Monday 19 September 2011

Dengue Fever, Zia-ulHaq, and CIA - script for next John le Carré novel set in Pakistan

Pakistan is always rife with conspiracy theories. Any problem no matter the scale, whether national, regional or local there is a well presented conspiracy theory depicting a foreign hand working against the state of Pakistan and people working in collusion with a local stooge. Some are downright ridiculous but some hold credence with many. More than often these theories are published in reasonably respectable sources and penned by equally "respectable" writers.

Latest one that intrigued me is the allegation that Dengue fever, just like Taliban is actually a creation and legacy of none other than our very own Mard-e-Momin General Zia-ul-Haq working on the behest of global arch villain USA through CIA. Written by two erstwhile academics from Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) Lahore and published in Business Recorder Pakistan is well worth a read without prejudice.

Dengue epidemic and political subjugation
Huzaima Bukhari and Dr Ikramul Haq
Very few people in Pakistan know the history of the dengue epidemic in Pakistan. It dates back to the era when we decided to give free hand to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to use our land for its nefarious activities. We received many "gifts" from the Americans in post Afghan war that dismantled the USSR - dengue and drugs, arms and terrorism, religious bigotry and militarism. During the engagement in Afghanistan through the mujahideen, CIA started a "project" (sic) in Lahore under the name of the 'Malaria Eradication Centre' - headed by one David Nalin - to wage biological warfare against the USSR troops. The Centre hired some poor residents of Green Town as guinea pigs. They were infected with the dengue virus and were later on exposed to the Aedes mosquitoes in netted beds. In this way, David Nalin created virus-carrier species - A. aegypti A. albopictus, A. polynesiensis and A. scutellaris - capable of transmitting the deadly epidemic disease commonly known as dengue or yellow fever amongst the Red Army occupying Afghanistan. The story of CIA's plans for developing biological weapons in Pakistan through its undercover David Nalin was published in weekly Viewpoint of Lahore in its edition of 1st June 1980 revealing as under: "Doctors in Lahore are investigating the tragic effects of a drug administered to some poor patients of Green Town. Four of such patients have developed serious psychiatric disorders. It is alleged that they have been given an anti-malaria drug which is still in the experimental stage. The experiment is reported to be part of a research programme; a local institution is carrying out in association with an American University. Until those responsible for the experiment are made to disclose the nature of the drug, it is not possible to say as exactly what has happened to the four unfortunate patients - aged between 15 and 25 years. But, as Viewpoint has repeatedly maintained in these columns, the employment of humans as guinea pigs for drug research is a practice no civilised society, however poor and dependent it may be can countenance. An immediate inquiry is called for." In the wake of this publication, the issue was further investigated by Pravda providing full details of the dirty project of the CIA in Lahore of developing biological weapons under the garb of a malaria eradication programme. The matter was taken up by the USSR with the USA and Pakistan at the highest level. The Russians threatened to take the matter to the United Nations exposing CIA connections in the Afghan War and the unlawful use of biological weapons. The Pakistan government was left with no choice but to close down the Centre and expel David Nalin from Pakistan declaring him persona non grata. A journalist translated in Urdu the stories published in Viewpoint and Pravda that exposed the activities of the CIA using the so-called Malaria Eradication Centre. He was arrested and taken to the Lahore Fort by the agencies. He was brutally tortured by the investigative agencies. They accused him of being an agent of the KGB in Pakistan but failed to prove it. Later on, he was released but forced to go into exile. This bizarre episode reveals how Pakistan became the victim of all kinds of devastating repercussions of the Great Game of the superpowers of that time in this region. The USSR and USA engaged in conventional war also resorted to horrific biological warfare, killing thousands of innocent people. Unfortunately, dictators like Zia not only sided with the US but also allowed the CIA to operate from Pakistan for all kinds of dirty operations imaginable. The wages are before us: the dengue epidemic, violence, arms, drugs and above all political subjugation. A great intellectual of our time, Edward W Said, in his books exposed these so-called champions of a free world and faith. In Pakistan, we are still faced with the challenge of undoing Zia's legacy, which was later reinforced by the Sharifs, Musharraf and others. Professor Said rightly argues that in a world where might is right, the powerful in global politics ensure the perpetuation of their control through handpicked cronies and lackeys in different countries. Not only Zia and his remnants inflicted this country with deadly diseases like corruption, violence, politics of fascism and drug addiction, but they also pushed the common people to the wall. After deposing and managing the judicial killing of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Zia paved the way for foreign intervention and the physical presence of CIA agents in Pakistan, playing havoc with our security. The activities of the CIA operative in Lahore way back in 1980 mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg. It needs thorough investigation to unearth the activities of the CIA and other intelligence agencies in Pakistan since 1979, when in the name of jihad against the Russians they started laying the foundation for their permanent stay in Pakistan - the beginning of the political subjugation that continues till today. Even for a genuine democratic government it would be difficult to undo the legacy of dictators like Zia and Musharraf. Those possessing gun power always strive to dispossess the masses of their rights through cronies. The Neo-Colonists create and support the cronies as it would not be possible for them to exploit the world's resources without their support. The US State Department claims that all political parties in Pakistan (including religious fundamentalists) are ready to toe its line. It is extremely unfortunate that we have cronies all around who are ready to follow the US agenda, which is detrimental to the interests of Pakistan and ultimately for the entire Muslim World. The so-called advocates of "changing the system" (MQM, Tehreek-e-Insaf and Jamaat-i-Islami et al) have also allegedly pledged before the USA [] that if given a chance to rule they would willingly fulfil their agenda most efficiently and faithfully. This clearly establishes that we lack leadership capable of educating and mobilising the masses to come out of political subjugation by making Pakistan economically a self-reliant State. The existing parties are controlled by a few "power hungry" individuals. But then there is no easy solution as popular support is not manna from heaven to be bestowed on an unwilling people, it has to be generated, organised and mobilised.
(The writers are Adjunct Professors at Lahore University of Management Sciences.)Copyright Business Recorder, 2011

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