingle's participation in the Code Pink peace delegation to Pakistan.

For more photos see the Code Pink delegation photo site.

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