Obama Ignores Pakistan Pleas: Orders Missile Strike that Kills Nine Civilians

January 24th, 2009 - by admin

Los Angeles Times & Pakistan Daily Times & The Guardian – 2009-01-24 22:33:22


Suspected US Missiles Kill 18 in Pakistan
Laura King / Los Angeles Times

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (January 24, 2009) — In the first such strikes since the inauguration of President Barack Obama, suspected US missile barrages Friday killed at least 18 people in the lawless tribal region near the Afghan border, Pakistani officials said.

The two raids suggested that the new US administration intends to press ahead with attacks against Islamic militants in rural areas, even though the campaign has been politically costly to Pakistan’s Western-leaning civilian government. Obama indicated during the campaign for the White House that he would continue to carry out strikes against “high-value” al Qaeda and Taliban targets on Pakistani soil, particularly if the Pakistani military was unable or unwilling to act. That declaration ruffled some feathers in Pakistan, where the US raids are extremely unpopular.

Although Pakistani leaders have lodged formal diplomatic objections to the US air strikes, the government is widely believed to have given tacit permission to US forces to carry out such raids — as long as they do not involve sending ground forces into Pakistani territory.

Pakistani news reports cited security officials as saying that at least five of those killed in Friday’s strikes in the North and South Waziristan tribal areas — long known as a haven for al Qaeda and the Taliban — were militants. Dozens of such raids were carried out in the past six months by the Bush administration, killing several important al Qaeda-linked figures. But scores of Pakistani civilians, including women and children, also died, according to local officials.

The first of Friday’s attacks took place in the North Waziristan village of Zharki, with missiles striking at least two structures, according to security officials. A short time later, a strike was reported in South Waziristan. The US military in Afghanistan refused to comment on the raids, but US forces are known to operate Predator drones from bases on the Afghan side of the border, together with newer Reaper aircraft.

In a sign of simmering anti-government and anti-American sentiment, hundreds of people staged a demonstration in Islamabad Friday, demanding a severing of ties with the United States.

Also Friday, new violence hit northwestern Pakistan, where Taliban insurgents have pushed beyond the tribal areas to menace civilians and government troops. Two Pakistani soldiers and three civilians were reported killed in bombings in the Swat Valley, a onetime tourist area 100 miles north of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad where Taliban militants hold sway despite months of government efforts to dislodge them.

© 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.

Zardari Asks US to Stop Drone Attacks
Zulfiqar Ghuman / Pakistan Daily Times

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Zardari expressed concern over US drone attacks in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas in a meeting with US Ambassador Anne W Patterson on Saturday. “These attacks can affect Pakistan’s cooperation in the war on terror,” he told the ambassador during a luncheon meeting at the President’s House.

Zardari hailed the nomination of Richard Holbrooke – a veteran diplomat known for his global peace efforts – as a special US envoy on Pakistan and Afghanistan, and called it a good omen for peace in South Asia, sources privy to meeting told Daily Times.

Zardari told Patterson the democratic Pakistani government was already under immense pressure because of the attacks, but also repeated Islamabad’s pledge to flush out Al Qaeda elements hiding in FATA.

“Our parliament has already passed a unanimous resolution against these drone attacks, which violate Pakistan’s sovereignty,” Zardari said. “Being an ally in the war on terror, Islamabad’s territorial integrity should be respected.”

“Zardari reminded the world of its promises for the uplift of the areas for lasting peace,” a source said.

Anne Patterson said the new US administration wanted to enhance cooperation with Pakistan. Richard Holbrooke would soon visit Pakistan and Afghanistan, she told Zardari.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also expressed ‘great concern’ on Saturday over Friday’s twin drone strikes that it said had killed civilians.

“With the advent of the new US administration, it is Pakistan’s sincere hope that the United States will review its policy and adopt a more holistic and integrated approach toward dealing with the issue of terrorism and extremism,” it said in a statement. “We maintain that these attacks are counterproductive and should be discontinued,” it said.

Obama Ordered Waziristan Airstrikes
Daily Times & The Guardian

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD (January 25, 2009) — US President Barack Obama had given the go-ahead for Friday’s twin US missile strikes against suspected Al Qaeda men in the Tribal Areas, The Guardian reported on Saturday.

“Four days after assuming the presidency, he was consulted by US commanders before they launched the two attacks,” said a report on the newspaper’s website. “The strikes will help Obama portray himself as a leader who, though ready to shift the balance of American power towards diplomacy, is not afraid of military action,” The Guardian reported.

Pakistan has repeatedly criticised the drone attacks saying they were counterproductive, and was hoping the new US administration would end the practice.

Meanwhile, the death toll from Friday’s attacks has risen to 22, officials and residents said. Eight suspected foreigners are among the dead. A senior security official said Pakistani authorities were trying to determine the seniority of Mustafa Al Misri, an Egyptian Al Qaeda operative believed to have been killed in one of the attacks.

Three intelligence officials told The Associated Press that funerals were held for nine Pakistani citizens killed in the attack on Zharki village in North Waziristan.

Citing reports from field agents and residents, they said Taliban had removed the bodies of five suspected foreigners who were also killed.

In another strike that hit a house in Gangi Khel village of South Waziristan, residents and security officials say eight people died. Resident Allah Noor Wazir said he attended funerals for the owner of the targeted house, Din Faraz, his three sons and a guest.

“I also heard that three bodies had been taken away by Taliban.” He told AP by telephone. “They say they were foreigners.”

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes