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Pakistan got Israeli weapons during Afghan war

Daily Times Monitor

WASHINGTON: Most of the Afghan war against the Soviet Union was fought using Israeli arms supplied after General Ziaul Haq entered into secret deals with Tel Aviv, says a recently published book, Charlie Wilson’s War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History.

The book reveals that the Pakistan Army was not averse to secret defence cooperation with Israel, although it did not acknowledge any contact with that country publicly. Congressman Charles Wilson — a pro-Pakistan activist and the central figure to get CIA-funded weapons for Pakistan — is credited in the 550-page book as the man who broke up the Soviet Union with the help of a 48-year old Houston woman “whom General Ziaul Haq fancied”.

The book claims that Wilson asked Zia to deal with the Israelis during his first visit to US after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The proposal was made at a grand dinner hosted by the Houston lady, Joanne Herring, who was later named as Honorary Consul of Pakistan.

The book says that Charlie Wilson informed Zia the Israelis had shown him the “vast stores of Soviet weapons they had captured from the PLO in Lebanon”. The weapons were perfect for the mujahideen. If Wilson could convince the CIA to buy them, would Zia have any problems passing them on to the Afghans? Zia, ever the pragmatist, smiled, saying, “Just don’t put any Stars of David on the boxes”.

“With that encouragement,” the narrative goes on, “Wilson pushed on. Just the previous month, he had learned that the Israelis were secretly upgrading the Chinese army’s Russian-designed T-55 tanks. In Islamabad, he had been startled to see that the Chinese were supplying Pakistan with T-55s. The congressman now proposed that Zia enter into a similar secret arrangement with the Israelis.

“It was no simple proposition. Three years earlier, a mere rumor that Israel had been involved in an attack on the Great Mosque in Mecca had so radicalized the Pakistani Muslim population that thousands had stormed the US embassy in Pakistan and burned it to the ground. Zia was mindful of his people’s hatred for both Israel and the United States [but] he encouraged Wilson to continue.”

The Congressman cut the Pak-Israel deal “even without CIA knowledge”. The CIA man in Islamabad, Howard Hart, when asked years later, if he knew about Wilson’s efforts to bring the Israelis into the Afghan war, dismissed the story out of hand, insisting that the Pakistanis would never have permitted it. Yet, an astonishing collection of weapons was developed for the Afghan war in no time. The Spanish mortar, for example, was designed to make it possible for the mujahideen to communicate directly with American navigation satellites to deliver repeated rounds within inches of their designated targets.

The weapon’s name was chosen to conceal the fact that major portions of the gun were being built by the Israelis, claims the book.

It was decided that a new weapon would be introduced into the battle every three months or so, in order to bluff the Red Army into thinking their enemy was better armed and supported than it was.

The book has been selling well in the USA but is still not available in Pakistan.

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