Archive for the ‘Border’ Category

Pakistan’s Zardari Says Militants Could Start Regional War

December 2, 2008

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has appealed to India not to punish his country for last week’s attacks in Mumbai, saying militants have the power to precipitate a war in the region, the Financial Times reported on Monday.

Zardari, whose wife, Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated by Islamist militants last year, warned that provocation by rogue “non-state actors” posed the danger of a return to war between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

“Even if the militants are linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba, who do you think we are fighting?” asked Zardari in an interview with the Financial Times.

“We live in troubled times where non-state actors have taken us to war before, whether it is the case of those who perpetrated (the) 9/11 (attacks on the United States) or contributed to the escalation of the situation in Iraq,” said Zardari.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani speaks during the ... 
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani speaks during the National Security Conference to discuss ongoing tension between India and Pakistan flared after the last week’s Mumbai attacks, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008 in Islamabad, Pakistan. Pakistan has proposed a joint investigation of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai after India blamed elements in Pakistan for the bloodshed.(AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

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From the Financial Times (UK) 
Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan’s president, made an urgent appeal to India yesterday not to punish his country for the terror unleashed on Mumbai last week, as Indian officials blamed a Pakistani militant group for the three-day rampage.

As the government in New Delhi faced mounting domestic pressure to respond forcefully to the attacks, Mr Zardari urged Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister, to resist striking out at his government should investigations show that Pakistani militant groups were responsible.

His appeal came as tensions rose between the two countries. A day after the security forces finally regained control of Mumbai, Indian officials blamed Lashkar-i-tayyaba, a prominent militant group linked to previous attacks against India. Its name translates as Army of the Pure.

Speaking exclusively to the Financial Times, Pakistan’s president warned that provocation by rogue “non-state actors” posed the danger of a return to war between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

“Even if the militants are linked to Lashkar-i-tayyaba, who do you think we are fighting?” asked Mr Zardari, whose country is battling al-Qaeda and Taliban militants on its border with Afghanistan.

But Indian officials last night stepped up the pressure on Pakistan. The ruling Congress party’s general secretary M Veerappa Moily told the FT: “All the terrorists involved in the Mumbai blasts are related to Pakistan-based Lashkar-i-tayyaba. We are seriously concerned and the government won’t let such acts go lightly.”

New Delhi was yesterday facing intense domestic criticism over its response to the attacks which claimed at least 172 lives.

India is not considering taking military action against Pakistan ... 
India is not considering taking military action against Pakistan over the attacks in Mumbai, Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Tuesday.(AFP/Raveendran)

Shivraj Patil, the home minister, resigned as criticism intensified over the response of the security forces to the attack on India’s financial capital.

“The Congress government has no moral authority to survive,” said Arun Jaitley, a leader of the opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party, blaming its weakness for collapsed intelligence gathering and a poor security response to the terror strike.

The Mumbai attacks ended on Saturday when commandos killed the last gunmen holed up at the Taj Mahal hotel.

Some of the most stinging criticism of the response of the emergency services came from business. “The police were woefully inadequate in terms of equipment and in terms of being prepared,” said Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Group that owns the Taj Mahal hotel. He said fire engines had taken three hours to arrive when the hotel caught alight.

Additional reporting by James Fontanella-Khan in Mumbai


Pressure on India and Pakistan to prevent Mumbai fallout

December 2, 2008

India demanded Pakistan hand over its most wanted man as sign of faith as diplomatic efforts to prevent the nuclear-armed rivals from heading toward a confrontation over the Mumbai attacks intensified on Tuesday.

By C. Bryson Hull

The Times of India and television channels reported New Delhi renewed a demand Pakistan hand over 20 militants wanted in India, including Dawood Ibrahim, a Mumbai underworld don blamed for bomb blasts in the city in 1993 that killed 260 people.

U.S. Message to Pakistan: Battle Terror, Not India

 Mumbai: In India, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Pressures Pakistan

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa was in New Delhi on a scheduled visit while U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was due to arrive on Wednesday following the militant attacks that killed 183 people in India’s financial capital.

India has blamed Islamist militants based in Pakistan and issued a note of protest to its old enemy on Monday demanding decisive action.

“It was conveyed to the Pakistan high commissioner that Pakistan’s actions needed to match the sentiments expressed by its leadership that it wishes to have a qualitatively new relationship with India,” a foreign ministry statement said.

Azam Amir Kasav, an injured suspected militant, lies on a bed ... 
Azam Amir Kasav, an injured suspected militant, lies on a bed in this undated handout picture released by Mumbai police on November 30, 2008.(Mumbai Police/Handout/Reuters)

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Pakistan: Taliban Ground Attacks Continue on NATO, U.S. Supplies

December 1, 2008

Militants in northwestern Pakistan attacked trucks ferrying supplies to NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan on Monday, killing two people and destroying a dozen vehicles, witnesses and police said.

Meanwhile, a suicide bomber killed eight people and wounded 40 others at a military checkpoint in the region’s Swat Valley, police said.

By RIAZ KHAN, Associated Press Writer

A Pakistani examines burnt trucks caused by insurgents' attack ... 
A Pakistani examines burnt trucks caused by insurgents’ attack at the Fasial terminal in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Monday, Dec. 1, 2008. Insurgents attacked the terminal used by trucks ferrying supplies to NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan on Monday, destroying three and wounding one person, police and a witness said.(AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)

The spasm of violence comes amid a spike in tensions between Pakistan and rival India over last week’s terror attacks in Mumbai, which New Delhi has blamed on Pakistani militants.

Pakistan has condemned the attacks and vowed to crack down on the perpetrators if New Delhi provides evidence. But there are fears that tensions could nevertheless boil over between the nuclear-armed rivals.

The attack on the U.S.-led coalition trucks took place at a terminal in Peshawar, which sits along the supply route from Pakistan to Afghanistan. The city has seen an upsurge in violence in recent weeks, including the slaying of an American working on a U.S.-funded aid project.

Several gunmen fired rockets and automatic weapons at the Faisal terminal, killing a driver and a clerk and destroying 12 trucks, said police officer Ahsanullah Khan.

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Pakistan’s Government Surrounded by Terrorists, U.S., Indian and Internal Pressure

November 30, 2008

The Pakistan government of President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani today acutely feels the heat of terrorists as well as international pressure from a tradional friend, the U.S., and a traditional enemy, India.

This television frame grab shows Pakistani President Asif Ali ... 
President Zardari of Pakistan (AFP)

In the tribal areas of Pakistan, the U.S. wants the assistance of Pakistan’s army in controlling the Taliban and al-Qaeda that surge into Afghanistan to kill U.S. and NATO troops.  Pakistan wants to keep the U.S. out of the tribal areas so the U.S. hammers terrorists from unmanned drones with missiles when the intelligence says results will be favorable.  But the people of Pakistan have protested these air assaults from the U.S. upon Pakistan and the government has expressed extreme displeasure at almost losing control of Pakistan’s sovereignity in the northwest tribal areas.

An unmanned Predator drone. A militant Taliban group warned ... 
The U.S. has been using unmanned Predator drones like this one, armed with missiles, to attack militant Taliban terror groups inside Pakistan. The government of pakistan has condemned the missile strikes in its territory.(AFP/USAF/File)

Now, because of tensions from the terrorism in Mumbai, India, Pakistan is saying it will withdraw troops from the tribal areas to move to the border with India; a nation that seems to already be blaming Pakistan for the bloodshed in Mumbai.

India even says the only terrorist to survive the Mumbai attack, Ajmal Qasab, is a Pakistani trained by the terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan.

Troops from Pakistan's army secure an area in the troubled ...
Troops from Pakistan’s army secure an area in the troubled Kabal Khas district on the outskirts of Swat valley November 26, 2008.  The U.S. wants the Pakistani troops facing Afghanistan and not India.
Finally, in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, at least 13 people were killed and more than 70 injured when activists from rival political parties clashed this weekend.
Firefighters attempt to extinguish a fire after rioters set ... 
Firefighters attempt to extinguish a fire after rioters set ablaze several shops at a timber market in Pakistan’s largest city Karachi. At least 13 people were killed and more than 70 injured when activists from rival political parties clashed in Karachi, officials said Sunday.(AFP/Asif Hassan)

Last week’s terror violence in Mumbai and india’s subsequent investigation and likely blame, which will likely be supported by the U.S., putes extreme pressure on a Pakistani government the Times of India rightly calls “dodgy” due to its own undermining terrorist influences and actors. 

 By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Pakistan: Militants Kidnapping, Killing Outsiders In Tribal Areas

November 15, 2008

A Canadian journalist abducted this week in Pakistan’s northern tribal region was working on a documentary film for the Al-Jazeera network, media reported Friday.

A handout picture obtained in 2006 shows the logo of Al-Jazeera ...

Beverly Giesbrecht, 52, also known as Khadija Abdul Qahaar, was seized at gunpoint on Tuesday while traveling in the Bannu district of Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province, which borders Afghanistan.


The daily Globe and Mail, citing Pakistan’s high commission in Ottawa, said the former magazine publisher who runs a website offering Islamic news was on a freelance assignment for the Arab language network when she was taken.

Her visa application was supported by two letters from Al Jazeera, verifying she would be doing freelance work, said the newspaper.

“The letters say … she will be reporting on the new government and the wider political situation, including the war on terrorism” for a documentary, high commission spokesman Mammona Malik told the newspaper.


A gunman ambushed a Japanese reporter and an Afghan colleague Friday, wounding both men and their Pakistani driver in the latest attack on foreigners in Pakistan‘s volatile northwest region in three days.

Security appears to be crumbling in Peshawar, a city of 2 million where an Iranian diplomat was kidnapped Thursday and an American aid worker was killed Wednesday.

By RIAZ KHAN, Associated Press Writer

Motoki Yotsukura, Asahi Shimbun‘s bureau chief, was in a car with Sami Yousufzai, an Afghan who has worked for Western publications including Newsweek, when the assailant opened fire, police said.

Injured Japanese journalist Motoki Yotsukura arrives at a local ...

“Three armed men intercepted our car, and one of them aimed his pistol at me,” said the Afghan, Sami Yousufzai, from a hospital. “He opened fire when I put up resistance. I got a bullet in my hand.”

Yotsukura was wounded in the leg, police said. The injuries to Yousufzai and the driver also were not life threatening.

Asahi Shimbun reported that Yotsukura, 39, had left earlier Friday from Islamabad on a reporting trip to interview people close to the Taliban.

Officers were investigating whether the attack was an attempted assassination or an attempted kidnapping.

Peshawar and the nearby lawless tribal area have seen a rise in attacks on foreigners. A Chinese, an Afghan and a Pole are currently being held after being seized in the region, which is also home to criminal gangs who kidnap for ransom, drug runners and smugglers.

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Iraq Reinforces Syrian Border as Tensions Rise Between Countries

November 1, 2008

 BAGHDAD  —  Iraq sent police reinforcements Saturday to the Syrian border after last weekend’s U.S. raid against an alleged Al Qaeda hideout in Syria raised tension between the two countries, officials said.

Police Col. Jubair Rashid Naief said a police quick reaction force for Anbar province moved to the border town of Qaim, about 200 miles northwest of Baghdad, to prevent Al Qaeda from moving into the area from Syria.

Al-Arabiya television quoted witnesses as saying scores of armored vehicles were seen moving from the Anbar provincial capital of Ramadi to Qaim, which had been a major Al Qaeda stronghold until Anbar’s Sunni tribes turned against Al Qaeda.

Click here for photos.

The police moves follow last Sunday’s bold U.S. raid on the Syrian border town of Abu Kamal, during which U.S. officials say they killed a top Al Qaeda militant who operated a network of smuggling fighters into Iraq.

The U.S. has not officially acknowledged the attack. Syria says eight civilians were killed and has branded the raid as aggression.

Damascus has demanded that Washington apologize for the strike and has threatened to cut off cooperation on Iraqi border security in response to the attack. Earlier this week, Syria also sent additional troops to the border following the raid, but has since withdrawn them.

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Pakistan: A Very Personal War Against Terror

October 16, 2008

Nuclear-armed Pakistan remains critically important in the war against terror, critically important in halting the ugly tide of extremists and militants, critically important to regional peace and stability and critically important to U.S. national security.

On February 10 of this year, Pakistani journalist Muhammad Khurshid joined with me to write a commentary essay for the Washington Times.  We started by asking, “Given just 10 minutes with a candidate running for the White House in the United States, or ten minutes of discussion with a citizen-voter in America, what points should be made about Pakistan?”

A lot has changed in Pakistan and in the U.S. since that time.  President General Musharraf is no longer the dominant political figure in Pakistan.  Now, as we write, Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari is in China currying favor and gaining much needed financial backing. That support from China to Pakistan is needed, in Mr. Zardari’s view, due to doubts about his U.S. ally and because of Mr. Zardari’s inability to deliver on very basic promises.  

Pakistan’s new government is unable even to deliver round-the-clock electricity to the nation’s capitol, Islamabad, and the safety and security of the Pakistani people is eroding steadily due to an onslaught of terrorist killings. 


Chinese honour guards march past Beijing's Tiananmen Square ...
Above: Chinese honor guards march past Beijing’s Tiananmen Square during a lavish official welcome ceremony for Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari, outside the Great Hall of the People October 15, 2008. Zardari arrived on Tuesday for his first visit to China as president, and has said he wants his four-day trip “to remind the leadership of the world how close our relationship is”. Pakistan is set to usher in a series of agreements with China during the trip, highlighting Islamabad’s hopes that Beijing will help it through economic and diplomatic troubles.REUTERS/David Gray (CHINA)    

Chinese President Hu Jintao (R) smiles with his Pakistani counterpart ...
Chinese President Hu Jintao (R) smiles with his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari in front of their respective country’s flags during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing October 15, 2008. Zardari arrived on Tuesday for his first visit to China as president, and has said he wants his four-day trip ‘to remind the leadership of the world how close our relationship is’. Pakistan is set to usher in a series of agreements with China during the trip, highlighting Islamabad’s hopes that Beijing will help it through economic and diplomatic troubles.(David Gray/Reuters)



The U.S. has doubts about Mr. Zardari, Benazir Bhutto’s widow, who was called “Mr. Ten Percent” for his corruption and bribe-taking during his wife’s administration of Pakistan.   And Americans wonder if he is truly committed to the war against terrorists.
Many Pakistanis say that the U.S. is raining down missiles upon Pakistan’s innocent civilians — missiles from unmanned Predator drones.  The U.S. says the cross-border attacks from Afghanistan are eliminating Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorists.  Terrorist inside Pakistan are waging a daily war of bombings, killing and kidnapping that have surpassed the violence in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The devastation of Islamabad’s Marriott Hotel is the most visible evidence of this hate and death campaign.     

The Pakistani Army has entered Muhammad’s homeland in the Bajaur Agency of the tribal areas, creating at least 200,000 refugees and displaced persons, and probably more.  Muhammad has had friends and relatives killed and he has lost track of his own wife and family several times.  He has taken to asking Western journalists for funds and support.

Pakistani army soldiers take up positions in the troubled Swat ... 
Pakistani army soldiers take up positions in the troubled tribal areas in early October.
(AFP/File/Chand Khan)

In short, Pakistan is now at a cross roads that cannot be ignored.  An uncerttain and problematic economy and government have fueled militant extremists that are exploding in numbers and ferocity.

“Given just 10 minutes with a candidate running for the White House in the United States, or ten minutes of discussion with a citizen-voter in America, what points should be made about Pakistan?”

First, we would remind both Senators Obama and McCain and all Americans that the number one task of the President of the United States is his role as Commander in Chief of the armed forces, as defined in Article II of the Constitution.  Then we would suggest that the president has great singular responsibility and authority to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, ” as his oath states.  He is also tasked with defending the United States “against all enemies” and is the man who, arguably, has more singular authority than anyone else for the conduct of war, the preservation of the United States and the safety of Americans against the assaults from enemies including terrorists.

More than ever we believe that Pakistan is on the “tip of the spear,” teetering between total unrest and possible take-over by militant extremists.  Only close cooperation between the U.S. and the government of Pakistan can avert “loss’ of Pakistan, and emboldened Taliban and al-Qaeda, and continued and growing world=wide unrest and terror.

We ask God to watch over our friend Muhammad.  But we aslo ask God to keep in the fore of our presidential candidates’ minds the ongoing global conflict which has been tipping increasingly toward Pakistan.

China and Pakistan’s Strategic Importance: Background

Violence Wounds Pakistan’s Trust in U.S.

Jason Motlagh and Ayesha Akram
The Washington Times

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan | A large advertisement on the front page of a major Pakistani newspaper recently featured an image of the Marriott hotel, ablaze in the night after last month’s suicide truck bombing.

“This war is OUR war,” screamed the headline, asking why those responsible for the attack that killed 60 people “should be allowed to overwhelm a nation.”

The media campaign reflects a growing crisis of confidence among Pakistanis. They fear more militant violence and are also increasingly uneasy about an alliance with the United States that appears to be spurring the attacks. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, 64 percent of Pakistanis say the United States is the greatest threat facing the nation.

“The public is confused and demoralized,” said Ayaz Amir, a leading political columnist. “They don’t like what the Taliban is doing, don’t like what the U.S. is doing, and there is not a clear sense of direction from the new leadership. No solution is in sight.”

In an indication of the gravity of the situation in both Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan, Gen. David D. McKiernan, commander of U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, met Thursday in the military garrison town of Rawalpindi with Pakistan’s armed forces chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, and his Afghan counterpart, Gen. Bismullah Khan. It was the first such three-way meeting since U.S. ground forces raided Pakistan’s northwestern tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan, an area that remains a sanctuary for the Taliban and al Qaeda and may host Osama bin Laden. The Sept. 3 raid inflamed Pakistani opinion.

Last week, President Asif Ali Zardar  summoned Pakistani lawmakers and top security officials to a rare, closed-door session to discuss the situation in the tribal areas. The Zardari government hopes to devise a counterterrorism strategy that will affirm the primacy of a civilian government that followed nine years of military rule in February.

“The ongoing briefing session … is a step towards strengthening the democratic system as it is aimed at taking public representatives on board on the most important challenge the country is currently facing,” Information Minister Sherry Rehman told reporters last week. “Public ownership of the war” is critical, she said.

However, several lawmakers said afterward that the briefing lacked depth and diagnosis, especially on the terms of engagement with the United States.

A destruction at police station caused by suicide bombing in ...
Destruction at a police station caused by suicide bombing in Pakistan’s troubled area of Mingora in Swat district on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2008. A suicide bomber attacked a police station in northwest Pakistan Thursday, killing four security officers — the latest in a series of blasts that are eroding confidence in the nuclear-armed country.(AP Photo/Sherin Zada)

Meanwhile, militants appear capable of striking with impunity.

Hours before Mrs. Rehman spoke, four people were injured when a suicide car bomber attacked a police complex in a high-security zone on the outskirts of the capital.

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Pakistan: Taliban militants behead four pro-government elders

October 11, 2008

KHAR, Pakistan (AFP) – Taliban rebels decapitated four pro-government tribal elders in a Pakistan border region where the army is fighting Al-Qaeda and extremist militants, officials said Saturday.

It was the second killing this week in Bajaur of tribal elders, who have established an armed force to support the government’s military campaign against Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters in the area.

“This morning locals reported bodies of four tribal elders were lying on roadside,” local administration official Mohammad Jamil told AFP, adding that the bodies showed extensive signs of torture.

A security official who declined to be named said the beheadings had been done by Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants to scare the local population away from supporting the army operations.

Four other pro-government elders were beheaded and their bodies found on Thursday.

The army says more than 1,000 rebel fighters have been killed since it launched an offensive in Bajaur in early August, including Al-Qaeda’s operational commander in the region, Egyptian Abu Saeed Al-Masri.

Pakistan‘s tribal zone has been wracked by violence since thousands of Taliban and Al-Qaeda rebels sneaked into the country after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001.

Pakistan again condemn US strikes in border regions

October 10, 2008

By MUNIR AHMED, Associated Press Writer

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – U.S. missile attacks on suspected militants inside Pakistan are destabilizing the country and “helping the terrorists,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry said Friday.

American forces have carried out at least 11 assaults on targets on the Pakistan side of the Afghan border since Aug. 23, killing more than 100 people, most of them alleged militants, according to an Associated Press count based on figures provided by Pakistan intelligence officials.

The United States rarely confirms or denies the attacks, which Pakistan’s military and civilian leaders have criticized as violations of the country’s sovereignty.

“We want (the United States) to realize that these attacks are destabilizing the situation and they are not helping them or Pakistan,” foreign ministry spokesman Mohammed Sadiq told reporters. “They are helping the terrorists.”

The strikes are unpopular among many Pakistanis and used by critics and Muslim conservatives to rally support for their campaign to unseat the country’s broadly secular, pro-U.S. government.

The most recent alleged U.S. attack took place late Thursday in north Waziristan and killed at least nine people, between six and eight of them suspected foreign militants, intelligence officials said.

The intelligence officials said they were investigating to try to establish the identities of the victims.

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Pakistan warns US troops after exchange of fire

September 26, 2008

By MUNIR AHMAD, Associated Press Writers

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistan warned U.S. troops not to intrude on its territory Friday, after the two anti-terror allies traded fire along the volatile border with Afghanistan.

Thursday’s five-minute clash adds to already heightened tensions at a time the United States is stepping up cross-border operations in a region known as a haven for Taliban and al-Qaida militants.

The clash — the first serious exchange with Pakistani forces acknowledged by the U.S. — follows a string of other alleged border incidents and incursions that have angered many here.

Speaking in New York, Pakistan’s president tried to downplay the incident, saying only “flares” were fired at foreign helicopters that he said strayed into his country from Afghanistan.

See Pakistan’s President saying his borders cannot be violated:

U.S. and NATO military officials said the ground troops and helicopters were in Afghan territory.

The escalating violence in Pakistan was also felt as far south as Karachi.

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