|Will the US finally attack Pakistan?|
Dr. Moeed Pirzada
18 July 2008
Great powers tend to commit great blunders. But will the US be stupid enough to destabilize Pakistan, one of the most resilient states British Empire left behind? If I have to bet whatever dollars I am left with, I will say: No.
Yet Pakistani print and electronic media are abuzz with the speculations about a large scale US-lead NATO attacks inside Pakistan's tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. Many will wonder what has brought us to this stage and what will these tactics achieve?
We are lead to believe that the immediate context may be the killing of nine US soldiers in a daring Taleban attack on a military post in Eastern Afghanistan. And Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, whose scripts and theatrics compete with most in the Bollywood, is also beating his chest blaming Pakistan and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for the recent deadly bomb attacks at the Indian embassy in Kabul.
Karzai government has also suspended various bilateral meetings with Pakistan due in Dubai, Islamabad and Kabul within the next few weeks. Amidst this fury — shared in Kabul and New Delhi — no one is prepared to remember that even in the most third-rated of the Hollywood thrillers, the most obvious suspect is usually not the murderer; while in Bollywood, mostly the usual suspect is a part of the set-up of the real villains. But this is not a piece about overrated ISI, its equally dumb enemies and those who believe in its widely-exaggerated, almost magical powers, to operate without being caught — despite under continuous surveillance by the old friends and tutors in the CIA. Well, let me admit: this is a rather dull and dreary piece to analyse the real context of the US manoeuvring in Afghanistan. It is the election year in Washington, you know! And as expected both sides are drawing blood on the question of "National Security". Barack Obama had always asserted that Iraq was the 'wrong war' that diminished American security, damaged its standing in the world and ruined its economy and his punchline has always been that it affected America's performance in the 'good war' that is: Afghanistan.
Republicans wanted to fight this election on their credentials for national security and the good old John McCain, the Vietnam War veteran, was the perfect candidate in what is referred, by President Bush, as "elections in time of war". But it appears that Obama was increasingly successful in putting McCain and the Republicans on defensive on Iraq and Afghanistan.
It is true that even Obama moved to the right on the issue of Iraq, after he had to admit that the surge under Gen. David Petraeus has shown results; but now under attack from fellow democrats, who accused him of changing his earlier stance, he has remerged on the issue with a recent Op-Ed piece in New York Times, "My Plan for Iraq". And his plan for Iraq is intimately-linked to his plan for Afghanistan; because he wants to divert troops and resources to the 'good war'.
The horizontal pressure, for political adjustments, being generated by Republican election machinery should be obvious from McCain's responses. During the recent campaign stops in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Vietnam War veteran agreed with Obama's assertion that Bush administration had pursued a failed strategy in Iraq, though disagreed on how to proceed. But even more interesting were his comments on Afghanistan, when he agreed that security has deteriorated and the status quo is not acceptable.
It is this paradigm shift — its anticipation by the administration and the Pentagon, over the last many months, and its steep buildup over the last few weeks — that is affecting the dynamics of the military manoeuvers in Afghanistan. By now both sides fully agree that as the US forces will be withdrawn from Iraq, more of them will be sent to Afghanistan.
But what will constitute victory? This is far from clear.
First, what is needed is to differentiate between Al Qaeda and Taleban. Second, it is important to appreciate that since the US occupation and military operations post-9/11, newer realities have emerged.
The state of incessant conflict, the presence of the foreign troops in the area, repeated military operations by Pakistani forces, mounting Pashtun casualties and the inter-play of various internal and external stake-holders and regional interests have lead to new faultlines between those who represent western-style modernity and those who oppose it. Large pockets of populations who had nothing inherently against the US or the West or Islamabad have been compelled to take positions on all sorts of religious, cultural and social issues they would have ignored altogether in the absence of conflict in the region.
US forces have in the last few years attacked several times; someone argues almost 46 times. Hundreds have perished in such attacks. But it has only exaggerated the polarisation in this area. Fresh and larger attacks will further destabilize elected governments, ensure a longer running conflict, and send waves of Pashtun immigrants to other parts of Pakistan, most notably Karachi — which, many will not know, is world's largest Pashtun city.
These days everyone, from journalists in Rocky Mountains to taxi drivers in New Mexico, has developed a license to point out the failures of the Pakistani state. But little do they realize that Pakistan has successfully absorbed the shockwaves of four decades of internecine conflict in the region; which only testifies to the resilience of the state structures British had left behind.
Hot pursuits will help in creating the right impressions of something being done in Afghanistan; in an election year, it will look mighty good on the screens of Fox and CBS; the only problem is it won't offer any sustainable solution on the ground — if anything, it will increase the burdens on the strained state structures of Pakistan that are still standing after four decades of war in the neighbourhood.
Moeed Pirzada, a broadcaster and political analyst with GEO TV, has been a Britannia Chevening Scholar at London School of Economics & Political Science. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
|From The Times|
September 12, 2008
Pakistan accuses US military over cross-border terror campaign
Michael Evans, Defence Editor and Zahid Hussain in Islamabad
Pakistan's army chief has criticised the US military for making unilateral cross-border raids in the the hunt for al-Qaeda's top leadership, as tensions between the allies reached new heights on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on America.
In an unusually tough statement, General Ashfaq Kayani, Chief of Army Staff, said that there was “no agreement or understanding with the coalition forces whereby they are allowed to conduct operations on our side of the border”. Pakistan would defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity “at all costs”, he said.
The statement followed revelations this week that President Bush had approved US special forces incursions into Pakistan in July — without the Pakistani Government's approval — and comments by the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, who told Congress that a new cross-border strategy was needed to wipe out al-Qaeda “safe havens” in Pakistan.
The new low in relations between the US and Pakistan came as Western intelligence assessments concluded that the war against Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network is being undermined by the resurgence of the terrorist organisation in Pakistan and its continuing links with the Taleban in Afghanistan.
Seven years on from 9/11 the failure to find bin Laden — combined with increasing awareness that the terrorist group is spreading its influence into North and East Africa and is pressing ahead with trying to develop chemical, biological and radiological devices — is forcing a rethink of how to confront the threat.
The US has had successes in eliminating at least three key al-Qaeda players hiding in Pakistan, by using unmanned Predator spy drones armed with Hellfire missiles and precision-guided bombs. The number of attacks has increased significantly, leading to conflict with the Government in Islamabad because targeting al-Qaeda figures in the mountains of Western Pakistan has led to civilian casualties. Last week a ground attack by US commandos in South Waziristan killed 20 people, including civilians, in the first known incursion by US troops since the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan.
The relationship between the CIA, MI6, MI5 and other Western security agencies with the Pakistan Government and the powerful but quasi-autonomous Pakistani intelligence service is viewed as the most important component in the War on Terror. That relationship, particularly now that Asif Ali Zadari, a new and untested President, has succeeded the former President Musharraf, is under increasing strain.
Western intelligence services remain convinced that the core al-Qaeda hierarchy, living in relative impunity in Pakistani tribal areas, is planning further spectaculars along the lines of the September 11 attacks. Attacks in London and elsewhere have shown that al-Qaeda has the ability to adapt its tactics and learn lessons when plots fail.
Key al-Qaeda operators and planners in Pakistan who have survived the watching eyes and missiles of the American Predators have been behind most of the terrorist attacks in Britain, and the security authorities are fully aware that these individuals have the knowhow and the ingenuity to devise new ways of getting round the counter-measures that are put in place to frustrate the bombers.
Al-Qaeda remains obssessed with using commercial airliners for attacks, but of greatest concern are the signs of its interest in developing chemical, biological and radiological devices. The terrorists have already used lorries packed with explosives and chemicals in attacks in Iraq, and are known to be experimenting with anthrax.
|Pakistan could end cooperation in war on terror|
By PAUL ALEXANDER, Associated Press Writer 9 minutes ago
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - The furor intensified Friday over Washington's decision to pursue Islamic militant targets inside Pakistan, with opposition lawmakers threatening the country could pull out of the war on terror if the U.S. refuses to respect its borders.
About 100 protesters burned American flags after the latest missile attack left at least 12 people dead in the North Waziristan region of the troubled northwest. Residents said they heard the sound of propeller-driven U.S. Predator drones circling overhead before the explosions.
President Bush secretly approved more aggressive cross-border operations in July, current and former American officials have told The Associated Press.
Since Aug. 13, there have been at least seven reported missile strikes as well as a raid by helicopter-borne U.S. commandos that Pakistani officials claim killed 15 civilians in tribally governed territory where the government has little control. The frontier region is considered a likely hiding place for Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri.
Pakistan's government and military have issued stiff protests to Washington over the recent rash of cross-border strikes, although the criticism appeared to be mostly rhetoric aimed at soothing domestic anger, given that Pakistan has few options for stronger action.
Domestic media have criticized the government for not reacting more strongly, even suggesting the public criticism is just lip service and that a secret deal has been reached with Pakistan's leadership allowing cross-border incursions.
Pakistan army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has denied that and vowed to protect the country's sovereignty "at all cost."
Leaders, including new President Asif Ali Zardari, have reiterated their commitment to fighting violent Islamic extremism and have aired no threats to withdraw their cooperation.
However, they are sensitive to public opinion in Pakistan, which is hostile to U.S. policy in the region.
Agitation on the issue by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who heads the main opposition party and has a large popular following, could make it hard for Islamabad to maintain the close alliance with Washington forged by Zardari's predecessor, Pervez Musharraf.
"We need at this time to make it clear to foreign countries that Pakistan will not tolerate such actions," said Ahsan Iqbal, a lawmaker in Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N party. "If it continues, then Pakistan can consider pulling out completely from this war on terror."
Iqbal and another party leader called for an urgent parliament session to debate how Pakistan can respond.
"The parliament must be convened on a one-point agenda, because the nation is under a threat of war," said lawmaker Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. "Irrespective of where the threat is, every inch of this country is sovereign. Every inch of this country is sacred."
Defense Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar said Pakistan's armed forces were "ready to meet any such eventuality if this is repeated" and evoked Pakistan's war against India in 1965.
Despite the strong language, parliament has few options beyond issuing a condemnation of cross-border raids and reiterating the country's sovereignty.
Realistically, there's not much Pakistan can do to stop the U.S. from mounting cross-border attacks, short of shooting down helicopters carrying allied forces. And breaking off relations would mean an end to billions of dollars in U.S. aid at a time when Pakistan's economy badly needs foreign assistance.
Most analysts doubt Pakistan is ready to reverse Musharraf's decision in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks to stand with Washington. Even Musharraf raised the specter of pulling out of the war on terror, complaining repeatedly that Pakistan's sacrifices in fighting the militants were not properly recognized.
Officials say more than 1,000 troops and police have died since 2001, far more than the losses for international forces in Afghanistan. Pakistan has also suffered a wave of suicide bombings that began last year and has killed and maimed thousands more.
Pakistani commentators have been near-unanimous in predicting that unilateral U.S. strikes and civilian casualties will wreck the moderate government's effort to persuade its citizens that fighting violent Islamic extremism is in their own national interest.
"America is daily deepening the well of resentment against itself that no amount of aid or pious diplomatic platitudes will ever fill," The News daily said in an editorial Friday.
Some analysts suggest the Bush administration is turning up the heat in Pakistan, hoping for last-minute victories in the face of a growing Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.
But such cross-border operations are a "risky maneuver" and the U.S. has to be careful not to dismiss the help it is getting from Pakistan, said Robert Hathaway, director of the Asia program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.
"Too many of these operations will make the Pakistani army less willing to work with us," which could negatively affect future U.S. leadership," he said.
"Because the situation in Iraq has by most accounts improved, there's a capacity for the administration to shift gears and devote more military and intelligence resources to Pakistan and Afghanistan issues," said Daniel Markey, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
"What I don't know and what will be important is whether this is a shift that will be lasting," he said.
Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, at a joint news conference Tuesday, emphasized the need to eliminate civilian casualties, which fuel anti-government sentiment.
|Pakistan order to kill US invaders|
Bruce Loudon, South Asia correspondent
September 13, 2008
KEY corps commanders of Pakistan's 600,000-strong army issued orders last night to retaliate against "invading" US forces that enter the country to attack militant targets.
The move has plunged relations between Islamabad and Washington into deep crisis over how to deal with al-Qa'ida and the Taliban
What amounts to a dramatic order to "kill the invaders", as one senior officer put it last night, was disclosed after the commanders - who control the army's deployments at divisional level - met at their headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi under the chairmanship of army chief and former ISI spy agency boss Ashfaq Kayani.
Leading English-language newspaper The News warned in an editorial that the US determination to attack targets inside Pakistan was likely to be "the best recruiting sergeant that the extremists ever had", with even "moderates" outraged by it.
The "retaliate and kill" order came amid reports of unprecedentedly fierce fighting in the Bajaur Agency of Pakistan's tribal areas, an al-Qa'ida stronghold frequently mentioned as the most likely lair of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri.
At the same time, a series of brutal killings by the militants were reported.
The beheaded bodies of two of nearly 40 police recruits abducted a week ago were found near the town of Hangu. Their discovery follows warnings that the recruits would be put to death, one by one, unless Pakistan stopped its big offensive in Bajaur.
The bodies of three local Bajaur men who had been shot in the neck were also found yesterday. Notes were attached declaring the men to have been spies.
In a day of what appears to have been unrelenting combat in Bajaur, helicopter gunships, heavy artillery and tanks were used to strike al-Qa'ida targets.
Officials said at least 100 militants had been killed, bringing the number who have died in the six weeks since the offensive was launched to well over 700. The figure is regarded as remarkable, given that NATO forces in Afghanistan seldom achieve a "kill" rate of more than about 30 in any single operation. Many of those killed are reported to have been "foreign fighters" - mostly Arabs and Central Asians, who have been flooding into Pakistan's tribal areas to join al-Qa'ida and the Taliban.
Ground troops are said to have moved into key areas formerly controlled by the militants, despite a promised ceasefire marking the holy month of Ramadan.
"We launched strikes against militant hideouts in Bajaur and destroyed several compounds they were using," an official was quoted as saying.
The order to retaliate against incursions by "foreign troops", directed specifically at the 120,000 Pakistani soldiers deployed along the border with Afghanistan, follows US President George W. Bush's authorisation of US attacks in Pakistan.
Washington's determination to launch such attacks has caused outrage across Pakistan, with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani last night strongly backing a warning by General Kayani that Pakistan would not allow its territorial integrity to be violated.
The "kill" order against invading forces, and the sharp deterioration in relations with the US, has far-reaching implications for the war on terror.
Anger at all levels in Pakistani society was summed up last night in The News, not normally sympathetic to the militants.
"There is an escalating sense of furious impotence among the ordinary people of Pakistan," the newspaper said.
"Many - perhaps most - of them are strongly opposed to the spread of Talibanisation and extremist influence across the country: people who might be described as 'moderates'.
"Many of them have no sympathy for the mullahs and their burning of girls' schools and their medieval mindset.
"But if you bomb a moderate sensibility often enough, it has a tendency to lose its sense of objectivity and to feel driven in the direction of extremism.
"If America bombs moderate sensibilities often enough, you may find that its actions are the best recruiting sergeant that the extremists ever had."
|Pakistan Army ordered to hit back|
Corps commanders discuss latest US strategy
Friday September 12, 2008 (1214 PST)
RAWALPINDI: The Pakistan Army has been ordered to retaliate against any action by foreign troops inside the country, Geo News quoted ISPR spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas as saying on Thursday night.
Shakil Shaikh adds from Islamabad: Pakistan`s military commanders resolved to defend the country`s borders without allowing any external forces to conduct operations inside Pakistan.
The military commanders expressed this resolve on the first day of the two-day Corps Commanders conference, which began here on Thursday at the General Headquarters. Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani chaired the all-important conference against the backdrop of the new strategic developments taking place in the region.
General Kayani has already rebuffed the American policy of including Pakistani territory in their operations against terrorists and those hiding in the areas bordering Afghanistan. Reports say that the US President Bush has allowed air raids from drones and ground operations in Pakistani areas including FATA.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has termed General Kayani`s response to the Americans as a true reflection of the government`s policy. The military commanders are understood to have discussed the implications of the American attacks inside Pakistan and took stock of the public feeling.
"In his statement, Genral Kayani has represented the feeling of the entire nation, as random attacks inside Pakistan have angered each and every Pakistani," said a senior official. As the corps commanders continue their discussion on Friday, the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has supported the Bush administration`s policy of conducting attacks inside Pakistan.
President Zardari is expected to talk to Mr. Brown on this issue during his first visit to Britain next week. Pakistan`s Ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani, is also learnt to have already talked to senior security officials in Washington. The latest spate of attacks from drones in Fata has killed many innocent people recently, which has only added to the gravity and complexity of the situation.
|Page last updated at 10:45 GMT, Monday, 15 September 2008 11:45 UK|
Pakistan soldiers 'confront US'
Pakistani troops have fired shots into the air to stop US troops crossing into the South Waziristan region of Pakistan, local officials say.
Reports say seven US helicopters landed on the Afghan side of the border and US troops then tried to cross the border.
South Waziristan is one of the main areas from which Islamist militants launch attacks into Afghanistan.
The incident comes amid growing anger in Pakistan over US attacks along the border region.
The confrontation began at around midnight, local people say.
They say seven US helicopter gunships and two troop-carrying Chinook helicopters landed in the Afghan province of Paktika near the Zohba mountain range.
US troops from the Chinooks then tried to cross the border. As they did so, Pakistani paramilitary soldiers at a checkpoint opened fire into the air and the US troops decided not to continue forward, local Pakistani officials say.
Reports say the firing lasted for several hours. Local people evacuated their homes and tribesmen took up defensive positions in the mountains.
The incident happened close to the town of Angoor Adda, some 30km (20 miles) from Wana, the main town of South Waziristan.
A Pakistani military spokesman in Islamabad confirmed that there was firing but denied that Pakistani troops were involved.
It emerged last week that US President George W Bush has in recent months authorised military raids against militants inside Pakistan without prior approval from Islamabad.
There have been a number of missile attacks aimed at militants in Pakistan territory in recent weeks.
Pakistan reacted with diplomatic fury when US helicopters landed troops in South Waziristan on 3 September. It was the first ground assault by US troops in Pakistan.
Locals in the Musa Nikeh area said American soldiers attacked a target with gunfire and bombs, and said women and children were among some 20 civilians who died in the attack.
|Deadly bomb hits Pakistan hotel|
A suspected bomb attack has hit a luxury hotel in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, killing at least 17 people.
The BBC's Barbara Plett who is at the scene says that the entire front section of the Marriott Hotel has been blown out and wreckage was everywhere.
She describes plumes of black smoke and rescue workers carrying out bloodied victims, as well as bodies.
Some reports say the explosion was caused by a suspected suicide bomber, but this is unconfirmed.
Our correspondent says that the centre of the blast was at the front of the building close to the area where security checks are carried out.
She says that about two-thirds of the building is on fire, and the wounded and dead are still being brought out, on stretchers or wrapped in sheets.
The Marriott is located near government buildings and diplomatic missions. Security there is tight, with guests and vehicles subject to checks.
The attack comes just hours after Pakistan's newly installed President, Asif Ali Zardari, said he would not allow Pakistan's territory to be violated by terrorists or foreign powers fighting them.
In his first speech to MPs since he replaced Pervez Musharraf in August, he vowed instead to "root out terrorism and extremism wherever and whenever they may rear their ugly heads".
Last year a suicide bomber killed himself and one other in an attack at the hotel.
Page last updated at 14:50 GMT, Saturday, 20 September 2008 15:50 UK
Flames poured from the windows of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on Saturday after a massive bombing.
By CARLOTTA GALL
Published: September 20, 2008
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A huge truck bomb exploded at the gateway of the five-star Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on Saturday evening, just a few hundred yards from the prime minister’s house, where all the leaders of government were dining after the president’s address to Parliament.
At least 40 people were killed and 100 were wounded, according to The Associated Press. The toll was expected to grow because of reports that many people were still trapped inside the six-story hotel, which was engulfed in flames.
A vast crater, some 40 feet wide and 5 feet deep, lay at the security barrier to the hotel. Witnesses said security guards and their gate posts were buried under a mound of rubble. A line of cars across the street from the hotel were mangled and trees on the street were charred. Windows in buildings hundreds of yards away were shattered.
Witnesses said they dragged out dozens of bodies from the lobby of the hotel and an adjacent parking lot, including those of a number of foreigners.
One wounded American who works at the embassy here in the capital said he had just opened his car door in the parking lot when the explosion erupted. The American, who gave only his first name, Chris, said he had received injuries to his face, neck and shoulder, and was holding a bloody T-shirt to his face.
He said American Embassy personnel were at the scene, trying to help American citizens they said were trapped in the hotel.
Amjad Ali Khan, a guard on duty at a side entrance to the hotel, said he saw four to five bodies in the hotel parking lot and that he helped carry out 40 bodies from inside the hotel. He said they were “in the lobby and in the restaurant and everywhere.”
“There were very few people injured,” he said. “They were all dead.” He said he saw three Western women who had died from head wounds.
“They are terrorists,” he said when asked who he thought was responsible for the blast. “They threatened a few days ago. We heard there were four to five suicide bombers on the loose.”
The Marriott, a favorite place for foreigners to stay and gather, has been attacked by militants at least twice in the past, including a suicide attack in January 2007 that killed a policeman.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, and its exact cause was unclear.
But Pakistan, an ally of the United States in the fight against terrorism, has faced a wave of militant violence in recent weeks following army-led offensives against militants in its border regions, though the capital has avoided most of the bloodshed.
|Explosion at Pakistan Marriott hotel kills 40|
Sep 20 12:29 PM US/Eastern
By ASIF SHAHZAD, Associated Press Writer
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - A massive truck bomb devastated the heavily guarded Marriott Hotel in Pakistan's capital Saturday, killing at least 40 people and wounding at least 100. Officials feared there were dozens more dead inside the burning building.
The Marriott has been a favorite place for foreigners as well as Pakistani politicians and business people to stay and socialize in Islamabad despite repeated militant attacks.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, but Pakistan has faced a wave of militant violence in recent weeks following army-led offensives against insurgents in its border regions.
The capital has not been spared, though Saturday's blast appeared to be one of the largest ever terrorist attacks in the country.
The bomb left a vast crater, some 30 feet deep in front of the main building, where flames poured from the windows and rescuers ferried bloodied bodies from the gutted building.
Witnesses and officials said a large truck had rammed the high metal gate of the hotel at about 8 p.m., when the restaurants would have been packed with dinners, including Muslims breaking the Ramadan fast.
Senior Police official Asghar Raza Gardaizi said rescuers had counted at least 40 bodies at the scene and that he feared that there "dozens more dead inside."
Associated Press reporters saw at least nine bodies scattered at the scene. Scores of people, including foreigners, were running out—some of them stained with blood.
Witnesses spoke of a smaller blast followed by a much larger one.
A U.S. State Department official using a section of white pipe as a walking stick led three colleagues through the rubble from the charred building, one of them bleeding heavily from a wound on the side of his head.
One of the four, who identified himself only as Tony, said they had begun moving toward the rear of the Chinese restaurant after the first blast when the second one threw them against the back wall.
"Then we saw a big truck coming through the gates," he said. "After that it was just smoke and darkness."
Ambulances rushed to the area, picking their way through the charred carcasses of vehicles that had been in the street outside. Windows in buildings hundreds of yards away were shattered.
Mohammad Sultan, a hotel employee, said he was in the lobby when something exploded, he fell down and everything temporarily went dark.
"I didn't understand what it was, but it was like the world is finished," he said.
In January 2007, a security guard blocked a suicide bomber who triggered a blast just outside the Marriott, killing the guard and wounding seven other people.
In July, a suicide bombing killed at least 18 people, most of them security forces, and wounded dozens in Islamabad as supporters of the Red Mosque gathered nearby to mark the anniversary of the military siege on the militant stronghold.
In June, a suicide car bomber killed at least six people near the Danish Embassy in Islamabad. A statement attributed to al-Qaida took responsibility for that blast, believed to have targeted Denmark over the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.
In mid-March, a bomb explosion at an Italian restaurant killed a Turkish woman in the capital, and wounded 12 others, including four FBI officials.
Associated Press writers Zarar Khan, Stephen Graham and Munir Ahmad in Islamabad contributed to this report.
|At least 40 killed, 100 hurt in truck bombing of Marriott Hotel in Islamabad |
Truck bomb leaves crater 10 metres deep in front of hotel
By Asif Shahzad, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Sat, September 20, 2008
Sept. 20: Pakistani security officials collect evidence from the estimated 10 meter (33 feet) deep crater caused by a bomb explosion at Marriott hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan. A huge suicide truck bomb devastated the heavily guarded Marriott Hotel in Pakistan's capital Saturday, killing at least 40 people and engulfing the building in flames in a sickening reminder of the threat in a country vital to the U.S.-led war on terror. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A massive truck bomb devastated the heavily guarded Marriott Hotel in Pakistan’s capital Saturday, killing at least 40 people and wounding 100 or more.
Officials feared there were dozens more dead inside the burning building.
The Marriott has been a favourite place for foreigners as well as Pakistani politicians and business people to stay and to socialize in Islamabad despite repeated militant attacks.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, but Pakistan has faced a wave of violence in recent weeks following army-led offensives against insurgents in its regions bordering Afghanistan.
The bomb left a vast crater some 10 metres deep in front of the main building.
Flames poured from the hotel’s windows and rescuers ferried bloodied bodies from the gutted building.
Witnesses and officials said a large truck rammed the high metal gate of the hotel at about 8 p.m., when the restaurants would have been packed with dinners, including Muslims breaking the Ramadan fast.
Senior Police official Asghar Raza Gardaizi said rescuers counted at least 40 bodies at the scene and that he feared that there “dozens more dead inside.”
Associated Press reporters saw at least nine bodies scattered at the scene. Scores of people, including foreigners, were running out — some of them stained with blood.
Witnesses spoke of a smaller blast followed by a much larger one.
A U.S. State Department official, using a section of white pipe as a walking stick, led three colleagues through the rubble from the charred building.
One of them was bleeding heavily from a wound on the side of his head.
One of the four, who identified himself only as Tony, said they had begun moving toward the rear of a Chinese restaurant in the hotel after the first blast when the second one threw them against the back wall.
“Then we saw a big truck coming through the gates,” he said. “After that it was just smoke and darkness.”
Ambulances rushed to the area, picking their way through the charred remains of vehicles that had been on the street outside. Windows in buildings hundreds of metres away were shattered.
Mohammad Sultan, a hotel employee, said he was in the lobby when something exploded, he fell down and everything temporarily went dark.
“I didn’t understand what it was, but it was like the world is finished,” he said.
In January 2007, a security guard blocked a suicide bomber who triggered a blast just outside the Marriott, killing the guard and wounding seven other people.
In July, a suicide bombing killed at least 18 people, most of them security forces, and wounded dozens in Islamabad as supporters of the Red Mosque gathered nearby to mark the anniversary of the military siege on their stronghold.
In June, a suicide car bomber killed at least six people near the Danish Embassy in Islamabad.
A statement attributed to al-Qaida took responsibility for that blast, believed to have targeted Denmark over the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.
In mid-March, a bomb explosion at an Italian restaurant killed a Turkish woman in the capital, and wounded 12 others, including four FBI officials.
|Eyewitnesses: Pakistan blast |
Page last updated at 17:18 GMT, Saturday, 20 September 2008 18:18 UK
A massive explosion has devastated the Marriott hotel in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, killing many people.
Officials say they believe a suicide bomber set off a car bomb near the hotel.
Islamabad residents told the BBC what they saw and felt.
I was driving towards the hotel for my dinner. And I was two seconds away from the blast. It was a huge explosion and the sky lit up like daylight. I saw one of the big trees flying over my car. When I opened my car door I saw a human hand right next to my car door. Thank God I'm safe. I feel sorry for those who lost their life.
I work in the Evacuee Trust building adjacent to the Marriott Hotel. I was in the office at that time. The force of the blast threw me off the seat, all windows in the building were broken and for a while it seemed as if an air strike had happened. Moving out I saw the Marriott building in flames and then I remember vaguely being shoved in a car by my security team and being rushed to the hospital. Luckily all of us present in the office at that time are safe.
I live in the vicinity of the Marriott Hotel - at the time of the explosion, I, like the majority of the population, had just opened the fast observed during Ramadan. What happened next was one of the most strange experiences I've ever undergone - the rooms, walls, floor shook, as if a huge tremor was going through. The feeling was strangely reminiscent of the devastating earthquake we faced in October 2005. This was followed by a huge sound of a blast. It is completely tragic - I do hope Pakistan can stop this internal turmoil and the citizens can enjoy some peace and security.
The blast is tremendous. We live over 2 kilometres away from the hotel and it still shook our windows. It sounded as if thunder had exploded right on top of our house. Now after an hour, smoke is filling the air and we can smell the burning debris from our porch. Just hope for the best.
It was a huge and massive blast. My office is 15 kilometres away from the Marriott Hotel and we were having dinner and suddenly we heard a horrible noise. It was like an earthquake.
I was a few sectors away from the Marriott. Nearly 22 kilometres away. The shocking part is that the blast was so intense that it shook the entire city and all of us came running out of the house thinking that it was just a few metres away.
|Rescuers comb Pakistan bomb hotel|
Page last updated at 15:46 GMT, Sunday, 21 September 2008 16:46 UK
Rescuers in the Pakistani capital are continuing to search for bodies and survivors of a suicide bombing at a hotel, which killed at least 53 people.
Some 266 others were hurt in the blast, which devastated the Marriott Hotel.
CCTV footage shows an explosives-laden lorry ram the security gate. Shots are fired and flames are seen in the cabin moments before the vehicle explodes.
Most of the dead were Pakistani. The Czech ambassador was among at least four foreigners killed.
US and Vietnamese citizens were also killed in the blast, in which at least a dozen foreign nationals were wounded. The Danish foreign ministry said one of its diplomats was missing.
Six Britons and an unknown number of Saudi, German, Moroccan, Afghan and US citizens, were among those hurt.
Funerals of those killed have begun to be held in Islamabad. However, there are fears that more bodies will be found as rescue teams move deeper into the hotel.
There has been no claim of responsibility so far, but the interior ministry said the attackers were linked to Islamist militants in the north-west border region near Afghanistan.
The heavily-guarded hotel was attacked at about 2000 (1500 GMT) on Saturday, when a lorry blew up at the hotel entrance after it was stopped for a security check.
The interior ministry has shown a security video of the moments before the blast.
A six-wheeler lorry rams the security barrier at the hotel gate. Shots are fired and the vehicle starts to burn. The guards run then return to try to douse the flames.
There is no footage of the main blast because it destroyed the camera, but officials said the vehicle was packed with 600kg of high quality explosives as well as grenades and mortars.
Aluminium powder was also used to accelerate the explosion and added to the ferocity of the blaze, officials said.
"I do not believe this is a breakdown in security. The attackers had disguised the truck well as it was covered with a tarpaulin and loaded with bricks and gravel," said interior ministry adviser, Ramen Malik.
The force of the explosion created a crater about 8m (27ft) deep, and triggered a fire which engulfed the 290-room, five-storey building for hours.
Witnesses described a scene of horror as blood-covered victims were pulled from the wreckage and guests and staff ran for cover from shattered glass and flames.
The fire has now burned out and rescue workers have been searching the building room-by-room, pulling bodies out of the blackened debris.
Officials have warned that the building could collapse.
The attack came just hours after President Asif Ali Zardari vowed to fight terrorism, in his first speech to parliament since his election earlier this month.
After the bombing, he addressed the nation on television.
"This is an epidemic, a cancer in Pakistan which we will root out," he said. "We will not be afraid of these cowards."
Mr Zardari stopped in London on his way to New York to attend the UN General Assembly session, where he will meet President George W Bush on the sidelines of the conference.
The meeting comes amid tension between the two countries over US cross-border military attacks on militants in tribal areas of Pakistan, close to the Afghan border.
In the wake of the attack, President Bush pledged assistance to Pakistan in "confronting this threat and bringing the perpetrators to justice".
He said it was "a reminder of the ongoing threat faced by Pakistan, the United States, and all those who stand against violent extremism".
The Marriott is the most prestigious hotel in the capital, and is located near government buildings and diplomatic missions. It is popular with foreigners and the Pakistani elite.
As a precaution, British Airways had suspended flights to Pakistan until further notice, a BA spokesman told the BBC.
The Marriott has previously been the target of militants. Last year a suicide bomber killed himself and one other in an attack at the hotel.
|More than 50 dead after blast rips through Pakistan hotel|
Home secretary describes explosion at Islamabad Marriott as 'brutal act of terror'
* Jason Burke and Mubashir Zaidi in Islamabad and agencies
* Sunday September 21 2008 12:54 BST
The official death toll from the suicide bomb blast that ripped through a luxury hotel in Islamabad yesterday has risen to 53, the Pakistani prime minister, Yousuf Gilani, said today.
The blast, one of the biggest attacks in Pakistan for over a decade, happened at the Marriott hotel at around 8pm. The hotel was left burning fiercely all along its façade, while other buildings in the vicinity were also left damaged.
Witnesses said security staff at the front of the hotel, where the blast was strongest, had 'simply been vaporised'.
Scores of bodies were being brought out of the flaming building as rescue workers battled the blaze in scenes of chaos.
Victims included the Czech ambassador, it emerged today. Two Americans and a Vietnamese national were also killed. Eleven other foreigners were among the 266 wounded in the blast, Rehman Malik, the top official in the interior ministry, told Reuters.
At least four Britons were injured in the attack, two of them children. Officials told Reuters that a British woman remained in hospital.
Rescue teams were today searching the blackened hotel but temperatures remained high and fires were still being put out in some parts. Officials said the main building could still collapse.
In a televised address to Pakistan today, the president, Asif Ali Zardari, said: "This is an epidemic, a cancer in Pakistan which we will root out. We will not be afraid of these cowards."
The foreign secretary, David Miliband, condemned the strike as "yet another shocking and disgraceful attack without justification". He said such a "brutal act of terror deserves the condemnation of the entire international community" and added that the British government would continue "to stand shoulder to shoulder with the government of Pakistan against the violent extremists who have no answers, but only offer death and mayhem".
The US president, George Bush, said the attack was "a reminder of the ongoing threat faced by Pakistan, the United States, and all those who stand against violent extremism".
Hotel staff said that all the Marriott's function rooms, including the large ballroom, had been hired for iftar - the traditional communal meal that breaks the day-long fast that Muslims observe during the holy month of Ramadan. According to the hotel owner, at least 700 people would have been in the hotel at the time of the blast at 8pm. Around 300 eating under a marquee at the back of the hotel away from the blast survived.
The senior police official Asghar Raza Gardezi said the explosion was caused by more than a tonne of explosives, probably delivered in a small truck. Other reports indicated a series of bombs - possibly one small explosion that paved the way for other, larger, blasts.
Imtiaz Gul, a journalist, was dining with friends in the marquee when the attack happened. "First there was a blast and then all the electricity went out ... then it came back on and there was a second much bigger blast or a series of deafening blasts," he said.
"We found our way out but it was really harrowing. It was carnage, there was debris everywhere, body parts, glass. At the front of the hotel there were not even body parts. The blast had just destroyed everything."
Other witnesses spoke of corpses strewn on the ground. Scores of ambulances rushed to the scene, negotiating burnt-out vehicles and a vast crater left by the explosion. Windows in buildings nearly a mile away in residential areas and a heavily guarded compound where ministers have their official homes were damaged.
The Marriott is in the centre of the city, close to the National Assembly, the main commercial thoroughfare and the national television headquarters. Security has been high at the hotel since a previous attempted suicide bombing in 2007, foiled by a security guard.
A US state department official using a section of white pipe as a walking stick was seen leading three colleagues through the rubble from the charred building, one of them bleeding heavily from a wound on the side of his head.
One of the four, who identified himself only as Tony, said they had begun moving towards the rear of the hotel's Chinese restaurant after the first blast when the second threw them against the back wall. "Then we saw a big truck coming through the gates," he said. "After that it was just smoke and darkness."
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, though radical militants allied with the Taliban and al-Qaida who are engaged in a violent insurgency in Pakistan will be the prime suspects.
The use of multiple truck bombs is a favoured technique of Islamic militants. A security guard at the scene said he saw a large vehicle that caught fire on its front before suddenly exploding.
Pakistan, a key US ally in the war on terror, has faced a wave of militant violence in recent weeks following offensives by its army against insurgents in the restive regions along its frontier with Afghanistan. Though the capital has avoided most of the bloodshed, hundreds have died in a series of bombings and suicide attacks in the last six months. Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister, was killed in December in a bomb and shooting attack and there have been strikes in most major cities. Earlier this month the convoy of the prime minister was shot at.
Hours before yesterday's blast, Bhutto's widower, Zardari, gave a speech to parliament. He pledged Pakistan's support in the international fight against terrorism, continuing the policy of his predecessor in the post, General Pervez Musharraf.
|Battles: The Battle of Messines, 1917|
Updated - Saturday, 11 August, 2001
It has been argued that the Battle of Messines was the most successful local operation of the war, certainly of the Western Front. Carried out by General Herbert Plumer's Second Army, it was launched on 7 June 1917 with the detonation of 19 underground mines underneath the German mines.
The target of the offensive was the Messines Ridge, a natural stronghold southeast of Ypres, and a small German salient since late 1914. The attack was also a precursor to the much larger Third Battle of Ypres, known as Passchendaele, decided upon by the British Commander-in-Chief Sir Douglas Haig following the collapse of the French Nivelle Offensive earlier in May 1917.
General Plumer had begun plans to take the Messines Ridge a year early in early-1916. Meticulous in manner, Plumer preferred to plan for limited successes rather than gamble all on a significant breakthrough.
In preparing for the Messines battle he had authorised the laying of 22 mine shafts underneath German lines all along the ridge, his plan being to detonate all 22 at zero hour at 03:10 on 7 June 1917, to be followed by infantry attacks so as to secure the ridge from the presumably dazed German defenders, the infantry heavily supported by the use of artillery bombardments, tanks and the use of gas. Work on laying the mines began some 18 months before zero hour.
One mine, at Petite Douve Farm, was discovered by German counter miners on 24 August 1916 and destroyed. A further two mines close to Ploegsteert Wood were not exploded as they were outside the planned attack area.
In the face of active German counter-mining, 8,000 metres of tunnel were constructed under German lines. Occasionally the tunnellers would encounter German counterparts engaged in the same task: underground hand to hand fighting would ensure.
Heavy preliminary artillery bombardment of the German lines was begun on 21 May, involving 2,300 guns and 300 heavy mortars, ceasing at 02:50 on the morning of 7 June. The German troops, sensing imminent attack, rushed to their defensive positions, machine guns ready, meanwhile sending up flares to detect British movement towards the ridge.
Silence prevailed for the following twenty minutes until, at 03:10, the order was given across the line to detonate the mines, which totalled 600 tons of explosive. Of the 21 mines laid 19 were exploded.
"Gentlemen, we may not make history tomorrow, but we shall certainly change the geography."
Remark by General Plumer to his staff the evening before the attack
The invariable loss of surprise in the use of a preliminary bombardment was entirely offset by the effect of the mines, which blew the crest off the Messines-Wytschaete ridge. Audible in Dublin and by Lloyd George in his Downing Street study, the combined sound of the simultaneous mine explosions comprised the loudest man-made explosion until that point. The lighting up of the sky as the detonations ran across the ridge was likened to a 'pillar of fire'.
The effect of the mine explosions upon the German defenders was devastating. Some 10,000 men were killed during the explosion alone. In its wake nine divisions of infantry advanced under protection of a creeping artillery barrage, tanks and gas attacks from the new Livens projectors which were designed to throw gas canisters directly into the enemy trenches.
All initial objectives were taken within three hours. Reserves from General Gough's Fifth Army and the French First Army under Anthoine reached their own final objectives by mid-afternoon.
German troops counter-attacked on 8 June, without success, in fact losing further ground as the attacks were repelled. German counter-attacks continued in diminishing form until 14 June: by this stage the entire Messines salient was in Allied hands.
The Messines battle, which greatly boosted morale among the Allies, signified the first time on the Western Front that defensive casualties actually exceeded attacking losses: 25,000 against 17,000.
Of the two mines which remained undetonated on 7 June, the details of their precise location were mislaid by the British following the war, to the discomfort of local townspeople. One of the mines was detonated in a thunderstorm on 17 June 1955: the only casualty was a dead cow. The second mine remains undetected, although in recent years its location is believed to have been pinpointed. No-one has as yet attempted its recovery.
The 19 detonated mines were sited as follows:
|The force of the explosion created a crater about 8m (27ft) deep,|
|QUOTE (Bridget @ Sep 22 2008, 12:21 AM)|
| Numeral, have you found any mention of the diameter of the crater, I've only managed to find this on the BBC:|
|QUOTE (Bridget @ Sep 21 2008, 11:21 PM)|
|Numeral, have you found any mention of the diameter of the crater, I've only managed to find this on the BBC:|
|Dramatic CCTV footage of hotel bomb released|
By Omar Waraich in Islamabad and Andrew Buncombe
Sunday, 21 September 2008
Security camera footage shows a guard attempting to put out a blaze in a truck before it blew up at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad
Dramatic footage released last night by Pakistani authorities shows the moments before a truck containing more than 1,000lb of explosives tried to ram the gates of an Islamabad hotel before blowing up, killing at least 53 people.
The grainy images show a small explosion inside the cab of a dumper truck after security guards refused to allow the driver entry to the grounds of the Marriott hotel. Panicking guards can be seen trying to put out the resultant fire before sniffer dogs alert them that something is wrong. The guards can then be seen fleeing the area but the subsequent blast is not captured as it destroyed the cameras.
“The truck was stopped at the barrier and there was an altercation between the attacker and the guards,” said Rehman Malik, Pakistan’s Interior Minister.
As Pakistan sought to recover from one of its most shocking terror attacks to date and as the death toll from Saturday evening’s blast continued to rise, Mr Malik said investigators believed the bomb had contained an estimated 600kg (1,322lb) of high-grade, military-style explosives. “This is the biggest explosion in Pakistan’s history,” he added. “The diameter of the crater [left by the bomb] is 69ft.”
The Czech ambassador, Ivo Zdarek, was among the 53 people known to have been killed. More than 260 others were injured and rescue crews were still combing through the smouldering debris last night.
Among the injured were six Britons, including a child and three diplomats. The Foreign Office said two Britons remained in hospital. While three other foreigners were among the dead, many if not most of those killed are believed to have been members of the hotel’s staff.
It was revealed yesterday that the authorities learnt that militants may have been planning an attack in Islamabad three days earlier. However, efforts to protect against such an event appear to have been concentrated on the parliament building from where Pakistan’s newly elected
President, Asif Ali Zardari, delivered a speech on Saturday evening, barely a mile from the hotel. There was disagreement among officials whether the bomber had targeted the hotel after failing to get close enough to the parliament building.
While there has been no claim of responsibility so far for Saturday’s attack, the authorities believe it was almost certainly the work of Islamic extremists based in the country’s tribal areas. |
Militants from the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qa’ida have been behind an upsurge in violence in recent months of which Saturday’s bombing was just the latest incident. Pakistani civilians have made up the overwhelming majority of the victims. Mr Malik said a team of investigators has been examining the hotel and the deep crater in the road outside. The action of the guards will likely be a key part of the inquiry, given that the owner of the Marriott accused them of a serious lapse by allowing the truck to approach unchallenged.
“If I were there and had seen the suicide bomber, I would have killed him. Unfortunately, they didn’t,” said Sadruddin Hashwani.
The blast – which used aluminium powder that created temperatures of more than 400C – is just the latest challenge for Pakistan’s new civilian leadership. The government and Mr
Zardari have been involved in a war of words with the United States over military operations carried out by American troops inside Pakistan as they step up the hunt for Osama bin Laden before George Bush leaves office. Mr Zardari condemned the bombing as a “cancer” before flying to New York for a meeting with Mr Bush and talks at the
UN where the issue of Pakistan’s efforts to confront extremists along its border with Afghanistan is certain to be discussed.
|'The roof cracked and collapsed on us'|
By Omar Waraich
Monday, 22 September 2008
The ruins still smoulder and the smell wafts pungently through the air. At the entrance of the Marriott Hotel, Shah Hussain, a 25-year-old waiter, casts his eyes across the shards of glass, torn carpet and bits of the roof strewn around his feet in despair.
Lifting his eyes wearily, he gestures towards where large glass doors stood. "My colleagues were out here," he says, his embroidered white tunic stained with large patches of dried blood. "The valet people, doormen, drivers and security people. They all died."
At the time of the blast, Mr Hussain was fortunate to have been in the Marquee Hall at the back, serving guests their evening iftar meal at the break of the Ramadan fast.
"There were close to 250 people," he said. "Most of them were Pakistani – kids, elderly people, men, women – a lot of families had come. There were a few foreigners too, who came to enjoy themselves in the atmosphere.
"We heard a loud, loud bang. The roof cracked and suddenly collapsed on us. I saw it fall on people before it fell on me. Everyone was crying and screaming, helplessly. Some of the guests were killed instantly."
Mr Hussain struggled to free himself from under the rubble. Amid the panic, heightened by the darkness created by the blackout, he searched for his fellow waiters. "I picked up many of my colleagues who were hurt, but still alive," he said. "Some had lost their hands and feet. We rushed them to the hospital and came back to help the rest."
An estimated 14 people died in the hall, according to the Interior Ministry's preliminary findings. The rest were able to leave through the emergency exit as flames consumed the hotel rooms above them. "I was able to guide a lot of guests out, through the kitchen and by the pool to the back exit, because were taught the emergency drill," said Mr Hussain. "I fear that there were others who did not know the way and were trapped inside."
It could have been far worse, he said. "We normally have more people in the rooms. And there was no wedding that day as there normally is. Thank God that they were stopped at the gates. If they got any closer, or even inside, nothing would have survived. The building would have collapsed and we all would have been killed. You wouldn't be speaking to me right now."
| What Was Mysterious Activity Going on in the Marriott Hotel Islamabad by United States Marines|
Sunday, 21 September 2008 12:18 www.daily.pk
Marriott Hotel has now become a ghost house which was yesterday the most beautiful and prestigious hotels in the Islamabad. While the condemnation of the blasts and the deaths and the loss of property is going on from all the quarters, some intriguing news is also pouring in.
After the blast, mysteriously fire was started at the fourth and fifth floors. It was said that this fire was the result of gas pipeline burst running through the hotel. The million dollar question is that was the gas pipeline not running through the other floors? Why the fire broke out from the fourth and fifth flours? That is the question which perhaps holds the key to the mystery as why the hotel was targeted yesterday, in which more than 60 people died including many foreigners.
Though it would never get confirmed but the fire on the fifth and fourth floor of the hotel broke out because those flours were housing the mysterious steel boxes under the heavy guard of United States marines and no one including the Pakistani security forces and the security men of the hotel were allowed to go near with the them. These boxes were shifted inside the hotel when the Admiral Mike Mullen met Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and others in Islamabad.
It is said that one member of parliament Mumtaz Alam who belongs to the PPP, the ruling party was there eye witnessed the whole scene when the white truck of US embassy came to the gate of Marriot Hotel and US marines themselves unloaded the steel boxes from the trucks and shifted them to the fourth and fifth floors without passing through them the scanners at the entrance of the hotels. When the truck was there, all the entrance and the exit passage way to the hotels were closed.
And now this blast has occurred at the Marriott, while that mysterious activity was going on.
|Two US marines killed in Marriott blast: Pentagon |
ISLAMABAD, Sep 21 (APP): The US Department of Defence at Pentagon has confirmed the deaths of its two marines in Marriott blast in Islamabad. According to GEO News, the Pentagon said that its two marines succumbed to injuries in the blast.
The soldiers were deployed in US embassy in Islamabad.
Pentagon said names of the US marines could not be revealed prior to informing families of the victims.
| Official: warning on terrorist attack in Islamabad received 3 days ago|
www.chinaview.cn 2008-09-21 21:16:09
ISLAMABAD, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- Pakistan's interior ministry said on Sunday that the authorities had information three days ago that terrorists would carry out a attack in the capital Islamabad.
"We had information that terrorist can strike near the parliament or any other place in Islamabad," Interior Advisor to the prime minister Rehman Malik told reporters at a news conference.
The suicide bomber used a dumper, carrying construction material, for the attack, he said, adding that the bomber wanted to target Hotel Marriot.
He said that the Saturday suicide attack was the biggest in terms of volume and the quantity of explosives used in seven years. He informed the reporters that 600 kg of explosives were used for the attack.
Preliminary investigations showed that RDX and TNT of high intensity were used for the attack, which is used by the army, he added.
The explosion created a crater of over 18 meters wide and 16 meters deep on the road, Malik said.
He rejected the reported offer by the United States to help Pakistani investigators to probe the deadliest suicide attack in Pakistan in seven years.
"We do not need any help. We are competent, we reject it," Malik said when asked if Pakistan will seek help from the American investigators.
He said that the bomber targeted Hotel Marriot, an international chain, to attract attention of the world, adding that foreign investors and journalists stay in the hotel.
Malik did not blame any group for the attack but said that most of such attacks in the past had roots in the tribal region of Waziristan bordering Afghanistan.
"Unless we complete investigation as to who's done it, I can not blame any one but all the roads have gone to South Waziristan in the previous investigations," he said.
He confirmed 53 deaths and 266 others injured. He also added that four foreigners, including the ambassador of the Czech Republic, were killed and 11 others were injured. The injured included British and German.
Asked if the American marines were staying at the hotel when the attack happened, the advisor said that U.S. marines may have been staying there, but their stay does not justify to kill hundreds of innocent people.
"The U.S. should not be a reason for attack on other people," Malik said.
He denied reports about the arrest of any one in connection with the attack and said that no arrest had been made and investigation teams are working hard.
Malik asked the reporters not to air interviews of the militants, who he said are killing innocent people.
"Please stop glorification of the militants," he added.
He said that several foreigners had been arrested in the tribal region of Bajaur, who have links with some local people.
|7093-CZECH/PAKISTAN/FILE-BLAST REACTION PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC SEPTEMBER 21, 2008 FILE NATURAL WITH DURATION:02:23|
HEADLINE: Czech PM to fly back body of Czech envoy killed in Pakistani hotel attack.
TV AND WEB RESTRICTIONS~**PART NO ACCESS CZECH REPUBLIC**~
The Body of the Czech ambassador to Pakistan is to be flown back to the
Republic, says Czech Republic's Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek.
==EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: FULL SCRIPT TO FOLLOW==
(EU) PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC (SEPTEMBER 21, 2008) (CZCT - NO ACCESS CZECH
1. (SOUNDBITE) (Czech) CZECH PRIME MINISTER MIREK TOPOLANEK SAYING:
"His family is regularly informed. We will see after the
transportation of the body to the Czech Republic. If we succeed, which depends
more on procedures on Pakistani side, the body will probably be transported
tomorrow. If this were not so, the Czech government will send a special plane
to Islamabad. The destination is complicated. I was on my state visit in
Pakistan, in the same hotel last year, when president Musharraf and prime
minister Azziz were in the government. Since that time a lot of quakes have
happened: the attempt on Benazir Bhutto´s life, the elections. The situation
there is very destabilised. And it destabilises the whole region because the
neighbours as is India, as is Afghanistan and others answer to possible
changes. In the meantime it seems that the situation in Pakistan will not
change a lot. Nevertheless terrorist attacks, which I generally disapprove,
may destabilise the situation even more. For me it is validation of rightness
of our policy. We consider two main topics in our foreign policy as the most
important - combating of terrorism and energy safeness and these will of
course project in our EU presidency. And I think that it is alright."
(EU) ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (FILE) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
2. VARIOUS OF PARAMILITARY TROOPS OUTSIDE THE MARRIOTT HOTEL
3. AMBULANCES PARKED OUTSIDE MARRIOTT HOTEL
4. PARAMILITARY TROOPS OUTSIDE HOTEL
5. FLAMES IN HOTEL COMING OUT OF WINDOW
6. SOLDIER ON GUARD AT BLAST SITE/SOLDIER HOLDING GUN
7. MORE OF PARAMILITARY TROOPS AROUND THE HOTEL
STORY: Czech officials responded to the death of Czech ambassador to
Pakistan, Ivo Zdarek, on Sunday (September 21), who was killed in a suicide
truck bombing on the Marriott Hotel in the Pakistani capital,
Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek told reporters in Prague the envoy's
family is being regularly informed.
"We will see after the transportation of the body to the Czech
Republic. If we succeed, which depends more on procedures on the Pakistani
side, the body will probably be transported tomorrow. If this is not so, the
Czech government will send a special plane to Islamabad."
When asked about security in the region, Topolanek responded by saying:
"The destination is complicated. I was on my state visit in Pakistan, in
the same hotel last year, when President Musharraf and Prime Minister Azziz
were in the government. Since that time a lot of quakes have happened: the
attempt on Benazir Bhutto´s life, the elections. The situation there is very
The attack came six months after a civilian government took power, and
a month after it forced former army chief and firm U.S. ally Pervez Musharraf
to step down as president.
At least 53 people have been killed in Saturday's (September 20)
suicide truck bombing and 266 were wounded.
11 foreigners were among the wounded in the attack.
|Belated arrival of CDA fire engines caused greater loss|
By Fazal Sher
ISLAMABAD: Capital Development Authority’s (CDA) failure to rush its fire engines to the burning Marriott Hotel during the Saturday’s suicide bombing caused more loss of human lives and property.
Until 8:10 pm the flames had not engulfed the entire hotel building, and had the CDA fire engines reached the scene soon after the blast, the fire could have been brought under control to minimize the loss of human lives and property.
A senior official of district administration said that the belated arrival of CDA fire engines and lack of proper firefighting equipment caused more loss.
He said the authority had recently purchased Rs 600 million worth of firefighting equipment, but it could not use it to control the hotel fire and prevent its further spread to other sections.
The official said that unavailability of a fire brigade sub-station was another major reason for the late arrival of fire engines at the scene.
He said after the devastating quake in 2005, the CDA bosses had decided to establish a Disaster Management Cell (DMC) in the capital, but the decision was yet to be implemented.
He said according to CDA the DMC would consists of Emergency Preparedness Framework (EPF), vulnerability assessment, planning, institutional framework, information system, resource base, warning system, response system, public education and rehearsals.
Directorate of Municipal Administration (DMA), CDA, Director Momin Agh told Daily Times that their fire engines had reached the hotel “within minutes” of the bombing and started rescue work.
He said the firefighters had used the latest 68-meter ladder and other equipment to control fire. Since flames had taken hold of almost the entire hotel building, they took a lot of time to be brought under control, he added.
|Govt will seek FBI help if needed, says Gilani|
LAHORE: The initial investigation report of the Marriott Hotel suicide bombing will be ready soon and the government will seek the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation if the need arose, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Sunday. The prime minister said that the actual targets of the terrorists that hit the Islamabad hotel on Saturday was parliament and Prime Minister’s House. Talking to reporters at Lahore airport, he said the terrorists could not hit their intended target due to the security measures put in place. All state dignitaries including the president, prime minister, parliamentarians, heads of armed services and diplomats were present at PM House at the time of the incident, and the suicide bomber had hit the hotel only after failing to reach the desired target. The prime minister called the blast a great tragedy and said the government condemned such attacks, which were aimed at destabilising democracy, damaging the economy and weakening Pakistan, APP reported. Gilani said that Pakistan’s nuclear assets were in safe hands and no one should have any doubts about the strength of Pakistan’s command and control system.He said the people of the Tribal Areas were patriots and were not involved in terrorist activities. It was the foreign elements, including Uzbeks, Chechens and Afghans that were bent upon destabilising Pakistan, he added. staff report/app
|Pakistan bombing: 'Three of the people I found were alive, but they'd all lost parts of their bodies'|
* Saeed Shah in Islamabad
* The Guardian,
* Monday September 22 2008
This article appeared in the Guardian on Monday September 22 2008 on p3 of the Top stories section. It was last updated at 01:34 on September 22 2008.
The "face of Islamabad", the Marriott hotel, was left a charred shell yesterday, a grim testament to the war against Islamic extremists that has spilled over from Afghanistan and enveloped a bewildered Pakistan.
Pakistan's 9/11 read the headline in the News, a national daily newspaper, capturing the shock felt across the nation. The Marriott was more than just an outpost of an American chain. It was a landmark known by all in the city. Its plush restaurants and cafes were the capital's political salon, awash with intelligence agents hoping to snoop on conversations. It was where businessmen, diplomats and foreign dignitaries met. Security was believed to be so tight that it was one of only two places in Islamabad where western diplomats were allowed to dine.
The death toll stood at 53 last night, including four foreigners - two American soldiers who worked at the American embassy, the newly arrived Czech ambassador and his Vietnamese girlfriend. Among the 266 injured were five Britons, two of whom were still in hospital and had been hurt by flying glass at a bakery about half a mile away. Their condition was not critical. Three of the Britons worked at the high commission.
The bombing, on Saturday evening, was the biggest such blast ever in Pakistan. The device was carried on a truck packed with 600kg of RDX and TNT explosives.
All of the 290 rooms seemed to have been gutted by the fire - yesterday only a concrete skeleton with a distinctive zig-zag spine remained. At least eight bodies were removed from the upper floors. The temperature had reached 400C, investigators said, which made the hotel's sprinkler system and the fire service useless. The bombers had packed aluminium powder around the explosives to accelerate the fire.
The truck bomb left a crater 59ft across and 24ft deep, cutting off the hotel entrance and hampering the rescue effort. The hotel lobby was a mess of glass and bricks. Exotic fish lay dead on the bottom of a huge aquarium whose glass front had been blasted away.
Rescuers had been at work for 24 hours. One, Abdul Shakoor, said he started picking up the dead and injured from the road outside on Saturday, and by yesterday he was removing bodies found inside the hotel rooms.
"Three of those that I put in ambulances [on Saturday night] were still alive, they all lost parts of their legs from different places," said Shakoor.
CCTV footage released yesterday showed pandemonium at the hotel gates after a dumper truck rammed into the retractable metal barrier there. It also showed several vital minutes that could have been used to evacuate the hotel were wasted as security guards advanced and retreated from the vehicle, confused. There was a small blast inside the truck and it caught fire as the bomber within apparently detonated his suicide vest. A security guard could be seen spraying a fire extinguisher pointlessly against a growing fire ball. Finally, the fire caused the explosive payload to go off, but the video footage stops just before the blast.
Had the truck made it past the gates, the carnage would have been multiplied many times over.
Denying a major lapse of security, Rehman Malik, the interior ministry chief, rejected foreign offers of help with the investigation.
"We do get information about threats, all the time, but they are sketchy," he said. "Our agencies are fully competent and they will prove that."
Malik said that past terrorists acts had come from Pakistan's lawless border area with Afghanistan, known as the Federally Administered Tribal Area (Fata), and that would be the focus of the investigation.
"In previous attacks, all roads led to Fata," he said. "We have two options: either we fight against the Taliban or we hand the country over to them."
Sadruddin Hashwani, the millionaire holder of the Marriott franchise in Pakistan, vowed to rebuild the hotel in four months, a target that seemed ambitious. He also complained that the police and security should have pounced on the truck before it got to the hotel.
"The footprints seem to be Taliban and al-Qaida," said Talat Masood, a retired general turned security analyst. "The militants are saying that we are so powerful we can attack anywhere at any time, and we will continue to so unless you halt your military operations."
The Pakistan army is fighting home-grown extremists in the tribal areas and Swat, a valley in the north-west.
|Fate of Iran-Pak-India gas pipeline project hangs in balance|
UPDATED: 13:09, March 20, 2005
The fate of the 4 billion US dollars trans-Pakistan gas pipeline, to energize India's power hungry industrial sector with Iranian gas, seems to hang in balance after increasing US pressure on the participating countries to abandon the project.
US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice in her talks with the Pakistani and Indian leaders during her visit early this week to the Asian countries did not mince words about the US concerns over the gas pipeline project.
"We've voiced our concerns to the Indian Government about the gas pipeline with Iran. It's not only with India. We've similarly talked to Japan about a gas project that they would have because the United States has sanctions on Iran for good reasons," Rice said.
Under a US law or the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996, George Bush can penalize any foreign firm that invests more than 20 million dollars in the energy sectors of either country.
The Untied States has been exerting increasing pressure on Iran to abandon its nuclear program, which it says was intended to build weapons rather for peaceful uses.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz who had been touting the project as a peace-pipeline put the issue on the top of his agenda during a recent visit to Iran.
After his talks with the Iranian leadership, it was announced that petroleum ministers of Pakistan, Iran and India would meet in Islamabad in the third week of March to discuss "feasibility and technical" details, but the proposed meeting has now been postponed.
While there has been no cogent reason for the postponement of the meeting, both Pakistan and India deny any pressure to give up the project.
"We have traditional good relations with Iran. We expect Iran will fulfill all of its obligations with regard to the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty)," Indian External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh said after meeting Rice in New Delhi.
Pakistani Prime Minister Aziz also denied any pressure on Islamabad to dump the deal. "We have no pressure," he said recently when asked about any such demands from the United States. He rather hoped the final decision would be made by the end of the year.
But political analysts believed Washington would continue to mount pressure on Pakistan and India against the project.
"I think the Americans are tightening the noose and trying to make sure that Iran is not helped by India or Pakistan in any way, because they know the Iranians are desperate to get projects like the gas pipeline through," Pakistani political commentator and newspaper editor Najam Sethi said.
Iran contains an estimated 286.6 trillion cubic meter in proven natural gas reserves -- the world's second largest and surpassed only by those found in Russia.
Indian Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar was the first to disclose the increasing US pressure on India after a meeting with the US envoy in New Delhi, David Mulford, ahead of Rice's visit.
"All of us have noted what the US concerns are but I think they too are aware of our energy security requirements," Aiyar said.
The Iranians, already weary of Washington's negative approach towards it, have reacted angrily to the US intervention in the deal.
"If they (the Americans) can not help in increase of regional cooperation and stability, they should at least avoid creating difficulties. India, Iran and Pakistan are independent countries and take their own decisions," said a statement issued after the Singh-Mulford meeting.
The 2,775 km pipeline proposed in 1996 never took off mainly owing to shaky relations between the two rivals India and Pakistan.
India initially showed reluctance over the passage of gas line through Pakistan, citing security reasons and tying the project with the string of conditions that include the Most Favored Nation status from Pakistan.
But it finally indicated its willingness to join unconditionally after Pakistan vowed to go ahead alone. The pipeline if constructed could be operational by 2009.
Pakistan is eager for the project because it would have access to the gas and earn an estimated 600 million dollars a year in transit fees.
However apart from the US pressure, the project faces other security risks.
The recent spate of attacks on Pakistan's natural gas installations and pipelines in southwestern Balochistan province by insurgents remains a serious threat.
But the Pakistani leadership has time and again reiterated to take all measures to safeguard its national assets. "We have assured India a secure energy corridor. This is a win-win proposition for Iran, India and Pakistan," Prime Minister Aziz said.
|Monday, September 22, 2008 |
Iran asks Pakistan to ensure IPI pipeline security
* India wants entry point at Indo-Pak border, Pakistan wants it at Pak-Iran border
By Zafar Bhutta
ISLAMABAD: Following India’s lead, Tehran has expressed serious concerns over the security situation in Pakistan and asked Islamabad to make security a part of the billion dollar Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project, sources in the Petroleum Ministry told Daily Times on Sunday.
The sources said that along with the other demands regarding the IPI project, Iran had demanded from Pakistan to include a provision on security in the Gas Sales Purchase Agreement (GSPA) for the gas pipeline project. They said that with such a provision in the IPI gas pipeline project, Tehran would be able to suspend gas supply to Pakistan in case of ‘a security incident’ in the country.
The sources claimed that Pakistan had earlier assured Iran in writing it would provide security to the IPI pipeline. However, the Iranian government had now raised a fresh demand for security.
They said that a 900-kilometre long pipeline would be laid in Pakistan to transmit gas imported from Iran to the Indian border. They said that a 787-kilometre long pipeline would be laid in Balochistan, while a 113-kilometre pipeline would pass through Nawabshah district in Sindh to the Indian border.
Entry point: The sources said India wanted the entry point of the gas supply on the Indo-Pak border, but Pakistan insisted on the supply of gas on the Pak-Iran border. They said Iran had also backed the Pakistani government’s stance on the entry point of gas to India.
India has also asked Pakistan to link the revision of gas prices with changes in gas prices in international markets, the sources said. Earlier, Iran had agreed in the GSPA draft to link the gas price with the Japan Crude Cocktail, which gets revised after four years.
They said no progress had been made on determining the gas transit fee during negotiations with India. They said that there was a proposal that Tehran being the gas supplier should also determine the transit fee. They said India wanted the gas pipeline to operate like the proposed Turkey-Austria Nabucco gas pipeline that is exempted from gas transit fee. The sources added that Nabucco was still a proposal and various countries were paying $2 to $3 per MMBTU gas transit fee on the gas transmission.
|In hotel bombing's wake, Pakistani president faces pressure on how to respond|
By Salman Masood
Published: September 22, 2008
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Pakistan continued to reel from the deadly truck bomb blast at the Marriott Hotel here on Saturday, as the government described the bombing as an attack on democracy.
"Our enemies don't want to see democracy flourishing in the country," Rehman Malik, a senior Interior Ministry official, said at a news conference here on Sunday, adding that the attack was meant to sabotage Pakistan's integrity and economy.
The bombing, the most brazen yet in an apparent campaign by militants to destabilize Pakistan, came at a critical moment for the new president, Asif Ali Zardari. While he has pledged to continue fighting militants — now thriving in the tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan — it was unclear whether he would face a political backlash making it more difficult to keep that promise.
There has always been a strong feeling in Pakistani society that using force against militants would cause them to retaliate against civilians. Although there has been no claim of responsibility for the hotel bombing, some Pakistanis say they believe it was in retribution for the military's current campaign in Bajaur, in the tribal areas.
Zardari also faces pressure to avoid doing the bidding of the Bush administration, because Pakistanis are largely opposed to American policies in the region. That sentiment grew after reports that American Special Operations forces had entered Pakistan earlier this month. Zardari headed on Sunday to New York, where he will meet with President George W. Bush this week on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
In the wake of the bombing, politicians and the military said they were determined to press the fight in the tribal areas.
"There should be no let-up now in fighting those who do not believe in negotiations and are bent upon causing destruction," said Amir Haider Khan Hoti, the chief minister of the North-West Frontier Province.
Current and former Bush administration officials, who have expressed concern in the past that Pakistan was not doing enough to fight the militants, said on Sunday that they were confident that Zardari's government would continue or even increase its counterterrorism campaign, despite the threat of more attacks against civilian targets like the Marriott Hotel.
"The terrorist groups are ratcheting up the pressure against the Pakistani politicians, but you won't see the Pakistani government back down because of these attacks," said Xenia Dormandy, who directed South Asia affairs at the National Security Council until 2005.
Meanwhile, the death toll in the hotel blast rose to 53, with at least 266 people wounded, officials said on Sunday. Two Americans were among the dead.
Malik, the Interior Ministry official, said Pakistani officials suspected that militants from the tribal areas were responsible.
"All roads lead to FATA," Malik said, referring to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
He said that more than 1,300 pounds of explosives were used, adding that the blast created a crater about 60 feet wide and 25 feet deep.
He also released a videotape showing a six-wheel dump truck stopped by security guards at a barrier in front of the hotel's main entrance. A few gunshots were heard, and after a small explosion the front part of the truck caught fire. It burned for about three minutes as three to four security guards were seen running away and then returning as one guard tried to put out the fire with an extinguisher.
Malik said investigators were still trying to conclude whether the attacker was killed by gunfire from the security guards or explosives detonating inside the truck cabin or whether he got out of the truck and then detonated an explosive device.
Rescue workers pulled five bodies out of the hotel wreckage on Sunday, as excavators used a crane to clear the debris. Officials had believed, at first, that many people were trapped inside the burning hotel and had feared a much higher death toll.
Malik said the investigation into the attack would be conducted only by Pakistani authorities.
"We don't need any help; we reject it," he said when asked about an offer from the United States to send FBI agents.
Pakistani officials said at least 106 people, including 11 foreigners, had been admitted to hospitals in Islamabad. Those foreigners included four Americans, four Saudis, a Briton, an Afghan and a Lebanese. One Vietnamese person and the Czech ambassador to Pakistan were among the dead.
On Sunday afternoon, distraught relatives milled about anxiously outside one hospital, the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences.
Dr. Samia Ali, 33, said she had been visiting Islamabad to attend her sister's wedding and came to the hospital to volunteer. She said most of the patients she had seen had severe burns, head injuries and cuts.
Luqman Khan, 25, was lying on a bed in a surgical ward of the institute on Sunday. He was operated on for a head injury on Saturday night. Khan said he had worked at a government building across the road from the Marriott.
"A truck filled with bricks was aflame near the entrance," he said. "People were shouting, 'Get away! Run away!' After a few minutes, there was a big explosion. I fell unconscious."
On Sunday the police had cordoned off the blast site, and dozens of people stood by in a somber mood.
Shahid Kamal, 42, a freelance editor, said he was sick of the wave of violence that had engulfed Pakistan, especially in the tribal areas.
"This is a reaction of what is going on in FATA," he said. "We have been implementing a reckless and careless policy for a number of years. What's happening in FATA is that Pakistanis are killing Pakistanis."
Muhammad Qadeer, 36, a security guard, said perhaps the Indians could be involved.
"It can be the work of America also," Qadeer said. "Maybe our new president didn't agree to its dictations."
|Pakistan leaders escaped Marriott bomb at last minute|
Pakistan's president and prime minister were scheduled to eat at the Islamabad Marriott the night it was bombed, but changed plans at the last minute, a top official has said.
President Asif Ali Zardari (right) and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani (left) had both intended to be at the Marriott hotel Photo: EPA
A suicide bomber rammed a truck packed with over half a tonne of explosives into the outer security gates of the luxury hotel on Saturday night, killing at least 53 people and wounding more than 260.
"The national assembly speaker had arranged a dinner for the entire leadership, for the president, prime minister and armed services chiefs at the Marriott that day," interior ministry chief Rehman Malik told reporters.
"The president and the prime minister changed the venue to the prime minister's house. The function was not held at the Marriott, thus the whole leadership was saved," Mr Malik added.
President Asif Ali Zardari only took office earlier this month after forcing out his predecessor Pervez Musharraf, who was himself subjected to several assassination attempts.
Mr Zardari's wife Benazir Bhutto was killed in a bombing last December that some of her supporters blamed on elements close to the country's secret service.
The car of prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani was shot at in early September on a road near Rawalpindi.
Speculation has mounted over how the highly powerful RDX and TNT explosives were procured. Some analysts pointed to the disappearance last month of a truck of explosives manufactured at the military munitions factory at Wah.
Investigators are trying to track down an Islamabad-based al-Qaeda cell believed to have carried out the devastating bombing of the Marriott Hotel, according to security officials.
Amir Mir, a Pakistani terrorism expert, said that suspicion had fallen on a leading jihadi, Qari Saifullah Akhtar, who has strong links to the Afghan Taliban and Pakistan's military intelligence establishment.
The hunt came as British Airways announced that it was suspending all flights to the beleaguered country amid security fears sparked by Saturday's attack.
Investigators said they believed the attackers constructed the massive truck bomb at a safe house in the capital, since all lorries entering the heavily-guarded city are searched at checkpoints.
Pakistan's army is in the midst of an offensive against militants in the Bajaur region on the Afghan border, while the United States has intensified attacks on militants on the Pakistani side of the border, infuriating the Pakistani army.
A security official said troops had fired at two US helicopters that intruded into Pakistani air space on Sunday night, forcing them back to Afghanistan.
Elsewhere, troops were attacking militant hideouts, a military spokesman said.
"Our security forces are engaging militants with artillery fire and targeting their hideouts," said the spokesman, Major Murad Khan.
Tensions flared in other areas of the country, as Pakistani and Indian troops exchanged fire across a de facto border dividing the disputed Kashmir region, wounding a Pakistani woman, police and security officials said.
The exchange was the latest in a spate of recent small clashes along the border, known as Line of Control, after a period of calm since a ceasefire in late 2003 and a peace process between the nuclear-armed rivals was launched in 2004.
"It was a brief exchange. Maybe a few rounds but unfortunately, a woman received a bullet in her leg," a security official, who asked not to be identified, said of the exchange in the Madarpur sector in the south of Kashmir.
Unidentified gunmen also kidnapped an Afghan diplomat after shooting dead his driver in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar, police said.
|Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD): Wah Cantonment|
The Wah Cantonment Ordnance Complex consists of three nearby armament facilities in Wah (Pakistan Ordnance Factories - POF), Kamra (Air Weapon Complex - AWC), and Taxilia (Heavy Industries Taxila -HIT). One or more of these facilities is probably associated with the weaponization of Pakistan's nuclear devices. According to some reports, the main storage and maintenance site of the Pakistani nuclear weapons, particularly the weapons at a 'screwdriver level', is located at the 'ordnance complex' in Wah. The Taxilia facility is devoted to land combat systems, and is an unlikely candidate for nuclear weapons development work. The Air Weapon Complex at Kamra is devoted to air-to-surface munitions, among other activities, and would probably have at least some connection with the development of air-delivered nuclear weapons.
|Pakistan hotel bombing kills at least 60|
by Masroor Gilani Sat Sep 20, 5:52 PM ET
ISLAMABAD (AFP) - A suicide bomber detonated a truck packed with explosives at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on Saturday, killing at least 60 people in a brazen attack in the heart of the Pakistan capital.
Around 200 people were wounded, some critically, and there were fears more dead would be found in the fiery wreckage of the hotel, a popular gathering place for politicians, foreigners and the Pakistan elite.
Officials said they were worried the building, engulfed in flame after the blast ruptured a gas pipeline, would collapse. A security official said many people leapt to their deaths from upper floors rather than be burnt alive.
The bombing came shortly after new President Asif Ali Zardari, who faces a struggle to rein in Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants, delivered his inaugural address to parliament only a few hundred metres away.
It was one of the deadliest attacks in an increasingly bloody campaign by militants in Pakistan, a vital ally in the US-led "war on terror," and presented Zardari with a major challenge just days after he took office.
"Terrorism is a cancer in Pakistan, we are determined, God willing, we will rid the country of this cancer," Zardari said in a televised address to the nation. "We will not be deterred by these cowards," he said.
"Pakistanis are brave and fearless people. They are not afraid of death."
The attack appeared to be timed to cause the maximum number of casualties, coming as the hotel was thronged with families holding their evening meal to break the daily Ramadan fast.
Eyewitness Mohammad Jamil said the truck exploded just outside the heavily-secured hotel's gates. He said the force of the blast sent the truck flying into the air, and knocked him over onto the street.
"For a few seconds I was in shock and did not know what had happened. Then I remembered the deafening noise," Jalil said.
The blast, so powerful it was heard for miles, blew an enormous crater in the ground and destroyed the outside wall of the compound. Buildings several kilometres away had windows blown out from the impact.
Before officials pushed back the media over fears the devastated structure would collapse, an AFP photographer saw mutilated bodies amid the carnage.
Another witness, Dirome Anthony, told the BBC that there was a moment of quiet after the blast before debris started falling from the sky. He said a human hand landed near his car.
The government ordered in the army to try to clear away the debris. But senior police officer Saqib Sultan said rescuers were unable to search for victims deep inside the building which was still burning early Sunday.
"The death toll is 60 and it may go up," said a senior security official who declined to be named.
Hospital officials said a US national was among the dead. The security official said women, children and an unknown number of foreigners had died.
The government had received word two days ago of a possible attack near the parliamentary offices, interior ministry official Rehman Malik said.
IntelCenter, a US organisation that tracks militants, said an Al-Qaeda leader who claimed responsibility for a previous bombing in Pakistan threatened new attacks in a video this month to mark the anniversary of September 11.
The Marriott was attacked previously in 2004 and 2007. But while nearly 1,300 people have been killed this year alone in a wave of militant violence across Pakistan, attacks in Islamabad have been relatively rare.
But as Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants have tried to establish a safe-haven in the tribal areas, attacks have spread to the capital more often.
US President George W. Bush condemned the attack, which he said "is a reminder of the ongoing threat faced by Pakistan, the United States, and all those who stand against violent extremism."
In Britain, Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the "disgraceful" bombing had strengthened the resolve to fight militancy.
Although a close anti-terror US ally since 9/11, critics have repeatedly insisted that elements of Pakistan's powerful intelligence service give clandestine backing to Islamist militants.
Zardari will meet US President George W. Bush in the United States next week for the first time since he took the oath of office on September 9.
The Bush administration has accused Taliban Islamic militants and Al-Qaeda followers of using the unruly border areas as bases from which to direct a growing deadly insurgency in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Meanwhile strains have emerged between Islamabad and Washington over strikes by US forces on Pakistani tribal areas, carried out by US forces operating in Afghanistan.
|Casualties of another war|
The Marriott bombing is terrible revenge for the Afghan campaign that has gone so badly wrong
o Tariq Ali
o The Guardian,
o Tuesday September 23 2008
The deadly blast in Islamabad was a revenge attack for what has been going on over the past few weeks in the badlands of the North-West Frontier. It highlighted the crisis confronting the new government in the wake of intensified US strikes in the tribal areas on the Afghan border.
Hellfire missiles, drones, special operation raids inside Pakistan and the resulting deaths of innocents have fuelled Pashtun nationalism. It is this spillage from the war in Afghanistan that is now destabilising Pakistan.
The de facto prime minister of the country, an unelected crony of President Zardari and now his chief adviser, Rehman Malik, said, "our enemies don't want to see democracy flourishing in the country". This was rich coming from him, but in reality it has little to do with all that. It is the consequence of a supposedly "good war" in Afghanistan that has now gone badly wrong. The director of US National Intelligence, Michael McConnell, admits as much, saying the Afghan leadership must deal with the "endemic corruption and pervasive poppy cultivation and drug trafficking" that is to blame for the rise of the neo-Taliban.
The majority of Pakistanis are opposed to the US presence in the region, viewing it as the most serious threat to peace. Why, then, has the US decided to destabilise a crucial ally? Within Pakistan, some analysts argue this is a carefully coordinated move to weaken the Pakistani state by creating a crisis that extends way beyond the frontier with Afghanistan. Its ultimate aim, they claim, would be the extraction of the Pakistani military's nuclear fangs. If this were the case, it would imply Washington was determined to break up Pakistan, since the country would not survive a disaster on that scale.
In my view, however, the expansion of the war relates far more to the Bush administration's disastrous occupation in Afghanistan. It is hardly a secret that President Karzai's regime is becoming more isolated each passing day, as Taliban guerrillas move ever closer to Kabul.
When in doubt, escalate the war, is an old imperial motto. The strikes against Pakistan represent - like the decisions of President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, to bomb and then invade Cambodia - a desperate bid to salvage a war that was never good, but has now gone badly wrong.
It is true that those resisting the Nato occupation cross the Pakistan-Afghan border with ease. However, the US has often engaged in quiet negotiations with them. Several feelers have been put out to the Taliban in Pakistan, while US intelligence experts regularly check into the Serena hotel in Swat to meet Maulana Fazlullah, a local pro-Taliban leader.
Pashtuns in Peshawar, hitherto regarded as secular liberals, told the BBC only last week that they had lost all faith in the west. The decision to violate the country's sovereignty at will had sent them in the direction of the insurgents.
While there is much grieving for the Marriott hotel casualties, some ask why the lives of those killed by Predator drones or missile attacks are considered to be of less value. In recent weeks almost 100 innocent people have died in this fashion. No outrage and global media coverage for them.
Why was the Marriot targeted? Two explanations have surfaced in the media. The first is that there was a planned dinner for the president and his cabinet there that night, which was cancelled at the last moment.
The second, reported in the respected Pakistani English-language newspaper, Dawn, is that "a top secret operation of the US Marines [was] going on inside the Marriott when it was attacked". According to the paper: "Well-equipped security officers from the US embassy were seen on the spot soon after the explosions. However, they left the scene shortly afterwards."
The country's largest newspaper, the News, also reported on Sunday that witnesses had seen US embassy steel boxes being carried into the Marriott at night on September 17. According to the paper, the steel boxes were permitted to circumvent security scanners stationed at the hotel entrance.
Mumtaz Alam, a member of parliament, witnessed this. He wanted to leave the hotel but, owing to the heavy security, he was not permitted to leave at the time and is threatening to raise the issue in parliament.
These may be the motivations for this particular attack, but behind it all is the shadow of an expanding war.
· Tariq Ali's latest book is The Duel: Pakistan On the Flight Path of American Power
|Khobar Towers Bombing Incident|
On June 25, 1996, a truck laden with explosives ignited in front of the Khobar Towers apartment building in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The resulting explosion killed 19 American servicemen and wounded hundreds more. It was the second terrorist attack in that country within a year.
In the early 1990s, a fundamentalist Islamist movement was gaining fervor in Saudi Arabia, and its leaders were enraged over the expansion of American and Western influence in that country. Much of their anger was directed at United States military personnel who had established a presence in Saudi Arabia following the 1991 Persian Gulf War. In November 1995, a group of radical Sunni Muslims expressed their rage by setting off a bomb at a Saudi Arabian National Guard facility in the capital city of Riyadh, killing five Americans. The Saudi government in May of the next year executed four of the men involved in the bombing. Following the attack, U.S. intelligence officials uncovered additional threats against American military personnel in Saudi Arabia, but no specific information that would lead them to believe another attack was imminent.
In 1996 more than 3,000 U.S. service personnel were living in the Khobar Towers apartment complex in the port city of Dhahran. On the night of June 25, guards on the roof of the complex were alerted when they noticed two men running from a truck parked near one of the buildings. They acted quickly, but could do nothing to stop the massive explosion that followed. The truck, which was loaded with at least 5,000 pounds of plastic explosives, (larger than the bomb that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City the previous year) set off an explosion that tore off the northeast side of Building 131, killing 19 Americans and wounding approximately 500 Americans and Saudis.
After the attack, President William J. Clinton announced a "declaration on terrorism," and called upon other world leaders to join in the fight against international terrorists. The Secretary of Defense appointed a task force to investigate the incident, and began implementing measures to protect against future attacks.
The investigation. Soon after the attack, a local wing of the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah claimed responsibility. Terrorism experts extrapolated that Iran also played a role in the bombing, in part because it backs the Hezbollah. Iranian officials denied playing a role in the attack, and claimed that the terrorists were not in their country. Saudi officials asserted that the bombing was the work of Saudi dissidents who were aided by Iran. Although the Saudis rounded up several suspects, they were reluctant to share information with the CIA and FBI, and were unwilling to provide the Americans with access to the detainees. In March 1997, a Saudi citizen named Hani Abdel Rahim Hussein Al-Sayegh was arrested in Canada. American authorities later claimed he gave the signal for the bombing.
Following a nearly five-year investigation, on June 21, 2001, a federal grand jury in Virginia indicted thirteen Saudis and a Lebanese man on charges of murder and conspiracy in the Khobar Towers bombing. Nine of the men were charged with forty-six criminal counts, ranging from conspiracy to kill Americans and employees of the United States, to bombing and murder. The other five men were charged with five counts each. According to the indictment, all fourteen men were members of Hezbollah, working on orders from Iranian government officials to disrupt the American military presence in Saudi Arabia. According to the Saudi government, many of the named individuals were already in custody at the time of the indictment.
Ferguson, Amanda, and Nancy L. Stair. The Attack on U.S. Servicemen at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia on June 25, 1996. New York: Rosen Publishing Group, 2003.
|UPDATE 2-Little-known Islamic group claims Pakistan attack|
DUBAI, Sept 22 (Reuters) - A little known Islamic group claimed responsibility for Saturday's suicide attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad which killed 53, Al Arabiya television reported on Monday.
The group calling itself Fedayeen Islam (Partisans of Islam) demanded the closure of U.S. and NATO military bases in the region and the U.S. embassy in Pakistan, and an end to U.S. attacks against tribal areas in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
"If these demands are not met, we are ready to die," said a spokesman for the group on an audio tape aired by Arabiya. The Dubai-based television station said the English-language recording had been played over the phone to its correspondent in the Pakistani capital.
The speaker said the group had targeted 250 U.S. Marines and NATO officials which he said had been at the hotel, and warned of new attacks, urging Muslims to keep away from places frequented by Westerners.
Arabiya said the authenticity of the tape could not be verified, and the group is not known to have claimed other attacks.
The Czech ambassador and at least three other foreigners were among the 53 people killed in the blast, Islamabad's worst bomb attack. The truck bombing wounded 266 people and security officials said it bore the hallmarks of al Qaeda.
"The purpose of this (attack) was to kick the American crusaders of out Pakistan and to stop them from interfering in government, military, media, security, religious and other important institutions of Pakistan," said the speaker whose voice was distorted to make it unrecognisable.
The group also demanded an end to U.S.-Pakistani military cooperation and the release of militants it said were being held in U.S. "secrets prisons", including Sept. 11 mastermind Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, and Afifa Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman on trial in the United States for suspected links to al Qaeda. (Reporting by Firouz Sedarat; Editing by Matthew Jones)
|Cornered in Afghanistan,the US organise a terrorist attack in Pakistan|
Posted by inthesenewtimes on September 23, 2008
Acculée en Afghanistan, l’OTAN organise un attentat au Pakistan
22nd September, 2008
Translation at foot of each paragraph
Le slogan comparant l’attentat d’Islamabad et le 11-Septembre est plus réaliste qu’il n’y paraît. Ce carnage non-revendiqué sert en effet exclusivement les intérêts de l’OTAN : l’Alliance atlantique doit prendre le contrôle de toute urgence de la passe pakistanaise de Khybar pour approvisionner ses troupes en Afghanistan. Dans le cas où l’Alliance ne parviendrait qu’à rétablir partiellement sa logistique, Washington envisage de sacrifier les troupes alliées.
[The slogan comparing the Islamabad bombing to the September 11th attacks is more realistic than might appear. This unclaimed attack serves exclusively the interests of NATO: the Atlantic allinace must, as a matter of urgency, take control of thre Khyber Pass in order to supply their troops. If the Alliance can't solve its logistical problems, Washington plans to sacrifice allied troops]
Un attentat d’une violence sans précédent dans le pays a ravagé l’hôtel Marriott d’Islamabad, le 21 septembre 2008. Un camion piégé, contenant une puissance explosive estimée à au moins 600 kg de TNT et diverses munitions, a creusé un vaste cratère, tué plus de 60 personnes et blessé plus de 226 autres. Commentant l’événement à la télévision, le rédacteur en chef du Daily Times a déclaré : « C’est le 11-Septembre du Pakistan ». Ce cri a été repris par l’ensemble des agences de presse occidentales. Bien qu’il n’ait pas été revendiqué, l’attentat a été attribué par les autorités à la mouvance Al-Qaida. En réaction, le président Zardari a annoncé qu’il ne renoncerait pas et intensifierait sa lutte contre le terrorisme.
[A bombing of unprecedented force wrecked the Marriot Hotel in Islamabad on the 21st September, 2008. A lorry bomb contaiming an estimated 600 kg of TNT and various munitions blew a vast crater, killing more than 60 people and wounding 226 others. Commenting on the event on TV, the editor of the Daily Times declared: "This is the 9/11 of Pakistan" This cry has been taken up by the Western press in its entirety. Even though responsibility has not been claimed, the bombing has been atributed to Al-Queda. As a response President Zardari has announced the intensification of the fight against terrorism.]
Replacés dans leur contexte, ces événements n’ont malheureusement rien de surprenant.
[Placed in their context there is nothing really surprising about these events.]
Dans la foulée de l’effondrement de l’Union soviétique et de l’indépendance des États d’Asie centrale, les grandes compagnies pétrolières occidentales ont multiplié les plans pour exploiter les hydrocarbures du Bassin caspien. La firme californienne UNOCAL a porté deux vastes projets. Le premier (dit BTC) devait relier la Caspienne à la Mer noire en passant par l’Azerbaïdjan, la Géorgie et la Turquie, notamment avec l’aide du britannique BP ; le second devait relier la Caspienne à l’Océan indien via le Turkmenistan, l’Afghanistan et le Pakistan, principalement avec l’aide du saoudien Delta Oil.
[With he collapse of the Soviet Union and the independence of the Central Asian states, the Western oil companies stepped up their plans to exploit the reserves of the Caspian Basin. UNOCAL planned two vast projects. The first(the BTC) was to link the Caspian to the Black Sea passing throuygh Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, with, notably the aid of BP; the second was to link the Caspian to the Indian Ocean via Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, mainly with the help of Delta Oil.]
Si le BTC a été construit sans grande difficultés, il n’en fut pas de même pour le pipe-line trans-afghan. UNOCAL se heurta au chaos régnant dans le pays et se rapprocha de la Maison-Blanche pour obtenir la stabilisation de cette région. La firme engagea Henry Kissinger comme consultant, et confia la direction du projet aux ambassadeurs John J. Maresca, Robert B. Oakley et à deux experts Zalmay Khalilzad et Hamid Karzaï. Washington acheta l’aide des talibans, qui contrôlaient la majeure partie du pays. Pour ce faire, le département d’État leur accorda une subvention de 43 millions de dollars en mai 2001. Avec l’accord du G8 (sommet de Gênes, 20-22 juillet 2001), des négociations multilatérales furent alors ouvertes à Berlin avec l’Émirat islamique bien que celui-ci ne soit pas reconnu par la communauté internationale. Cependant, les talibans émirent de nouvelles exigences et elles échouèrent.
[If the BTC was built without great difficulty, the same couldn't be said about the trans- Afghan pipeline. UNOCAL came up against the chaos reigning in the country and approached the White House to lobby for the stabilisation of the the region. The firm engaged Kissinger as a consultant and confided the management of the project to ambassadors John Maresca, Robert Oakley and two experts; Zalmay Khalilzad and Hamid Karzai. Washington bought the cooperation of the Taliban who controlled most of the country. To do this the State Department gave them a grant of 43 million dollars in May 2001. With the agreement of the G8 multilateral negotiations were opened in Berlin with the Islamic Emirate even though this latter was not recognised by the international community. but the negotiations failed as the Taliban made new demands.]
Les États-Unis et le Royaume-Uni planifièrent alors une invasion de l’Afghanistan. Fin août 2001, ils concentrèrent leurs forces navales en mer d’Oman et acheminèrent 40 000 hommes en Égypte. Le 9 septembre 2001, le leader tadjik pro-russe Shah Massoud fut assassiné, mais la nouvelle fut gardée secrète. Le 11 septembre 2001, le président Bush accusa les talibans d’être impliqués dans les attentats qui venaient de survenir à New York et Washington et leur adressa un ultimatum. Puis, les Anglo-Saxons renversèrent les talibans et prirent le contrôle du pays lors de l’opération « Liberté immuable » [7 ans plus tard, le pipe-line n’est toujours pas construit et le pays est toujours en proie au chaos. UNOCAL a été absorbé par Chevron avec la bénédiction de Condoleezza Rice ; John J. Maresca est devenu le patron du Business Humanitarian Forum qui s’occupe activement de la culture du pavot en Afghanistan à des fins médicinales (sic) ; Robert B. Oakley est chargé de proposer un plan de réorganisation des institutions militaires ; Zalmay Khalilzad est devenu ambassadeur des États-Unis à l’ONU ; Hamid Karzaï a fait usage de sa double nationalité pour devenir président de l’Afghanistan transformée en narco-État.
[The US and Britain then planned the invasion of Afghanistan. At the end of August 2001 they concentrated their naval forces in The Sea of Oman and deployed 40,000 men in Egypt. On 9th September 2001, the pro-Russian Tajik leader Shah Massoud was assasinated, but the news was kept secret. On 11th September, Bush accused the Taliban of involvement in the attacks on the WTC and gave them an ultimatum. The Anglo-saxons then took control of the country. Seven years later the pipeline still isn't built and the country is still in chaos. UNOCAL has been taken over by Chevron with the blessing of Condoleeza Rice; John Maresca has become the owner of the Business Humanitarian Forum which is actively engaged in the cultivation of opium for medical purposes(sic); Robert Oakley is in charge of military reorganisation; Khalilzad is the US ambassador ; Karzai has used his dual nationality to become presiden of an Afghanistan transformed into a narco-state.]
Le Pentagone, absorbé par le bourbier irakien, a largement délégué l’occupation militaire de l’Afghanistan à ses alliés de l’OTAN. Pour approvisionner ses troupes, l’Alliance atlantique a signé un protocole avec l’Organisation du Traité de sécurité collective (sommet de Bucarest, 4 avril 2008). La logistique est acheminée via la Russie, l’Ouzbékistan et le Tadjikistan. Commentant cette étrange facilitée accordée à l’OTAN, le ministre russe des Affaires étrangères Serguei Lavrov a rappelé l’importance de la coopération internationale contre le terrorisme ; plus direct, l’ambassadeur Zamil Kabulov a déclaré à Vremya Novostei que l’intérêt de Moscou était de voir les Occidentaux s’embourber et mourir en Afghanistan.
[The Pentagon, absorbed in the Iraqi inferno, has largely delegated the military occupation of Afghanistan to NATO. In order to supply its troops NATO signed a protocol with the CSTO. The supply lines run via Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikstan. Commenting on this strange arrangement Lavrov has stressed the importance of fighting terrorism; less diplomatically ambassador Zamil Kabulov told Vremya Novostei that it was in the interest of Russia to see the West come to grief in Afghanistan]
Or le 8 août 2008, les États-Unis et Israël ont lancé les troupes géorgiennes à l’attaque des populations russes d’Ossétie du Sud. En riposte, l’armée russe a bombardé les deux aéroports militaires israéliens en Géorgie et le pipe-line BTC. Puis, le président Medvedev a réunit l’Organisation du Traité de sécurité collective qui a abrogé le protocole le liant à l’OTAN. Enfin, les médias publics russes ont soudain remis en cause le lien supposé entre les attentats du 11 septembre 2001 et la colonisation de l’Afghanistan par l’OTAN.
[Now, on 8th August the USA and Israel launched an assault by Georgian troops against South Ossetia. In reply, Russia bombed two Israeli military airports in Georgia as well as the BTC pipeline. Then Medvedev called a meeting of the CSTO which abrogated the treaty linking it to NATO. Finally, Russia's national media suddenly began to question the supposed link between 9/11 and Afghanistan]
Ce retournement est d’autant plus grave pour l’OTAN qu’elle essuie défaite sur défaite. 54 % du territoire afghan est aux mains des insurgés. Pour leur faire face, le général David McKiernan exige l’envoi de trois brigades supplémentaires (soit 15 000 hommes, qui devraient être prélevés sur le contingent irakien). Mais il n’est évidemment plus question d’envoyer des renforts alors que les 47 600 hommes déjà présents ne sont plus approvisionnés et sont donc en très grand danger.
[This reverse is all the more serious for NATO in that it is suffering defeat after defeat. 54% of the national terrirory is now controlled by the Taliban. To confront them General McKiernan has demanded an extra three brigades (15,000 men, to be taken from the Irak contingent). But there is no question of sending more men whilst the ones already there can't be supplied].
Pour rétablir sa chaîne logistique, l’Alliance doit impérativement trouver d’urgence une voie d’acheminement. Aucune solution satisfaisante ne peut être effective à brève échéance. Cherchant d’abord à sauver en priorité les GI’s pris au piège, le secrétaire à la Défense Robert Gates a multiplié les considérations ampoulées sur le manque de coordination entre l’ISAF, les Forces spéciales US et l’armée afghane, pour proposer en définitive de modifier la chaîne de commande. Toutes les troupes, y compris alliées, seraient placées directement sous l’autorité du CENTCOM. En d’autres termes, les Alliés n’auraient plus leur mot à dire et le Pentagone pourrait servir les troupes anglo-saxonnes (US, UK, Canada et Australie) et laisser les autres se débrouiller tous seuls (Allemagne, France, Italie, Pays-Bas, etc.).
[To restore the supply chain NATO urgently needs a new supply route.There is no immediate solution. With a view to saving US troops Gates has proposed a change in the chain of command. All forces, including allies, are to be put under the control of CENTCOM. The allies will no longer have any say on the deployment of forces and the Pentagon can concentrate on supplying US forces.]
L’Afghanistan étant fermé à l’Est par une haute barrière montagneuse, le seul corridor d’approvisionnement est la passe de Khyber, située en territoire pakistanais. Elle était utilisée uniquement pour le ravitaillement des troupes en carburant. Lors du week-end prolongé de l’anniversaire de la naissance du prophète (23 avril 2008), une soixantaine de camions citerne se sont entassés au poste-frontière de Torkham. Les insurgés ont attaqué le camion central au RPG et l’ensemble s’est enflammé en un gigantesque brasier. Depuis, les convois ne se déplacent que sous bonne escorte.
[Afghanistan being closed to the East by a mountain barrier, the only possible supply route is the Khyber Pass situated in Pakistani territory. It is used only for fuel supplies. A recent insurgent attack wiped out a 60 vehicle column of lorries]
Pour sécuriser la passe de Khyber, le Pentagone a bombardé des cibles suspectes en territoire pakistanais, le 3 septembre. L’ultra pro-US Ali Asif Zardari a été élu président du Pakistan, le 5 septembre. Le chef d’état-major interarmes US, l’amiral Mike Müllen, a effectué une visite surprise au Pakistan, le 15 septembre. Il a exigé que le Pakistan cède le contrôle de la passe de Khyber aux États-Unis.
[To secure the Khyber Pass the Pentagon targeted suspects in Pakistani territory on 3rd September. The ultra pro-American Ali Zardari was elected president of Pakistan on 5th September. The overall US chief-of-staff Admiral Mike Mullen made a surprise visit to Pakistan on the 15thSeptember. He demanded that Pakistan cede control of the Khyber Pass to the USA]
Le 21 septembre, le président Zardari a prononcé son discours d’investiture devant le Parlement. Il s’est engagé à soutenir les efforts du Pentagone contre les « terroristes » afghans. À l’issue de la cérémonie, les membres du gouvernement et les parlementaires ont été invités à l’iftar (rupture du jeûne de ramadan) à la résidence du Premier ministre. La plupart d’entre eux étaient furieux à la fois parce que le nouveau président n’avait pas confirmé son engagement de rétablir les juges de la Cour suprême et par ce qu’il avait laissé entendre qu’il abandonnerait la souveraineté sur la passe de Khyber. Au cours de la réception, un camion piégé a frappé le l’hôtel Marriott où l’iftar avait initialement été prévu. Cet attentat ne pouvait être compris par les parlementaires que comme un avertissement de l’OTAN qui n’hésiterait pas à les éliminer s’ils s’opposaient à ses projets. Au plan médiatique, cet attentat justifie la prise de contrôle US d’une portion de territoire pakistanais, comme ceux du 11-Septembre avaient justifié l’invasion de l’Afghanistan.
[On the 21st September, President Zardari gave his investiture speech before parliament. He promised to back Pentagon efforts against "the terrorists". After the ceremony members of the government and parliament were invited to iftar(the breaking of the Ramadan fast) at the prime minister's residence. Most of them were furious that the new president hadn't made a commitment to reinstate the Supreme Court judges and because he had given to understand that he had abandoned the sovereignty of the Khyber Pass. During the reception a lorry bomb hit the Marriot hotel where is was originally intended to hold the iftar. This bombing can only be seen by parlamentarians as a warning from NATO who will have no hesitation in eliminating those who oppose its projects. From the point of view of the media, this attack justifies the US taking control of part of Pakistan's territory, just as 9/11 had justified the invasion of Afghanistan]
Intervenant à la télévision, Najam Sethi, le rédacteur en chef du quotidien libéral Daily Times, s’est exclamé : « C’est le 11-Septembre du Pakistan ». M. Sethi est un journaliste connu pour son alignement sur Washington dont il a soutenu toutes les incohérences. Ainsi a-t-il approuvé le coup d’État militaire du général Musharraf en 1999 au nom de l’« ordre » et défend-il aujourd’hui le nouveau pion US, Ali Asif Zardari, au nom de la « démocratie » cette fois. Il a fondé le Daily Times avec des capitaux états-uniens, début 2002.
[Appearing on TV, Najam Sethi, editor of the Daily Times, exclaimed:" This is Pakistan's 9/11". Sethi is known for his alignment with Washington whose incoherent policies he justifies. Thus, he supported the coup d'etat of Musharraf in 1999 in the name of "order" and he defends the new US pawn Ali Asif Zardari in the name of "democracy". He founded the Daily Times with US money in 2002.]
Quoi qu’il en soit, cet attentat marque l’extension de la guerre d’Afghanistan au Pakistan et remet en cause l’équilibre régional.
[Whatever else it may be, this bombing marks the extension of the Afghan war to Pakistan and brings into question the equilibrium of the region.]