Archive for the ‘drones’ Category

Pakistan’s Government, Military At Odds?

December 2, 2008

A rift has opened up between the Pakistani government and army in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.

Dawn newspaper reported there had been “clear differences in perception” when army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani met President Asif Ali Zardar Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani.

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, is seen in a Friday, June ... 
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari.(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

The most visible evidence of the gulf occurred when Mr Zardari promised India the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate would visit India to help with the investigation into the attack.

By Isambard Wilkinson in Islamabad
The Telegraph (UK)

Less than 24-hours later the decision was revoked and the government announced that a more junior ISI officer would fly to India. It is now doubtful whether any official will go.

Gen Kiyani had previously pledged to weed out pro-jihadi elements and reform the agency but the u-turn revived the question of whether the ISI has really been brought to heel.


General Kiyani

It was similar to an incident in August when Mr Gilani announced on the eve of a trip to Washington last month that the ISI had been brought under the control of the interior minister. He retracted the statement at 3am that night.

According to US and Indian intelligence officials, Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terrorist outfit formed by the ISI in the 1990s to fight in Indian-held Kashmir, is the main suspect for carrying out the attacks.

One military official said: “Yes, there is a trust deficit on many issues and both are not showing their cards to each other.”

The distrust between the army and the government dates back to before the Bombay attacks, as the two sides have disagreed over how to conduct the “war on terror’ and reform the ISI.

Pakistan has spent half of its existence under military rule and the latest dictator, General Pervez Musharraf, resigned as president in September after spending eight years in power.

Gen Kiyani has since announced the military’s withdrawal from politics but it remains a strong influence on all major decisions ranging from foreign policy to the economy.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/3540
095/Mumbai-attacks-Rift-between-Pakistan-army-and-governme
nt-Bombay-India.html

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.
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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.
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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.

AFP

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.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081114/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan_108

Pakistan leader meets with Rice on missile strikes

November 13, 2008

Pakistan’s president pressed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Wednesday to halt cross-border U.S. missile strikes targeting militants in his country’s volatile tribal regions, the Pakistani foreign minister said.

“These drone attacks are unproductive, and they are contributing to alienation as opposed to winning people over,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in an interview after briefing reporters on the 20-minute meeting between Rice and President Asif Ali Zardari.

By JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press Writer

United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice laughs while ...
United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice laughs while mingling with diplomats on the floor of the General Assembly hall at United Nations Headquarters in New York, Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008. The occasion was the gathering of world leaders attending a two-day U.N. conference to promote a global dialogue about religions, cultures and common values. President Bush is speaking on Thursday.(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The U.S. military is believed to have carried out at least 18 missile attacks on suspected militant targets close to the border in Pakistan since August. The missiles are believed to be fired from unmanned planes launched in Afghanistan, where some 32,000 U.S. troops are fighting a resurgent Taliban insurgency.

The strikes also should be halted to avoid the inadvertent deaths of civilians, Qureshi said. “In fact, what is required is more sharing of intelligence information. What is required is building Pakistan’s capacity to deal with insurgency,” he said.

State Department officials declined to comment on the meeting.

President-elect Barack Obama‘s incoming administration presents a fresh opportunity for Pakistan to emphasize more dialogue and development, Qureshi said.

US Department of Defense (DOD) image of a Predator surveillance ...
Pakistani President Zardari has repeatedly objected to U.S. use of drones like this.  DoD photo

“We’ll be discussing with them a more comprehensive strategy. Because Pakistan is of the view that military means is not the be-all and the end-all,” he said.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081113/ap_on_re_as/un_
pakistan_us_1

Pakistan’s anti-Taliban support risky

November 10, 2008

Pakistan’s support of local militias to help fight Taliban  and al Qaeda militants operating from its tribal areas is a sign of desperation that could backfire and lead to more attacks on U.S. and Pakistani forces or civil war in the borderlands, influential tribal elders, U.S. officials and analysts on the region say.

By Jason Motlagh 
The Washington Times

The militias, known as lashkars, are composed of ethnic Pashtun tribesmen angry over the presence of militant groups that have imposed harsh laws and used border areas to stage attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Pakistani authorities have tried to co-opt the lashkars as part of an offensive launched in August to wipe out insurgent safe havens. Near-daily bombings and gunbattles have, by the Pakistani army’s count, forced 200,000 people to flee their homes.

While near-term gains may have been made, those familiar with the region say that the initiative disregards tribal mores and could stoke blood feuds and create private armies beyond the state’s control.

“The message sent by this approach is that the usual military tactics and political accords have not worked,” said Rahimullah Yusufzai, a leading authority on tribal affairs. “It looks like a matter of desperation.”

Results so far have been mixed.

In the Bajaur tribal region Thursday, a suicide bomber killed 22 tribal elders and injured 50. A group affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban movement claimed responsibility.

In Swat District, a scenic area and former tourism hub, 62 people accused of being involved in a plot to form a lashkar were abducted Oct. 30 by Taliban militants. All were freed, but militants later killed 12 members of the local jirga, or council, that had originally proposed forming a militia.

Elsewhere, a handful of local Taliban groups have surrendered to tribal elders and pledged to not shelter foreign militants.

The lashkar strategy has been compared to the so-called “Sunni Awakening” in Iraq, in which U.S.-backed Sunni Muslim tribesmen evicted jihadist militants from their neighborhoods.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/nov/10/
pakistans-support-of-militias-against-taliban-coul/

Militants in Pakistan kill 2 alleged US spies

November 8, 2008

Militants killed two people they claimed were spies for the United States and dumped their bodies with a warning in a Pakistani border region at the center of a campaign of suspected American missile strikes, an official said Saturday.

By MUNIR AHMAD, Associated Press Writer

Police found the bullet-ridden bodies of the two men on Saturday in the North Waziristan tribal region after a tip from residents, police official Gul Marjan said.

“See the fate of this man. He was an American spy,” was written on notes pinned to each of the bodies found in the village of Ghulam Khan, Marjan said. The notes said the men were from the neighboring Afghan province of Khost.

The warning was an indication that Taliban and al-Qaida militants are on the lookout for spies in Pakistan‘s wild border belt as the frequency of suspected American missile strikes on their hide-outs increases.

At least 18 strikes from what are believed to be unmanned U.S. military and CIA aircraft have hit Pakistan’s tribal regions since August, more than three times as many as in 2007. The rugged, mountainous region — where the Pakistani government has never had much control — is considered a likely hiding place for Osama bin Laden and his No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri.

Many of the cross-border attacks have targeted North Waziristan, a base for Afghan and foreign militants involved in the growing insurgency against the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan.

Militants have executed scores of Afghans and Pakistanis….

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081108/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan;_
ylt=AotjDMHFa7v_UAsYSHiqsBOs0NUE

Petraeus says he’ll consider Pakistan criticisms

November 4, 2008

Washington’s new top war general said he would consider rising Pakistani criticism of U.S. missile strikes on suspected militant targets in the Muslim nation’s unstable border regions.

Pakistani military and government leaders told Gen. David Petraeus that such cross-border strikes fanned anti-American sentiment in an allied country considered vital to success in the war on terror. Petraeus was likely to hear more of the same in meetings set for Tuesday.

From  STEPHEN GRAHAM, Associated Press Writer Stephen Graham, Associated Press Writer

In an interview with CNN, Petraeus confirmed the Pakistani criticisms in Monday’s sessions.

U. S. Central Command Gen. David Petraeus, left, meets Pakistani ...
U. S. Central Command Gen. David Petraeus, left, meets Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani in Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, Nov 3, 2008. Pakistani officials warned Gen. Petraeus on Monday that frequent missile strikes on militant targets in Pakistan fan anti-American sentiment in an Islamic country vital to the struggle against terrorism. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

“In fact, we got certain messages with each of those we talked to today and some of those were very clear and we have to take those on board,” CNN quoted Petraeus as saying. “The tone of the conversation was very frank and very forthright, as it should be,” he added later.

Petraeus was in Pakistan as part of his first international trip since taking over U.S. Central Command last week. He has met with President Asif Ali Zardari and army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani among other senior leaders so far.

The U.S. is concerned about Islamic militants using pockets of Pakistan’s northwest region as sanctuaries from which to support the escalating insurgency in neighboring Afghanistan.

Complaints from U.S. commanders about Pakistan’s efforts to counter the insurgents have been accompanied by a surge of missile strikes on suspected Taliban and al-Qaida targets, despite strong condemnation in Pakistan.

According to the state-run APP news agency, Zardari told Petraeus and Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher that the attacks from drone aircraft should be stopped.

“Continuing drone attacks on our territory, which result in loss of precious lives and property, are counterproductive and difficult to explain by a democratically elected government,” Zardari was quoted as saying.

Zardari said the government was “under pressure to react more aggressively” to the strikes.

Washington is suspected in at least 17 missile strikes in Pakistan since August.

In September, a U.S. ground assault in a tribal region in Pakistan’s northwest spurred particular outrage. Days later, Pakistani troops challenged two American helicopters operating near the border and U.S. and Pakistani ground forces in the area exchanged fire.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081104/ap_
on_re_as/as_pakistan

Pakistan tells Petraeus to stop missile strikes

November 3, 2008

The U.S. commander running the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, held talks on Monday with Pakistani leaders who told him to stop U.S. strikes on militants in Pakistani territory.

Petraeus arrived in Pakistan on Sunday, at the beginning of his first foreign tour since taking charge of U.S. Central Command, highlighting U.S. concern about a country seen as crucial to stability in Afghanistan and to defeating al Qaeda.

U.S. analysts say Pakistan is facing a major threat from Islamist militants at a time when the nuclear-armed nation and its new civilian government are engulfed in extraordinarily difficult economic problems.

Petraeus has been hailed as an outstanding military leader for helping pull Iraq back from the brink of civil war with a strategy that brought a “surge” of 30,000 extra U.S. troops.

Both U.S. presidential candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain, have said they would put more focus on defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan and eradicating al Qaeda from Pakistan’s borderlands.

Both candidates have said they would boost U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan from the 33,000 there now.

By Augustine Anthony, Reuters

Petraeus was being accompanied in Pakistan by Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Richard Boucher.

Their visit comes as relations between the United States and Pakistan have been strained by a series of cross-border U.S. strikes, most by missile-firing pilotless drone aircraft, on militant targets in Pakistan.

President Asif Ali Zardari told Petraeus the attacks should stop, Pakistan’s state news agency reported.

“Continuing drone attacks on our territory, which result in loss of precious lives and property, are counter-productive and difficult to explain by a democratically elected government,” Zardari was quoted as saying.

“It is creating a credibility gap,” he said.

“MORE ACTION”

The most pressing problems for Petraeus include rising violence in Afghanistan and Taliban and al Qaeda sanctuaries across the border in Pakistan’s ethnic Pashtun tribal lands.

The United States and NATO are losing ground against an escalating Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, despite the presence of 64,000 Western troops, while al Qaeda has regained strength in Pakistan’s tribal region.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081103/ts_nm/us_pakistan_
usa;_ylt=AioN21zA1W8KsiTjCPeq0x2s0NUE

U.S. Unrelenting in Drone Attacks on Pakistan’s Terrorists

October 31, 2008

Despite repeated protests from the government of Pakistan, the United States continues to wage an unrelenting remote control effort to hunt down and kill Arab terrorists, Taliban and al-Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas near Afghanistan….

From the Associated Press

Suspected U.S. missiles slammed into two villages Friday, killing 27 people including foreign fighters in the latest strikes inside Pakistan, intelligence officials said.

One of the raids targeted an Arab militant identified as Abu Kasha Iraqi, but it was unclear if he was killed, the officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Department of Defense (DOD) image of a Predator surveillance ...
Department of Defense (DOD) image of a Predator surveillance drone. A suspected US missile strike in a Pakistani tribal area on Friday killed at least 16 mainly Arab militants, possibly including a mid-level Al-Qaeda commander, security officials said.(AFP/DoD/File/Jeffrey S. Viano)

Suspected U.S. unmanned planes have fired at alleged militant targets in Pakistan at least 17 times since mid-August, putting pressure on extremists accused of planning attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan — and perhaps terror strikes in the West.

But the marked uptick in their frequency is straining America’s seven-year alliance with Pakistan, where rising violence is exacerbating economic problems gnawing at the nuclear-armed country’s stability.

Scores of foreign al-Qaida members are believed to be hiding out in the lawless border area, which is considered a likely hiding place for Osama bin Laden.

The United States rarely confirms or denies firing the missiles and the identities of those killed are also rarely made public. Locals frequently say civilians, sometimes women and children, are among the dead.

The first attack place in Mir Ali village in North Waziristan after drones had been flying overhead for several hours, the intelligence officials said.

The drones fired twice, hitting the house frequented by the Arab fighter and a nearby car, killing 20 people, the officials said, citing reports from agents and informers in the field.

Around two hour later, a second set of missiles hit a village in South Waziristan, killing seven people, including an unspecified number of foreign fighters, the officials said.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081031/ap_on_re_
as/as_pakistan;_ylt=AjlvROFR17m9X2ON62tUPROs0NUE

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.
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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.

Related:
China and Pakistan’s Strategic Importance: Background
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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.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/oct/16/violence-wounds-pakistani-trust-in-us/