Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

US Pushed Relaxed Paksitan Visa Policy, no security clearances

A policy that has brought sheer disaster

By Ansar Abbasi at The International News

ISLAMABAD: The influx into Pakistan of dubious characters and criminals like the double murderer Raymond Davis has not only raised questions about the capability of our agencies but also made the situation extremely vulnerable. 

This situation has built up in the backdrop of last year’s extraordinary laxity allowed in the visa policy for American officials following President Asif Ali Zardari’s personal intervention without the approval of the federal cabinet.

The policy, which has already started pinching many in the Foreign Office and security agencies, has resulted in visas issued by the Pakistani Embassy in Washington without any security clearance.

Now it appears the fallout of this extremely flawed, but flexible policy is becoming evident. People like Raymond Davis, a killer, succeeded in getting the Pakistani visa in the garb of a US consulate official even before the policy was relaxed in mid-July last year. Who else has come in is a huge question.

The American authorities have been exerting immense pressure on the Government of Pakistan to cut delays and refusals in the issuance of visas to those assigned to go to Pakistan, apparently as government officials, diplomats or media men.

Details show that Davis, who is suspected to be either a CIA agent or member of a private agency like Blackwater, had been issued visa before the introduction of the new but extremely vulnerable system under which Pakistan’s Embassy in Washington is free to issue visa to anyone without any security clearance from Pakistani security agencies.

Even before the introduction of the new visa facility for Americans, only in one case more than 50 personnel of DynCorp were issued visas by Pakistan, despite reservations of some security agencies, following a direction coming from the highest levels in the government. Prior to that, it is said, already several dozen DynCorp personnel were already present in Pakistan. DynCorp, apparently a private security agency, was found involved in spying activities in Pakistan.

Sources in the Foreign Office insist that in view of the criminal acts of Raymond Davis and his dubious actions of carrying illicit weapon, more than 80 bullets, face masks, GPS and pictures of sensitive installations, pressure is now on the Government of Pakistan to revisit its present visa policy, besides ensuring that no American is issued a visa without security clearance.

Of late, a senior Foreign Office source had revealed to The News that after the implementation of the new policy, which empowered the Pakistani Embassy in Washington to issue visas to the Americans for one year without referring their cases to Pakistani security agencies, about 400 visas were issued to US citizens in first two days, including a weekend holiday.

Amid reports of national and international media about the presence of innumerable Blackwater and DynCorp personnel, the Pakistani security agencies have been seeking proper screening of American visitors to protect our national interest. However, the US authorities had directly approached the president to get the visa policy relaxed.

It is pertinent to mention here that from January 1, 2010 to 14 July 2010, a total of 1,895 officials and diplomats were issued visas by the Pakistan Embassy in Washington. All these visas were issued following the clearance of the visa seekers by the Pakistani security agencies.

However, following the implementation of this policy on July 14, 2010, the Pakistani Embassy in Washington issued visas to almost 1,445 citizens, including the US officials and diplomats, till end August 2010 i.e. in six weeks time. Out of the 1,445 US citizens, 862 were declared as US diplomats and officials.

Although, under the constitution of Pakistan, all such matters fall in the domain of the prime minister and his cabinet, a Foreign Office letter clearly showed that the visa policy was revised to the advantage of the Americans following the desire of President Zardari.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that the Interior Ministry, which in the past too has been offering extraordinary favours to the Americans, has assured the Americans that the issue of diplomatic immunity would be positively settled for the arrested American criminal. The Foreign Office, which was unambiguous a few days ago that Davis does not enjoy diplomatic immunity, now seems uncertain and refers to some ‘remarkable’ work done by the Interior Ministry for the Americans.

Interestingly, it was also the Interior Ministry which, following the request of the American authorities, had issued licences of prohibited bore arms to a Pakistani private security agency called Inter-Risk, which had a security contract with the much condemned DynCorp. A letter written by the then US ambassador Anne W Patterson to Interior Minister Rehman Malik on March 30, 2009 confirming her government’s security contract with DynCorp International and their Pakistani sub-contractors Inter-Risk (Pvt) Ltd, and Speed Flo Filter Industries. The US ambassador also used her influence on the Government of Pakistan to get prohibited bore arms licences for Inter-Risk, which later became a big scandal.

In her letter, the US ambassador sought this special favour from Interior Minister Rehman Malik to enable the Inter-Risk to operate in the territorial limits of Pakistan. It was also in the knowledge of the Interior Ministry that the US Embassy in Islamabad had ordered the import of around 140 AK-47 rifles and other prohibited weapons in the name of Inter-Risk.  Please see the original here

February 13, 2011 Posted by | CIA, Civilian Contractors, Legal Jurisdictions, Pakistan, Private Security Contractor, State Department | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Dyncorp to continue working in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The controversial American security contractor Dyncorp will continue to remain in Pakistan and probably with a greater presence as it has a contract with the US State Department for maintenance of its fleet of 14 helicopters and three fixed-wing aircraft providing airlift services to Pakistan’s interior ministry.

Original Story at Dawn.com The Dawn Media Group

The contractor hit a controversy last year after it attempted to shadily enter into a security business in collaboration with local firm Inter-Risk.

“We don’t have plans to change our maintenance arrangements,” US Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs David Johnson said when asked about the future of Dyncorp in Pakistan during a meeting with a group of journalists at the US ambassador’s residence.

The issue was discussed by Mr Johnson and Interior Minister Rehman Malik earlier in the day during an interaction which was described by the American side as a “nuts and bolts” meeting.

The Virginia-based security firm signed a five-year (2005-09) contract with the US State Department and was paid $32 million for the maintenance programme in Pakistan.

The US has planned to expand its aviation services programme and asked Pakistan to allow Dyncorp to bring in more manpower. It has also sought release of equipment currently held by Pakistani customs authorities and a proper base from where the fleet can operate.

“There are some issues related to finding an appropriate place with enough land for them to work from. We discussed the issue of getting sufficient individuals on the ground for maintenance of the fleet and we talked about the release of some material we provided and are facing importation process,” Mr Johnson said.

Besides the controversy over its presence in Pakistan, Dyncorp does not enjoy a good reputation back home either. A US Inspector General’s report released this week said the firm’s contract for operations in Pakistan resulted in significant cost overruns, performance management problems and inefficiencies.

The report suggested a change in the contractor.

Although the official line is that the fleet is supporting the interior ministry’s counter-narcotics operations, Mr Johnson hinted at its use for counter-insurgency operations and for assisting the Frontier Corps.

He defended the US decision to continue with Dyncorp and said it had been a very successful programme.

“The aircraft have readiness availability of almost 80 per cent, which is actually quite extraordinary for helicopters,” he added.

Interior ministry sources said the US was pressing the government to allow Dyncorp to work in Pakistan by collaborating with some local firms. It wants Dyncorp to provide security to its installations in Pakistan.

Although foreign security companies are not authorised to function in Pakistan, they circumvent the law by associating themselves with local private security agencies. Such arrangements have been opposed by law-enforcement agencies in the past.

Inter-Risk has lost its operating licence and its management faced criminal charges for collaborating with Dyncorp.

April 8, 2010 Posted by | CIA, Civilian Contractors, DynCorp, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Security Contractor, State Department, Wartime Contracting | , , , , | Leave a comment

Pakistan police raid US-contracted security firm

By MUNIR AHMAD and NAHAL TOOSI (AP) – 55 minutes ago

ISLAMABAD — Pakistani police raided a local security firm that helps protect the U.S. Embassy on Saturday, seizing dozens of allegedly unlicensed weapons at a time when unusually intense media scrutiny of America’s use of private contractors has deepened anti-U.S. sentiment.

Two employees of the Inter-Risk company were arrested during the raids in Islamabad, police official Rana Akram said. Reporters were shown the seized weapons — 61 assault rifles and nine pistols. Akram said police were seeking the firm’s owner.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Rick Snelsire said the U.S. contract with Inter-Risk to provide security at the embassy and consulates took effect this year. It is believed to be the first U.S. contract for the firm, said Snelsire, who did not have a figure for its amount.

“Our understanding is they obtained licenses with whatever they brought into the country to meet the contractual needs,” he said. “We told the government that we had a contract with Inter-Risk.”

Akram said he had no idea about any U.S. links to Inter-Risk. A man who answered the phone number listed for the company and identified himself as Riaz Hussain confirmed the raid but gave contradictory answers when asked about any U.S. ties.

The company popped up Friday in one of a slew of local media reports that have focused on private security firms American diplomats are believed to use in Pakistan.

In particular, Pakistani reporters, anti-U.S. bloggers and others have suggested the U.S. is using the American firm formerly known as Blackwater — a claim that chills many Pakistanis because of the company’s alleged involvement in killings of Iraqi civilians.

The U.S. Embassy denies it uses Blackwater — now known as Xe Services — in Pakistan.

Scandals involving U.S. private contractors have occurred elsewhere in the region.

In Washington on Friday, the Commission on Wartime Contracting heard testimony about another contractor — ArmorGroup North America — involving alleged illegal and immoral conduct by its guards at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan.

Earlier this year, the Iraqi government refused to grant Xe Services an operating license amid continued outrage over a 2007 lethal firefight involving some of its employees in Baghdad, although the State Department has temporarily extended a contract with a Xe subsidiary to protect U.S. diplomats in Iraq.

Many of the reports in Pakistan have been prompted by U.S. plans to expand its embassy space and staff. Among the other rumors the U.S. denies: that 1,000 U.S. Marines will land in the capital, and that Americans will set up a Guantanamo-style prison.

The U.S. says it needs to add hundreds more staff to allow it to disburse billions of dollars in additional humanitarian and economic aid to Pakistan. The goal is to improve education and other areas, lessening the allure of extremism.

Some analysts say Islamist and other opposition groups may be planting the stories in the Pakistani press and blogs to portray Pakistan’s government as an American lackey.

Pakistani political analyst Talat Masood said Inter-Risk’s association with America “will increase the apprehensions that existed that the Americans are engaged in clandestine activities,” and that the raid shows “the Pakistan government is asserting itself.”

The U.S. considers stability in Pakistan critical to helping the faltering war effort in neighboring Afghanistan, and has pressed Pakistan to crack down on extremism on its soil. Al-Qaida and Taliban fighters are believed to use Pakistan’s northwestern regions bordering Afghanistan as hide-outs from which to plan attacks on Western troops in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has launched offensives against militants, but has also relied on some local militias to help fend off the Pakistani Taliban. Some of these militias share the same aims as the Taliban in Afghanistan, but disagree with targeting the Pakistani government.

On Saturday, one pro-government militia leader said the army had asked him to stop fighting the Pakistani Taliban. Turkistan Bhitani told The Associated Press that he and 24 aides surrendered their weapons to the army in the northwestern city of Dera Ismail Khan and that he had asked 350 of his men to do so as well.

Pakistani army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, however, said he knew nothing of such an arrangement.

Al-Qaida and the Pakistani Taliban have fueled violence in Pakistan, including attacks that pit Sunni Muslims against Shiite Muslims.

Police said Saturday that the death toll from a suicide car bombing at a hotel in a Shiite Muslim-dominated village in Pakistan’s northwest rose to 40. The Friday blast in Usterzai village was followed by a bomb in nearby Cho village that killed a Sunni official.

Also Saturday, the army said in a statement that 51 militants had surrendered in the last 24 hours in the northwest Swat Valley, and that another seven were arrested. It also said militants fatally shot five civilians in a minibus there.

Associated Press writers Lori Hinnant in Kabul and Ishtiaq Mahsud in Dera Ismail Khan contributed to this report.

Original Story here

September 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment