Wednesday, September 10, 2008

US Decision to focus on Pakistani border and Pakistani Reaction

US to focus on Pakistani border
The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff has called for a new strategy in Afghanistan which will deny militants bases across the border in Pakistan.
BBC, September 10, 2008

Adm Mike Mullen said he had asked for a "a new, more comprehensive military strategy for the region that covers both sides of that border".

The US must work closely with Pakistan to "eliminate [the enemy's] safe havens", he told Congress.

Pakistan insists it will not allow foreign forces on to its territory.

"There is no question of any agreement or understanding with the coalition forces whereby they are allowed to conduct operations on our side of the border," said Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

A surge of US attacks in Pakistan's border region over the past week has prompted outrage from the government and army.

Now stating it as a strategy will only add to the pressure on Pakistan's new President, Asif Ali Zardari, as he grapples with the militants, the BBC's James Coomarasamy reports from Washington.

'Inextricably linked'

Adm Mullen was speaking a day after US President George W Bush announced that about 4,500 extra US troops would be sent to Afghanistan by February 2009, boosting the 33,000 currently in the country.

Addressing the House Armed Services Committee, he argued that militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan were waging a common fight.

"In my view, these two nations are inextricably linked in a common insurgency that crosses the border between them," he said.

"We can hunt down and kill extremists as they cross over the border from Pakistan... but until we work more closely with the Pakistani government to eliminate the safe havens from which they operate, the enemy will only keep coming."

Adm Mullen conceded the challenge was great, pointing to Afghanistan's drugs and economic problems, and the "significant political uncertainty" in Pakistan.

'Reckless actions'

However, Pakistan's military chief said in a statement that his country's "sovereignty and territorial integrity" would be "defended at all cost".

Gen Kayani also expressed concern about a cross-border raid by foreign troops on 4 September in which at least 15 Pakistani villagers were killed.

"Such reckless actions only help the militants and further fuel the militancy in the area," he was quoted as saying.

The army spokesman said the general had aimed to dispel impressions in the media that he had granted permission for US raids.

In another development, Canada confirmed its troops would leave Afghanistan by 2011.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Wednesday that his nation - which suffered significant losses in Afghanistan in recent years - had no appetite for keeping its troops on in Afghanistan past a 2011 deadline imposed in March by parliament.

"You have to put an end date on these things," he told Canadian reporters.

"We intend to end it."


Kayani vows to defend Pak sovereignty: Denies agreement with US on conducting operations inside Pakistan
The News, September 11, 2008

RAWALPINDI: Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Wednesdays said the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country will be defended at all costs and no external force is allowed to conduct operations inside Pakistan.

He was commenting on the recent incident where innocent civilians were killed in a cross-border raid by the coalition forces. He said the rules of engagement with the coalition forces are well defined and within that, the right to conduct operations against the militants inside own territory is solely the responsibility of the respective armed forces.

"There is no question of any agreement or understanding with the coalition forces whereby they are allowed to conduct operations on our side of the border," says an ISPR press release issued here.

Referring to his meeting with United States senior officers on USS Abraham Lincoln on Aug 27, he said they were informed about the complexity of the issue that requires understanding in depth and more patience for evolving comprehensive solution.

He said it was stressed that in such like situations, military action alone cannot solve the problem. Political reconciliatory effort was required to get along with the military prong to win hearts and minds of the people.

During the discussion, the imperative of public support at large for the military operations also came under focus.Later, United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, acknowledged the better understanding of ground realities by the COAS, and remarked, "he (the COAS) is committed to doing what is best for Pakistan and he is going to stay the same". He reiterated that ultimately it is our national interest which would always guide our policy.

Gen Kayani also regretted the killing of innocent civilians in the incident of Angoor Adda on Sept 4.He said such like reckless actions only help the militants and further fuel the militancy in the area.

He said the Pakistan Army has conducted successful operations against the militants in the past and at present is committed to eliminate them from the affected areas of Fata and Swat.He said our security forces have given huge sacrifices in this war and it is the presence of the Army which has denied the freedom of movement and operation to al-Qaeda and the affiliates.

He said it is support of the people of Pakistan which would be decisive.The COAS reiterated the need for a collaborative approach for better understanding of a highly complex issue. He said that the trust deficit and misunderstandings can lead to more complications and increase difficulties for all. The constraints of operating in these areas must never be lost sight of.

He reemphasised that there are no quick fixes in this war. Falling for short-term gains while ignoring our long-term interest is not the right way forward.To succeed, the coalition would be required to display strategic patience and help the other side the way they want it; rather, than adopting a unilateral approach which may be counter productive. He said it is the multi-pronged approach, fully supported by the people of Pakistan which will help us defeat the threat of internal terrorism.

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