Thursday, December 18, 2008

Act of violence

act of violence

London, Dec 14: A top former Pakistani army officer, who was the brother-in-law of Indian-origin novelist and Nobel laureate VS Naipaul, was murdered after he "threatened" to expose Pakistani Generals for 'deals' with Taliban militants, a media report said.

Major-General Faisal Alavi, a former head of Pakistan's special forces who was murdered last month in Islamabad, had named two generals in a letter to the Pakistani army chief Ashfaq Kayani and had said he would "furnish all relevant proof," the report said.

Alavi, brother of Naipaul's wife Nadira, did not live to fulfil it. Aware that he was risking his life, Alavi gave a copy of the proof to a Sunday Times correspondent and asked him to publish it if he was killed.

Four days later, he was driving through Islamabad when his car was ambushed by another vehicle. At least two gunmen opened fire from either side, shooting him eight times killing him and his driver, the paper said.

As demands grew for a full investigation into Alavi's murder on November 18, Lady Naipaul described her brother as "a soldier to his toes". "He was an honourable man and the world was a better place when he was in it," she said.

Three years ago, Alavi, highly regarded by UK's Special Air Service (SAS), was mysteriously sacked as head of Pakistan's the Special Services Group (SSG), for "conduct unbecoming". The generals had cooked up a "mischievous and deceitful plot" to have him sacked because they knew he would expose them, Alavi told Kayani in the letter.

"The entire purpose of this plot by these general officers was to hide their own involvement in a matter they knew I was privy to," Alavi wrote. He wanted an inquiry, at which "I will furnish all relevant proof/information, which is readily available with me."

Alavi, who was born British in Kenya, believed he was forced out because he was openly critical of deals that senior generals had done with the Taliban. He disparaged them for their failure to fight the war on terror wholeheartedly and for allowing Taliban forces based in Pakistan to operate with impunity against NATO troops across the border in Afghanistan.

According to the newspaper, militants were blamed for the attack on Alavi, though the gunmen used 9mm pistols, a standard army issue, and the killings were far more clinical than a normal militant attack.

Alavi had told the correspondent how one general had done an astonishing deal with Baitullah Mehsud, the 35-year-old Taliban leader, now seen by many analysts as an even greater terrorist threat than Osama Bin Laden. According to Alavi, a senior Pakistani general came to an arrangement with Mehsud "whereby - in return for a large sum of money - Mehsud's 3,000 armed fighters would not attack the army".

It seemed to Alavi that, with the SAS on his side, he might win the battle, but he was about to lose everything. His enemies were weaving a Byzantine plot, using an affair with a divorced Pakistani woman to discredit him.

Challenged on the issue, Alavi made a remark considered disrespectful to then president, General Pervez Musharraf. His enemies played a recording of it to Musharraf and Alavi was instantly sacked.

The report stated that if investigations proved that Alvai was murdered at the behest of those within the military, it will be a fatal blow to the integrity of the Pakistani army.

It said James Arbuthnot, chairman of the defence select committee, and Lord Guthrie, former chief of the defence staff, were among those who expressed support this weekend for UK help to be offered in the murder investigation.

Bureau Report

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