A new and classified American military proposal outlines an intensified effort to enlist tribal leaders in the frontier areas of Pakistan in the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, as part of a broader effort to bolster Pakistani forces against an expanding militancy, American military officials said.
If adopted, the proposal would join elements of a shift in strategy that would also be likely to expand the presence of American military trainers in Pakistan, directly finance a separate tribal paramilitary force that until now has proved largely ineffective and pay militias that agree to fight Al Qaeda and foreign extremists, officials said. The United States now has only about 50 troops in Pakistan, a Pentagon spokesman said, a force that could grow by dozens under the new approach.
The new proposal is modeled in part on a similar effort by American forces in Anbar Province in Iraq that has been hailed as a great success in fighting foreign insurgents there. But it raises the question of whether such partnerships can be forged without a significant American military presence on the ground in Pakistan. And it is unclear whether enough support can be found among the tribes. [complete article]
President Pervez Musharraf on Saturday rebuffed pressure from a senior U.S. envoy to revoke emergency rule under the country’s current security situation, envoys said.
In a tense two-hour meeting, Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte delivered a “very strong message” urging Musharraf to end the state of emergency, step down as head of the military and release of thousands of political prisoners.
“Emergency rule is not compatible with free, fair and credible elections,” Negroponte said at a news conference Sunday morning, referring to parliamentary elections set for early January. “The people of Pakistan deserve an opportunity to choose their leaders free from the restrictions that exist under a state of emergency.”
A diplomat characterized the meeting as “short of tough love, but still tough.” [complete article]
Two weeks into the crisis that began when Musharraf purged the judiciary, muzzled the media and clamped down on politicians who opposed his re-election, the full details of what the ‘state of emergency’ entails are emerging as human rights groups in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore collect testimonies.
Retribution is being meted out on a massive scale and Pakistan’s powerful gossip mill has attributed a particular motive to Musharraf’s thinking – his aim is to ‘teach a lesson’ to those who have dared object to his belief that only he can save his country. The aim of the state of emergency has been largely to humiliate the opposition. [complete article]
See also, U.S. aims to reshape Pakistan aid (LAT), Pakistan court bulldozes through rulings for Musharraf (Reuters), and Threat to strip Benazir Bhutto of amnesty (The Sunday Times).