US wants Osama captured by July
By Anwar Iqbal
WASHINGTON, April 26: The Bush administration wants Al Qaeda leader
Osama bin Laden and his top aides nabbed by the end of July, recent
reports in the US media said.
According to these reports, President Bush would prefer that the
Pakistanis capture Al Qaeda leaders and hand them over to the US
Such a development would not only justify the US anti-terrorism
policies but will also strengthen President Pervez Musharraf, a key
US ally, both at home and abroad, the reports said.
But if the Pakistanis fail to do so, the US administration will then
urge Pakistan to allow US forces to expand their already existing
operations in Pakistan to capture Osama, the reports said.
The reports pointed out that the US forces already have several
landing bases in the area and also have rehearsed plans for
airdropping 25,000 to 35,000 troops to deal with any major
Quoting official sources, the reports said the Bush administration
would like to be in a position to carry out direct military
operations against Al Qaeda between now and June.
The reports said that internal politics may compel the Bush
administration to take direct action against Al Qaeda. Democratic
Presidential nominee John Kerry, they pointed out, is working on a
plan to prove that Mr Bush anti-terror policies have failed to stamp
out threats to America.
Once the Democrats launch their attack, the administration will be
hard pushed to nab major Al Qaeda leaders, particularly Osama, and
will increase pressure on Pakistan to either catch the Al Qaeda
leader or let the US forces do the job, they said.
If the US administration decides to launch direct attacks on Al Qaeda
hideouts, it will use US Marines, CIA-sponsored paramilitary forces
and the official Afghan troops, they said.
The reports said the US administration feels that last month
Pakistani forces not only failed to catch major Al Qaeda leaders
hiding in South Waziristan but their failure allowed Al Qaeda to move
further north in the tribal belt where sympathy for the Taliban and
Al Qaeda forces remains high.
Pakistan to reduce army size by 50,000
By Our Reporter
RAWALPINDI, April 27: The Pakistan Army is reducing its numerical
strength by about 50,000 men which will cut its 'long tail' and, at
the same time, sharpen its teeth in a cost-effective way.
A decision to this effect was taken at the Formation Commanders'
conference which continued at the General Headquarters for a second
day on Tuesday with President Gen Pervez Musharraf in the chair.
According to an ISPR press release, the sizable savings accruing from
a reduction in the troops strength will be directed to enhance the
combat efficiency of the army. This reduction in manpower will in no
way affect the fighting potential of the army.
Rather it will transform the army into a more potent institution,
enhance its response capabilities and result in a fine balance
between quality and quantity. The participants of the conference were
briefed on a restructuring plan that envisaged the Pakistan Army to
be 'lean but lethal' and hard-hitting.
"It will improve the teeth-to-tail ratio, in which tail is being
reduced by about 50,000 men to allow sizable savings in funds," the
ISPR release said. The president also approved the Pakistan Army's
plan to replace use of combat soldiers as batmen of Officers and
Junior Commissioned Officers with a new cadre called Non-Combatant
Bearers employed on contract.
The change, affirmed by all Formation Commanders participating in the
Conference, will take effect in five months' time starting from
August 1 this year. By the end of this year, all combat soldiers will
revert to their operational duties.
The Formation Commanders were also briefed on the security situation,
threat perception, training and operational preparedness, logistics
and welfare aspects of the army. While reviewing the threat, the
senior commanders dilated upon the Indian doctrine of 'Cold Start'
and felt satisfied after going through the response options of the
The president and other participants of the conference also witnessed
a display of indigenously-produced weapons and equipment and research
and development projects.
DPA ADDS: Pakistan currently spends some three billion dollars on its
more than half-a-million standing army. Foreign donors have often
urged the country to downsize its armed forces to save funds for the
crucial social sector development.
But Islamabad justifies this by saying lingering tensions with India,
ten times its size, pose a direct security threat to it. Pakistan
says its nuclear programme was also meant to offset the Indian
superiority in conventional arms.
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