Archive for May, 2012

US Drone strike kills 4 in NWA

An unmanned US aircraft killed at least four people while injured many others in an attack on a militant compound in Miranshah, the troubled area of Northwestern Pakistan.

According to the media reports, the drone fired two missiles on a house in Tabai, killing at least four alleged assailants and injuring many others.

The reports quoting local administration officials confirmed the early morning attack.

This area is being considered the most notorious stronghold of militants in the tribal belt of the country to which the US thinks it the key centre for Taliban and Al-Qaeda officials to plan attacks inside Afghanistan.
It was the third drone strike since the Pakistani parliament approved new terms of engagement with the United States and made a call for a halt to attacks of unmanned aircrafts.

However, its timing is crucial as President Asif Ali Zardari is currently in Chicago to attend the two-day NATO summit on Afghanistan.

Pakistan believes the drone attacks are harmful and dent the government’s efforts to separate tribes from the terrorists.

At the same time, such attacks violate the country’s sovereignty, target civilians and fuel anti-American sentiments.

Pakistan and the US are perturbed allies and are still taking steps to repair a serious crisis in ties over last year’s secret US raid that captured and killed Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and NATO’s cross-border attacks at Salala check-post in November, 2011 that killed 24 Pakistani troops.

In quick and hard response, Pakistan blocked the land route for NATO supplies, closing the port of Karachi as a way to ship goods to international forces battling in Afghanistan.

Although the US and Pakistani officials expressed optimism that all the outstanding issues would soon be resolved.

However, the American administration rejected Pakistani proposal to charge several thousand dollars for each NATO container crossing the border.

Furthermore, the US officials categorically refused to issue an explicit apology for the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers.

In recent months, the frequency of the drone attacks has diminished, however its complete halt is unlikely.
According to statistics, 45 drone attacks were carried out in 2009 while 101 in 64 in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

May 23, 2012 Posted Under: News update   Read More

Pakistan not invited to NATO summit in Chicago

BRUSSELS/WASHINGTON: US and NATO in a bid to punish Pakistan for blocking NATO supply route have decided against inviting Pakistan to the forthcoming NATO summit in Chicago.

According to reports, Pakistan’s chances of attending the forthcoming NATO summit in Chicago, on May 20 and 21, have died down following a deadlock in Pak-US relations.

Both countries have adopted tough positions on their respective demands and a resolution in the immediate future appears highly improbable.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Friday that Pakistan had not been invited to the upcoming Chicago summit.

Speaking to reporters, Rasmussen asked Pakistan to restore the NATO supply route.

“Our supply should be unblocked immediately,” Rasmussen said in reply to a question.

The May 20-21 summit will be the biggest NATO summit in history, with more than 60 countries and organizations represented.

The US administration had previously termed Pakistan s participation in the Chicago summit as critical for the endgame in Afghanistan. Several American officials had repeatedly urged the Pakistani leadership to participate in the Chicago summit for lasting peace and stability in the region.

However, the expectations on both sides took a nosedive when bilateral relations hit a new low following the NATO attack on Salala check-post on November 26 last year, which resulted in killing 24 Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan suspended the NATO supply routes in protest and has demanded an apology from the US for resumption of these routes.

It is reliably learnt that the US special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Marc Grossman has made an effort to convince Pakistan for resuming NATO supply routes and attend the Chicago summit. The remaining contentious issues, he advocated, could be discussed simultaneously as the US was ready to listen and address “genuine” Pakistani concerns.

However, the talks reached a stalemate when the Pakistani leadership, following the extensive parliamentary review, conveyed to the US administration in plain words that nothing short of an apology on the Salala incident was acceptable before moving forward on rebuilding trust and bilateral relationship.

Even the offer made by Marc Grossman for releasing Pakistan s outstanding Coalition Support Fund (CSF) worth $1.2 billion, which has been withheld since December 2010, in case the country agreed to re-open supply routes, could not achieve the desired ends.

Following this apparent deadlock, the US administration has decided against inviting Pakistan to the Chicago summit, in a bid to covey its displeasure on the latter s reluctance to succumb to the American demands. The other purpose of this decision, sources informed, was to make Pakistan realize that critical decisions on Afghanistan could be taken even without Pakistan s participation.

The spokesperson of the US State Department, Victoria Nuland played down the question of inviting Pakistan to Chicago summit. “The guest list is still something that we’re working on, particularly in the context of the ISAF meeting, which will have a larger participation”, she stated while declining to comment when asked about their administration s expectations about Pakistani participation.

In an earlier briefing, US Special Representative to NATO, Ivo Daalder, termed Pakistan a very important country for the stability of the region and including Afghanistan. He was responding to a question regarding importance of Pakistan’s participation in the NATO summit as well as the endgame in Afghanistan.

“The issue of which countries are going to be coming to Chicago is still under discussion at NATO, and we hope and expect that those issues will be resolved soon”, Ambassador Daalder said while going to discuss the suspension of ground supply routes, invariably establishing a correlation between the two.

“As you know, we are in active bilateral consultations as well with a NATO participation in those consultations on finding ways to open the ground lines of communication through Pakistan into Afghanistan, which have now been closed for about six months,” he pointed out.

“Opening up these ground lines is extremely important for the stability of Afghanistan and the ability for our troops in Afghanistan to have the kinds of resupply of resources that is necessary. Those negotiations are ongoing and we hope they can be completed successfully very soon,” the US envoy hoped.

The United States anticipates three results from the summit: An agreement on an interim milestone in 2013 when the International Security Assistance Force’s mission will shift from combat to support for the Afghan national security forces; An agreement on the size, cost and sustainment of the Afghan forces beyond 2014; and a roadmap for NATO’s post-2014 role in Afghanistan.

May 12, 2012 Posted Under: News update   Read More

Pakistan has to cooperate more, says Kerry

WASHINGTON: US Senator John Kerry, a leading proponent of US aid for Pakistan, has said called for Pakistan to be more cooperative in eliminating alleged sanctuaries of Afghan militants in Pakistan.

The chairman of the Senatdoe Foreign Relations Committee raised the issue of the continued danger of a sanctuary war being prosecuted against the forces in Afghanistan at a congressional hearing on the upcoming Nato summit in Chicago.

“I am a veteran of a sanctuary war and I know how insidious it can be, and I personally think that it is unacceptable to have a zone of immunity for acts of war against armed forces and against the collective community that is trying to accomplish what it is trying to accomplish,” the Democratic senator said in a statement.

“That means Pakistan has to become more assertive and more cooperative, and we may have to resort to other kinds of self-help depending on what they decide to do,” the influential lawmaker added.

The US has been accusing Pakistan of offering assistance to militants from the so-called Haqqani network and of providing the group’s leadership a sanctuary in the North Waziristan tribal region.

May 12, 2012 Posted Under: News update   Read More