World Terror Watch - News and Discussions

Singh

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Militants shoot down US drone in South Waziristan

WANA: Taliban militants claimed to have shot down a US drone in the Angoor Adda area of South Waziristan on Saturday.

Militants loyal to Taliban commander Maulvi Mohammad Nazir said the unmanned aircraft had crashed in a jungle after the attack and soldiers took away the wreckage.

But security officials and political authorities disputed the Taliban’s claim, saying that teams dispatched to the area after the claim found no wreckage.

Unconfirmed reports also said the drone had gone missing in an area near the Afghan border.

Locals said they had seen a small plane flying over the area at low altitude, adding that militants resorted to heavy firing when they saw it. But they were unaware whether the plane was struck or not.

Residents and a local police official said two drones were flying low over a village in South Waziristan when one of them was hit by militant fire.

‘We heard the firing by the Taliban and then a drone fell down,’ police official Israr Khan said.

A security official said the drone crashed in a forest near a post on the Afghan border. ‘Apparently a drone has crashed in the nearby forest, we are searching for its wreckage,’ he added.

An Army spokesman said reports of a drone crash were being investigated.

‘We have come to know that something has happened there, but we do not have any confirmation,’ Maj-Gen Athar Abbas said in Islamabad.

‘We are further investigating and trying to find out.’

More than two dozen suspected US drone attacks have been carried out in Pakistan since August last year, killing more than 200 people, most of them militants.

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect...n/nwfp/us-drone-believed-crashed-pakistan--qs
 

nitesh

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If it is missing then it went to China for reverse engineering :)
 

EnlightenedMonk

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India, Iran, Russia mull ways to take on Taliban

India, Iran, Russia mull ways to take on Taliban

It's still part of conversations, but old partners, India, Iran and Russia, are dusting out an old mechanism to take on the Taliban in Afghanistan.

All three countries are still at an exploratory stage, but some articulated realities and possibilities are spurring on these discussions. First, the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan is giving the Taliban and other Pakistan-sponsored jihadists a growing space. Second, a fear that the US and NATO, in their eagerness to craft out an exit strategy in Afghanistan, might fall for a Pakistan-assisted scheme to put some Taliban elements dressed up as "moderate" in charge of governing Afghanistan.

The first time this will be discussed more fully will be during the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation's ministerial meeting in Moscow on March 27. Both Iran and India will attend the SCO meet. Iran's foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki was in Mazar-e-Sharif last weekend to meet officials from Afghanistan and Tajikistan. India has been much more quiet. But Russia, in its capacity as SCO chairman, is taking a more hands-on position.

It has indicated that Iran might be more comfortable working with Russia and India under the SCO rubric than the US-led effort. The US and Nato are organizing a "big tent" meeting in The Hague on March 31, also on Afghanistan.

Iran has a lot of clout inside Afghanistan due to its ethnic and religious connections with the ethnic Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras. India has steadily built up a lot of equity with its relentless commitment in the developmental field.

Russia has recently entered the Afghanistan equation, and has reportedly allowed the US to transport weaponry through its territory to reach Afghanistan. Currently, the US uses Pakistan, which comes under regular Taliban fire. Interestingly, among the other possibilities, the US is also looking at using the India-built Zaranj-Delaram road from Chahbahar port to enter Afghanistan from Iran. Iran, therefore, is emerging as a key player yet again in the Afghan sweepstakes.

The tri-nation strategy is not yet clear, apart from the fact that the Taliban have to be roundly defeated. This time, there is no Northern Alliance that ensured the defeat of the Taliban in 2001. So for an alternate strategy to work, a different structure would have to be cobbled together.

What is not yet clear is whether there can be some kind of coordination between Afghanistan's neighbours and the Nato-US initiative. Nevertheless, the great game is now fully joined.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India-Iran-Russia-mull-ways-to-take-on-Taliban/articleshow/4306744.cms
 

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Pak should shift focus from India to curbing terror inside: US

Warning that terrorists operating in safe havens in Pakistan were preparing to attack that country and Afghanistan, a top US military commander has asked Islamabad to change focus from fighting India to combating militants within its own borders.

"The Taliban, in particular, are going both ways now," Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman, Joint Chief of Staff, said.

"They are coming towards Islamabad and they are actually going towards Kabul. I am completely convinced that the vast majority of leaders in Pakistan understands the seriousness of the threat".

Mr. Mullen, who has worked extensively to build a relationship with Pakistani Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani, noted that the Pakistan army had difficulties transforming from its military that recruited, trained, deployed and promoted its officers on performance along the eastern front with India to one that focussed instead on terrorists within its own border.

But, he admitted "that's not going to change overnight".

His remarks come as the US Defence Department unveiled a $ 3-billion plan to train and equip Pakistan's military over the next five years, New York Times reported.

The funds, the paper said, would pay for helicopters, night-vision goggles and other equipment and counter-insurgency training for Pakistan's special forces and paramilitary frontier corps.

http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/000200904040342.htm

Funny how they say that yet they allow Pakistan to spend the money any way they see fit. You see this is why America is not too popular in the world..sooner or later you have to pick sides and America is still trying to treat India and Pakistan like little children. It is just sad....
 

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13 People killed in suspected US attack in Paksistan

AFP reports that a suspected US strike left 13 killed in Pakistan.

The link and the report from the AFP follows:

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jPHE176oYZAq2hsQSWppQttYdknw

Suspected US strike kills 13 in Pakistan: official

1 hour ago

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan (AFP) — A suspected US missile strike killed 13 people including alleged Al-Qaeda militants in a Pakistan extremist stronghold on the Afghan border on Saturday, security officials said.

The strike hit Datta Khel, a small town in the semi-autonomous tribal area of North Waziristan, a known hotbed of Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants, at around 3:00am (2200 GMT Friday).

It was not immediately clear whether any high-value targets were killed.

"The death toll is 13, including some foreigners, but information is very sketchy because it's a town which is very remote," one security official said on condition of anonymity, updating an earlier figure of eight dead.

Pakistani officials use the word "foreigner" to refer to suspected Al-Qaeda fighters, but the precise identities of the dead were not confirmed.

"Thirteen people were killed. Ten of them are militants and the identity of the other three -- whether they are militants or civilians -- is not yet confirmed," a local official told AFP, also on condition of anonymity.

The local official said the compound that was hit belonged to Tariq Khan, a local Wazir tribesman described as a "facilitator of Taliban."

Taliban sealed off the area and prevented local residents from accessing the site, on the border with Afghanistan.

North and South Waziristan are strongholds of Pakistan's Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, who claimed responsibility for a deadly assault on a police academy Monday that he said was in retaliation for missile attacks.

Saturday's strike came three days after a US missile attack on an alleged Taliban and Al-Qaeda training centre killed up to 12 militants.

More than 35 missile strikes have killed over 350 people since August 2008, fanning hostility against the United States and the government in Pakistan, where nearly 1,700 people have died in extremist bombings in two years.

The US military does not, as a rule, confirm drone attacks, but its armed forces and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operating in Afghanistan are the only forces that deploy drones in the region.

Saturday's attack was the second since US President Barack Obama unveiled a sweeping new strategy to defeat Islamist militants in south Asia, putting Pakistan at the heart of the fight against Al-Qaeda.

Speaking in London on Thursday, Obama reiterated that he was "very concerned" about extremists in the border regions of nuclear-armed Pakistan.

Pakistan has protested that the strikes violate its territorial sovereignty and deepen resentment among its 160 million people.

The foreign ministry has said it will take up the issue of missile attacks during a visit by Washington's Afghanistan and Pakistan troubleshooter Richard Holbrooke when he visits Islamabad next week.

The lawless tribal areas of northwest Pakistan have been beset by violence since hundreds of Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters sought refuge there after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan toppled the Taliban regime in late 2001.
 

screwterrorists

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im surprised its only the second strike since obama took over.
i was actually hoping he would be more action inclined.
in his debates he explicitly stated Pakistan-Afghanistan region as the region of concern.

hopefully we'll see more in the future. Effective ones that is.
 

pyromaniac

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ANALYSIS: Making the Obama plan work for Pakistan

Following an inter-agency review and intensive consultations with stakeholders, President Obama recently announced his much-awaited plan to deal with the situation in Afghanistan. He has proposed $1.5 billion every year over the next five years for the welfare of the people of Pakistan.

Since there is no such thing as free lunch, he wants the government of Pakistan to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat” Al Qaeda and related terrorist outfits, and in particular eliminate their “safe havens” in Pakistan as a quid pro quo.

The Pakistani government has welcomed the new initiative and has promised to cooperate with the Obama administration. However, it has at the same time certain reservations that it has conveyed to the Chairman US Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Admiral Mike Mullen and the special American envoy on Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke who are currently on a visit to Pakistan.

Let us begin by looking at the new plan’s details and how it differs from the Bush strategy.

First, Obama’s aid commitment is conditional as it is contingent on the Pakistani government’s performance in taking care of the terrorists. Second, it proposes to set up an oversight mechanism by appointing an inspector-general to monitor the aid utilisation. Third, it promotes a people-oriented approach, “to avoid the mistakes of the past, [the] relationship is grounded in support for Pakistan’s democratic institutions and the Pakistani people.” Fourth, for purposes of conflict resolution, it proposes to bring together all nations that have a stake in the security of the region. Finally, it treats Afghanistan and Pakistan as one theatre of war, known as AfPak.

It is obvious that the Obama strategy in tactical terms is diametrically opposed to that of the Bush administration.

Of all the differences, the one that in practical terms may affect Pakistan the most is the linkage of American aid with the Pakistani government’s performance. The explanation for this shift in American policy lies in the mistrust that the Obama administration has towards the ISI and the Pakistan Army, which, in its opinion, oppose the Pakistani Taliban but support the Afghan Taliban.

For this reason, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal recently severely lambasted the two institutions, as did the head of the CENTCOM General Petraeus, Admiral Mullen and Secretary of Defence Gates.

The Obama administration proposes to use conditional aid to force the ISI and the Army to provide unstinted support in the fight against terrorism. It is noteworthy that the Bush administration apparently also nursed mistrust towards these institutions but despite pressure from Congress and the media was loath to use aid as an instrument to make Pakistan “do more”.

Are these charges against the ISI and the Pakistan army justified?

The US administration is convinced that they are. The American view is that Mullah Omar, Hekmatyar and Haqqani networks enjoy the ISI’s support. US intelligence agencies claim that last spring, they intercepted messages in which Pakistan’s army chief referred to the Afghan militant commander Jalaluddin Haqqani as a “strategic asset”.

As far as the Haqqani network is concerned, the US administration believes that it has been behind several attacks in Afghanistan, including a truck bombing in Khost in January 2008 that killed two US soldiers; the storming of the Serena Hotel in Kabul in January 2008 during the visit of a high level Norwegian delegation; and the suicide attack last July on the Indian embassy in Kabul which left over fifty Afghan civilians and two senior Indian officials dead.

The Pakistani government denies that it promotes the Taliban but admits that it keeps contacts with terrorist networks in order to keep tabs on them. It also contends that if any ISI personnel are involved in supporting the Afghan Taliban, they must be rogue junior rank elements operating on their own and without official knowledge or blessing.

On balance, the American charge seems to carry considerable weight. How do we explain Pakistan’s duplicitous conduct?

Pakistan, like the US, is also concerned about the menace of terrorism and is desperate to get rid of it. However, while cooperating with the US, it is not prepared to lose sight of what it considers certain inexorable realities, one of which is its conviction that sooner than later the US will withdraw from Afghanistan; and that it would have to deal with the debris left behind in the shape of Taliban hostile towards Pakistan. To obviate such an eventuality, Pakistan wants to retain the goodwill of Taliban groups on whom it can count after the American withdrawal.

If Pakistan is duplicitous in its policy, so is the US. This is testified by the fact that on two occasions, the Pakistani government pointed out the specific location of the warlord Baitullah Mehsud, who has wreaked havoc in Pakistan, and asked for strikes against him, but the Americans refused to oblige.

Here, the question arises whether or not aid with strings attached could make Pakistan buckle under the American pressure and toe the US line. It looks highly unlikely that Pakistan would jettison what it perceives to be in its national interest. This could put the two governments on a collision course with each other, which would spell disaster for Pakistan and the region.

The best way to get Pakistan to cooperate is to find the reasons why it is so keen to retain influence in Afghanistan and try to meet its concerns, if well-founded. The explanation for this is that the Pakistani military establishment, which feels threatened by India, dreads the installation of a hostile government in Kabul doing India’s bidding. It already accuses India, which has a huge presence in Kabul, of fuelling insurgency in Balochistan and FATA through its consulates. Many have disputed these allegations.

However, the other day, American scholar Christine Fair in a discussion on the Foreign Affairs website, on the basis of supposedly impeccable evidence, divulged that Indian consulates are indeed involved in supporting insurgency in Balochistan.

What is the best way, then, to make Pakistan provide full support? The answer lies in the US putting pressure on India to work out a solution of the Kashmir dispute with Pakistan. Obama is convinced of the soundness of this proposition as during the campaign he himself launched the idea with the view to making Pakistan fully focus on the Western border. He also proposed the appointment of a special envoy on Kashmir; he later backed off from this idea in the face of Indian opposition.

There are now reports that Obama administration is thinking of linking aid to Pakistan’s commitment not to shift its troops to the eastern border. It is highly unlikely that the Pakistani government will ever accept such conditionality. The most effective way to get Pakistan’s unstinted cooperation for Obama is to fulfil his election campaign pledge on Kashmir. Without doing so, the linking of aid with performance may not work.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2009\04\08\story_8-4-2009_pg3_2
 

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Pak: 60 drone hits kill 14 al-Qaeda men, 687 civilians

ISLAMABAD: Of the 60 cross-border predator strikes carried out by the Afghanistan-based American drones in Pakistan between January 14, 2006 and April 8, 2009, only 10 were able to hit their actual targets, killing 14 wanted al-Qaeda leaders, besides perishing 687 innocent Pakistani civilians. The success percentage of the US predator strikes thus comes to not more than six per cent.

Figures compiled by the Pakistani authorities show that a total of 701 people, including 14 al-Qaeda leaders, have been killed since January 2006 in 60 American predator attacks targeting the tribal areas of Pakistan. Two strikes carried out in 2006 had killed 98 civilians while three attacks conducted in 2007 had slain 66 Pakistanis, yet none of the wanted al-Qaeda or Taliban leaders could be hit by the Americans right on target.

However, of the 50 drone attacks carried out between January 29, 2008 and April 8, 2009, 10 hit their targets and killed 14 wanted al-Qaeda operatives. Most of these attacks were carried out on the basis of intelligence believed to have been provided by the Pakistani and Afghan tribesmen who had been spying for the US-led allied forces stationed in Afghanistan.

The remaining 50 drone attacks went wrong due to faulty intelligence information, killing hundreds of innocent civilians, including women and children. The number of the Pakistani civilians killed in those 50 attacks stood at 537, in which 385 people lost their lives in 2008 and 152 people were slain in the first 99 days of 2009 (between January 1 and April 8).

Of the 50 drone attacks, targeting the Pakistani tribal areas since January 2008, 36 were carried out in 2008 and 14 were conducted in the first 99 days of 2009. Of the 14 attacks targeting Pakistan in 2009, three were carried out in January, killing 30 people, two in February killing 55 people, five in March killing 36 people and four were conducted in the first nine days of April, killing 31 people.

Of the 14 strikes carried out in the first 99 days of April 2009, only one proved successful, killing two most wanted senior al-Qaeda leaders - Osama al Kini and Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan. Both had lost their lives in a New Year’s Day drone strike carried out in the South Waziristan region on January 1, 2009.

Kini was believed to be the chief operational commander of al-Qaeda in Pakistan and had replaced Abu Faraj Al Libi after his arrest from Bannu in 2004. Both men were behind the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Dares Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, which killed 224 civilians and wounded more than 5,000 others.

There were 36 recorded cross-border US predator strikes inside Pakistan during 2008, of which 29 took place after August 31, 2008, killing 385 people. However, only nine of the 36 strikes hit their actual targets, killing 12 wanted al-Qaeda leaders. The first successful predator strike had killed Abu Laith al Libi, a senior military commander of al-Qaeda who was targeted in North Waziristan on January 29, 2008. The second successful attack in Bajaur had killed Abu Sulayman Jazairi, al-Qaeda’s external operations chief, on March 14, 2008. The third attack in South Waziristan on July 28, 2008, had killed Abu Khabab al Masri, al-Qaeda’s weapons of mass destruction chief. The fourth successful attack in South Waziristan on August 13, 2008, had killed al-Qaeda leader Abdur Rehman.

The fifth predator strike carried out in North Waziristan near Miranshah on Sept 8, 2008 had killed three al-Qaeda leaders, Abu Haris, Abu Hamza, and Zain Ul Abu Qasim. The sixth successful predator hit in the South Waziristan region on October 2008 had killed Khalid Habib, a key leader of al-Qaeda’s paramilitary Shadow Army.

The seventh such attack conducted in North Waziristan on October 31, 2008 had killed Abu Jihad al Masri, a top leader of the Egyptian Islamic group. The eighth successful predator strike had killed al-Qaeda leader Abdullah Azzam al Saudi in east of North Waziristan on November 19, 2008.

The ninth and the last successful drone attack of 2008, carried out in the Ali Khel region just outside Miramshah in North Waziristan on November 22, 2008, had killed al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubair al Masri and his Pakistani fugitive accomplice Rashid Rauf.

According to the figures compiled by the Pakistani authorities, a total of 537 people have been killed in 50 incidents of cross-border US predator strikes since January 1, 2008 to April 8, 2009, averaging 34 killings per month and 11 killings per attack. The average per month killings in predator strikes during 12 months of 2008 stood at 32 while the average per attack killings in the 36 drone strikes for the same year stood at 11.

Similarly, 152 people have been killed in 14 incidents of cross-border predator attacks in the tribal areas in the first 99 days of 2009, averaging 38 killings per month and 11 killings per attack.

http://www.geo.tv/4-10-2009/39476.htm
 

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Diplomatic Surge: Can Obama's Team Tame the Taliban?

Diplomatic Surge: Can Obama's Team Tame the Taliban?

By Joe Klein

Admiral Mike Mullen is an odd one. He eschews the crisp, classic aura of command; he comes across as a no-drama, common-sense-dispensing country doctor from downstate Illinois (actually, he's the son of prominent show-biz publicists from Los Angeles). But as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mullen is still the highest-ranking U.S. military officer, and so it was a bit disconcerting to see him taking flak from a group of Afghan farmers and international agricultural experts in Kabul the first week in April. "The military is giving away free wheat seed to Afghan farmers, and that's undermining our efforts," said an expert whose USAID-supported program gave farmers vouchers to buy seeds, which was helping build a secondary market of seed- and farm-supply businesses.

Instead of taking umbrage, Mullen took notes. In fact, he seemed close to excited as ideas flew around the table. It was not the normal fare for an admiral, but agriculture — specifically, how to get Afghan farmers to plant something other than opium poppies — is a central issue in this very complicated war. Mullen was thrilled to hear positive news about the relative merits of wheat and pomegranates, and the success of U.S. Army National Guard farmer-soldier teams, which were helping to plant and protect in remote Afghan districts. "There are possibilities here we couldn't imagine a year ago," the admiral said at the end of the meeting. "So please keep thinking about how we can do this. Let your minds run free."

Welcome to the U.S. military in the Age of Obama. Indeed, Mullen's tour of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India was quietly significant in a number of ways. The trip was organized and led by the State Department's indefatigable special representative, Richard Holbrooke, with Mullen happily playing second fiddle (except in the closed-door meetings with Afghan and Pakistani military leaders) — a striking reversal of fortune after the Pentagon dominance of the Bush years. It was a demonstration of the Obama emphasis on diplomacy and economic development, a strategy that tracks with the military's new counterinsurgency tactics — "We've developed the best counterinsurgency capability in the world," Mullen said several times — that focus on protecting the public and building civil order. And so, in addition to the usual round of private meetings with government officials, Holbrooke convened a breathtaking parade of farmers, Afghan tribal leaders, women legislators, rule-of-law advocates, journalists, the local diplomatic corps, religious leaders; and then a similar roundelay in Pakistan. Mullen seemed amazed and somewhat nonplussed by Holbrooke, who is the David Petraeus of diplomats, a constant source of energy and creativity — and occasionally controversy, since he is not, shall we say, a country-doctor sort of guy.

Most of the meetings were brutally candid, and often risky for the Afghan and Pakistani participants — we journalists were asked not to reveal their names for their own safety. Obviously, these were the most pro-American Afghans, willing to come to the U.S. embassy for a meeting, but they included former Taliban and, in one case, a former prisoner at Guantánamo. "We told our people that there was a difference between the Americans and the Russians," said one tribal leader, part of a fierce-eyed, intensely dignified group of Pashtuns. "But you are now stepping in the steps of the Russians, bombing and invading houses. We defeated the Russians with your weapons ... But now the money you are paying the Pakistanis is being used against us and also you," he said, referring to the general belief, shared by Afghan tribes and the U.S. military, that the Taliban is being supported by the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI).

The difficulty of the war was made apparent in a meeting several of us had with Hanif Atmar, the Afghan Minister of the Interior, who had a dramatic map of his country on display, colored according to threat levels — a broad slash of red (highest level) running across the southern half, bordering Pakistan. Indeed, two-thirds of Helmand province, the prime poppy-growing area, was colored black, which meant it is in Taliban control. Helmand and its neighbor, Kandahar province, is where most of the 17,000 additional U.S. troops are headed. They will arrive just as the poppy crop has been harvested, the moment when many rural Afghans trade their ploughs for rifles and "fighting season" commences, a term that Admiral Mullen doesn't like — there were Taliban attacks through the winter — but which will be all too apparent from the expected surge in U.S. casualties this summer.

Atmar described a series of new efforts to curb police corruption — although he was much less forthcoming about the Karzai government's buckraking — and some of the programs, especially those that paired local police with NATO mentoring teams, seemed quite promising. Indeed, right now Afghanistan is bristling with new ideas, and the slightest sliver of hope. It is, of course, easy to be deluded by a handful of pro-Western Afghans who hazard a visit to the U.S. embassy, but there is a quality of pride and independence to these people — a consequence of their never having been successfully colonized, I'd bet — that makes a good-faith effort to help them toward stability seem almost plausible ... if it weren't for the presence of the world's most dangerous extremists, who are running the Afghan insurgency from just across the border in Pakistan.

If Afghanistan seems a bit better than expected, Pakistan appears much worse. There are terrorist attacks — some quite spectacular — almost every day, but the fragile democratic government of Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of Benazir Bhutto, seems unwilling to admit the extent of the problem. "The terrorist threat is a cancer eating my country," Zardari told the small group of journalists accompanying the Mullen-Holbrooke mission, as he sat in his office, flanked by dramatic photos of his wife. It was a good line, but unsupported by anything resembling a strategy to combat the disease. When we asked about the role of his intelligence service in feeding the cancer, he responded, "The germ was created by the CIA." True enough, but somewhat dated. "Your government called them the 'moral equivalent of George Washington,' " he said, referring to the mujahedin who defeated the Soviets. True again — and U.S. complicity in the creation of al-Qaeda shouldn't be forgotten — but the game changed after the Russians were kicked out of Afghanistan and the terrorists focused their attention on both the U.S. and Pakistan, where they now reside. Zardari insisted the presence of Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar on Pakistani soil wasn't his fault. "They were pushed [into Pakistan] by your great military offensive [in Afghanistan]," he said sarcastically. "For seven years nothing has happened, and now we are weak and you are unable to do anything about it ... I've lost my wife, my friends, the support of my countrymen ... and in eight years you haven't been able to eliminate the cancer."

Zardari's helplessness reflected one reality — the Pakistani army holds the real power in the country — but it also fed the parallel reality of an infantile political class, constantly squabbling, incapable of acting effectively even in a dire crisis. Holbrooke and Mullen saw it firsthand when a shouting match broke out before dinner at the U.S. embassy between a prominent Zardari aide and a leading member of the lawyers' group that had successfully forced the reinstatement of Pakistan's Chief Justice. "They're both moderate, secular leaders," one of those present commented later. "They should be focused on the desperate threat facing their nation instead of fighting each other." (Read "Viral Video Raises Taliban Fears in Pakistan.")

Indeed, the meetings that Holbrooke and Mullen had with Pakistani civic leaders were far less hopeful than the meetings in Afghanistan. The local journalists seemed more intent on defending the Pakistani army and intelligence services ("Why are you always beating up on the ISI?") than on the threat that terrorists posed to their country. The war was an American war, an American problem — even though the terrorists had allegedly tried to blow up the entire Pakistani Cabinet in a bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on Sept. 20.

But the most telling meeting was with young adults, many of them students, from the northwest tribal areas. A young man said he had known one of those killed in a Predator drone strike. "You killed 10 members of his family," he said. Another said the refugees created by the Predator strikes had destabilized his village. "Are many of them Taliban?" Holbrooke asked.

"We are all Taliban," the young man replied. It seemed a statement of solidarity, not affiliation, but as a way of revealing how mixed loyalties and deep resentments make Pakistan so difficult to handle, it was shocking all the same.

Find this article at:
http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1890262,00.html
 

Vinod2070

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[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif][SIZE=+1]New Rhetoric for Old Wine? [/SIZE][/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif][SIZE=+2]Obama's Afghanistan Plan and India-Pakistan Relations [/SIZE][/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, Times, serif][SIZE=+1]By M. REZA PIRBHAI [/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=+3]S[/SIZE][/FONT][FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-1]ince President Obama unveiled his administration’s ‘new’ Afghan policy in March, 2009, analysis has been a steady feature of the global media, mainstream and alternative. The elephant in the room that few have tackled, however, is the role afforded India in US strategy. Yet, the importance of this element was highlighted in the most recent round of talks between the Pakistani civilian and military establishment, and such high-ranking US officials as Richard Holbrooke and Admiral Mike Mullen. Pakistani officials and media commentators – otherwise seldom on the same page – together declared that the plan was souring Pak-US ties. Of the two reasons cited – the first being US violations of Pakistani sovereignty in the form of predator strikes – the second is US support for India’s activities in Afghanistan and refusal to mediate the Kashmir dispute. So severe was the rift that Holbrooke had to appear before the press yesterday to clarify that differences of opinion are natural, but that relations were not strained, immediately after which, he and Mullen left Islamabad for New Delhi.[/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-1]To be fair to US policy makers, Holbrooke’s and Mullen’s travel itinerary confirms that the issue of India-Pakistan relations has not been ignored. The problem in Pakistan, though not in India, is the manner in which it has been addressed. As General Petreaus recently stated before the Senate Armed Services Committee, the ‘new’ plan involves convincing Pakistanis that al-Qaida and the Taliban, rather than India, represent the most “serious threat to Pakistan’s very existence”. President Obama himself used the metaphor of a terminal “cancer”. The hope is that this ‘new’ rhetoric, along with financial aid, will deliver the US a long list of wants. These include persuading the Pakistan military to stay out of political office, work closely with India to muzzle Kashmiri separatists, provide access to A. Q. Khan and the nuclear program, as well as firmly commit to US designs (including further missile strikes and the possibility of joint operations within Pakistani territory) against al-Qaida, the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban and other anti-US and anti-Indian groups in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. [/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-1]Such arguments may persuade members of the US government, but they are clearly hard to sell in Pakistan. First, it should be clarified that even when the US government’s closest supporters in Pakistan, the administrations of Presidents Musharraf and Zardari, have negotiated ‘peace-treaties’ with Taliban and associated groups, most of Pakistan’s English-language media and intelligentsia have been highly critical. The latter have argued that Taliban, et al., pose a mortal threat to the already precarious status of women in Pakistan. They also threaten the well-being of religious and sectarian minorities in Pakistan, as well as the very fabric of Pakistani culture; particularly, the visual arts, music, dance, theatre and film. They further hamper the development of educational institutions, science and technology, and the smooth functioning, let alone growth, of Pakistani industrial, financial and government institutions. But, an ’existential threat’ to the state of Pakistan? No one has gone that far, recognizing that the Pakistani Taliban is not a single entity with a unified political agenda, while the Pakistani Taliban, Afghani Taliban and al-Qaida harbor broader differences still, even if some in their ranks are united in opposition to a US presence in the region. Thus, in searching for meaning between the Obama administration’s lines, some Pakistani commentators have concluded that Washington’s contention in this regard is no more than a veil obscuring the real ‘existential threat’ to Pakistan. [/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-1]Particularly since the Bush administration began missile strikes on Pakistani targets, and Obama’s ‘new’ plan has continued this policy with deadly effect, editorial and opinion pages in the Pakistani press have been screaming that such violations of Pakistani sovereignty are part of a US plot to destabilize, invade and extract Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities, while transferring nuclear technology to India; a course of action that will ultimately leave Pakistan at India’s mercy (i.e., herald Pakistan’s destruction). Others have argued that recent buzz in Washington about expanding missile strikes into Baluchistan province, is part of a plot hatched with India to break that large region off, thus creating a corridor from Afghanistan to the Arabian Sea that not only by-passes Pakistan, but deprives the remainder of the state a major source of natural resources and strategic value. In other words, there are some in Pakistan who believe the type of statements made by President Obama and General Petreaus are, in fact, laying the groundwork for the US and India to end ‘Pakistan’s very existence’. [/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-1]These are alarmist perspectives, to be sure, and they certainly do not represent the mainstay of Pakistani commentary, but the alarm itself reveals the broader anxiety caused by India’s role in the region – one that President Obama’s plan seeks to address with no more than unsubstantiated statements of India’s good intentions and fanciful notions of Taliban/al-Qaida’s ‘existential threat’ to Pakistan, not to mention the obligatory ‘bakshish’ promised to those holding the reins of power in Pakistan. However, Pakistani commentators are not alone in recognizing that India’s relationship with the US and role in Afghanistan plays an important part in shaping Pakistani policy towards Taliban and like-minded groups operating in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. In a recent round-table discussion hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations and published in Foreign Affairs, most contributors agreed with the opinion of Shaun Gregory, Director of the Pakistan Security Research Unit at the University of Bradford, that, “Anyone seeking greater stability in the region, or seeking to wean Pakistan off support for extremists and terrorists, has to address Pakistan's legitimate security needs”. [/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-1]It cannot be forgotten that although the US entered Afghanistan in 2001, India (with Iran and Russia) and Pakistan had been fighting a proxy war in Afghanistan throughout the previous decade; the former supporting the Tajik-dominated ‘Northern Alliance,’ while the latter backed the Pashtun Taliban. This conflict was practically won by Pakistan-backed forces, when the US charged into the region and placed the Northern Alliance in power. The US presence post-9/11, certainly changed the equation, but did not end the proxy war. Thus, the ‘legitimate security needs’ of which Gregory speaks arise from what fellow contributor Aqil Shah – a Rhodes scholar and PhD candidate in political science at Columbia University - identified as the Pakistan army’s “fear that the United States could simply lose interest in Afghanistan once it captures the senior leadership of al Qaeda (as Washington did after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan), leaving Pakistan exposed to Indian (and Russian) ‘encirclement’ -- evidence of which it sees in New Delhi's alleged support for the insurgency in Pakistan's resource-rich Baluchistan province and Indian funding for a 135-mile road connecting Afghanistan's Nimroz province with the Iranian port of Chabahar.” [/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-1]Christine Fair of the Rand Corporation added: “Having visited the Indian mission in Zahedan, Iran, I can assure you they are not issuing visas as the main activity! Moreover, India has run operations from its mission in Mazar (through which it supported the Northern Alliance) and is likely doing so from the other consulates it has reopened in Jalalabad and Qandahar along the border. Indian officials have told me privately that they are pumping money into Baluchistan. Kabul has encouraged India to engage in provocative activities such as using the Border Roads Organization to build sensitive parts of the Ring Road and use the Indo-Tibetan police force for security. It is also building schools on a sensitive part of the border in Kunar--across from Bajaur. Kabul's motivations for encouraging these activities are as obvious as India's interest in engaging in them. Even if by some act of miraculous diplomacy the territorial issues were to be resolved, Pakistan would remain an insecure state. Given the realities of the subcontinent (e.g., India's rise and its more effective foreign relations with all of Pakistan's near and far neighbors), these fears are bound to grow, not lessen. This suggests that without some means of compelling Pakistan to abandon its reliance upon militancy, it will become ever more interested in using it -- and the militants will likely continue to proliferate beyond Pakistan's control”.[/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-1]Along with addressing India’s role in Afghanistan, the above trio of commentators also raises the importance of the Kashmir dispute. Stated most forcefully by Shah, “The United States has to pay more attention to the Kashmir conflict and be seen to be doing so. Kashmir shapes the Pakistani state's worldview to a significant degree. It also plays a crucial role in legitimating the military's virtually open-ended security mission and limits the prospects of reversing military power in domestic politics”. Shah’s logic is rooted in an awareness of the fact that Pakistan’s history of military rulers, religio-political militancy and the kind of existential fears that led to nuclearization, not to mention at least two conventional wars with India, is very much a legacy of the Kashmir dispute. Furthermore, the undercurrent of mistrust created by the lack of any resolution (armed or diplomatic) has played no small part in leading India and Pakistan to became embroiled in the proxy war in Afghanistan that apparently continues into the present. In other words, a mutually agreeable resolution of the Kashmir dispute is necessary for US interests in the region, particularly if those interests involve weaning the Pakistani military off ‘reliance upon militancy’.[/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-1]As if US interests in the region were not enough, there are also Pakistani reasons for considering the Kashmir dispute central to the region’s future stability. Although ‘irrational’ historical rivalries and the ‘false consciousness’ of ideological divides are always mentioned in discussions of the Kashmir dispute, the more mundane but infinitely more pertinent fact that the Indus River and two of its major tributaries (the Chenab and Jhelum Rivers) flow from the mountains of Kashmir is seldom added. Yet, this fact has been quietly recognized as central by all parties to the dispute since the conclusion of the first Indo-Pak War in 1948, as evinced by Pakistan’s desire to take the matter of water allocation up with the International Court of Justice, and India’s refusal to venture beyond bilateralism, leading to no talks of any kind between the two states by 1951. It was under these circumstances that an agent of the US State Department visited the area and suggested that the World Bank might step in to broker a water distribution treaty as a means of lowering tensions and building confidence. The result was the World Bank brokered ‘Indus Water Treaty’, negotiated over a period of six years and signed in 1960. In essence, the treaty gave Pakistan exclusive rights to the Indus, Chelum and Jhelum Rivers, despite the fact that they flowed out of Indian-administered areas of Kashmir, while India received the same rights to three other Indus tributaries, despite their flowing into Pakistan. The treaty also set up a ‘Permanent Indus Commission’ to monitor implementation and mediate future disputes. [/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-1]Of all the confidence building measures undertaken and treaties signed between India and Pakistan over the decades, the Indus Water Treaty has been most crucial to stability and so, the most enduring. Yet, this pillar of Indo-Pak entente has been under threat for the last two decade, or so. The first rumblings of change came in 1984, when Indian forces took advantage of Pakistan distraction with the US-backed ‘jihad’ against the Soviets in Afghanistan, to push beyond the 1949 ‘Line of Control’ that separates Indian and Pakistani-administered Kashmir and seize the Siachen Glacier, whose run-off feeds (through tributaries) into the Indus River. Since then, Siachen has become known as the ‘world’s highest battlefield’, and hostilities there contributed to everything from Pakistan backing armed insurgents in Indian-administered Kashmir from 1989, to Pakistani troop involvement in the Kargil Conflict of 1999, bringing South Asia to the brink of nuclear war, while the US withdrew from the region following the defeat of the Soviets. None of these Pakistani moves, however, have succeeded in wresting back control of Siachen, let alone pushing India to negotiate an end to the broader dispute. Rather, they have led Indian forces into a counter-insurgency campaign that international human rights organizations calculate has cost the lives of 80,000 to 100,000 civilians in Indian-administered Kashmir, as well as routine ‘disappearances’, ‘rapes’ and ‘torture’. As if this mix was not toxic enough, in 2000, India also announced plans to dam the Chelum River, stirring the Kashmiri cauldron further. Although India claimed that the hydro-electric project was necessary for the development of Kashmir, Pakistan argued that it was a clear violation of the Indus Water Treaty. Thus, Pakistan raised objections with the Permanent Indus Commission soon after work on the ‘Baglihar Dam Project’ was initiated in 2000, but under the auspices of the World Bank, the Pakistani case was overruled in 2007, without a word from the recently re-engaged US. India was merely required to lower the height of the dam by 1.5 meters. Under such circumstances, work on the dam was revitalized and, in 2008, it was inaugurated by Prime Minister Singh, despite protests from independent geologists (who warn that it lies on a fault-line) and unrelenting objections from Islamabad on the basis of the Indus Water Treaty. [/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-1]Adding the issue of water rights to the Kashmir dispute only goes to prove the difficulties involved in bringing about any form of ‘quick-fix’. However, the elemental nature of water also best highlights the fact that from Pakistan’s vantage-point, the state’s ‘very existence’ is not dependent on al-Qaida, Taliban or even the US, but on who governs Kashmir and under what terms. Thus, when added to Indian activities in Afghanistan, it is easy to see why the majority of contributors to the previously cited roundtable discussion hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations argued that addressing ‘Pakistan’s legitimate security needs’ vis-à-vis India, is an essential component of any plan ‘seeking greater stability in the region, or seeking to wean Pakistan off support for extremists and terrorists’. [/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-1]Nevertheless, there are also voices of opposition, not least of which is the Indian government and its lobby in Washington. At least one voice of dissent was even heard at the aforementioned roundtable. Sumit Ganguly, professor of political science and Director of Research at the Center on American and Global Security at Indiana University (Bloomington), acknowledged Indian activities in Afghanistan as “a pincer movement designed to relieve pressure in Kashmir”, but nevertheless went on to argue that India does not “constitute a viable threat” to Pakistan, while evidence of Indian involvement in Baluchistan province is “thin”. All of these issues, including the idea that the Pakistani psyche is scarred by India’s role in the separation of half the country from the whole in 1971, Ganguly dismissed as “paranoia”, “obfuscatory [Pakistani] propaganda” and “India-bashing”. Thus, he ultimately urged US policymakers to induce the Pakistan army to focus on “legitimate threats”, identifying them in the statement that the US must “ask Pakistan to end its ties with jihadi organizations. This is in the American interest, in the interests of India and Afghanistan, and ultimately in the interest of Pakistan itself…. The menace that was spawned on and unleashed from Pakistani soil threatens us all, and we need to be forthright about it”.[/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-1]Although representative of minority opinion at the Council of Foreign Relations roundtable, the actions and statements of the Obama administration confirm that the brand of opinion forwarded by Ganguly (and the Indian establishment) carries more weight in Washington than all other contributors to the debate, including the government, media and intelligentsia of Pakistan. In fact, in the latest round of talks between Pakistani and US officials mentioned above, the US representatives’ silence on Pakistani concerns about Indian activities in Afghanistan and Baluchistan, and vociferous dismissal of any US role in mediating the Kashmir dispute, reaffirmed that India-Pakistan relations are no more part of Obama’s ‘new’ plan, than they were a feature of the Bush administration’s strategy in the region. Only one reason can be surmised: US relations with India are viewed in the long-term, while those with Pakistan are not, despite assurances to the contrary. From the Pakistani perspective, therefore, the ‘new’ plan, like the ‘old’, acknowledges and pampers an elephant in the room, but asks the cat under its feet to ignore it and other ‘predators’ in the air, because a rat is also present. At the risk of carrying the metaphor too far, such a scenario can only lead the cat and the rat to accommodate each other, lest both risk being crushed. That is to say, when provisions for India-Pakistan relations are considered, Obama’s ‘new’ plan, like Bush’s ‘old’ one, appears to yield exactly the opposite of its stated intention, at least so far as Pakistan is concerned.[/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-1]M. Reza Pirbhai is an Assistant Professor of South Asian History at
Louisiana State University. He can be reached at: [email protected][/SIZE][/FONT]
http://www.counterpunch.org/pirbhai04102009.html
 

Vinod2070

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US expands war into Pakistan

US expands war into Pakistan
Missile Strikes to be Intensified

by Keith Jones

Global Research, April 9, 2009



The head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, and Richard Holbrooke, the US Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, visited Islamabad Monday and Tuesday to press Pakistani authorities to intensify their efforts to staunch the anti-American insurgency in the country’s Pashtun-speaking Afghan borderlands.

Unveiled by US President Barack Obama late last month, Washington’s new strategy to pacify Afghanistan calls for a dramatic escalation of the war—US troop strength in Afghanistan is to almost double from 38,000 to 68,000—and for the war’s further expansion in Pakistan, both through coordinated action with Islamabad and unilateral US strikes inside Pakistan.

Since 2004, the Pakistani military has repeatedly mounted anti-insurgency operations in the historically autonomous Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), suffering some 1,500 fatalities, provoking widespread popular anger over its wanton indifference to civilian casualties, and triggering a growing humanitarian crisis. More than half a million FATA residents have been rendered refugees.

In Bajur, the site of heavy fighting last fall, the military flattened whole villages. According to a recent BBC report, there is growing anger among refugees over the government’s failure to provide them with assistance to rebuild their homes. Teacher Abdul Haleem, who is now living at a refugee camp near Peshawar that used to house Afghanis displaced by the civil war of the 1980s, told the BBC, “They’ve destroyed the whole village, the whole market. There are no hospitals, no schools, no teachers in Bajur. They’re all here.”

But the US political and military elite is adamant that Pakistan act more aggressively to quell the insurgency, charging that FATA and neighboring parts of Baluchistan and the North-West Frontier Province have become a “safe-haven” for anti-US forces. In recent days, top US officials including Holbrooke and General David Petraeus, the head of the Pentagon’s Central Command, have publicly charged that elements within Pakistan’s military intelligence agency, the ISI, are continuing to consort with the Taliban and other anti-US Islamic insurgents.

In the midst of Holbrooke’s and Mullen’s visit to Islamabad, the New York Times, no doubt at the behest of the Obama administration, published a report meant to underline Washington’s determination to wage war in Pakistan. Titled “More drone attacks in Pakistan Planned,” the report cited “senior administration officials” as saying that the US intends “to step up its use of drones to strike militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas.”
Since last August, US forces have carried out at least 35 drone missile strikes inside Pakistan, killing more than 340 people, many, if not most of them, civilians. The most recent attack came on the morning of April 4 in North Waziristan. Local officials said women and children were among the 13 dead.

Tuesday’s Times article also reported that the Obama administration is considering broadening “the missile strikes to Baluchistan,” repeating a claim made in an earlier Times report.
US officials claim the drone missile strikes in FATA have caused some leaders of the anti-US insurgency to flee to Quetta, Baluchistan’s capital. The implication is that if Pakistani authorities don’t soon act to apprehend or kill these insurgents, the US will begin mounting drone attacks in and around Quetta, a city of well over a million people.

The drone attacks very much exemplify the servile relationship that exists between Washington and Islamabad and are seen as such by ordinary Pakistanis. Having for the better part of a decade sustained the dictator General Pervez Musharraf in power, because he was providing vital support to the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, Washington now brazenly asserts the right to violate Pakistani sovereignty at will and rain down death on impoverished villagers.

Such is the popular feeling, all sections of the Pakistani political elite have been compelled to condemn the drone attacks. Aftab Ahmad Sherpao, interior minister during much of Musharaff’s rule, recently told the Times that only about 1 to 2 percent of Pakistanis support the US’s policy toward their country: “A cross-section of people is dead set against the Americans. Another section is not happy, but not vocal.”

A spokesman for the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has said the FATA-based pro-Taliban group will mount two suicide bombings a week until the US ceases its drone attacks. Pakistani authorities have blamed TTP leader Baitullah Mehsud for a series of devastating attacks in the heart of Pakistan’s major cities, including the December 2007 assassination of Pakistan People’s Party leader Benazir Bhutto. Mehsud has denied most of these claims, but he did claim authorship of last week’s attack on a police academy in Lahore and a paramilitary camp in Islamabad.

Popular sentiment notwithstanding, it is an open secret that the Pakistani government tolerates the drone attacks, albeit grudgingly, as necessary to sustain the reactionary, client-patron partnership between the Pakistani military and the Pentagon that has for decades been at the heart of the Pakistani elite’s geo-political strategy. Indeed, it has been all but conclusively established that many of the drone attacks are launched from a CIA base located within Pakistan.

Speaking at a press conference Tuesday alongside Holbrooke and Mullen, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said, “We did talk about drones and let me be very frank, there is a gap between us and them [the US officials]. I want to bridge that gap.
“My view is that [the drone attacks] are working to the advantage of the extremists.”
Qureshi said the two sides “agree to disagree on this.” In other words, the US will continue to carry out unilaterally military strikes inside Pakistan, a violation of international law that is tantamount to an act of war.

Qureshi claimed that the US has agreed to abide by “certain red lines,” specifically that there will be no “foreign boots on Pakistani soil.” In fact, already last month Holbrooke and the US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Richard Boucher made statements stipulating that there will not be a repeat of the US Special Forces’ raid mounted inside Pakistan last September. That raid provoked a crisis in US-Pakistani relations with the Pakistani military briefly closing down the principal Pakistani supply route for US forces in Afghanistan and demonstrably shooting at US helicopters when they passed over from Afghanistan into Pakistani air space.

The Pentagon clearly would like US forces in southern Afghanistan to have the option to cross into Pakistan. But the far more important objective for it and for Washington is to get Pakistan to coordinate military action with US forces in Afghanistan and to bear a large part of the fighting and the surge in casualties that will result from the intensification of the war in what the Obama administration now officially describes as a single war-theater embracing Afghanistan and Pakistan’s border regions.

The tensions that underlie the US-Pakistan relationship were given muted expression when Qureshi declared, “The bottom line is the question of trust.... We can only work together if we respect and trust each other.”

These remarks were clearly in reaction to the assertions of top US officials that sections of the ISI retain relations with the Taliban and like groups, believing them to be an important instrument of Pakistani geo-political strategy, and more generally US complaints that Islamabad has not given Washington good value for the more than $10 billion in military aid and “war on terror payments” that the Bush administration funneled to the Musharraf regime.
A key element in the Obama administration’s Afghan war strategy is a redefinition of Washington’s relations with Islamabad. The Obama plan calls for Pakistan to be given $1.5 billion per year in development aid for the next 5 years and close to $3 billion in additional counter-insurgency aid over 5 years. The development aid constitutes less than $10 per year per Pakistani, but it is far more than the US has ever offered Islamabad in non-military aid.

To the frustration of the Pakistani elite, the offer of aid comes with significant strings attached. Obama pointedly proclaimed that there will be “no blank checks” for Pakistan. The annual development money will be tied to as yet unspecified conditions meant to measure and judge, at least on an annual basis, that Pakistan is doing the US’s bidding in the Afghan-Pakistan war. The “Pakistani Counterinsurgency Capability Fund” will be subject to unprecedented Pentagon controls and US stipulations that the military aid cannot be used against India.
Islamabad has long complained that Washington has failed to supply the Pakistani military with advanced counter-insurgency equipment, including night vision glasses and attack helicopters.

In announcing its new Afghan War strategy, top Obama administration officials also made clear, to Islamabad’s chagrin, that the US has no intention of getting involved in the Indo-Pakistani dispute over Kashmir. In the run-up to last November’s US elections, Obama and several of his aides suggested that the US should take a more active role in resolving the Kashmir dispute, with the implied suggestion that placing pressure on India to make concessions to Pakistan over Kashmir would be a quid pro quo for getting Pakistan to be even more supportive of the US occupation of Afghanistan.

India, being the larger and stronger power, has always insisted that the Kashmir dispute is a bilateral issue and vigorously opposed any suggestion of third party involvement. In recent months, New Delhi has made thwarting any possible US intervention in the Kashmir conflict a key priority. Through diplomatic channels it has strongly voiced its opposition directly to Washington. But India also seized on last November’s Mumbai terrorist atrocity to press its claim that Pakistan is the nexus of world terrorism and that the Kashmir insurgency is simply a product of the machinations of the Pakistani military-security establishment.

Washington has gotten the message and is anxious to assuage India, which it has been courting for a decade as a potential Asian counterweight to a rising China. To appease New Delhi, Holbrooke’s job description was changed at the last minute to Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, rather than Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Top US officials charged with briefing reporters on the Obama administration’s new Afghan War strategy reiterated that the US will not get involved in resolving the Kashmir dispute. “We don’t intend to get involved in that issue,” declared US National Security Advisor General James Jones. “But we do intend to help both countries build more trust and confidence, so that Pakistan can address the issues that it confronts on the western side of the nation.”

The reality is that Washington’s drive to extend US influence in oil rich Central Asia through the conquest of Afghanistan and its attempt to make India a “global, strategic partner” are placing great pressure on the crisis-ridden Pakistani state.

Thirty years ago the US instigated Islamabad to mentor Islamic fundamentalist militias in Afghanistan as part of its reactionary drive against the Soviet Union and backed the Pakistani dictator and Islamic reactionary General Zia ul Haq to the hilt.


Today it demands that Pakistan crush the Taliban. This not only undercuts the Pakistani elite’s attempt to maintain influence in Afghanistan under conditions where the government in Kabul, with US support, has developed extensive ties to India. It enflames Pashtun nationalist feeling on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border further feeding national-ethnic tensions within the Pakistani state, has caused fissures within the military, and has further discredited the government in the eyes of the Pakistani people by demonstrating it to be a US mercenary regime.


Keith Jones is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Keith Jones
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=13116
 

pyromaniac

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Militants torch trucks along US-NATO supply line

About 150 militants armed with rockets and automatic weapons attacked a transport terminal in northwestern Pakistan that lies along a key supply route used by U.S. and NATO troops, wounding three guards and torching eight cement trucks Sunday, police said.

Militants in Pakistan frequently attack cargo terminals and other stops used by vehicles taking supplies to Western troops in Afghanistan through the legendary Khyber Pass.

Scores of trucks have been damaged and several people have died, adding urgency to U.S. efforts to find safer supply routes.

The latest attack started around 2 a.m. on the outskirts of the main northwestern city of Peshawar, local police officer Gharibullah Khan told The Associated Press.

"They fired rockets and used automatic weapons and torched at least eight trailers carrying cement," he said.

A gunbattle at the scene wounded three guards, one of whom was in critical condition, Khan said.

Also Sunday, a government official said captors had freed Satish Anand, a renowned filmmaker kidnapped about six months ago in the southern city of Karachi, in Bannu, a district in Pakistan's northwest.

Kidnappings have increased in parts of Pakistan as the security situation has deteriorated. Some of the money from the criminal enterprise is believed to help fund the insurgency.

Anand is a member of Muslim-majority Pakistan's small Hindu community and the uncle of Juhi Chawla, a Bollywood actress and beauty queen. He owns a large studio that makes feature films and TV soap operas.

Sharfuddin Memon, the head of the Citizens' Police Liasion Committee, would not say if a random was paid for the Saturday night release but that the groups involved had links to lawless tribal regions in northwestern Pakistan, where al-Qaida and the Taliban have strongholds.

"The groups include both the extremists and the criminals," Memon told AP.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/as_pakistan


hmm....how do we fix this menace...wait I know, lets give Pakistan another 5 billion to fight those terrorists....and just for good measure, we will let them spend that money on German Diesel-electric subs...superb plan Obama!!!
 

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Stealth UAV surfaces in Kandahar

Stealth UAV surfaces in Kandahar


Posted by Bill Sweetman at 4/10/2009 9:25 AM CDT
Credit where credit is due: Steve Trimble reported the first flight of General Atomics' Predator C earlier this week, and now Shephard's Darren Lake has an artist's concept of what looks like a stealthy UAV or UCAV that was sighted at Kandahar recently - pictures apparently exist but have not been published.

Interesting question: are these events connected?

GA-ASI's jet has been in the works for years. The Predator B/Reaper was designed from the outset to accept either the Honeywell turboprop on the current aircraft or a Williams FJ44 turbofan, and the jet was almost ready to fly around the time of 9/11. However, due to strong interest from customers, this first Predator C was converted back to a prop job. Not long afterwards - I think it was Farnborough 2002 - GA-ASI boss Tom Cassidy was saying that the C had morphed into a new design.

Since then, it's been waiting for a customer and held back by the demands of the Reaper program - but its first flight and unveiling follows actions by two California congressmen to earmark funds to build two aircraft for deployment to Afghanistan, and as one of them comments, it will provide "strike" capability and "an additional covert capability."

So has someone made a quick deliberate security slip-up in Kandahar, as if to say: "Thanks, Congressman, but we've already got one of those"?

As for the Kandahar beast itself, it's hard to draw firm conclusions from a sketch based on a picture of unknown quality.

However, if it's operating out of Kandahar, it's a good first-order bet that the targets are in regions covered by Pakistani radar, since it's also a reasonable assumption that there might be a Pakistan AF radar tech or two whose allegiance is not where one would ideally like it to be.

But the same applies to a lot of people living around Kandahar, so one might also surmise that the mystery aircraft might be a bit short of range. (Otherwise, there are more secure bases in the UAE and Qatar.) A tech demo, quickly pressed into service, perhaps?

The impression gives no good clues as to the UAV's parentage. Four US groups are known to have built all-wing UAVs in the past decade-plus: Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing and Abe Karem's Frontier Systems, which competed for the Global Hawk contract as a team-mate with Loral and built a subscale demonstrator of its W570 design. For that matter, it could be British: BAE Systems flew its Corax demonstrator back in 2005.

By the way, this also confirms the comment in the last paragraph of this post from last month.
http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs...StampAscending

This was mainly brought to A'stan because to attack inside Pak terittory with out being tracked PAF's Radars.
 

vijaytripoli

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http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_htvjsmtPrmc/SeGw.../MysteryUAV.jpg

Afghanistan maybe the testing ground for a new, advanced but as yet undisclosed UCAV programme. Pictures shown exclusively to Unmanned Vehicles magazine and taken at an airbase in the war-torn country reveal a large flying wing-type design, adopted by UCAV designers, but not yet seen on an operational type. The image shown in the link below has been drawn directly from the photograph but none of the experts consulted by UV had any concrete idea of what the system might be.The image shown to UV was taken from a long distance, as the aircraft taxied in on a hazy day, but the image was clear enough to show that this UAV’s design is like no other UAV in current operational service.


Amongst the distinctive features of the type is the ‘fat’ wing chord, and a large central fuselage fairing. The aircraft engine nozzle is the same half moon shape as the Lockheed P175 Pole Cat, but the wing is not cranked on its trailing edge like the Pole Cat is. The fuselage fairing could support a large squared off intake, but is more likely to house a large satellite communications and sensor mix. Two large blisters either side of the central fairing are likely to the intakes for a single turbofan engine. These features probably won’t help the aircraft’s radar cross-section, although this probably isn’t important considering the theatre of operations in which it is flying.
The large doors inboard of the main landing gear may be bomb bay doors, indicating a strike capability for the type.


There are clearly the technological capabilities to build something like this inside Northrop Grumman, Boeing or Lockheed Martin. Looking at the shaping, our analyst said he would be inclined to think this comes from either Northrop or Lockheed. The shaping is also suggestive of UCAV concepts around the start of the 2000s.There is a whole raft of wing design work that has gone on since 2002 in terms of how the X-47B has evolved, and the sorts of designs that Boeing was working with prior to the ending of that effort.
 

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Another U.S. drone hits militant camp in Pakistan.

U.S. drone hits militant camp in Pakistan



WANA, Pakistan (Reuters) - A missile fired on Sunday by a pilotless U.S. drone struck a militant camp in Pakistan's South Waziristan region on the Afghan border but there were no reports of casualties, security officials said.
The drone strike came a day after a suicide-car bomber killed 27 soldiers and two passers-by in an attack on a military convoy in the northwest. Pakistani Taliban said the bombing was a reaction to U.S. drone attacks.
"It was a training camp. At the moment, we're trying to get information from the site," said one security official in the region, who declined to be identified.
Another security official said the camp was being used by militants from Pakistan's Punjab province.
Residents said the compound was empty as militants had left it hours before the strike.
"The drones were flying last night and we saw those living in the house leaving in the dark," said villager Kaleem Wazir.
"The building has been destroyed completely and there's just a vehicle parked inside. There's no dead body, no wounded."
The United States, frustrated by an intensifying insurgency in Afghanistan getting support from the Pakistani side of the border, began launching more drone attacks last year.
Since then, about 35 U.S. strikes have killed about 350 people, including mid-level al Qaeda members, according to reports from Pakistani officials, residents and militants.
Pakistan objects to the strikes. Officials say about one in six of the strikes over the past year caused civilian deaths without killing any militants, and that fuels anti-U.S. sentiment, complicating the military's struggle to subdue violence.
http://www.reuters.com/article/newsO...53I09520090419
 

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Pak Taliban: From A Bunch Of Suicide Bombers To A Conventional Army

Pak Taliban: From A Bunch Of Suicide Bombers To A Conventional Army

By B. Raman

Like the Neo Taliban of Afghanistan, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has evolved in less than a year from a bunch of suicide bombers to a conventional army capable of set-piece, stand and fight battles with the Pakistani Army and para-military forces. This conversion has been facilitated by the recruitment of a large number of retired Pashtun ex-servicemen living in the Pashtun tribal belt in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and in the Malakand Division of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). The Swat Valley and the Buner District, less than a hundred kms from Islamabad, which was occupied by the TTP earlier this week without any resistance from the local security forces, form part of the Malakand Division.

2. The agreement signed earlier this year by the coalition Government in the NWFP headed by the Awami National Party (ANP) with Sufi Mohammad of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-a-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), which is a constituent unit of the TTP, for the introduction of Sharia courts covers the entire Division, consisting of seven districts and not just Swat. Now that the agreement, despite strong criticism from abroad, has been got approved by Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani by the National Assembly and signed by President Asif Ali Zardari, the TNSM has lost no time in expanding its control to areas of the Malakand Division outside Swat. The occupation of the Buner district is the beginning. The occupation of the other districts will follow.

3. What should be of great concern to both India and the US is that the TTP, which was seen till recently as merely a collection of young suicide bombers with limited capability for territorial control and dominance through conventional forces, has started demonstrating that it has evolved into a conventional army, which can fight, occupy and administer territory. Thus, the TTP has evolved into a mirror image of the Neo Taliban. It shares with the Neo Taliban its objective of fighting for the defeat of the US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan. At the same time, it has its own independent agenda of expanding its territorial and ideological dominance to other areas of the Pashtun belt in the NWFP initially and then to non-Pashtun areas. The Neo Taliban does not approve of this independent agenda, but does not oppose it actively.

4. The Pakistan Army headed by Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, its Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), has shown neither the will nor the inclination to counter the advance of the TTP and then roll it back. It is not Kayani’s worries about what could happen on the Indian border, which have come in the way of a vigorous response to the TTP’s military advance. It is his worries over the continuing loyalty of the Pashtun soldiers, who constitute about 20 per cent of the Army, and of the Frontier Corps and the Frontier Constabulary, which are responsible for his anxiety and keenness to make peace with the TTP. The Frontier Corps and the Frontier Constabulary consist predominantly of Pashtun soldiers recruited in the FATA and the NWFP, officered by deputationists from the Army. These units have been showing less and less inclination to fight the TTP. They have been either avoiding a confrontation with the TNSM and the TTP or in some cases just deserting and surrendering to the TTP units.

5. According to reliable sources in the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), it is pressure from an alarmed Kayani to reach an accommodation with the TNSM and the TTP, which set in motion the negotiations with Sufi Mohammad and the developments that have followed. The Army and the para-military forces have already conceded territorial control to the TTP in the FATA and in the Malakand Division of the NWFP. By re-locating his forces and by reducing the Army’s presence in these areas already under the domination of the TNSM and the TTP, Kayani is reportedly hoping to prevent an ingress of the Pakistani Taliban into other parts of the NWFP and beyond.

6. The objectives of the TTP are presently limited to ideological unity of all Muslims in Pakistan based on the Sharia and the ethnic unity of all the Pashtuns in the Af-Pak region to wage a relentless jihad against the US-led NATO forces till they vacate Afghanistan. It has the motivation and intention to extend its ideological influence to non-Pashtun areas too, but is not yet in a position to establish territorial dominance in those areas. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) of Altaf Hussain apprehends that the TTP wants to set up a strong presence in Karachi, which has the largest Pashtun community in Pakistan after Peshawar.

7. Confronted with the worsening ground situation in the NWFP and with the danger of a possible collapse of the strategy of President Barack Obama even before it was taken up for implementation, the US is acting like a cat on a hot tin roof. There have been understandable cries of alarm not only from Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, and Robert Gates, the Defence Secretary, but also from White House spokesmen. Cries of alarm and the preparation of yet another national intelligence estimate on Pakistan alone will not help. What is urgently required is a national intelligence estimate on US policy-making towards Pakistan, which has been leading it from one critical situation to another.

8. A study of the course of US policy-making would show how those Pakistani leaders who are toasted one day as frontline allies against extremism and terrorism turn out to be either accomplices of terrorism or capitulators to terrorists and extremists the next day. Pervez Musharraf belonged to the first category. Zardari belongs to the second. Despite nearly 60 years of close US interactions with the political and military leaderships in Pakistan, the US has not been able to acquire any enduring influence over policy-making circles in Islamabad. The US has very little to show in terms of changed policies in Islamabad in return for its unending pampering of successive regimes in Islamabad with the injection of more and more money and military equipment. The time has come to stop pampering, but there is a reluctance in the Obama Administration---as there was in the preceding Bush Administration--- to do so due to fears that a stoppage of US assistance and pampering may result in a failed state with the control of its nuclear arsenal falling into the hands of the jihadis.

9. Unfortunately, the situation in Pakistan has reached a stage where the outcome---ultimate jihadi control of the State and its nuclear arsenal--- may be the same whatever the US does----whether it continues pampering or stops doing so. It is a thankless dilemma. It is easy to criticize the US strategy or the lack of it, but difficult to suggest a viable alternative. The starting point of an alternative strategy has to be a cordon sanitaire around the areas already under the control of the TTP and a crash programme for the economic development of the Pashtun areas not yet controlled by the Taliban. Obama’s plans to spend billions of dollars in the areas of the FATA already under the control of Al Qaeda and the Taliban would produce no enduring results except to waste the US taxpayers’ money. This money should be better spent on immunizing those areas where the influence of the Taliban has not yet spread.

10. An equally important point of the strategy should be to step up the US Predator strikes in the FATA and to extend them to Swat in order to keep the Al Qaeda and Taliban elements running for cover all the time and make it difficult for them to plan new strikes and get them executed.

11. The third point of the strategy should be to restore to the Intelligence Bureau of Pakistan its original role of primacy as the internal intelligence and internal security agency of Pakistan. Over the years, the IB has been reduced to the position of a powerless appendage of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and its top ranks militarized through the induction of serving and retired military officers. This has to be reversed.

12. These are medium and long-term measures, which would take time to produce results. The questions requiring an immediate response is how to protect Pakistan from itself. How to stop the advance of the Taliban? How to confront it ideologically? For this purpose, the US needs objective allies in Pakistan. It has none so far. It has been working through opportunistic allies in the army and the political parties. They will accept all the money from the US, but will not produce results.

13. The objective allies have to be found in the Pashtun community. All the talk in Washington DC about their being good Taliban and bad Taliban is ridiculous. But there are good Pashtuns and bad Pashtuns. The US should urgently identify the good Pashtuns and encourage and help them to take up the fight against the Taliban ideologically. After the elections in Pakistan in March last year, I had pointed out that the ANP, which came to power in Peshawar, was a party of good Pashtuns and that the US should work through it, forgetting its past links with the Communists in Afghanistan and the erstwhile USSR. I was given to understand that a couple of ANP leaders did visit Washingtin DC, but beyond that nothing further was done. Now the ANP-led Government in Peshawar has conceded ideological victory to the TNSM in Swat. Despite this, the US should persist with cultivating it and other good Pashtun elements in parties such as the Pakhtoonkwa Milli Awami Party (PMAP) of Mehmood Khan Achakzai. They constitute the progressive component of the Pashtun community and they need to be strengthened and encouraged to counter the Taliban. The present US policy of depending on repeatedly failed elements in the Army and in the mainstream political parties is not working. The regional Pashtun forces have to be encouraged to take up the fight against the Taliban.

14. The survival of Al Qaeda in the FATA and the rise and spread of the TTP are due to support from large sections of the Pashtun community. The resistance to them has to come from the Pashtun community. It cannot come from the likes of Zardari, Gilani and Kayani.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, the Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: [email protected] )

Pak Taliban:  From A Bunch Of Suicide Bombers To A Conventional Army -- International Terrorism Monitor -- Paper No.520
 

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U.S. Questions Pakistan’s Will to Stop Taliban

U.S. Questions Pakistan’s Will to Stop Taliban

By CARLOTTA GALL and ERIC SCHMITT




ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — As the Taliban tightened their hold over newly won territory, Pakistani politicians and American officials on Thursday sharply questioned the government’s willingness to deal with the insurgents and the Pakistani military’s decision to remain on the sidelines.

Some 400 to 500 insurgents consolidated control of their new prize, a strategic district called Buner, just 70 miles from the capital, Islamabad, setting up checkpoints and negotiating a truce similar to the one that allowed the Taliban to impose Islamic law in the neighboring Swat Valley.

As they did, Taliban contingents were seen Thursday in at least two other districts and areas still closer to the capital, according to Pakistani government officials and residents.

Yet Pakistani authorities deployed just several hundred poorly paid and equipped constabulary forces to Buner, who were repelled in a clash with the insurgents, leaving one police officer dead.

The limited response set off fresh scrutiny of Pakistan’s military, a force with 500,000 soldiers and a similar number of reservists. The army receives $1 billion in American military aid each year but has repeatedly declined to confront the Taliban-led insurgency, even as it has bled out of Pakistan’s self-governed tribal areas into Pakistan proper in recent months.

The military remains fixated on training and deploying its soldiers to fight the country’s archenemy, India. It remains ill equipped for counterinsurgency, analysts say, and top officers are deeply reluctant to be pressed into action against insurgents who enjoy family, ethnic and religious ties with many Pakistanis.

In the limited engagements in which regular army troops have fought the Taliban in the tribal areas and sections of the Swat Valley, they not only failed to dislodge the Taliban, but also convinced many Pakistanis that their own military was as much of a menace as the Islamic radicals it sought to repel, residents and analysts say.

In Washington, a Defense Department official who is monitoring Pakistan closely said that the poorly trained constabulary force was sent Thursday because Pakistani Army troops were not available, and Pakistani generals were reluctant to pull reinforcements off the border with India — something American officials have encouraged them to do.

“It illustrates there is a lack of political will in the Pakistan civilian leadership to confront these Pakistan Taliban,” said Senator Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat on the Armed Services Committee who just returned from his fifth visit to Pakistan. “The Taliban sense this huge vacuum that they can pour into.”

Instead, the military, which is stretched thin in the areas along the Afghan border, has favored negotiations, and the civilian government has acquiesced. “The government is too worried about its own political survival to take on the militants,” the Defense Department official said.

Where it has engaged the insurgents, the Pakistani Army, untrained in counterinsurgency, has become reviled by the civilian population for its heavy-handed tactics, which have cost many lives while failing to stop the Taliban.

At the same time, the police and paramilitary forces have proved too weak to stand up to the militants. In Buner, desperate residents had resorted to forming their own militias, as much to keep out the military as the Taliban. That effort, too, has now failed.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said Thursday that the government would review the Swat peace agreement if peace was not restored. “We have to ensure writ of the government,” he told journalists. “We reserve the right to go for other options if Talibanization continues.”

Still, a range of American officials continued to press the Pakistani government for “serious, aggressive” military action, an American official said. The Pakistanis have yet to present a persuasive response to American officials, who are calling regularly for updates.

On Capitol Hill, legislators preparing to introduce a bill to provide Pakistan with $7.5 billion in nonmilitary aid over five years may face a steep challenge.

“I have absolutely no confidence in the ability of the existing Pakistan government to do one blessed thing,” said Representative David R. Obey, a Wisconsin Democrat who leads the House Appropriations Committee.

In a sign of the urgency of the crisis, the special envoy for the region, Richard C. Holbrooke, is sending Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton memos several times a day with his latest reading of the situation in Pakistan, an American official said.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, briefly visited Pakistan on Wednesday night and Thursday from Afghanistan, to meet with Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Pakistani Army chief of staff. An American official briefed on discussions said the Pakistani leadership was “very concerned.”

Buner (pronounced boo-NAIR), home to about one million people, lies in the heart of North-West Frontier Province, bordering seven other districts. Its capture not only advances the Taliban closer to the capital, but also gives the Taliban a vital hub to extend their reach.

The Taliban have already carried out limited attacks and have had a presence, including training camps, in several of the districts bordering Buner, in some cases for years. But on Thursday the militants were seen in several places moving more openly and in larger numbers than before.

More than 30 armed militants entered the Shangla district, east of the main Swat Valley and north of Buner, and were seen patrolling an area around Loch Bazaar, the independent channel Geo TV reported Thursday, quoting witnesses.

Government officials also confirmed that militants have been seen in Totali, far south in Buner and close to the boundary with the Swabi district, which lies close to the main highways into the capital.

Armed militants have also been seen visiting mosques and patrolling in Rustam, a town on the boundary between Buner and the adjoining district of Mardan, said Riaz Khan, a lawyer living in Mardan, the second largest town in North-West Frontier Province. “People are anxious and in a state of fear,” he said.

The Taliban were making a concerted push into areas that overlook the capital, lawmakers and government officials in North-West Frontier Province said.

A powerful religious party leader, Fazlur Rehman, who is allied with the government, warned that militants had reached into the Mansehra district, close to the Tarbela Dam, a vital source of electricity to the center of the country.

“If the Taliban continue to move at this pace they will soon be knocking at the door of Islamabad,” he told Parliament on Wednesday, adding that Margalla Hills, north of the capital, seem to be the only hurdle to the Taliban advance.

The Pakistani Taliban, who number in the thousands across the tribal areas and the Swat region, have declared their aim of establishing Shariah rule throughout Pakistan. But for now, their expansion may be opportunistic and their strength sufficient only to establish local fiefdoms, or “micro-emirates of Shariah,” said Christine Fair, a senior research associate at the RAND Corporation.

“I don’t know what the Taliban’s game plan is, but what seems apparent is the state has no game plan,” she said. “The Pakistani state is not able to stop them and they expand where they can.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/24/world/asia/24pstan.html?_r=2&hp
 

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At last....the Big Bad Pakistani capital has only a natural barrier defending itself....And the PA hasnt been deployed yet?
 

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Women and little kids suffer the most

SLAMABAD, Pakistan — Heavy fighting raged for a third day in Pakistan’s northwest on Thursday as civilians flooded from the area and the Pakistani military reported some gains in pushing back Taliban insurgents.
As in all these conflicts it is the women and kids who suffer most.



Above
Women and children at a repatriation center in Peshawar, Pakistan. Thousands have fled their homes in the region's northwest province to escape fighting between the Taliban and the Pakistani miltary.

The Pakistani military secured mountain passes to the west and south of Buner, a district 60 miles from the capital, according to its spokesman, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, who spoke at a news briefing at the military headquarters in Rawalpindi. Helicopter gunships also rocketed Taliban positions in the north of Buner, where the militants had apparently fortified positions in areas adjoining their stronghold in the Swat Valley.

While government forces consolidated control of Buner’s main town, Daggar, General Abbas said it could still take another week for the operation to clear the whole district of militants, as the military was proceeding slowly to defuse booby traps and avoid civilian casualties.

The militants continued to unleash attacks, hitting a checkpoint belonging to government paramilitary forces from the Frontier Corps in northern Buner, and seizing several police stations across the region, including two in the upper reaches of Swat.
 

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