The Daily Times & Agence France-Presse & San Francisco Chronicle & Baqir Sajjad Syed / Dawn – 2011-05-06 02:41:12
Pakistan Warns against Further Raids inside Its Territory
The Daily Times
ISLAMABAD (May 5, 2011) — Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said on Thursday that any country that again seeks to raid its territory would face consequences from Pakistan’s military.
“We feel that that sort of misadventure or miscalculation would result in a terrible catastrophe,” he said. “There should be no doubt Pakistan has adequate capacity to ensure its own defense.”
He was speaking three days after a US raid by special forces, without the knowledge of Pakistan officials, on a compound in Abbottabad, north of the capital, killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
“It’s easy to say that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) or elements within the government were in cahoots with the Al Qaeda,” Bashir said.
“This is a false hypothesis. This is a false charge. It cannot be validated on any account and it flies in the face of what Pakistanis and in particular the Inter-Services Intelligence has been able to accomplish.”
“If it was an intelligence failure â€¦ then it was a global intelligence failure,” Bashir said.
“That the ISI is incompetent is a value judgment,” he added. “And we believe that this is not the time for anybody to indulge in the luxury of passing value judgments.”
Obama ‘Reserves Right’ to Act Again in Pakistan
WASHIGTON (May 4, 2011) — The White House said Wednesday that US President Barack Obama reserves the right to act again against top terror suspects inside Pakistan, following the raid which killed Osama bin Laden.
Obama’s spokesman Jay Carney was asked whether the president would be prepared to target fugitives again if they were on Pakistani soil, despite Islamabad’s complaints the bin Laden raid was unauthorized and unilateral.
“He made very clear during the campaign that that was his view. He was criticized for it,” Carney said.
“He maintained that that was his view and, by the actions he has taken as president, feels that it was the right approach and continues to feel that way,” he said.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, then-senator Obama said that he would order action against bin Laden or other senior Al-Qaeda leaders inside Pakistan if the country’s leadership “is unable or unwilling to act.”
Senator John McCain, the Republican candidate for president, accused Obama of effectively threatening an allied nation and said that if a target came into view, “you work with the Pakistani government.”
US officials have said that they gave no prior notice to Pakistan before Sunday’s daring raid, in which special forces killed the world’s most wanted man at a mansion near the country’s top military academy in Abbottabad.
CIA director Leon Panetta said that the United States chose not to alert Pakistan of the operation on its soil for fear that officials may have alerted the Al-Qaeda chief.
Pakistan has been on the defensive since Sunday’s attack, with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani saying that the United States and other countries shared the blame for not finding bin Laden sooner.
The United States has an uneasy partnership with Pakistan, which supported Afghanistan’s hardline Taliban regime until the September 11, 2001 attacks by Al-Qaeda.
Pakistan has often voiced anger at US operations against Al-Qaeda targets on its soil, particularly strikes with unmanned drones which the government says make a mockery of its sovereignty.
The United States carried out more than 100 drone strikes in Pakistan last year, killing more than 670 people, according to an AFP tally.
Analysis: US-Pakistan Relations in Trouble
San Francisco Chronicle
WASHINGTON (May 5, 2011) — Osama bin Laden’s death has Congress pointing fingers at Pakistan and many in the Obama administration expressing thinly veiled exasperation. But it probably won’t mean the breakup of a marriage of convenience that is maddening to both the US and nuclear-armed Pakistan. The alternative would be worse.
The commando raid Monday on bin Laden’s comfortable house deep inside Pakistan exposes a stark truth that bodes ill for the decade-long US strategy to coax greater cooperation from its wavering counterterrorism ally and bankroll its weak leaders: Pakistani officials tolerated or helped the biggest-ever mass murderer of Americans or were so inept that he lived for years right under their noses.
Shamefaced Pakistani authorities say it is the latter, but some in Congress are already clamoring to cut or eliminate the nearly $1.3 billion in annual aid to Pakistan. And the Obama administration may be tempted to opt for more go-it-alone operations.
Through either complicity or incompetence, Pakistan’s failure to do anything while the al-Qaida mastermind spent up to six years in a conspicuously oversized villa near a military academy raises alarming questions.
Asked Wednesday which explanation the White House assigns to Pakistan’s inaction, spokesman Jay Carney declined to comment.
US officials have griped for years about fringe elements of Pakistan’s military and intelligence establishment who’ve aided the Taliban and other militants using the country as a rear base to launch attacks on American and Afghan forces over the border in Afghanistan. But the government has been seen as a committed partner against al-Qaida, and thousands of Pakistanis have died at the hands of bin Laden’s group.
The Obama administration is investigating. Any evidence that points to Pakistani support for bin Laden or his terrorist network would amp up the pressure in the US to cut off military and civilian assistance for President Asif Ali Zardari’s fragile government.
Neither government wants that. The US needs Pakistan’s assistance to fight bin Laden’s followers and exit from Afghanistan; Zardari’s government fears overthrow from an emboldened Islamist opposition if it loses its American backing.
Members of Congress are divided for now on Pakistan, with some lawmakers saying the death proves that Pakistan has been playing a double game all along — supporting US enemies on the theory that it might one day need them — and others calling for more US engagement to expand the fight against terrorism. The prevailing idea seems to be to press the US advantage while Pakistan’s military might be more motivated to demonstrate its resolve.
But the tension released by bin Laden’s killing couldn’t come at a worse time for US-Pakistani relations. In recent weeks, popular anger in Pakistan spiked when CIA contractor Raymond Davis killed two Pakistanis, on top of disagreements over U.S. drone attacks on Pakistani territory. And just last month, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, accused Pakistan’s military-run spy service of links with the Haqqani network, a major Afghan Taliban faction.
The bin Laden operation has revealed the shifting ground: The Obama administration trusted its partner so little that it only told the government of the military incursion when it was over. And in a statement Tuesday, the Pakistani government warned that an “unauthorized unilateral action cannot be taken as a rule,” calling it a “threat to international peace and security.” It has made clear that it had nothing to do with the operation.
“We have a complicated but vital and important relationship with Pakistan,” Carney said. “We don’t agree on everything, but their cooperation has been essential in the fight against al-Qaida.”
Kayani orders probe into intel failure, seeks cut in US personnel
Baqir Sajjad Syed / Dawn
ISLAMABAD: Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani ordered on Thursday an investigation into the intelligence failure in detecting the presence of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in his Abbottabad hideout under the army’s nose; and for determining how the US carried out the operation “Geronimo” without the Pakistan military getting wind of it.
The directives for a broad-based military inquiry were given at a corps commanders conference at the GHQ as the army decided on an immediate reduction in the US military presence in the country in protest against the “unilateral American operation” in which the fugitive Al Qaeda chief with $25 million bounty on his head was killed.
“An investigation has been ordered into the circumstances that led to this situation,” a military spokesman said after the conference which focused exclusively on the May 2 pre-dawn US raid and its implications. But he did not share the scope and terms of reference of the inquiry.
In the aftermath of the incident, the military and the ISI have faced numerous questions, with almost everyone asking how it was possible for Osama to live unnoticed at the Pakistan Military Academy Kakul’s doorway for years without any support.
But more importantly, the general public, upset over the liberty with which the US Navy SEAL strike team was able to conduct the operation — a brazen affront to Pakistan’s sovereignty — have started asking about the utility of huge defence budget and the army’s ability to protect strategic installations.
Although the mood at the conference, the army’s topmost forum for discussing matters relating to defence, was that of betrayal by the US, the red-faced army brass addressed some of the concerns being expressed publicly.
A statement issued after the conference admitted inadequacies in military’s intelligence gathering and simultaneously sought to reassure the nation about security arrangements for strategic installations and the military’s resolve to defend the country’s sovereignty.
“As regards the possibility of similar hostile action against our strategic assets, the forum reaffirmed that unlike an undefended civilian compound, our strategic assets are well protected and an elaborate defensive mechanism is in place,” it said.
About the intelligence failure in noticing Osama’s presence in Abbottabad, an effort was clearly made through the media statement to apportion blame to dysfunctional intelligence sharing with CIA.
Military officials said it was the ISI which had initially provided a lead on Osama in the shape of cellphone details of his most trusted courier Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, which the CIA pursued and developed but did not share with the ISI and instead went ahead unilaterally to kill the Al Qaeda leader.
“In the case of Osama bin Laden, while the CIA developed intelligence based on initial information provided by the ISI, it did not share further development of intelligence on the case with ISI, contrary to the existing practice between the two services,” the ISPR statement maintained. Gen Kayani warned the US against any similar undertaking in future. “The COAS made it very clear that any similar action, violating the sovereignty of Pakistan, will warrant a review on the level of military/intelligence cooperation with the US,” the statement said.
In a bid to convey his unease over the operation and that inaction over the raid should not be taken as his tacit endorsement, the army chief announced a reduction in the number of US military personnel in Pakistan.
However, the demand for reduction in the strength of US military personnel, some of them providing training to paramilitary forces in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and others engaged in joint technical projects, was initially made by Gen Kayani almost three weeks before the Abbottabad operation when military officials of the two countries were discussing ways of mending the strained military-to-military ties.
Gen Kayani is reported to be looking at 25 to 40 percent cut in the number of US Special Operations personnel based in Pakistan.
Responding to his Indian counterpart Gen V.K. Singh’s claim that his (Indian) forces were competent to carry out an operation similar to the one carried out by the US forces, Gen Kayani said: “Any misadventure of this kind will be responded to very strongly. There should be no doubt about it.”
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