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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Farooq Sulehria, "Afghanistan: US occupation precipitates deadly disorder," ZNet, January 17, 2009.

[Summary of the US war in Pakistan to date. This article does not mention negotiations to keep land routes open into Afghanistan, either through the Khyber Pass at Torkham crossing as at present, through Chaman to the south, or via Uzbekistan with Russian intervention on NATO's behalf. Figures vary on the fraction of coalition supplies moved over land from Karachi to Torkham )via Peshawar). Sulehria says 70%; some say as high as 90%, others as low as 45%. Regardless of the numbers, the precarious supply situation, combined with Taliban success in Kandahar and NWFP, and the US escalation of the war into Pakistan lends credibility to Tariq Ali's interpretation of events.

A recent report in the Terrorism Monitor of the Jamestown Foundation describes the situation this way:

"These militants, according to local officials, have attacked NATO supply convoys and supply depots in recent months with rockets and missiles. As part of the Pakistani military offensive code-named “Daraghalam” (“Here I come”), authorities temporarily closed the main road connecting Pakistan with Afghanistan. Security forces arrested dozens of people and demolished the homes of influential tribal elders for allegedly providing shelter to Taliban militants involved in the attacks. Tribal authorities have claimed 80 percent success in the current military operation conducted jointly by the Pakistan army and local paramilitary troops (The News [Islamabad], December 31, 2008; Daily Times [Lahore], January 2, 2008). At the same time, while considering these attacks as a symptom of a bigger problem in the War on Terrorism, Washington and its Western allies have started exploring ways to replace Pakistan as a transit country by re-routing the supply lines and lines of communication. Besides Russia, Afghanistan’s immediate neighbors, like Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, seem to be potential partners in establishing new routes for NATO supplies (Daily Times, November 14, 2008).

"The issue is gaining an explosive political dimension because the region’s religious parties have for the first time opposed the use of Pakistan’s soil as a major route for supplies headed to Western forces based in Afghanistan. Addressing thousands of angry protesters in Peshawar two weeks ago, leaders of the radical religious party Jammat-e-Islami said, “It is a shame for an Islamic country to provide logistics to the U.S. forces, which are working against the interests of Muslims all over the world.” The rally demanded the government abandon its role as an ally in the U.S.-led war on terror, and warned if logistical support came through Pakistan soil, Jamma-e-Islami leaders would mobilize the masses to rise up and drive U.S. and NATO forces from their land. Amid the chanting of slogans like “Death to America” and “No supplies to NATO,” one of the religious leaders urged the gathering, "You, the brave people of the Frontier province and Tribal Areas, should at least show your hate against supply to United States and NATO forces in Afghanistan by displaying black flags on the routes through which the vehicles pass" (Daily Statesman [Peshawar], December 19, 2008)" (NATO's Khyber lifeline Jan 9 '09)

On January 1, US drones pounded Waziristan in Pakistan's Tribal Areas. Death toll was 5. It was an obnoxious new year message (reiterated on Jan. 2 with 3 more deaths) to Pakistan: 2009 would not be different from the previous year.

  "The strikes against Pakistan represent - like the decisions of President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, to bomb and then invade Cambodia - a desperate bid to salvage a war that was never good, but has now gone badly wrong".
Tariq Ali

"In 2008, US attacked Tribal Areas and Frontier province for at least 35 times", a defence official told this scribe. "Since 2004, the USA has attacked Pakistan at least 50 times, claiming over 450 lives", he added.

Read the rest here =>
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