Wednesday, February 10, 2010

More evidence of the El Salvador Option in Pakistan?

US Special Forces posing as Aid workers and Pentagon funding reconstruction projects

In Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras in the 1980s US soldiers were involved in the war against the democratic liberal, socialist and communist groups on the side of the extreme-right US-backed government death squads which killed not only rebels but anyone suspected of sympathising with the rebels’ politics or being related to them. Entire villages were massacred. Because congress had banned any direct involvement by US forces in the war the Reagan administration said they were all ‘advisers’ or ‘trainers’. Many were trainers – but their role sometimes went well beyond advice and into over-seeing military operations.

The same seems to be happening in Pakistan today. In past posts on the ‘El Salvador option’ from El Salvador to Iraq this blog has asked whether the move away from air-strikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan might involve the ‘El Salvador’ death squads option in those countries too.

The death of three members of the US military in a Taliban bombing of a girl’s school in Pakistan on the 3rd of February brought some light on this (1). I’m certainly not criticising US funding and support for the construction of girls’ schools, nor defending Taliban bombings of them. However is it a good idea for US funding for them to come from the US military? Doesn’t that associate them with foreign invaders and make them a target?

David Pratt, a foreign correspondent for the Herald (a Scottish newspaper) who has been to Pakistan and Afghanistan many times recounted meeting US ‘advisers’ complete with body armour, helmets and automatic weapons on many occasions in Pakistan (2).

This makes it look even more likely that the Pentagon is behind operations like the dumping of hundreds of bodies of suspected Taliban, blindfolded, their hands tied behind their heads and with bullets in the back of their heads. They were found after a Pakistan military offensive into the town of Mingora in the Swat Valley last year.

Pratt also says that some of the American Special Forces soldiers use job descriptions like “aid worker”, “civil affairs” specialist, “security consultant” and “contract worker” , which, like the NATO Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan forcing civilians to integrate into military-led teams, risks making all aid workers suspected US agents – and Taliban targets. The euphemisms might also let attacks on US soldiers be presented as ‘terrorism targeting civilians’.

(1) = Independent 04 Feb 2010 ‘US soldiers killed in bomb blast at Pakistan girls' school’,

(2) = Herald (Glasgow, UK) 05 Feb 2010 ‘US is forced to come clean over dirty war in Pakistan’,

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