The Pakistani senator gazed at the headline in despair. It read: “US weighs new covert push in Pakistan”. Washington was authorising “enhanced CIA activity” in the country while US Democratic candidates declared they were all ready “to launch unilateral military strikes in [Pakistan] if they detected an imminent threat”. Hillary Clinton wanted “joint US-UK oversight” of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. In a country where anti-Americanism is almost a religion, said the senator, this is “an answer to a Taliban prayer”.
I am convinced that those whom the gods wish to destroy they first curse with foreign policy. For the third time in 20 years, the west is meddling with the world’s sixth most populous state. It did so to promote the Afghan mujahideen against the Russians in the 1980s, then to attack al-Qaida after 9/11, and now to “guard” Pakistan’s bombs against a fantastical al-Qaida seizure. Needless to say, the sole beneficiaries are the Taliban and the forces of disorder. [complete article]
President Pervez Musharraf warned that U.S. troops would be regarded as invaders if they crossed into Pakistan’s border region with Afghanistan in the hunt for al-Qaida or Taliban militants, according to an interview published Friday. [complete article]
At a time when Pakistan’s national decision-making institutions are suspicious of international plans to make the country’s nuclear program controversial, there is serious consideration for repositioning the country’s foreign policy as neutral in the United States-led “war on terror”.
This would mean non-interference in the restive tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan. These are virtually autonomous areas where Taliban and al-Qaeda militants have established bases and vital supply lines into Afghanistan.
Such a move would have devastating effects on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) efforts to control the ever-growing insurgency in Afghanistan.
Following a meeting of the Pakistan corps commanders headed by the new chief of army staff, General Ashfaq Kiani, a press release said there would be a review of the situation in the tribal areas and, instead of citing any plans for military operations there against militants, the release said the military’s decisions would be based on “the wishes of the nation”. [complete article]
See also, Bomb kills at least 23 in Pakistan (NYT) and Baitullah Mehsud – the Taliban’s new leader in Pakistan (Jamestown Foundation).