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Pak tells US cross-border attacks can't be stopped
The Rediff News Bureau | May 16, 2008 13:10 IST
Pakistan has more or less told the United States where it can get off in the War on Terror � in effect, that the cross-border attacks on Afghanistan from Pakistan's tribal areas cannot be stopped, reports the New York Times.
The United States' frustration over this is understandable: cross-border attacks on Afghanistan have shown a doubling over the same period last year. A sign of this frustration was the fourth Predator missile strike since January, fired on Wednesday night by the US, which reportedly killed a 'significant leader' in Pakistan. The Predator strike is also indicative that the Central Intelligence Agency has managed to retain some leeway in a country fast hardening to American presence on its soil.
The stand-off comes just days ahead of a crucial pact Pakistan is all set to sign with its strongest militant leader, Baitullah Mehsud, that is aimed at ending suicide attacks on its soil, which touched record numbers last year. Worryingly for the US, this pact makes no mention of stopping cross-border attacks on its forces in Afghanistan. Worse, as the new government in Pakistan engages in talks with the militants, its counter-insurgency ops have virtually ceased.
'Pakistan will take care of its own problems, you take care of Afghanistan on your side,' the New York Times quoted Owari Ghani, governor of North-West Frontier Province and President Pervez Musharraf's [Images] representative in charge of the neighbouring tribal areas, as saying. 'Pakistan is a sovereign State, NATO is in Afghanistan, it's time they did some soldiering.'
Ghani's views are reflective of Pakistani civil society's which believes that the US is making no headway in the war in Afghanistan. A solution involving breaching Pakistan's sovereignty, could be counter-productive in a nation where anti-US sentiment runs high.
Only last week, US Deputy Secretary of State John D Negroponte gave vent to his administration's frustration, when he said the US found it 'unacceptable' that terrorists could use Pakistan's tribal areas to plot attacks on Afghanistan, Pakistan itself, and the world. 'We will not be satisfied till the violent extremism from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas is brought under control,' Negroponte said.
But that is easier said than done. In March, Admiral Eric T Olson, visiting commander of the US Special Operations Command, met with civilian leaders in Pakistan for their feedback on possible cross-border raids by the US forces, and he was gently rebuffed, the NYT reports. This, despite the extent of anti-Taliban sentiment Adm Olson was witness to.