Thursday, April 21, 2005
A bit of tension between Pakistan and the US
A Guardian article reports that Lieutenant General Safdar Hussain, who leads 70,000 Pakistani troops in the tribal belt region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, is fed up with U.S. statements and general interference with his operations. The Guardian states that Hussein:
described as "highly irresponsible" comments by Lieutenant General David Barno that Pakistan was about to launch an anti-terrorist operation.Here we have one of the most essential "allies" of the U.S. government in the "war on terror" publically tiffing with the U.S. -- one more embarassment for the Bush administration around the world. You'd have to imagine this is the result of Pakistani forces, who are probably not all that thrilled with being aligned with the U.S. in the "war on terror" to begin with, facing increasing hostility from anti-US sectors of the Pakistani population and certainly from Afghan tribesmen as well.
"He should not have made that statement. It was a figment of his imagination. There is no bloody operation going on until we have the right intelligence," he told the Guardian at his headquarters in Peshawar...
"I don't want to give the nation the impression that Barno can come down here and dictate the operation," he said.
"There is a lot of anti-Americanism in the tribal belt, and al-Qaida knows how to take advantage of it," said Talat Masood, a retired general.Two hundred and fifty-one soldiers is not an insignificant number. With losses like that, you would have to imagine that the Pakistani military is starting to chafe at the increasingly tough position they are being put in by the U.S., one in which they are asked quite a bit of by the U.S. and are offered less and less support domestically and regionally as the opinion of the U.S. heads down the toilet.
The army has scored a large but costly victory against al-Qaida in the South Waziristan tribal agency. An operation last year that involved 25,000 troops, fighter jets and laser-guided missiles, resulted in the death of 306 militants, over 150 of whom were foreigners. According to official figures, 251 Pakistani soldiers were killed.