1 Oct 2011

Political checkmate

US-Pakistan relations have hit a new low. Border villages in Afghanistan are being targeted.
Villagers are again fleeing unprovoked bombing by Pakistan in Kunar province. One person was killed and many houses were destroyed.

US-Pakistan relations have hit a new low. Border villages in Afghanistan are being targeted.
Villagers are again fleeing unprovoked bombing by Pakistan in Kunar province. One person was killed and many houses were destroyed. Some 50 families are displaced say authorities.
Colonel Mohammad Numan Hatifi, in charge of public relations, said rockets have targeted Soor Kamar, Zor Kamar, Zor Barwal, Tarla, Koshtee, Soor Gul and Bar Koshtee villages of Dangam district.
People in the district told Killid their house are 50 km from the border, but they cannot go to work in their fields because of the firing.
There have been protests against the indiscriminate firing in Kabul, Nangarhar and Kunar provinces.
Gul Aqa, a local in Kunar, said if the government does not protect the villages, the youth were capable of taking retaliatory action. “The government should tell us,” he said. “We are grateful to God, the young are there. We are ready for any type of sacrifice.  I call all Afghans to prevent these attacks.”

Unprovoked aggression
Abdul Hakeem, another resident of Kunar, speculated on the reason for the firing from across the border. “Whenever Afghanistan speaks against Pakistan, then Pakistan starts its attacks.”
He claimed the Pakistan army has crossed into Afghanistan. “The Pakistan army brings their posts inside Afghanistan. They are sitting in Ganjgal area and targeting Shokra and Nulai areas.”
Kunar governor, Sayed Fazlullah Wahidi, has also spoken out against the rocket attacks by Pakistan. He said it was an unprovoked aggression and should immediately stop.
Meanwhile, there are reports of 30 rocket attacks in Nuristan. Villagers there too have been displaced.
The Ministry of Interior Affairs in Kabul has condemned the Pakistan attacks on the two provinces. The ministries of defence and interior have warned that the bombing incidents could worsen relations between the two countries.

Combative stance
Relations between Islamabad and the US have touched an all-time low. Washington has been turning the screws on Pakistan over clandestine support for the Haqqani network, which they claim is behind many of the recent attacks and suicide bombings. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, the highest ranking officer in the US military, and the president’s principal military adviser, told a senate committee the Haqqani network was the mastermind behind the recent bombing in Kabul that targeted the US embassy and the Sep 10 attack on a military truck in Wardak province, which killed five Afghan soldiers. On Sep. 13, 77 American soldiers were injured in another attack.
An unusually combative Pakistan prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, has reacted strongly and dismissed the US complaints as “propaganda”. He warned that a strain in relations has more losses than benefits.

Strains in neighbourhood
Rocky Pak-US relations have an immediate impact on Afghanistan, political experts have pointed out. According to Habib Surab, the timing of the renewed rocket attacks on the border and an unofficial closure of Torkhem, a transit checkpoint- Pakistan police have blocked the road – are evidence. Transportation of goods into Afghanistan through the checkpoint has halted.
Pakistan wants to prove that Afghanistan cannot do without the support of Islamabad, he said.
“Pakistan knows the weaknesses of the Afghan government and external troops since we are a land-locked country and foreign troops are being supplied (with military hardware and petrol) through Pakistan.”
Surab has strong views. “By putting pressure Pakistan wants to make it impossible for the Afghan government to benefit … Pakistan has always interfered in Afghanistan affairs and doesn’t want a stable government and system in Afghanistan.”

Is this politics?
However, retired general Abdul Waheed Taqat, political analyst who was in the Dr. Najeeb government, said the cat and mouse game being played by the US and Pakistan was a political game.
Washington would never send its troops into Pakistan, he said. It could pitch Afghanistan into a fight by arousing people’s anger against Pakistan.
According to the general, “Pakistan has occupied a big part of Afghanistan and has carried out attacks as well.  America wants to tear Pakistan to pieces, through Afghans.”
He described Pakistan as only a tool, while “the British, America and China have their interests and are the main actors of the play.”
Former diplomat and political analyst Ahmad Sayeedi also said the US will not directly attack Pakistan and the attacks on villages in Kunar and Nuristan are in reaction to the pressure on Islamabad by Washington. “Pakistan carries out assaults in order to display their support for the Islamic fighters.”
Pakistan has been using soldiers who are not in uniform to launch attacks in India and Afghanistan, he alleged.

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