The American military is beginning a training effort inside Pakistan this week that holds promise as the US helps Pakistan fight tribal militants blamed for much of the increase in violence there as well as in neighboring Afghanistan.
By Gordon Lubold
But a separate initiative to provide jet fighters to the Pakistani Air Force that Bush administration officials believe will be instrumental in the fight has been held up over concerns that Pakistan will use the planes against India, not against extremist elements in its border with Afghanistan.
The US deployed a small unit of about 30 special forces personnel into Pakistan this week to bolster the ability of Pakistan’s Frontier Corps to fight its own insurgency.
The team, which also includes some British special forces, is significant, not for its size, but for the expectation that it can give Pakistan the tools to fight militants on its own. That is key to American defense officials who are desperate to reverse violence in the region but say any counterinsurgency there must have a Pakistani face.
That is why a long-proposed sale of new and refurbished F-16 jet fighters to Pakistan has become so critical to the Bush administration, which believes the old fleet of fighters the Pakistani Air Force is using now aren’t effective.
The older planes aren’t able to fly night missions, and they aren’t equipped to drop the kind of precision munitions that could be instrumental in the ground fight against militants.
“Right now, they’re basically dropping dumb bombs in the daylight, a fact that does not escape the enemy,” says one defense official.
But Congress isn’t so sure the Pakistani government can be trusted to use the planes against the tribal militants thought to be responsible for violence in Pakistan as well as in neighboring Afghanistan.
Read the rest:
China, Pakistan and Nuclear Power
CBS — China has privately agreed to follow a “step-by-step” approach to fulfilling Pakistan’s aspiration for an expanded nuclear energy program, rather than sign an ambitious civil nuclear program of the kind recently struck between the U.S. and India, senior Pakistani and Western officials said on Thursday.
Private discussions are believed to have been held on expanded nuclear cooperation between Pakistan’s president Asif Ali Zardari and Chinese leaders during Zardari’s four-day visit to China, which began Tuesday.
A senior Pakistani government official, familiar with discussions between Zardari and Chinese officials, claimed Thursday that China had agreed to “consider further nuclear power reactors to fulfill our needs. The relationship (on the nuclear issue) remains intact”. Speaking to CBS News on condition of anonymity, the official added, “there is now a complete understanding on our future cooperation”.
China has installed a 325-Megawatts nuclear power reactor at Chashma, in Pakistan’s central Punjab province. Beijing is also currently working to install a second power reactor of the same capacity there. In ten years, Pakistan plans to produce up to 8,000 Megawatts of electricity using nuclear energy.
In addition to the two Chashma reactors, Pakistan has one Canadian-supplied nuclear energy reactor with a capacity of 137-Megawatts. Western diplomats say Pakistan is seeking to bridge the large gap between its installed capacity and future ambitions with Chinese help.
Western diplomats say China is interested in maintaining a stable relationship with Pakistan….
Read the rest:
Pakistan’s President Gets What He Wants from China: CASH
By Anthony Faiola and Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, October 16, 2008; Page A01
Pakistan has reached a critical new phase in its long-deteriorating financial situation, as investor flight and bleeding of national reserves force the country to scramble for international funds to shore up its economy. With the global financial crisis draining coffers in the United States and Europe, the key U.S. ally in the war on terrorism is seeking help from an old friend newly flush with cash: China.
President Asif Ali Zardari arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for a four-day state visit as concern has surged over a possible debt default by Pakistan that could cripple its economy and spark more civil unrest. While the amount of money Pakistan needs in the short term is relatively small — $4 billion to $6 billion — analysts say the climate of crisis and public anger over domestic bailouts in the United States and Western Europe have made even a modest infusion from its Western allies politically difficult.
Read the rest: