One problem with Pakistan’s war against terrorists including al-Qaeda and the Taliban in the Tribal Areas is Pakistan’s set of self imposed restrictions on journalists and foreigners. Like China, Vietnam and other “closed” societies, Pakistan has decided that what you know about the tribal areas will come only from the Government of Pakistan. This is why we at Peace and Freedom have ventured into the region and why we so highly value the contributions of Muhammad Khurshid, now fired from his job as a newspaper journalist in Pakistan and “lost” somewhere in the tribal region….
Troops backed by helicopter gunships and artillery pounded militant positions in northwest Pakistan, killing 60 fighters and wounding many others, the military said Saturday.
From the Assoaciated Press
The assault happened Friday evening in the Swat valley shortly before a senior U.S. official arrived in Pakistan for talks with leaders of a country vital to Western security concerns.
Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher held talks in Islamabad on Saturday morning with Pakistan’s Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik and was expected to meet other leaders later in the day. He made no public comment.
U.S. officials, concerned about rising militancy in both nuclear-armed Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan, have praised Pakistani efforts to clear Taliban and al-Qaida strongholds near its northwestern frontier.
But militants are mounting stiff resistance including a string of suicide attacks that could fan widespread Pakistani concern that they are paying too high a price for their front-line role in the U.S.-led war on terror.
An army statement said Friday’s offensive killed at least 60 militants and wounded many more near the town of Matta.
It was not immediately possible to independently confirm the casualties. Reporters cannot visit the area because of poor security and government restrictions….
Supporters of Pakistani Islamist parties burn a U.S. flag, during a protest rally against U.S. strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas along the Afghanistan border, in Lahore October 17, 2008.REUTERS/Mohsin Raza (PAKISTAN)
Pakistan Charges American With Illegal Entry, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm
(CNN) — Pakistani authorities have charged an American being held in Pakistan’s tribal region with illegal entry and illegal possession of a weapon, the State Department said Friday.
Juddi Kenan Mohamed was arrested Monday at a checkpoint in the northern district of Mohmand near Peshawar as he was trying to enter the area, said Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States.
Mohamed was carrying a U.S. passport and said he was traveling to see a friend in the tribal area near the Afghanistan border, Haqqani said. However, he was detained because all foreigners are required to have a permit to enter such areas.
There is no evidence Mohamed poses a security risk, Haqqani said.
Gordon Duguid, a State Department spokesman, said the U.S. consul general visited Mohamed in Islamabad on Tuesday and is seeking another visit.
The United States is providing “all possible assistance” to Mohamed, including helping him find a lawyer, Duguid said.