(by Patrick Goodenough, CNSNews.com) – Seven years after the 9/11 attacks, the U.S.-Pakistan anti-terrorism alliance that resulted from al-Qaeda’s attack on America is facing a moment of truth.
On the same day that Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told U.S. lawmakers that the Afghanistan mission would place a greater focus on eliminating terrorist safe havens inside Pakistan, Pakistan’s army chief declared that his country’s sovereignty would be defended “at all cost.”
In a strong-worded statement, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said there was no agreement between U.S.-led coalition and Pakistan forces permitting operations like last week’s unusual cross-border raid in Pakistan’s South Waziristan tribal region.
The U.S. has not officially confirmed carrying out the commando operation, which Islamabad says killed 15 civilians but no high-value terrorist targets.
Since the Sept. 4 incident, missile attacks in the tribal belt killed four militants last Thursday and another four foreign militants on Monday, according to Pakistani security officials. Civilians also reportedly were killed in Monday’s strike, which targeted a seminary and houses in North Waziristan.
The raid and more frequent missile strikes from unmanned drones signal a more aggressive policy aimed at depriving Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorists of shelter on Pakistani soil, almost seven years after U.S.-led forces toppled the Taliban regime in Kabul. Top terrorist leaders, including Osama bin Laden, are suspected to be hiding out in the ungoverned tribal areas.
“We can hunt down and kill extremists as they cross over the border from Pakistan,” Mullen told the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday. “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.”
Mullen’s message reinforced comments by President Bush Tuesday, when during a speech at the National Defense University he said in reference to Pakistan, “Every nation has an obligation to govern its own territory and make certain that it does not become a safe haven for terror.”
India-based regional security analyst B. Raman said Thursday that the U.S. faced “a cruel dilemma” as a result of Pakistan’s stance.
It could “either act on its own against the sanctuaries in Pakistani territory, thereby running the danger of driving more Pashtuns into the arms of the Taliban and al-Qaeda or continue bleeding helplessly in Afghanistan.”
In his statement, released by the Army’s information bureau, Kayani said “reckless actions” that kill civilians “only help the militants and further fuel the militancy in the area.”
“The sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country will be defended at all cost and no external force is allowed to conduct operations inside Pakistan,” he said.
Kayani held talks with Mullen and other senior U.S. officers onboard the U.S. Navy carrier USS Lincoln in the Indian Ocean one week before the commando raid.
He recalled that during those talks, he had stressed to the Americans that military action alone cannot solve the security problem, but that a “political reconciliatory effort” was also needed, “to win hearts and minds of the people.”
“Falling for short-term gains while ignoring our long term interest is not the right way forward,” the statement said. …..
(Note: This article was first posted at CNSNews.com on September 11, 2008.)
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1. a) Who is Mike Mullen?
b) What is the U.S. military in Afghanistan now placing greater focus on accomplishing, according to Adm. Mullen?
2. a) Who is Ashfaq Parvez Kayani?
b) How did Gen. Kayani respond to the U.S. military’s cross-border raid into Pakistan’s South Waziristan tribal region?
3. What did Adm. Mullen tell the House committee the U.S. military needs to do to totally eliminate the terrorists entering Afghanistan from Pakistan?
4. What did President Bush say during a speech this week at the National Defense University in reference to Pakistan?
5. Re-read para. 12-14. What do you think of General Kayani’s statements?
Pakistan’s remote Federally Administered Tribal Areas (the tribal lands) have been a training ground for insurgents and a focal point for terrorism fears, particularly since the 9/11 attacks.
The semi-autonomous tribal lands consist of seven parts called “agencies” … There are also six smaller zones known as Frontier Regions in the transitional area between the tribal lands and the North-West Frontier Province to the east. The harsh, mountainous territory of the tribal lands runs along the Afghanistan border, drawn during colonial times by British Diplomat Sir Henry Mortimer Durand as a means to divide and weaken the eleven major Pashtun tribes and turn Afghanistan into a buffer zone between the British and Russian empires. (from GlobalSecurity.org)
Read/watch President Bush’s speech at the National Defense University at WhiteHouse.gov.
Watch Adm. Mullen’s address to the House Armed Services Committee at House.gov/hasc. (Search the site for the speech.)
Read about the role of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at JCS.mil.