US Bombs Pakistan
- US bombs Madressah near border
BAGRAM, Dec 31: A US warplane bombed an abandoned religious school
in the Pakistani territory after a gunbattle between the US and
Pakistani troops on the border with Afghanistan, Pakistan officials
said on Tuesday.
The US military said that one of its soldiers was wounded in
Afghanistan on Sunday in an exchange of gunfire with a Pakistani
border guard. A Pakistani official said two border guards were also
The wounded American was part of a unit conducting a mission with
the Pakistani forces along the Afghan border when a disagreement
appeared to break out, according to a statement released by the US
military at their Afghan headquarters at Bagram air base.
"A Pakistani border scout opened fire with a G3 rifle after the US
patrol asked him to return to the Pakistan side of the border," the
statement said. "That individual and several others retreated to a
nearby structure," it added. "Close air support was requested and a
500-lb bomb was dropped on the target area."
Mohammad Khurshied, a local official in the South Waziristan tribal
area, later told Reuters that a seminary in Angor Adda had been hit
by the US warplanes.
Islamabad-Washington relations on a slippery slope
By Anwar Iqbal
WASHINGTON, Dec 30: In the year 2002, Pakistan's image in the United
States went through a drastic change. When the year began, Pakistan
was one of America's closest allies in the war against terror.
And now that the year nears end, it has been placed on a list of
states whose citizens are considered a security threat to the United
From Jan 13, Pakistanis living in the United States will have to
register with the Immigration and Naturalization Service. They will
be interviewed, photographed and fingerprinted. During the
interview, they will be asked about their political affiliations,
religious leanings and family connections. Those considered
suspicious can be arrested, deported and be barred from visiting the
Pakistan's relations with the United States are once again passing
through a defining phase. The next few months will unravel whether
Pakistan remains an American ally or is again pushed out of
Washington's circle of friends.
A close US ally during the Cold War, Pakistan first lost its
strategic importance as a key outpost against communism after the
Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989.
The Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, however, brought Pakistan back
on the central stage. Asked to join the US-led war against
terrorism, Pakistan dumped its former Taliban allies and came over
to the Americans, providing military bases to US troops for
operations into Afghanistan.
But this has never been a comfortable relationship. The Pakistanis
have been concerned that once this war is over, the Americans will
abandon them again. The Americans fear that as religious sentiments
grow, extremists may take over this country of 140 million Muslims.
Such a take-over looks particularly menacing to the Americans
because Pakistan is the only Muslim country with nuclear weapons.
There are people in Washington who say that a religious government
in Islamabad might hand over its nuclear weapons to the extremists
for threatening the West.
There are also apprehensions that as religious sentiments grow,
Pakistan will become increasingly ineffective in the war against
The emergence of Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal as a strong force in the
Oct 10 elections has further increased Washington's fears. MMA runs
the NWFP and also is a ruling partner in Balochistan, the two
provinces where US officials believe a large number of Al Qaeda and
Taliban fighters fled to after the collapse of the Taliban regime in
Afghanistan in December, 2001.
The Americans have their troops and intelligence agents in both the
provinces and are pursuing the Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters with
the help of Pakistan army. Although it is the central government in
Islamabad that decides who Pakistan supports in this war, some in
Washington believe the provincial government can create problems if
it wants to do so. After all, they argue, it is the provincial
government that controls police.
Education also is a provincial subject. This means that the
Americans may not be able to implement their plan to reform the
madrasahs, a key element in their strategy to fight terrorism.
America's fears aside, Pakistan also failed to diversify its
relations with the United States. Unfortunately, it remains a one-
issue relationship. Pakistan is America's friend because Washington
needs Islamabad's assistance to fight terrorists.
As America's focus moves to Iraq, the only issue that ties Pakistan
to the United States is also beginning to lose its charm.
So far efforts to expand this relationship to other areas have not
been very fruitful.
Pakistan's attempt to become a major exporter of textiles to the
United States is resisted by the powerful textile lobby in the
American South. Instead, its American allies have urged Pakistan to
diversify its exports but one year is too short a time to do so.
Similarly, the Bush administration's efforts to encourage American
businessmen to invest in Pakistan have not been very fruitful
either. Pakistan may be a key US ally, but it still is a country
with a dismal law-and-order record. And businessmen, American or
others, are always reluctant to invest their money in a country
where they do not feel safe.
There are people in the media, Congress and the Bush administration
who say that Pakistan is fast losing its usefulness as an ally. The
media are questioning Pakistan's commitment to fight terrorism. A
congressman is moving a bill in the House of Representatives, urging
it to impose sanctions on Pakistan for allegedly providing nuclear
assistance to North Korea. He claims that 30 other congressmen also
support his move.
External pressure is also having an impact. Russian President
Vladimir Putin's recent statement that Pakistan is not capable of
protecting its nuclear weapons also has hurt Islamabad.
Putin's statement came at a time when the American press was already
blaming Pakistan for sharing nuclear technology with North Korea in
return for Korean missiles. And Pakistan's denials have not
suppressed such speculations.
Widespread anti-American sentiments in Pakistan and attacks on
Christian installations are not helping either. Pakistani Americans
often complain that there seems to be no realization in Pakistan
that its uneven friendship with the world's sole superpower is
passing through a critical stage.
What Islamabad faces in Washington now are the new realities of a
changing relationship. Reports in the US news media often say that
people within the Pakistani government, particularly the military
intelligence, still sympathize with the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
Pakistan's routine denials are not always quoted.
While the State Department says that there are no religious
extremists in the new government in Pakistan, newspapers and
television channels never tire of pointing out that MMA controls a
key northern province and can force the fragile central government
to share power with it in Islamabad as well.
Since September this year, when the New York Times first reported
alleged nuclear links between Pakistan and North Korea, the attacks
on Pakistan have increased. It is often called the regional hub for
terrorism and a major source of heroin smuggled to the West.
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- US copter attack in Waziristan kills 5
By Pazir Gul
MIRAMSHAH (North Waziristan), May 22: Five tribesmen were killed in an
attack by US helicopters in the Lawara Mandai area of the North
Waziristan agency on Saturday night, officials said.
Another 20 shells fired by the coalition forces from Afghanistan's
Paktika province landed near Lawara Mandai, but did not cause any
damage, eyewitnesses said..............
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