Pulitzer prize winning American journalist Seymour Hersh has claimed that an elite US special forces squad which operates covertly and includes terrorism and non-proliferation experts from the US intelligence community — the Pentagon, the FBI, and the DOE — is already present in Pakistan and could well be housed in the US embassy in Islamabad, reports The News, Islamabad.
The startling disclosure was made in Hersh's interview on Pakistan's Geo News TV's current affairs programme ‘Mere Mutabiq', hosted by Dr Shahid Masood. The programme was aired on Saturday late evening.
Seymour Hersh said that the Americans had been setting up such crack teams for different purposes and the team in Islamabad was to deal with any eventuality including any fear of takeover by Taliban or any other ‘development' with regard to Pakistani nuclear weapons.
Prominent anti-India and anti-US former army general and ex-ISI chief retired Lt Gen Hamid Gul, participating in the programme, verified the credentials of Hersh and gave a detailed account of US presence in the sensitive areas in Pakistan. Gul said the US wanted to delegate the role of proxy super power of the region to India and for that Pakistan had to be denuclearised.
Former Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad Khan expressed his apprehensions about the alleged activities but he ruled out any possibility of the US team being in a position to gain access to Pakistan's nuclear facilities.
Hersh in an article in New Yorker magazine last week disclosed that after the US authorities received a report from their embassy in Islamabad indicating that a Pakistani nuclear component had gone astray, a highly classified US military and civil-emergency response team was put on alert.
The team which operates clandestinely is reportedly under standing orders to deploy from Andrews Air Force Base, in Maryland (Washington), within four hours of an alert.
When the report turned out to be a false alarm, the mission was aborted but by the time the team got the message, it was already in Dubai while on its way to Pakistan.
Hersh quoted a consultant of the US Defence Department in his write-up.
Hamid Gul disclosed in the programme that former president Pervez Musharraf allowed US planes to land in Pakistan to pick Osama bin Laden about whom they had an inkling that he was present in a remote village of Balochistan.
He said that when Hersh visited him to verify the veracity of the information, “I requested him to publish the story and he obliged. I was of the opinion that the Americans want to get in Pakistan under the pretext of the story that had yet to appear and it could open the way for future US incursions,”Gul added.