Newspaper Articles Video Clips

Asif Zardari’s corruption in French submarine deal

Agosta submarine deal – Benazir, Zardari not involved: ex-naval spy chief

Former director-general of Naval Intelligence Commodore (retd ) Shahid Ashraf has said that President Asif Ali Zardari and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto were not involved in the deal for the purchase of Agosta submarines from France.

He said that though he was “pressurised to get them involved” but he did not succumb.

Participating in an Express News programme Kalamkar with Abbas Athar as host, he said that, in 1992, during the first Nawaz Sharif government, the Navy was given approval to acquire new submarines for $520 million.

The programme was also attended by columnist Abdul Qadir Hasan.
A team, comprising Admiral Naqvi, Admiral Javed Iftihkhar and Admiral SA Mujtaba, was constituted. The team visited China, France, Sweden and the UK and recommended that submarines should be purchased from Sweden.

Later, Admiral Saeed Muhammad Khan again formed another team which visited France, Sweden, China and the UK and recommended to the ministry of defence to purchase either the UK-manufactured ‘Uphold’ class submarines or the French ‘Agosta 90’ class submarines.
He said that the detailed procedure was aimed at reaching a decision to assess the navy’s requirements.

He said that the second team consisted of Rear Admiral AU Khan, SA Mujtaba, Captain Mushtaq, Captain Naqvi, Captain Naveed, Captain Alvi and Captain Khushnud.

The former commodore told the audience that the agreement of purchase of Agosta class submarines was signed on August 21, 1994, during the second tenure of Benazir Bhutto.

“The Pakistan Navy gave its consent to buy the submarines. The government could not have compelled the navy to agree to buy them.”
Replying to a question, Commodore (retd ) Shahid Ashraf said that he was the DG Intelligence in those days. “I was informed that someone called Niaz was going to pay Captain Alvi a sum of $107,000 as part of ‘kickbacks’ on the deal. I went to the house of then Vice-Chief of Naval Staff Admiral AU Khan and provided him all necessary information about the people involved, but he refused to allow me to take any action and said that action should be taken with the permission of the Navy chief, Admiral Mansourul Haq, who was on a visit to France and the US.
He said that he called up Admiral Mansour in France and informed him about the episode and “he advised me to wait until his return home”.
“When he returned, I again told him the entire story. A meeting was held in which all senior officers were present. But this meeting remained inconclusive. After the meeting, Rear Admiral Faseeh Bukhari said to me that I should have ‘caught’ the persons. But I said that my job was to provide information and that he should have got the meeting to decide to arrest the suspects. He got angry and went away.”

When he was asked to comment on Captain Alvi’s allegations regarding receipt of Rs1.5 million, Commodore (retd) Shahid Ashraf refused to comment.

He said that, later, when he learnt that four commodores were “receiving $40,000 each”, the Navy chief, Mansourul Haque, and Vice-Admiral AU Khan advised me to investigate”. The accused deny ever taking any bribes.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 5th, 2010.

Column Kaar 2010.12.04
Courtesy: PK Media Watch

Suggestion: You may wish to download these videos and save on your computer as they might not remain available at the youtube.

About the author



Click here to post a comment
  • “The Karachi affair” & French Naval bombing

    Ali K Chishti
    Ali K Chishti Exclusive report on the terror attack in Karachi, nine years ago, which killed eleven French citizens

    Adjust Font Size

    Sheraton blast in Karachi, May 2002

    After al-Qaeda had in early 2002 made Karachi its operational headquarters and started to disseminate its philosophy to local sectarian organisations in addition to forming an operational relationship with various Jehadi groups based in Karachi, foreigners in Karachi were always going to be a target

    It was the local brew of sectarian and religious terrorist organisations who had collaborated with al-Qaeda to target foreigners

    ackground: Al-Qaeda had begun shifting it headquarters to Pakistan in 2002 after the US-led NATO’s ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ had driven out its Taliban-backers from most of Afghanistan.

    Al-Qaeda started sending out scouts to urban areas of Karachi and later made the city its chief operating base. It was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11 terror attacks, who procured apartments for Al-Qaeda in the posh Defence Housing Authority and Bahadurabad, another upper-middle class locality, to avoid detection. These apartments served as safe-houses for Al-Qaeda operatives.No one from the al-Qaeda was allowed to go out of the apartment until permitted initially.

    These safe-houses were secured with help of the Jamaat-e-Islami linked business man, Saud Memon. It was at Saud Memon’s house that journalist Daniel Pearl had been beheaded in 2002. A source from the intelligence community has confirmed to TFT that “Daniel Pearl was getting closer to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed when he was actually kidnapped and beheaded – ironically by the same man whom he was working on to expose ie Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.”

    Back in 2002, various local Jehadi organisations were linked to al-Qaeda and on at least one occasion, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is said to have lectured the top Lashkar-e-Jhangvi leaders in Karachi.

    It was around the same time when Masood Azhar was also launched by a certain intelligence agency, where he was tasked with the mission to raise a 500,000 strong army to liberate Kashmir but additionally to also cause a split within Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, a Jamaat-e-Islami backed militant organisation.

    Another group formed during the same period was the Pakistani version of Jundullah, headed by militant members of Jamaat-e-Islami. This group orchestrated attacks on the Karachi Corp Commander General Ahsan Hyat and the US Consulate.

    However, it was the attack on French Naval workers on May 8, 2002 which alerted everyone to the presence of al-Qaeda in Karachi. The French Naval official bombing killed 14 workers of French marine engineering company Direction des Constructions Navales (DCN) in Karachi, including 11 French citizens. These killings were later linked to submarine sales by France to Pakistan that go back to the early 1990s.

    Controversy: Interestingly the first allegations to this end were levelled by Marc Trevidic, a French magistrate who was appointed incharge of the “Agosta submarine” case by Jean-Louis Bruguiere, the anti-terrorism judge in France.

    Trevidic alleged on the basis on a memo and cable filed by a former intelligence official of DST, France Intelligence, which said that bombing of French nationals in 2002 were “financially motivated” despite a strongly worded statement from French Army Chief, General Jean Pierre Kelche, alluding to al-Qaeda’s involvement in carrying out the bomb attack.

    While the media in Pakistan played up this allegation and even tried to implicate Asif Ali Zardari, the French media and intelligence community in particular always claimed that since certain rogue elements within the Pakistani security establishment were angry for not receiving “ kick backs” for the sub-marine deal set things up.

    In France, President Nicholas Sarkozy, former President Jacques Chirac and former Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin were under intense pressure to come up with real facts on the Agosta submarine deal and how certain funds were diverted to be used to fund an election campaign. Another twist to the story is the raid on Amir Lodhi’s house. Amir Lodhi, an absconder, is the brother to Ambassador Maliha Lodhi. Lodhi was the broker of the Agosta submarine deal by the DNIF, the French intelligence which provided details of the payments made to a top politician in Pakistan, who was paid between October and December in 1994.

    So what happened? After al-Qaeda had in early 2002 made Karachi its operational headquarters and started to disseminate its philosophy to local sectarian organisations in addition to forming an operational relationship with various Jehadi groups based in Karachi, foreigners in Karachi were always going to be a target. The series of incidents which occurred in Karachi from March 2002 onwards gives us a clue as to who really bombed the French engineers.

    On April 26, 2002, an attempt on General Pervez Musharraf’s life failed because the remote control device didn’t explode. There was another unsuccessful attempt in April to bomb the US consulate. However on May 8, 2002, the terrorists did not miss and Sheraton Hotel shuddered with high intensity bomb blasts. OnJune 14, 2002, the US Consulate suffered another attack. Yet another attempt to charter a plane from Karachi airport and bring it down on US consulate was foiled. Interviews with law enforcement officers and jehadi organisations confirm that the attack on French engineers was actually “a change of plan” since the US Consulate had proved to be a difficult target and the French were an easy-prey. The group which carried out the bombing was Harkat-ul-Mujahideen Aalami, which was operating under the direct supervision of Imran and Hanif, who were closely linked to Khaled Sheikh Mohammed. It was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who personally tasked the group to carry out these attacks.

    It was a scout named Rahimullah, who the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen Aalami deputed to watch the US Consulate, who planned the bombing.Rahimullah had observed the movement of a bus carrying Westerners and passing every day in front of him to Marriot Hotel, located close to the US Consulate in Karachi. He convinced his leaders to hit the French engineers as they were easier target. Sohail Akhtar aka Mustafa, also a member of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen Aalami, was caught alive by the Pakistani intelligence agencies. Akhtar was directly involved in this plan and played the role of an intermediary between Harkat-ul-Mujahideen Aalami and al-Qaeda. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed described Akhtar as the “master-mind” of the French engineers bombing. However, Akhtar was released by the Sindh High Court for want of effective prosecution.

    While there had been speculations by many quarters in Pakistan that it was somehow Indians who planned to kill French in Pakistan to de-stabilise its submarine program, in reality it was the local brew of sectarian and religious terrorist organisations which had collaborated with al-Qaeda to target foreigners. Unfortunately, the French engineers were at a wrong place at a wrong time in Karachi on that fateful morning in the May of 2002.

    Ali Chishti is a writer based in Karachi. He can be reached at