Will Bush Get Tough With Pakistan?

An IDC Analysis


New Delhi, 05 November 2004

President Bush has romped home for a second term and perhaps continuity is best for the world even if USA's operations in Iraq are going haywire and the cost to USA will exceed $85 billion per year till it decides to opt out. It appears to be a no win situation in this day and age and the point that should interest Indians is the support that Bush is likely to continue to give Pakistan.

The Indian Air Chief's statement that Pakistan Air Force is a pygmy is interesting and needs to be watched as in the next breath he has stated that USA is supplying F-16s to Pakistan and if they be the Block 50 then the Indian Air Force will have some competition. USA has just supplied the latest Block 60 F-16s to UAE even though its own Air Force does not have the Block 60. Pakistan has close links with the UAE Air Force.

Pakistan's PM Shaukat Aziz is visiting Nepal and has promised arms to Nepal another interesting development. The article posted below is another pointer as Pakistan's upper house passed a bill allowing General Pervez Musharraf to remain both president and army chief until 2007. The bill will come into effect on 31 December

Guns And Leaflets, But Still No Sign Of The Enemy

By Nick Meo on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan

Courtesy: The Independent (U.K.) 01 November 2004

The army guy was scattering handfuls of Osama bin Laden leaflets from his Humvee as the heavily-armed convoy bumped through a mud brick village on the way to the Pakistan border, in the unlikely hope that somebody with information would find them.

The leaflets, designed by a psy-ops team in Fire Base Salerno, did not mention the $25m (13.6m) reward but bore sinister pictures of Bin Laden, his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, looking like evil zombies from a horror film. The caption in Pashtun mocked them for drawing out a war they could not win.

"Nobody thinks Bin Laden is in Afghanistan," said the soldier, whose job was to make friends with Afghan villagers in the hope of useful intelligence. "But a lot of people go to and fro across the border. Maybe somebody who knows something we want to know will pick up a leaflet."

He works with a deeply frustrated US Marines unit. After six months in Afghanistan, Lima Company had still to engage in a firefight with the enemy, based tantalisingly in Pakistan just across the border they cannot cross. Their mission was to drive from their base in the city of Khost to border checkpoint No 3, a series of hilltop forts ringed with barriers and razor-wire commanding a main border crossing to Afghanistan.

A Marines officer spat chewing tobacco in the direction of Pakistan. "We all know al-Qa'ida and the Taliban are in there," he said. "Maybe that's where Bin Laden is hiding. We would love to go in there, track them down, and end the war here and now. But for political reasons we can't."

Waziristan, a wild tribal territory where Islamabad barely has control, is among the most likely hideouts for Bin Laden, who is still along the border, the US military in Kabul maintains, after he resurfaced in a video message to America's electorate last week. But after three years of the biggest manhunt in history, the border has been extensively searched and the possibility of Bin Laden being in a different place looks more likely.

The Islamist slums of Karachi or mountainous Pakistani Kashmir, the base for a decade-long jihad against India, are other possibilities that the FBI's manhunters are now believed to be looking at. Some analysts believe he may be in Yemen or another African state. But a bloody guerrilla war the outside world hardly sees ripples along the border. Weeks ago, Commander Sakhi Rahman's militia force was attacked at border checkpoint No 3. One officer lost an arm and another was wounded. Several Taliban attackers were killed. Pakistani militia who guard the frontier a few hundred yards away helped the Taliban recover their dead and wounded, the commander said, and his men once killed a Pakistani militiaman who had joined in an attack.

Commander Rahman had been instructed not to speak to the press by shadowy forces from Chapman, the US base for the CIA, special forces and other publicity-shy warriors who recruited, trained and armed the 1,000-strong mercenary army manning the border forts. But he spoke anyway. "Our intelligence told us the attackers were Pakistanis paid 5,000 rupees (44) each. They were Haqqani's men. Everybody knows he lives in Miram Shah. Why don't the Pakistanis arrest him?"

Jalaluddin Haqqani, who has a $250,000 bounty on his head, is a veteran warlord who fought the Soviets with US-supplied weapons and is now allied with al-Qa'ida. He has become the biggest thorn in the side of Khost, but some believe he may be semi-retired in Saudi Arabia.

US officers say Haqqani's network of madrassas (Islamist schools) in Pakistan send young, brainwashed assassins across to kill government officials, ambush US supply lorries, and mount mass attacks on government positions that often end in the deaths of badly trained guerrillas. Commander Rahman said: "Pakistan says it is helping America but it is not. Pakistan is two-faced."

General Kilbaz Sherzai, an old communist intelligence chief trained in Frunze Military Academy, the Soviet Sandhurst, shares that view. He now works for the Americans in Khost and has just survived a suicide attack by an inept attacker. "The boy was sent by Haqqani," the general said. He is convinced the capture of Haqqani could lead to the terror mastermind. "He is a friend of Bin Laden and has many links with al-Qa'ida," he said. "I'm sure he knows where Osama is. We don't know why Pakistan doesn't arrest him."

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